Film Fix: Harold Ramis
Writer and Producer – Daniel Fickman
Other Side Drive Producer – Shannon Williams
Editor – Fernando Espinosa de los Monteros
This is Other Side Drive’s Film Fix, and I am your film aficionado, Daniel Fickman. So, listen comedy as a whole, as we know it today, would be a lot less funny were it not for Harold Ramis’s movies. I’ll be honest, I really think these are some of the most important films of all time.
The comedy film genre would be a really safe and hackneyed environment without them. These movies made it okay to push the envelope with comedy. They were raunchy, edgy, and brave. I’m talking about movies like Animal House, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, the list goes on! There would be no 40 Year Old Virgins or Ron Burgundys or Hangovers in Las Vegas without these movies. They made it okay for comedy to cut loose, and to get a little dirty. New boundaries were possible because they were made by a man who treated comedy the way it should be treated, as an art form. Harold Ramis died on February 24th, and I’m dedicating this episode to him.
Because of this man’s extremely prolific career and what he gave to the world of film comedy, I simply cant just give you an overview of his entire career. I can say go see all the films I just mentioned. What I will do is choose three films that just really exemplify what he gave to the world.
Animal House was a comedic explosion collaborating the best of the time between National Lampoon and the Second City. Animal House was co written by Ramis along with two other former writers at the National Lampoon, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. During the mid 1970s, the National Lampoon was the most popular humor magazine on college campuses.
Ramis had met John Belushi back when they were both studying at the Second City improvisational Theatre in Chicago together. Ramis knew what Belushi had to offer audiences; something wildly unexpected. And he wrote the role of Bluto Blutarsky with Belushi in mind. Belushi immediately became an American Icon after Animal House was released. It was a massive hit.
Eventually Ramis began to direct. National Lampoon’s Vacation shows everything that could go wrong during a family summer road trip in a hilarious way. Chevy Chase plays suburban dad Clark Griswold, my favorite role of his. Clark just wants to get his family to Walley World (a fictionalized version of DisneyLand) but along the way they encounter some problems. Second City Alum John Candy also makes a suprise appearance at the end of the film as as a dopey security guard.
Ghostbusters was written by Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. Ramis also starred in the film as Egon Spangler, the goofy Science addict who sort of gets the credit of being the brains behind the Ghostbusters. Aykroyd had wanted to get Belushi to play the role of Peter Venkman, but due to his death the part was filled by Bill Murray. (Murray and Ramis’s friendship at already been cemented years prior at the Second City) Just like Vacation and Animal House, Ghostbusters was a massive success, and catapulted everyone involved to beyond super stardom.
Harold Ramis was a pioneer of funny. There’s a reason why you still see people walking around campus with Bill Murray shirts on. It all began with the films he did with Harold Ramis. Those movies are just as funny today as they were 30 years ago, and that’s really the crazy part. So cherish them. And let’s all give Harold Ramis one big thank you for making the world a funnier place. Those rare pure moments between action and cut is where I’ll see you next week!