Tuesday, February 25, 2014

r.i.p. harold ramis

The first time I remember seeing Harold Ramis was on SCTV (Second City Television), a late-night comedy show from Canada that we could only get from the Philadelphia station in our South Jersey home when the weather was good and the aerial could pick it up. Ramis, who was also the head writer, appeared with now-household-name comedians John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, and Dave Thomas.

Ramis quickly moved on to movies, writing National Lampoon's Animal House, and most of Bill Murray's early starring vehicles — Stripes, Meatballs, and Caddyshack (which was also his directorial debut). He is probably best known for his role as Dr. Egon Spengler, in Ghostbusters, which he co-wrote with Dan Aykroyd. I have to admit, that like the character of Janine, played by Annie Potts in that film, I always had a bit of a crush on Dr. Spengler.

Dr. Ray Stantz (Aykroyd), "You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment."
Dr. Egon Spengler (Ramis), "I blame myself."
Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray), "So do I." 

Dr. Egon Spengler, "This is big, Peter, this is very big. There is definitely something here."
Dr. Peter Venkman, "Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head. Remember that?"
Dr. Egon Spengler, "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me."

The dreamy Dr. Spengler

Ramis continued to act in movies, mainly comedies, including Baby Boom, Airheads, As Good as It Gets, and Knocked Up. But he spent the majority of his time behind the camera, directing many popular comedies, including National Lampoon's Vacation, Club Paradise, Multiplicity, and Analyze This.

My favorite of the films he directed is the brilliant Groundhog Day, which he co-wrote, and which may also be Murray's best work. Unfortunately, Groundhog Day ended the two talented men's collaboration.

Ned (Stephen Tobolowsky), "Phil? Hey, Phil? Phil! Phil Connors? Phil Connors, I thought that was you!"
Phil (Murray), "Hi, how you doing? Thanks for watching," [starts to walk away].
Ned, "Hey, hey! Now, don't you tell me you don't remember me because I sure as heckfire remember you."
Phil, "Not a chance."
Ned, "Ned ... Ryerson. 'Needlenose Ned?' 'Ned the Head?' C'mon, buddy. Case Western High. Ned Ryerson: I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Ned Ryerson: got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn't graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson: I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?"
Phil, "Ned Ryerson?"
Ned, "Bing!"
Phil, "Bing. Ned, I would love to stay here and talk with you ... but I'm not going to."

In the immortal words of his SCTV character Moe Green, "So you're dead, now what?"

R.I.P. Harold Ramis. Thanks for the laughs.


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