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.