Stripes came out before I was born, but it’s still a good source of inspired team work between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. 10 fun facts about a classic comedy:
- Ivan Reitman and Dan Goldberg wrote the movie specifically for Cheech and Chong. When their manager demanded way too much money, they took out (most) of the pot humour, found the script got smarter, and flagged down Bill Murray to star. Judge Reinhold, in his first film appearance, gets what little remained of the weed jokes.
- Bill Murray only came aboard about 2 weeks before filming began. He didn’t show up to set until the 3rd day of filming because he’d been following his precious Chicago Cubs around the country. In the very first scene shot, in which he grabs heavy luggage out of a trunk, he genuinely injured himself and his exclamation “Oh my balls!” is the real deal.
- Bill Murray insisted that Harold Ramis should be tapped to play his best bud. They were friends in real life of course, but Murray also wanted Ramis’s help in re-writing dialogue, the better to improvise with. Dennis Quaid was auditioned by the studio to play Ramis’s part. He was married to P.J. Soles at the time. If you squint hard, you can spot him as an extra in the graduation scene.
- Soles’ part was meant to have been played by Kim Basinger but she too wanted too much money, so the part went to Soles who had just finished shooting Private Benjamin in which she wore the exact same uniform.
- The department of defense for some reason approved of the film. They not only let them film at Fort Knox, they allowed soldiers to be extras. A real army barber buzzed all the men, who had not been told how short their haircuts would be. John Candy was particularly depressed. Murray and Ramis being the “stars” got to keep theirs a little longer.
- The cast and crew had a 2-week drinking binge when they found out John Lennon had died.
- John Larroquette ad-libbed the line “I wish I was a loofah” and then had to explain to director Ivan Reitman what a loofah was.
- A 9-minute scene in which they drop acid and parachute out of a plane was filmed but cut – BUT is included on the DVD extras.
- John Candy wasn’t well known; he bonded with the cast by inviting them over for spaghetti and to watch the Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard fight.
- When Bill Murray shouts “But we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re ten and one!” – the last is a thinly-veiled reference to Vietnam, written by Ramis.