It seems like it was just other day when we all learned that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had died, but now here comes news that 1980’s comedy legend Harold Ramis has died last night at the age of 69. He was the producer, actor, writer and director of some of the most groundbreaking comedies ever made and it is true that comedy films wouldn’t be the way that they are today without his influence.
All you have to do is look at his resume to see how important he was to the entertainment industry, and growing up as a child of the 1980’s Harold Ramis had a profound impact on my childhood and what I found to be funny. From Ghostbusters, which includes the animated cartoon, to Stripes, which was one of the first movies to introduce my younger self to breasts, Ramis’s film legacy will continue to haunt me (get it, ghosts) for the rest of my life.
So to celebrate his impact on my life and the entertainment industry as a whole, which includes horror fans who will forever be tormented by a gigantic marshmallow, comes my list for my top 5 films either written or directed, or both, by Harold Ramis. Mind you, this list isn’t in any particular order, because that would be a discussion for another day.
Caddyshack (1980) – While Animal House (1978) had initially put his name down as an upcoming talent, it was Harold Ramis’s directorial debut that helped to ignite his career into super-stardom. The film follows the events that occur at an exclusive golf course, including a destructive gopher. The cast is what really sets this movie apart from many others, however, by featuring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray all in their primes.
Stripes (1981) – The second collaboration, out of many, between Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis was responsible for this film in which to two friends, one portrayed by Ramis himself and the other Bill Murray, decide to join the Army out of sheer boredom. Like usual, the cast and the writing, are what distinguish this film away from other like-minded films, which includes the great and under-appreciated John Candy in a support role.
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) – Written by the fantastic John Hughes, yet another collaboration with one of the comedy greats, comes this National Lampoon classic that features Chevy Chase in his most famous role, as the head of the Griswold family. This movie would inspire countless other road-trip comedies and proved that Harold Ramis was a name on the rise, with many great films still ahead of him.
Ghostbusters (1984) – One of the most influential films during my childhood would have to be the first two Ghostbuster films, which is also, along with Gremlins, one of my first introductions into the world of monsters. Not only did Ramis write the film, but it was also his greatest acting performance as the geeky paranormal investigator Dr. Egon Spengler. He was also responsible for writing some of the Ghostbuster cartoons that I loved as a kid.
Groundhog Day (1993) – I just realized after coming up with this list that Bill Murray is in 4 of the 5 movies on this list, so it makes sense that one of Ramis’s last great comedy classics would also be one of Bill Murray’s greatest roles. This movie was one of the most original films ever made, with the plot following a weatherman that is forced to re-live the same day over and over again until he literally has the best day ever.
Harold Ramis was a comedy genius and that is not a word that I use very often, especially in the entertainment industry, but there is no other word that really suits him. His influence will forever be felt and his films will continue to entertain generations long after he is dead. Unfortunately, his death might be the nail in the coffin for a Ghostbusters 3 film being made, but since he has already completed the screenplay for it, I can think of nothing better then for this film to actually be made. Either way, I would like to thank Harold Ramis for being such an important part of my childhood and for shaping the way that I look at films.