Just over 36 years ago, the cult classic film Caddyshack was released to the public and won audiences over nationwide with its brash-but-hilarious comedy. It acted as a launching platform for actors such as Rodney Dangerfield and first-time director Harold Ramis. At the time, the stars of the film like Chevy Chase and Bill Murray were well-known, but not nearly as much as they were after the release of the film. Looking back on it now, the combination of that group of people must’ve been quite the adventure, to say the least.
We compiled a list of little tidbits from the film that you may or may not have heard before. Some of them may change the way you view the film altogether.
25. Chevy Chase saves the day
According to reports the movie, Caddyshack would not have been made if Chevy Chase hadn’t been cast for the role of Ty Webb. Even though it had other comedy icons like Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield, the studio wouldn’t sign off on it until the producers mentioned that Chevy Chase would also have a role. It’s a good thing too because Caddyshack helped put Rodney on the map considering it was his first major film.
24. The brilliant mind of Bill Murray
Bill Murray is one of the all-time great comedians. His role as Carl Spackler, the country club groundskeeper, is one of the characters that really help slingshot Murray into superstardom. A perfect example of just how talented he is, every line “Carl” spoke in the movie was improvised by Murray himself. No fancy writers, or anything like that, just straight from the hip comedy.
23. The elusive gopher
Have you ever noticed that Carl is in only one scene with that elusive gopher? That furry little guy that you see throughout the movie was actually an afterthought that was shot after filming had officially wrapped. Producers figured out a way to use the gopher to tie many of the scenes together, so they decided to shoot the additional scenes post production.
22. The party behind the scenes
Cofounder of the National Lampoon magazine, Doug Kenney, was a Harvard grad that had a knack for being funny, most of the time. He was one of the key writers for the movie but apparently was severely depressed during filming. According to reports, he drank heavily and had a serious addiction to cocaine which made for interesting press conferences and behind the scenes during filming. He later passed away after falling off of a cliff in Hawaii.
21. Discouraged Dangerfield
As we mentioned before, Caddyshack was the first major film for comedian Rodney Dangerfield. He was used to standing up on stage at comedy clubs, or the Tonight Show and Dean Martin show, where people would laugh at his jokes. But when it came to the filming of the movie was became extremely discouraged because nobody would laugh at his jokes while on set. He actually thought he was “bombing” until producers informed him that other actors normally don’t laugh in fear of possibly ruining the take.
20. The real groundskeeper
According to reports Bill Murray actually worked as a groundskeeper at the Indian Hill Country Club before becoming an actor. He also worked as a caddy and ran a hot dog stand. Indian Hill is said to be the country club that provided inspiration to the creators of the film so it’s only fitting that Murray worked there back in the day. I wonder if that’s also where he pulled the inspiration for his famous role of Carl.
19. Bad Blood
You’d think that Chevy Chase and Bill Murray would get along just fine considering they both worked on Saturday Night Live. But actually, it was Murray that replaced Chase so there was a little bit of bad blood between the two comedic icons before the shooting of the movie. It was bad enough that it was agreed upon prior to shooting that the two would never appear in the same shot together. However, they did manage to make amends just in time to film the classic scene where Ty Webb enters Carl’s shack, which was completely improvised.
18. Keeping it real
Do you remember the final scene where Carl’s attempt at blowing up the gopher running while throughout the golf course end up causing massive explosions all over the course? Well, those explosions were real thanks to incendiary packs placed all over. This caught the club owner by surprise because there was supposed to an agreement in place where the producers wouldn’t use fire of any sort.
17. Is that a plane crash!?
Just to give you an idea of how big those explosions were at the end of the film, they were actually spotted by commercial airline pilots that were landing at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport that was located nearby. Apparently, they radioed into air traffic control to report the “crash” spotted as they were descending to land.
16. Pink Floyd or Kenny Loggins?
According to reports, producers actually had the band Pink Floyd in mind when thinking of a musical act to create something for the opening and closing credits. However, they declined the offer and Kenny Loggins was asked instead and he of course accepted and went on to create “I’m Alright” which was a perfect fit for the movie. I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan, but I can’t picture them coming up with anything that would be more fitting.
15. Animal House on the golf course
Caddyshack was produced by Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney who had quite the track record at the time for creating raunchy and hilarious movies. They had major success with Animal House prior to creating Caddyshack. As a matter of fact, when they were trying to get the green light to make Caddyshack, they actually had to pitch it as “Animal House on the golf course” to the heads of the studio in order to get it approved. I guess it’s not terribly far off from Animal House though, really.
14. Trial by fire
When Harold Ramis signed on to be the director for the movie, it would be his first crack at that position. Apparently, the studio had very little faith in him being able to pull it off, to the extent that actually had the associate producer create a short list of substitute directors that would be available in the event they needed to pull Ramis. Talk about trial by fire.
13. Hurricane David party
While out in Florida, mother nature decided to show her dominance when reports came out saying that Hurricane David was headed straight towards them so production had to be shut down. The crew saw this as an opportunity to throw a massive party. So they all gathered at the hotel they were staying at near the golf course and proceeded to throw a bash that even college frat boys would be proud of.
12. Genuine reactions
As we’ve mentioned numerous times, there was quite a bit of improvisation throughout the movie. Not only did that usually get the best reactions from the audience, but also the other actors in the scene. Remember the scene where Carl (Murray) was talking about his time as a caddy for the Dalai Lama and he was holding a pitchfork up to the young Peter Berkrot’s chest? Well that was actually a real pitchfork and according to reports Berkrot was genuinely concerned, which transferred to film quite nicely.
11. That’s not Illinois
Technically, the film Caddyshack is said to be based in Illinois, however movies like this are usually shot in southern California because that’s where the studio and studio executives are located. But Harold Ramis made it very clear that he wanted to be as far away from studio executives as possible. So instead, the movie was shot in Florida, a long way away from anyone that would tell Ramis what to do.
10. The goofy kid next door
When director Harold Ramis envisioned the part of Danny Noonan, he pictured the “goofy kid next door” type character. According to reports, he originally had Mickey Rourke lined up to play the role, but the more he thought about it, he realized Rourke didn’t come across like that at all. So at the last minute, he decided to change it up and go with the actor Michale O’Keefe instead.
9. Impressing the right people
When Bill Murray first signed on to do the film it was only as a cameo appearance. But according to reports, director Harold Ramis was so impressed with Murray that he asked him to stay on for a total of six days. Even though the part of Carl the groundskeeper is a fairly small role, it would go down in history as one of the best. Ramis and Murray went on to co-star in films like Ghostbusters and Stripes.
8. Extreme tardiness
Caddyshack was filmed in the late ’70s and early 1980, and as we all know that was a wild time as far as the party scene is concerned. It was no different with the cast of this movie especially when you have cast members like Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray you know there’s bound to be some partying. Apparently, it got so excessive that it started to carry over into the next day and tardiness for filming became a serious issue.
7. Being the bossman
Considering that it was Harold Ramis’ first attempt at directing a film he knew that he needed to prove himself. One of the many things he did to impress studio executives was to avoid joining the rest of the cast and crew in the never-ending party that took place off-set. The willpower it must’ve took to not go out when you know Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase were out there…. Although when the film wrapped, Ramis apparently partied so hard that he had to be physically carried back to his room.
6. Just another night at the improv
Quite a few of the scenes in the film are completely improvised right there on the spot. Even some of the film’s most iconic scenes. For example, when Chevy Chase (Ty Webb) does his now famous “Na-na-na-na” scene, producers asked him to create a spiritual or zen sound. Being the pro that he is, Chase came up with that right then and there and now it’s considered to be one of the most popular lines in the movie.
5. Old School
Ted Knight was the actor that played Judge Elihu Smails and he’s what you would consider old school. He was reportedly quite frustrated with all the partying and lateness that was taking place. He felt it was unprofessional to act in that way. According to reports, he also had a major problem with all the improvisation because it threw him off the flow of his lines.
4. That might be a little long
When Jon Peters, one of the producers, and Harold Ramis first submitted the script to the studio heads, it was actually 250 pages long. To give you an idea, that’s more than half of the size of a normal script and screenplay. Studio executives demanded that the script be significantly cut down before they would agree to start filming the movie.
3. The Caddyshack restaurant
Bill Murray and his five brothers decided to open a Caddyshack-themed restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida in 2001. You may not have known this, but a couple of Murray’s brothers play in the movie also. Remember the bossman of the actual caddy shack that handed out jobs to the different caddies? That’s Bill’s brother. Apparently, the guys had a major interest in food, so what better way to enjoy that than by opening a restaurant?
2. Tricked you
The Gopher that makes numerous appearances throughout the movie obviously isn’t a real gopher. But you probably thought that the sounds it made were somewhat related to what a real gopher would sound like right? Wrong. Believe it or not, they actually used dolphins to create the sound bites for the film. I guess we learn something every day.
1. Finishing on a strong note
Do you remember the character Bishop Pickering, the one that was playing golf in the middle of a horrible rainstorm but didn’t want to quit because he was playing the best game of his life? Well, Pickering was played by Henry Wilcoxon who had starred in hit films such as Cleopatra dating back to the mid-1930’s and he’s considered to be one of the great actors of the “Golden Age”. Wilcoxon, unfortunately, passed away just a few years after Caddyshack was released, making it the last film he appeared in. What a good way to end your career.