50 Films I Love: Harold Ramis’ Caddyshack

I love the madness in this film starring Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. It celebrates the triumph of the underdogs, the eccentrics and even the downright dangerous
50 Films I Love: Harold Ramis’ Caddyshack

How can you resist any film which includes this scene? In 50 Films I Love, I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite comedies – the 1980 cult classic Caddyshack.

Caddyshack is set in a snotty golf club called the Bushwood Country Club. The film is about Danny, a teenage caddy who is hoping to win the club scholarship so he can go to college. To facilitate this, Danny is unapologetically sucking up to the obnoxious president of the club, Judge Smails. Meanwhile the judge is losing his mind over a deadly, dancing gopher and a new entrant – Al Czervik, who is as rich as he is crass. Al calls the club a snobby crematorium. In one scene, he tells Mrs. Smails, 'You must have been something before electricity.' Here's him letting loose at the club shop.

If Dangerfield doesn't do it for you, there's Chevy Chase playing the wealthy, wise golfer Ty Webb, a man so evolved that he doesn't even keep score. And the clincher is Bill Murray as the assistant gameskeeper Carl, a man in a mortal combat with the golf course-destroying gopher.  Many of Murray's iconic scenes were improvised. This one is a keeper.

Caddyshack was directed by National Lampoon alum Harold Ramis. Ramis co-wrote the film with other Lampoon writers Douglas Kenney and Brian Doyle-Murray, Billy Murray's older brother. These men weren't into plot. What they were going for is the funny bone. Every scene in Caddyshack is permeated by a loose, anarchic energy. The humor ranges from sight gags to the scatological – at one point, a bar of chocolate falls into a pool. Everyone mistakes it for shit. Mayhem ensues.

Caddyshack celebrates the triumph of the underdogs, the eccentrics and even the downright dangerous. This film tells you that the straight and narrow path does not lead to success and that being bonkers is a good thing. Even the gopher gets a happy ending.

I love the madness in Caddyshack. You can find the film on YouTube. And if you want to know, how it came together – apparently cocaine played a key role – check out Chris Nashawaty's book on the making. It's called Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story. When you read the stories, what you see onscreen will make even more sense. Check it out.

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