CADDYSHACK —- “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac… It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”
Production frustrations (a first-time director in Harold Ramis, the original script an absurd 250 pages), egos and personality conflicts and no little recreational toking & snorting portended this $6,000,000 1980 zaniness would sink like a
putt stone, but its wayward combination of smirk, vulgarity, tease and deadpan hilarity won over crowds, who slammed it down the fairway to 18th hole place for the year, grossing $41,800,000.
“I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.”
Written by Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Brian Doyle-Murray (who also acts), emerging partly from Murray’s time as a caddie for a snooty exclusive golf course. Wealthy country club types include slacker ‘Ty Webb’ (Chevy Chase), WASPy ‘Judge Elihu Smails’ (Ted Knight) and eye-watering ‘Lacey “You’re rather attractive for a beautiful girl with a great body” Underall’ (Cindy Morgan) contest greens, sandtraps and a swimming pool (“Doody!”) with upstart caddie ‘Danny Noonan’ (Michael O’Keefe), gauche interloper ‘Al Czervik’ (Rodney Dangerfield), zonked groundskeeper ‘Carl Spackler’ (Bill Murray) and an insidious gopher.
I’m no big fan of Chevy Chase (one of the all-time jerks) but he’s good here, and managed to work with Murray (who I really like, how can you not?) despite their feud history from SNL. Bill improvised all his material, and brilliantly. That same comedy-packed year saw Chase in the not-bad Seems Like Old Times and Murray as Hunter Thompson in the sloppy but funny Where The Buffalo Roam. Newcomer O’Keefe, 24, fresh from his nominated work in The Great Santini, is a likable personage, and fellow newby Morgan, 25, is enough to make you slice into the waterhole on the next fairway.
Oh, this your wife, huh? A lovely lady. Hey baby, you must’ve been something before electricity.” A stickler for sticking to the script, TV veteran Knight couldn’t abide standup patter-man Dangerfield, who was all about ad-libs: the anger displayed by Judge Smails to Al Czervik is an accurate reflection of Ted v. Rod. Antipathy to the side, they’re funny as hell.
Also on hand for a daft play-through-a-thunderstorm sequence is old-time Hollywood vet Henry Wilcoxon, 75, as the venerable ‘Bishop Fred Pickering’. “You never ask a Navy man if he’ll have another drink, because it’s nobody’s goddamned business how many drinks he’s had already, right?”
The puppet varmint was designed by a specials effects crew under John Dykstra. Those gopher noises are the same dolphin squeaks used in 1964s Flipper. Kenny Loggins provides the infectious “I’m All Right”, which reached #7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 1980. 98 minutes of skewering, with Sarah Holcomb, Scott Colomby, Dan Resin, Albert Salmi and Peter Berkrot. *
* In Chris Nashawatty’s 2018 book, “Caddyshack: The Making Of A Hollywood Cinderella Story”, Michael O’Keefe and supporting player Peter Berkrot (caddie ‘Angie D’Annunzio’) recall the rampant cocaine consumption during the shoot–or toot, as it were. O’Keefe termed it a “bacchanalian rave”. Berkrot: “I had never seen cocaine before I got to the set of Caddyshack…as the shoot went on, recreational use that started by the gram turned into binges indulged by the ounce. It seemed to be the fuel that kept the film running….I had a tray with my weed, and I was walking through the hotel lobby and saw Rodney. He said, ‘I love weed. You know what I love more than weed? Coke.’ I thought he was doing a bit, but we found out he wasn’t….. The only person who didn’t take drugs on the movie was Ted Knight.”
From the Moguls Make or Break file: Cindy Morgan did not want to do the topless scene. Producer Jon Peters informed her, through director Ramis, that if she didn’t, she’d never work in the business again. About what you’d expect from a guy gross enough to bleat “I am the Trump of Hollywood.” Sadly, he had/has/will have plenty of power-abusing company.
“So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Lama – long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”