The 7900, sorry 8300 word, Ultimate Groundhog Day written/ picture essay/ commentary/ scrapped podcast thing you will ever need. Part Three Words 5472 through 8374
1:00:58 It’s sunny! If you watch this movie the hundreds of times I have (thousands if you count random scenes I catch on TV), you will notice that during the bleakest part of the entire movie, when Phil the human steals Phil the groundhog (meta!), it is the only sunny exterior. This happened for a couple reasons. The first one is again because of he unique structure of this plot, every exterior scene for the film needed, for coverage and editing purposes, to be shot many times in every type of weather, which Northern Illinois is more than glad to provide. That means in all types of weather, sunny, cloudy, rainy, snow or meatballs, actors were pulled out of whatever holding station/bed and breakfast/ Lloyd’s Paint Store they were kept and told to get to main street, Gobbler’s Knob, or whatever while they had the light/ snow. The only actor they couldn’t get all the time was Phil, groundhog Phil. The groundhogs were especially bred just for this film by animal handler Bill Hoffman (he’s the bearded guy next to Brian Doyle Murray holding the groundhog or this guy holding this monkey)
and they could only get the groundhogs for one day. That day, when they would shoot this scene just happen to be the sunniest of the shoot. They waited until dark hoping to get clouds for additional shots with some cloud coverage, but alas had to settle for the visual irony.
Also originally Phil was just going to kill the Groundhog in its lair, but that was deemed a little tooo Caddyshack. And in the sequel to Groundhog Day, they were going to have Dan Ackroyd and Jackie Mason come in and ruin everything with a high pitched squeal and make me watch it on continuous loop on HBO when I was 9. Nope, sorry that was a fever dream I having.
1:01:57 To avoid paying for stuntmen for a second time, this scene was deemed merely “fast driving.”
- Don’t Drive Angry by Michael Rapa
1:02:34 “Don’t drive angry.” Sooo true.
The groundhog, agitated like many actors after too many takes, bit Bill Murray twice and ended the shooting for the day in order for shots to be administered.
1:04:13 “He might be OK.”
Phil suicide #1. They even built a ramp to send the pick-up off of but had little effect except to make the truck turn over.
1:05:04 Suicide #2. Death by toast.
1:05:17 Suicide #3 Death by truck. I couldn’t see going out this way, unless it was a HUGE truck or train or freight train strapped with a cowcatcher, carrying a house, trees filled with cement.
1:05:36 Suicide #4 Falling Angel. This is stuntman Rick LeFevour doing a fantastic, well held swan dive off the clock tower of the Woodstock Opera House. The Opera House is seen earlier standing as the Pennsylvania Hotel where Larry and Rita are staying.
The actual Opera House is supposedly haunted by a ghost named Elvira who was a lead ballet dancer who did a simular swan dive off the bell tower after failing to get a part and is said to haunt the place ever since.
1:06:00 The first zombie Murray. A role he would later recreate.
1:07:15 Stage 5 ACCEPTANCE. The first shot of the Kleisers. Can you guess who the guy is? Ill reveal the answer later during a better shot of him, but it took until I was watching the movie for this piece to notice. Hint: We’ll all be kneeling before him soon.
1:07:24 Is Bill gay? No idea, probably just because he’s in “showbizness” wink, wink and all, but I do know that actor Timothy Hendrickson has since found his own second act as…
Sounds made up, but hey, I’m a bartender.
1:07:45 “Maybe he’s been around so long he just knows everything.” This is what people will be saying about me when I’m still a 60 year old bartender. So jolly and full of cutting myself.
!:07:52 Alice is not from Ireland. She’s as American as they come. Actress Martha Webster was born on the 4th of July 1931 in Chicago, IL.
1:08:12 No waiter would drop dishes like that. As a member of the food service industry for over a decade (I’m a bartender), I know there are soooo many ways to drop a tray. This is not any of them. Was he going to tie his shoe and just happen to forget gravity existed? I’m pretty sure every actor’s been a waiter before, and I can’t believe no one in the room was calling schneigans. FIRED!
1:10:06 It really is in the wrist. Or the grip. Have you ever seen character actor/ magician/ Dave Mamet directorial crutch Ricky Jay throw cards? No. Well…
This is also relevant also because Phil’s back up weatherman Willie Garson is standing at the bar as well. And there’s this.
I believe he is using the Hermann grip.
1:10:24 Be the hat? Where’d you get that advice from? Did I also mention that Ramis is said to have considered Chevy Chase (enh), John Travolta (fuck) and Steve Martin. I could see Martin nailing this role now.
1:12:38 According to Ramis, this scene is based on Murray’s wedding night, he and his wife got too drunk and his wife fell asleep much like Rita did on Phil, and like Phil, Bill just kept talking to her. Did I mention Murray was going through a divorce that time? Niagra Falls Frankie Angel.
1:16:07 Now we are into realllllllllly good Phil.
How does Bill Murray take his coffee? From the pot. At least according to the previous scene both at the diner and in 2003’s Coffee and Cigarettes. Also it mentioned that he drinks it voraciously according to 12/2/12 NYT article. So I’m going out on a limb to say black.
1:16:20 “I was just talking to Buster Green the Groundhog head honcho and he said if we set up over here, we might get a better shot.” Though it fits perfectly into Phil’s new acceptance persona, this is actually a reference to cut scene in the movie where the groundhog escapes after its done with it prognosticating. But couldn’t get the rest of scene to match the other exteriors that were being used.
- The Elliots, Abby, the not famous one, Bob and Chris
1:16:40 Does Larry ever have kids? Well Chris Elliot is comedy royalty. His father is Bob Elliot from the legendary radio duo Bob and Ray. So of course his daughter, who was about 5 at the time when Groundhog Day was shooting is now on Saturday Night Live (killer Zooey Deschanel), making Chris and Abby the first parent/child combo to accomplish said feat.
1:16:45 Another good use of a cut ideas. In the original script, as a way to mark time for 10000 years, Phil would read a page a day from all the books in the library.
The book the inspired Danny Rubin’s screenplay? Interview With A Vampire. Sexy. Gross.
1:17:27 Welcome back to Phil’s piano teacher who, with bright red bag, tells Phil that everyone is heading to Gobbler’s Knob to see the groundhog. Here she’s getting $1000 for one piano lesson. How much do piano lessons go for? When I took piano lessons in 1989 it was about 20 bucks a session and I was terrible. Most because I never practiced and liked to waste my Mother’s money. Sorry Mr. Winter for wasting your time.
1:17:39 What a great icebreaker it must be to be he little girl who gets kicked out her piano lesson? Ask Angela Dezen, formerly Gollan, who went to Woodstock High. That must have been tramatic because she didn’t act again until 2007 and married a rock star. Poor thing.
1:18:03 Work Without Hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair–
The bees are stirring–birds are on the wing–
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet, well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live.
1:18:21 This song is Sergi Rachmaninoff”s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paginini” Bill Murray actually began to learn the piano for this role. Although he can not read music he did fairly well by ear. Well enough for man whose father was a piano mover.
1:18:35 A tad less ambitious, Bill here starts with an almost finished ice sculpture and adds some touches. But there are several academies just in case you need to become an ice sculpter.
1:19:36 “I don’t know where you’re headed ,but can you call in sick.” A totally all Bill moment. Which leads to one of the great all time comedic runaways.
1:20:02 The old man, primarily Chicago theater actor Les Podewell died in 1998 at the age of 91. When he was brought in to the hospital the doctors asked him who the president was and how many fingers they were holding up instead busted out “The Player’s Speech” a soliloquy from Hamlet he last performed in the 30’s. His granddaughter Cathy was J.R. Ewing’s second wife, Cally, in Dallas.
Showing just how much studio love mediocrity, they implored Ramis to cut these scenes finding them too bleak but Ramis pushed back sighting that it would make the movie “toothless” and gives Phil the chance to face the fact that “he is not God.”
1:20:43 OTHER BLACK PERSON ALERT! SHE HAS A LINE! Dianne B. Shaw. Congratulations.
Also NEPOTISM ALERT: behind her earlier in the scene, on the phone behind the glass, was Ramis’s former babysitter.
1:21:57 Chechov’s At Home: The vast expanse, the long winters, the monotony and dreariness of life, instil a sense of help lessness.
1:23: 03 This part of the movie is what Ramis refers to as “Super Phil.” Which by the way, terrible superhero name. First, he saves a child. He’s really falling from just off camera and really did hurt Bill’s back. He never thanks him.
1:23:48 The man from the motor club. Better superhero name. More like 60’s TV spy. And motor club is some long acronym that ends in Umbrella Battleship. Threatening right?
1:24:16 Saving his own brother from choking via the Heimlich. Which according to the Red Cross is just called the Abdominal Thrust. Also according to the RC, a hard slap in the back in 90% as effective. It also may have something to do with Dr. Heimlich (still alive!) spending that last 20 years trying cure AIDS with malaria, in Mexico like one of those super villains who know that what they are doing will save humanity even if society cannot bare the cost!
On a lighter note, Brian’s wife is played Brenda Pickleman who gives out Pickle Pens as leave behinds. Eww Brenda.
1:24: 33 Super nepotism Alert: Lindsay Alperts. Wife of producer Trev. Sleeping with the producer works everytime.
1:25:32 The party, which was originally written as a wedding, is shot at the local Elks club. With floor tile from every cafeteria ever.
1:26:46 Bow to the mullet king Roger Adler. The king’s got 4 Emmy nods, over plays on over 1000 national commercial spots and is a contributing writer for MacDesign Magazine. So fuck me guy with a website that can’t even get the noobs at Splitsider to respond to him about a super awesome over written, yet hilarious Groundhog Day opus. Still, LOOK AT THE HAIR!
Terry Fryer a.k.a. Bill Murray’s piano hands, was in the band Heaven and Earth whose biggest hit was…
1:26:58 Spreaking of hands, two things popular in the 1993, according to this movie, the dance the piano teacher is doing that is also mimiced earlier by Nancy. And vests. Horrible vests.
1:27:31 This shot is from the stage of the Tonight Show starring Johhny Carson. OR IS IT? I leave that one for basic cable to decide.
1:28:25 “He may have. He was trying to swallow a whole cow.” Supposedly A.J.’s Steakhouse of Hwy.80 in Iowa has a 205 oz steask which is a mere 18.6 lbs. The average steer that goes to slaughter is about 1000 lbs. So FAR below a whole cow, Phil. Psssst. Pbbfttt.
Ramis said it was this scene in the original screenplay that made him want to do this movie.
1:28:44 A: It’s Michael Shannon! Yes, everyone’s favorite intense character man and the next General Zod made his film debut in Groundhog Day. More importantly the chick is Hyden Walch who is the voice for Princess Bubblegum in Adventure Time! My favorite cartoon that will soon litter Netflix.
The Wrestlemania they speak of could only be Wrestlemania IX. It was on April 4th 1993 from Caesar’s Palace (not Pittsburgh). It featured Bret Hart losing the WWF belt to Yokozuna but after the match Hulk Hogan (who had already lost a tag team match) challenged Yokozuna in the ring, he accepted, Mr. Fuji tried throwing salt in Hogan’s eyes and missed hitting Yokozuna and Hogan was the WWF champ 22 seconds later. The only shorter reign in WWF/E history was when Andre the Giant beat Hogan in 1988 and immediately gave the belt to Ted DiBiase. What goes around a gland deficient French guy, comes around.
1:29:45 Dr. Conners? Yes Bill Murray was awarded an honorary doctorate in Humanites by Regis College in Denver in 2007, where he dropped out of because he got busted with 10 lbs or marijuana at the airport.
1:30:07 I really wanted to find a Mitchell Hurwitz quote about bachelor auctions here but did not.
1:30:47 I use the term “fine spec-a-mine” all the time and sometimes forget where I got it.
1:31:13 $331.88 for the whole night! What a deal. The current going rate for a male escort according to Rentboy.com is around $250/ hour depending on whether you get the in or out rate. I swear I don’t know what that means.
1:31:53 This is worth more than two bits.
Two bits is equal to 25 cents. No there was never a “bit” that was worth 13 and half cents but rather refers to a schilling, the English coin that was frequently traded in Revolutionary times much like fucking Canadian money is today. It’s where we get the term, “My two bits” and the adjective “Two-bit” as in criminal or crook.
1:32:16 This final Ned Ryerson diddy was actually written by Tobolowsky himself on the last hour of the last day at the Elks club. The original word in the script Andie was supposed to say was “Let’s not ruin it.” but her accent made it tough to understand so the changed it to “spoil it.” Once it was in order, it was done in one take. And that growl is not dubbed. Which sucks right Andie?
1:33:20 The sculpture he’s doing here is one of 4 frozen Andies that was sculpted in L.A. by a professional artist and shipped to Illinois.
1:34:09 Real kiss. Sigh. Fake snow in the close up but real snow in the wide.
1:35:19 He’s wearing the clothes from the night before! This may not sound like much but Murray, on this last shot, refused to shoot unless he knew what clothes he was wearing. Ramis took a poll of the production staff and it was a tie. According to Tobolowsky, “Then one girl in the movie—it was her first film—she was assistant set director. She raised her hand and said, “He is absolutely wearing the clothes he wore the night before. If he is not wearing the clothes he wore the night before, it will ruin the movie. That’s my vote.” So Harold Ramis said, “Then that’s what we are going to do.”
After that it only took 25 takes to get the dialogue just right as well. Apparently waking up and saying, “Now THAT was a Groundhog Day!” wasn’t REAL enough. Amateurs.
1:37:50 To put the button on the scene Ramis wrote the line, “Let’s Live here.” and Murray added, “we’ll rent to start.” Immediately after Phil and Rita run out the front entrance. It has snowed in Woodstock for real the night before and it was all completely new. New snow in a scene can be tricky because there is a lot of cleaning up of footprints and what not after the crew has stomped through, so pristine whiteness can become curb side dirt ice in just a few takes. Murray being Murray just said fuck it and ran out there with Andie. When the door didn’t open, he didn’t ruin the shot but instead carried Andie over the fence. One take.
I can see myself floating to Sbarro’s now. For a pepperoni stuffed pizza. And to wait for Jonathon to drive me home.
In closing, let me just say yes I am now taking preorders (email: email@example.com ) for the first of my Alphabet movie series, G is for Groundhog. (collect all 26, it worked for quarters!) They are unframed 5×5 glicee prints that will cost about $9 and will looks alot like this.
Except it will be on real paper (so color to vary) and that annoying watermark won’t be there, but still, gotta protect the brand people. What! Was this whole overly long writing thing just a way to sell prints? It wasn’t not.