Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day has recently been resurrected as a Broadway musical, and Bill Murray went to see it on Tuesday. And Bill Murray went to see it on Wednesday. Is Bill Murray fucking with us?

By all accounts he enjoyed the show, laughing and pumping his fist during musical numbers. Not all of us are destined for NYC this summer, but the good news is, you can catch Groundhog Day pretty much any old time, and here are but a few reasons why you should revisit this classic over and over again.

  1. Director Harold Ramis originally wanted Tom Hanks for the role but realized Hanks was “too nice” and went knocking elsewhere. Michael Keaton turned it down. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Alec Baldwin, Howie Mandel, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Kevin Kline, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and John Travolta were also considered before Bill Murray was cast.
  2. Harold Ramis has a cameo in the film as Phil’s neurologist. Also appearing, if you shannon-groundhog-day.jpgwatch dedicatedly enough: Michael Shannon in his big screen debut – he’s Fred, one of half of the young couple who’s supposed to get married that day.
  3. Although a family of groundhogs was raised specifically for this movie, when Bill Murray was severely bitten not once, but twice, he had to receive rabies treatment, which are rather painful injections.
  4. Although set in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the film was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, just 50 miles from Murray’s hometown, Wilmette. Tourism in Punxsutawney spiked after the film’s release, but it’s in Wilmette where you’ll find a small plaque that reads “Bill Murray stepped here” on the curb where Phil continually steps in a puddle, and another marked “Ned’s Corner” where Phil perpetually meets Ned the insurance salesman (Stephen Tobolowsky).
  5. There are 38 days depicted partially or in full in the movie. Ramis said originally he wanted about 10 000 years worth of days and ended up with what he considers to be a decade’s worth which is still a really, really, sad, lonely long time to be reliving the same day.
  6. Bill Murray was offered a “spit bucket” for the scene in which he gorges on pastries. That was a terrifically bad idea on his part…guess who got a tummy ache?
  7. In one scene, Phil throws the alarm clock, destroying it. In real life, Murray’s throw did little to damage the thing so the crew took baseball bats to it to smash it up. And yes, it really did keep playing that stupid song, just like in the movie.
  8. Murray was going through a divorce at the time and compensated by becoming obsessed with the movie, calling up Ramis with all kinds of questions. Ramis tired of it and sent the writer (Danny Rubin) to sit down with him and iron out all the wrinkles. This caused a rift in their friendship – Murray didn’t speak to Ramis for many years.
  9. When Phil is at the piano teacher’s house, it’s actually Bill Murray playing. He can’t read music but plays by ear, and learned that passage by heart to play it in the movie. [It’s Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paginini, fyi]
  10. Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Stephen Tobolowsky have all served as honourary Grand Marshals in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
  11. In Swedish, the movie’s title is translated as “Monday Every Day” – although in 1993, when the movie came out, Groundhog Day was on a Tuesday. The specific day of the week is not mentioned in the film.
  12. In once scene, Phil throws himself from a bell tower. The building is actually the opera house in Woodstock, Illinois, where local legend has it that the ghost of a young girl haunts the building ever since she fell off a balcony section and died.
  13. uxyA34o.gifThe famous line “Don’t drive angry!” was improvised by Murray when the groundhog in his lap was aggressively trying to escape by climbing over the steering wheel. [Yes, this was one of the times when Bill got bit]
  14. In the final shot, we see Phil carry Rita over the gate before climbing over it himself. This may seem romantic but was unscripted: in real life, the gate was simply frozen shut.
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34 thoughts on “Groundhog Day

  1. Katrina Morrison

    😂😂😂 I love reading this one. Didn’t know this about the movie or Bill. Divorce is a bitch! Someone told me the the actor who played the mayor or master of ceremonies was Murphy’s actual brother too. Great review…only Bill would make a point of going to see the broadway play more than once, for the gag. I am sure the play was good also 😂

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  2. Christopher

    Nice to see Stephen Tobolowsky get not one but two shout-outs. He’s a very funny, charming guy himself, and his book The Dangerous Animals Club is a fun read. Actually he’s got a couple of other books I need to check out…
    Anyway Bill Murray is always fucking with us. No doubt you’ve heard the story about how he picked up a handful of a guy’s french fries and said, “No one will ever believe you.” Yeah, I have no problem believing Bill Murray did that.

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    1. Jay Post author

      He’s a kooky character. He’s a weird mix of private and charming.
      But yes, I do have love for Tobolowsky – he’s a great character actor who pops up everywhere.

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  3. tubularsock

    Jay, great post. Tubularsock loved that movie and discovered after about three times watching it that we all are living groundhog’s day everyday in our daily lives. I know, Tubularsock is a slow learner.

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  4. J.

    I love that he went to see it twice. What a guy. Gotta love Murray (though not that Murray Christmas thing). But man, groundhog bites and rabies shots to go with his sore balls from Stripes, eh? Ramis involved in both movies… no wonder he didn’t speak with him for a while 😉

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  5. Carolee Croft

    It could have been Chevy Chase? That was a close one. I think Bill Murray really made this movie; it might have been a complete flop without him.
    Thanks for all the interesting tidbits. I hope no groundhogs were injured during filming.

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  6. Pingback: Naked | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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