Caddyshack Remains a Timeless Classic 30 Years Later

Joseph DelGrippoAnalyst IJuly 28, 2010

"My arm, my arm, I think its broken ," screamed Al Czervik, magnanimous real estate developer during a high-stakes golf match in the 1980 movie Caddyshack .

This movie was released 30 years ago this week, and remains a timeless classic loved by everyone who has had the pleasure of watching it.

That match pitting Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield) and Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) against Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight) and Dr. Beeper was the final scene to this classic comedy movie.

The foursome, with the help of caddy master Lou Loomis, decide that Czervik can be replaced. After being offered the booger eating Spalding Smails (the Judge's nephew), Webb says they should get to decide their own replacement.

After deciding that "Sonja Henie's out ," they decide on adding Danny Noonan, fresh off winning the Caddy tournament and getting the Caddy Scholarship. Danny has brown-nosed Judge Smails all movie long to get that scholorship and, knowing the Smails will pull his strings probably his entire life, decides to forfeit the scholorship play.

Smails : "I guess you don't want that Caddy scholarship ?"

Noonan : "I guess I don't ." 

Smails (in mocking fashion): "I guess you don't. I guess you don't ."

Noonan is the main character. He wants to go to college, but the family does not have the money and his grades are not that great.

Judge Smails to Danny : "There are more important things than grades. Winning the caddy tournament, for instance...might look pretty good on a young fellow's application ."

What is great about this movie is that there are so many sidebars to the main plot, and the story bounces around like a person with ADD holding the remote control. Webb, whose wealthy Dad (along with Judge Smails) founded Bushwood, focuses on being rich and enjoying Lacey Underall , Smails's visiting niece.

In fact, many people enjoyed Lacy. According to Noonan's girlfriend Maggie O'Hooligan, Lacey has been "plucked more times than the Rose of Tralee ."

That line DID NOT deter Danny from enjoying Lacy!

Ty to Lacey : "So what do you do ?"

Lacey : "I enjoy...skinny-skiing...going to bullfights on acid..."

Also, Czervik, wonderfully played by Dangerfield, is aggravating many of the stodgy Bushwood folk, complete with passing gas in the dining room, and boasting that he will buy Bushwood (Czervik : "Why would I want to join this crummy snobatorium. Why this whole place sucks! The only reason I'm here is maybe I'll buy it .), and make it into condominiums.

Al Czervik : "Country clubs and cemeteries...are the biggest wasters of prime real estate! Dead people? They don't want to be buried nowadays. Ecology, right? Ask Wang. He'll tell you. We just bought property...behind the Great Wall. On the good side !"

But what really steals the movie (besides the Judge) is Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), whose passion in getting rid of the pesky gopher on the golf course is among the funniest scenes.

The scene of Murray pumping water down the hole to drown the gopher is so good that even Tiger Woods and American Express borrowed it for one of their commercials.

Hmmm, I wonder if Tiger was ever with Lacy?

In doing research for this, I learned that most of Murray's scenes were impromptu, especially the famous Cinderella Story monologue scene where Spackler is pretending to win the Masters tournament "at Augusta."

He did that "tears in his eyes" scene all in one take, from only one bit of directing, and was all ad lib, no lines written. Harold Ramis told Murray to pretend he was a child announcing his golf victory, and the idea of cutting off the mums was Murray's idea.

As Murray said later, "Nobody wrote a word of script. It just came from my head into the camera. I did it in one take—but knew it had worked."

Carl : "Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. He's about 195 yards out, and...it looks like he's gonna hit an eight iron. This crowd has gone deadly silent. Cinderella story, out of nowhere, a former greenskeeper now about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a...it's in the hole, it's in the hole !"

The two funniest comedians in the movie, Murray and Dangerfield, only had bit parts in the original script, but over time, their talent won over the producers, and they had more time written in. Much to the chagrin of Knight and the caddies, who were originally the focus of the movie.

One scene written in late was the famous scene which begins when Webb's golf ball crashes into Spackler's "credit troubles" house. Carl: "Go ahead, sit down ." Ty Webb: "No, that's OK. I don't want to stick to anything ." It was added by director Harold Ramis after realizing that two of his biggest stars, Chevy Chase and Murray, did not have a scene together.

"Cannonball it ."

Both stars did not get along due to a feud dating back to their days on Saturday Night Live, but the three met for lunch and wrote the scene together. This is the only time that Chase and Murray have appeared together in the movie, although another scene with both actors made the cutting room floor.

The entire concept of the movie was created by Brian-Doyle Murray (Bill's brother) who also played the Caddy master, Lou Loomis. Doyle-Murray also played the father of the Bubble-Boy on Seinfeld .

He was a caddy when he was younger, as were director Ramis (who starred with Bill Murray in Stripes) and Murray's brothers. According Brian-Doyle, Bill Murray was a greenskeeper at a country club in Illinois when they were younger.

Many of the great scenes, including Judge Smails getting hit by the golf ball (Czervik: "I should have yelled two!"), and the Baby Ruth candy bar scene were actual events which happened when one of the writers were caddies.

Real life people were also included in the movie. Many of the people portrayed in Caddyshack, like the Haverkamps, the really old golf playing couple ("That's a peach, hon," and "That must be the tea !"), and Maggie were people the writers remembered from their younger days working at the country clubs.

I remember when I was in high school and used to know every line of the movie. It was common place to recite line after line. How many times are you at the golf course and hear at least one classic line from that movie?

Classics like:

Judge Smails : "I've sentence boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them ."

Carl (telling a story about caddying for the Dalai Lama to D'Annunzio's younger brother with a pitchfork to the kid's neck): "So we finish and he's going to stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama! How about a little something, you know, for the effort? And he says, "There won't be any money...but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness. So I've got that going for me...which is nice ."

There are too many parts of this movie which can be told, but there is no room for them all here. There are so many lines that to repeat many of the other great ones would produce an article about an hour too long.

However, there are a few interesting things about the movie which need to be mentioned.

First, Chevy Chase was not well liked on the set by a few people, especially Lacy Underall (Cindy Morgan). Their scene in his home where he spills oil all over her was done on purpose by him.

She acted angry, saying, "You're crazy!" as a genuine reaction to Chase's antics.

Second, Rodney Dangerfield was in his first movie and couldn't come to grips with that type of set at the beginning. He was used to being up on stage and having people laugh at everything he said or did. But on a movie set, he was always worried he wasn't doing a good job or being funny because there was no immediate reactions.

Scott Colomby, who played D'Annunzio, had to calm Dangerfield down and explain the difference.

Third, the after hours set of Caddyshack was likely one of the wildest parties known in the Hollywood circles. Every night was a sex, booze, and drug fest which everybody (except for Ted Knight) usually participated.

Last, the girl who plays Maggie, Danny Noonan's girlfriend, was also the mayor's 13-year-old daughter who passed out drunk at the toga party in Animal House . After making Caddyshack , Sarah Holcomb fell into serious drug use and began a downward spiral which had her end up in a mental institution for a while.

Here is an interesting story about her . Take it for what it is worth.

Despite all the issues going on, Caddyshack is a timeless classic and was ranked as the No. 9 "sports" movie of all time in the Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow book, "The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies ." 

Caddyshack finished ahead of some great sports pictures like Field of Dreams , Million Dollar Baby , Remember the Titans, and Rudy .

The book suggest that the Repeated Watching Quotient is "Endless. Once a week. For the rest of your life."

I have to agree.

Feel free to comment about all the great dialogue and scenes from the movie.


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