In the entire history of world cinema, not so many films have been created that viewers strongly associate with specific dates. On December 31, we traditionally spend in the company of the heroes of "The Irony of Fate", by May 9 we refresh in our memory the plot of "Seventeen Moments of Spring", and on September 1 we are organizing the "Big Change" marathon. In 1993, director Harold Ramis gave fans of the most important of the arts another red calendar day. The world has learned about the existence of an amazing holiday of the coming spring in the small Pennsylvania borough of Punxsutawney, and now none of the moviegoers can imagine February 2 without watching the wonderful comedy Groundhog Day.|
Ramis managed to make a kind, funny and surprisingly soulful film that can be watched countless times. Two years ago, this fact was successfully proved by visitors to one of the Liverpool cinemas, which decided to hold a 24-hour Groundhog Day marathon. Many viewers sat through all the sessions and managed to watch the comedy twelve times a day.
LostFilm.INFO brings to your attention the most interesting facts about the creation of Groundhog Day, which turns 25 this month.
In 1990, aspiring author Danny Rubin successfully sold the script for the thriller Hearing No Evil and decided to move from Chicago to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Hollywood. The agent of the Dream Factory rookie advised the client to sketch out some intriguing script application so that it would be easier for him to get into the field of vision of famous film producers. An old Hollywood legend claims that the idea of creating Groundhog Day came to Rubin after reading the work of Peter Uspensky, The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin. The screenwriter himself never confirmed this theory. Nevertheless, lovers of conspiracy theories can still find a USA trace in Groundhog Day. In one of the scenes in the film, Phil Connors says that during his time in captivity, he was stabbed, shot, poisoned and frozen. They tried to kill Grigory Rasputin in the same way.
As one of the main sources of inspiration, Rubin named Anne Rice's famous gothic novel Interview with the Vampire. “I've often pondered how bloodsuckers feel about eternal life, the scriptwriter admitted. "How long will it take before they begin to view immortality as a curse and not a gift?." These thoughts gave birth to a rough draft of a script about a man who had to survive the French Revolution, two world wars and the rule of Nixon.
Rubin also planned to send the protagonist to the distant future, but caught himself in time, realizing that Hollywood studios simply did not have enough funds to implement all his ideas. Danny decided to seriously redesign the concept of the film in order to make his character relive the events of the same day over and over again. The name of the picture was born quite simply. The scriptwriter just glanced at the calendar, where the first holiday that came across was Groundhog Day.
The coming spring holiday was the best fit for the plot of the film. In the early 90s, even many Pennsylvanians, not to mention residents of other states of America, were not aware of the tradition of celebrating Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney. A modest town with a population of several thousand people became a wonderful place in which the central character of the story could get stuck. To justify his appearance at Punxsutawney, the screenwriter decided to make the film's protagonist a meteorologist who was tasked with filming Groundhog Day. At the same time, Rubin got the idea to name the protagonist in honor of the main character of the holiday.
It only remained to decide how Phil was trapped in time. The more options the screenwriter sketched, the more tortured the explanation seemed to him. In the end, he decided that this riddle did not need an answer.
According to Rubin, the script for Groundhog Day was read by at least fifty Hollywood producers, but none of them dared to invest in the film. A year later, the young author was already ready to come to terms with the fact that his picture would never see the light of day, when his text unexpectedly hit the table for Harold Ramis.
The big name of the director of "Vacation" and the writer of "Ghostbusters" helped "Groundhog Day" to enlist the support of Columbia Pictures. Soon, her management approached Rubin and Ramis with a request to make two major changes to the script. First, the studio bosses didn't like that the movie started in the middle of the story. Initially, Danny Rubin wanted the audience not to understand why the main character is lucky in any endeavors. Only in the course of the plot should it have been revealed that he already thoroughly knew all the events of Groundhog Day. The studio insisted that in the new version of the script, the story begins with Phil arriving in Punxsutawney and living his first day in captivity of time. Secondly, the Columbia Pictures bosses demanded from the writer an explanation of the reasons why Connors was stuck on February 2. The meteorologist nearly fell victim to the curse sent by his ex-girlfriend, but Danny miraculously managed to convince the producers that the film will only benefit if there is some mystery in it.
The role of Rita was given to Andie McDowell, who made an indelible impression on Harold Ramis with her performance in the film "The Object of Beauty". For the role of Phil Connors, the director considered Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Travolta, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Kevin Kline, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner. Then Ramis almost approached Tom Hanks to play a meteorologist. “After the release of the film, Tom said that I did the right thing, preferring Bill Murray, - said the director. -Hanks said, “Audiences are used to playing the good guys forever. From the very beginning of the film, everyone would have begun to expect that my character would be re-educated in the course of the plot ... Bill made the audience doubt that his character would be a great guy "".<
Murray readily agreed to the role, but suggested Ramis to make some changes to the film script. Bill's marriage was going through hard times, which made the actor reluctant to play in pure comedy. He began to insist that serious dramatic notes appear in the text. Tired of Murray's constant night calls, Ramis sent him to meet Danny Rubin. Ultimately, Harold agreed to use a number of their developments in his production script.
“When I went through the first round of screen tests for Ned Ryerson, the script was like a typical Murray comedy, Stephen Tobolowski recalls. -Bill's hero got into various funny situations, seduced girls, stole cars, robbed a bank and woke up the next morning without any consequences. But the staged script turned out to be completely different. It became clear that we can shoot not just a good comedy, but a film that can become a real classic of the genre”.
The film did gain cult status, but a controversy over the final tone of the script ruined the relationship between Ramis and Murray. When the actor arrived on the set of the film, it turned out that he was offended by the director for sending him to Rubin, and did not personally listen to his suggestions. Bill and Harold barely spoke during work, and after filming ended, they stopped communicating altogether. Reconciliation took place only two decades later, when Murray learned about Ramis's incurable illness.
Groundhog Day's production script had a touching drama, but the studio wanted the film to continue to be a lighthearted comedy. In particular, the Columbia Pictures executives were not happy with the scenes of a homeless man who continued to die, despite all the efforts of Phil Connors. Ramis refused to cut this storyline, as the death of the old man allowed the main character of the film to change for the better and realize that he is far from God.
Nevertheless, for many of the characters in the film, Phil Connors has become a real superhero. “I've always wondered where Clark Kent has time for shura-moors with Lois Lane,” Ramis once joked. -At these moments, someone probably needs his help. To protect people, Superman has to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When Phil began to reeducate, his day was scheduled literally by the minute - he needed to save the choking mayor, then to change the wheel for cute old ladies".
The director and writers have been so attentive to the smallest details that the film continues to amaze the audience with every new viewing. Even the staunchest fans of Groundhog Day might not have noticed that a child with a broken leg can be seen in a scene at the hospital. It is this little boy that the main character will subsequently save from falling from a tree.
Today Punxsutawney has become a real Mecca for tourists, and a quarter of a century ago, this borough did not even have a decent city square. For this reason, the creators of Groundhog Day had to abandon filming in Pennsylvania. They decided to work on the painting in the town of Woodstock, Illinois. The news seriously upset the Mayor of Punxsutawney. He refused to hand over the real groundhog Phil to Ramis' team, and also sent his deputies to inspect the film's set. According to producer Trevor Albert, the visiting delegation was delighted with how carefully the creators of Groundhog Day reproduced some of the landmarks of their hometown.
Not surprisingly, shortly after the comedy's premiere, relations between its creators and the Punxsutawney authorities finally improved. Over the past quarter century, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Stephen Tobolowski have become guests of honor at the Pennsylvania holiday. The latter delighted the guests of Groundhog Day with an easy striptease and a long-awaited demonstration of Ned Ryerson's amazing talent - a belly button whistle.
Work on the film began in mid-March 1992. On the third day of filming, a terrible frost hit Woodstock. To cheer up the extras and local residents who crowded around the set, Bill Murray bought sweets from a candy store and began distributing them to everyone.
To prevent the extras from leaving to warm up during the filming of the scene on "Turkey's Hill", the filmmakers raffled off some valuable prizes among the public every hour. Soon the weather again played a terrible joke with the film crew of the comedy. Early spring came to Illinois, which forced the team of Harold Ramis to bring artificial snow to Woodstock. By the end of the filming period, the air temperature rose to 30 degrees, but the actors still had to wear winter clothes.
For a long time, the filmmakers could not find a place to work on the scenes in the Tip Top cafe. While searching for filming locations, they decided to take a break and go to a nearby diner. As soon as the director and producers looked around, they realized that they had found the perfect location for filming. After the release of Groundhog Day, this place was renamed Tip Top Cafe and became a real magnet for tourists.
The 1993 film also helped set up a business for the owners of a private house that was used for filming the mini-hotel's exterior. This building now houses a small hotel offering bed and breakfast.
The owners of the Lloyd's shop, against which Phil and Ned meet, also decided to cash in on the hit. Its owners first claimed that the creators of the comedy spoiled the reputation of their institution, and then tried to file a big claim against Columbia Pictures.
The rest of Woodstock gave the Groundhog Day crew a much more welcoming welcome. After finishing work on the painting on the street where Phil Connors got into a puddle, a commemorative plaque was installed with the inscription "Bill Murray's foot has stepped here."
Harold Ramis gave up the idea of filming the scenes in the order they went in the script. When he started preparing to work on a new segment of the film, Murray always asked him to clarify whether he should play good or bad Phil in it.
Several marmots played the role of the famous Punxsutawney weather forecaster. For some unknown reason, the rodents inflamed a special dislike for Bill Murray. "Marmots hated me from the very first day of shooting" - said the actor. During the work on the film, he was bitten twice by unfriendly animals. Particularly serious was the injury he received while filming the scene in the car. The rodent began to show such anxiety in the car that Bill had to say: "Don't be angry, don't be angry". It was this take that made the final cut of the film. After a moment, the marmot managed to bite through a leather glove and snatch a piece of meat from Murray's hand. The actor had to seek medical help and get vaccinated against rabies.
Over the years since the film's release, Groundhog Day fans have tried many times to estimate how many years Phil has been trapped in time. The comedy shows only 38 days in the life of a meteorologist. In comments on DVD, Harold Ramis admitted that the original idea was that the character of Bill Murray was to spend ten thousand years in Punxsutawney.
It is difficult to say how many months it took Phil Connors to become a virtuoso pianist. It took Bill Murray only a couple of days to learn and perform Sergei Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. It is curious that this musical composition also sounded in another famous film about the quirks of the space-time continuum - Somewhere in Time.
For a scene in a cafe in which Phil indulges himself with various delicacies, Murray was asked to use a bucket so that he could spit out food after each take. The actor preferred to refuse and enjoy the meal properly, but overdid it and almost got food poisoning.
According to the script, Phil Connors had to break the clock on the first try, but they managed to withstand the blow of Bill Murray. The crew members had to hammer them off-screen with a hammer. To their surprise, music continued to flow from the wreckage of the watch. This situation seemed so amusing to Harold Ramis that he decided to expand the scene.
Thanks to improvisation, several other famous scenes in the film were born. Bill Murray suggested adding a fragment to the picture in which he reads a book to the sleeping Rita. The actor drew on this touching moment from personal experience. When his wife went through champagne at the wedding, the actor had to spend his wedding night reading aloud to her.
During the filming of one of the meetings between Connors and Ryerson, the director asked Murray to take Stephen Tobolowski into a long hug. Bill decided to improvise and said the phrase: “I understand that they are waiting for you somewhere, but maybe you will say that you are ill?”. Fortunately for the crew, Tobolovski played along with Murray perfectly and ran away.
One of the funniest scenes in the film comes from a true story that happened with the famous comedian Paul Linde. Once he got behind the wheel drunk and nearly became the culprit of a serious accident. Soon, several police cars started chasing him. The chase ended with Linde crashing into a mailbox. When the police approached his car, he lowered the window with an imperturbable look and said: “I'll take a cheeseburger without an onion and a large glass of Sprite.
In the script for the film, there was a scene in which Phil smashes his act and shaves his head. The camera was supposed to fly around the room and show that the meteorologist's hair had grown back, and all things returned to their places. The film crew faced technical difficulties and could not find the footage so that the hotel room would change its appearance right in front of the audience. As a result, this scene was replaced with one in which the character of Bill Murray decides to test his guess about Groundhog Day by breaking a pencil in two.
The news studio scene, in which Andie McDowell's character plays with a blue screen, was not in the production script. The filmmakers decided to add her to the picture after the end of the main filming period, when Groundhog Day has already landed on the editing table. The studio had to urgently call the actors and organize small additional filming.
The most difficult part of the film was the scene in which Phil finally meets a new day. Harold Ramis could not decide whether he should show the heroes of Murray and McDowell in the same clothes in which they went to bed, or hint to the audience that there was sex between them. The director decided to try different options. After 25 unsuccessful takes on set, conflict began to brew.
“Bill was indignant:“ I refuse to work until we finally decide on what happened last night, ”recalls Stephen Tobolowski. -Harold decided to put this issue to a vote. When he counted the voices of all the actors and crew members, it turned out that they were divided fifty-fifty. Ramis drew attention to the fact that a young assistant, for whom this was the first work in a big cinema, did not take part in the voting. She said, `` Heroes should wake up in the same clothes. Otherwise, we will ruin the ending of the movie "".
The final scene of Groundhog Day, in which Phil and Rita run out into the street, was filmed under very interesting circumstances. It was originally planned that Connors would open a gate for the lady of his heart. Since the film crew would have to re-fill the track with snow for each take, Murray and Ramis agreed to do with the minimum number of takes. During the first of these, Bill discovered that the gate lock was frozen. In order not to complicate the work of the film crew, in the next take Murray lifted Andie McDowell in his arms and carried her over the fence.
“At one time, The New York Times asked famous thinkers, critics and scientists to name one of the elements of modern pop culture that will remain relevant even after a hundred years, - Harold Ramis once said. -One of the philosophy professors at Harvard University chose Groundhog Day. We live in a world where movies do a great job of entertainment. However, only a few of them are able to leave us with the thought that during the time of watching them we were able to realize something and learn something. Seems like Groundhog Day managed to become one of those films.
The Topic of Article: Groundhog Day is 25!.