ⓘ Caddyshack


ⓘ Caddyshack

Caddyshack is a 1980 American sports comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Ramis, and Douglas Kenney, and starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, Michael OKeefe, and Bill Murray. Doyle-Murray also has a supporting role.

Caddyshack was Ramiss directorial debut and boosted the career of Dangerfield, who was previously known mostly for his stand-up comedy. Grossing nearly $40 million at the domestic box office the 17th-highest of the year, it was the first of a series of similar comedies. A sequel, Caddyshack II 1988, followed, although only Chase reprised his role and the film was poorly received.

The film has a cult following and was described by ESPN as "perhaps the funniest sports movie ever made."


1. Plot

Danny Noonan works as a caddie at the upscale Bushwood Country Club to earn enough money to go to college. Danny caddies for Ty Webb, a suave and talented golfer and the son of one of Bushwoods co-founders. Danny tries to gain favor with Judge Elihu Smails, the country clubs stodgy co-founder and director of the caddie scholarship program, by caddying for him. Meanwhile, Carl Spackler, a somewhat-unhinged groundskeeper-who lives in the maintenance building, hunts a gopher that is damaging the course. He attempts to kill it with a rifle and high-pressure hose, without success.

Al Czervik, a brash and obnoxious nouveau riche golfer, begins appearing at the club. Czervik heckles Smails as he tees off, causing his shot to go badly. Later, frustrated by slow play, Al wagers with Smails. Smails is infuriated for losing the bet and throws his putter injuring an elderly woman. Danny takes responsibility for the incident, to gain Smails favor. Smails encourages him to apply for the caddie scholarship.

At Bushwoods annual Fourth of July banquet, Danny and his girlfriend Maggie work as servers. Czervik continues to irritate Smails and the club members, while Danny becomes attracted to Lacey Underall, Smails promiscuous niece.

Later, Danny wins the Caddy Day golf tournament and the scholarship, earning him an invitation from Smails to attend the christening ceremony for his boat. The boat is sunk at the event after an accident involving Czerviks larger boat. Returning home, Smails discovers Lacey and Danny in bed at his house. Expecting to be fired or to have the scholarship revoked, Danny is surprised when Smails only demands that he keep the incident secret.

Unable to bear the continued presence of the ill-mannered Czervik, Smails confronts him and announces that he will never be granted membership. Czervik counters by announcing that he would never consider being a member: he insults the country club and claims to be there merely to evaluate buying it and developing the land into condominiums. After a brief scuffle and exchange of insults, Ty Webb suggests they discuss a resolution over drinks. After Smails demands satisfaction, Czervik proposes a team golf match with Smails and his regular golfing partner Dr. Beeper against Czervik and Webb. Against club rules, they also agree to a $20.000 wager on the match, which quickly doubles to $40.000. That evening, Webb practices for the game against Smails and his errant shot brings him to meet Carl; the two share a bottle of wine and a joint.

The match is held the next day. Word spreads of the stakes involved, and a crowd gathers. During the game, Smails and Beeper take the lead, while Czervik, to his dismay, is "playing the worst game of his life." He reacts to Smails taunts by impulsively doubling the wager to $80.000 per team. When his own ricocheting ball strikes his arm, Czervik uses his fake injury in hopes of having the contest declared a draw. Lou, the course official who is acting as an umpire, tells Czervik his team will forfeit unless they find a substitute. When Webb chooses Danny, Smails threatens to revoke his scholarship, but Czervik promises Danny that he will make it "worth his while" if he wins. Danny chooses to play.

Upon reaching the final hole, the score is tied. Judge Smails scores a birdie. Danny has to complete a difficult putt to achieve an overall tie. Czervik again doubles the wager based on Danny making the putt. Dannys putt leaves the ball hanging over the edge of the hole. At that moment, in his latest attempt to kill the gopher, Carl detonates plastic explosives that he has rigged around the golf course. The explosion shakes the ground and causes the ball to drop into the hole, handing Danny, Webb and Czervik victory on the wager. Smails refuses to pay, so Czervik beckons two hulking men to "help the judge find his checkbook." As Smails is chased across the course, Czervik leads a wild party at the clubhouse, attended by all of the onlookers at the match. Some distance away, the gopher emerges from underground, unharmed, and dances to the movies theme song, "Im Alright," amid the smoldering ruins of the golf course.


2. Production

The film was inspired by writer and co-star Brian Doyle-Murrays memories of working as a caddie at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka, Illinois. His brothers Bill and John Murray production assistant and a caddy extra and director Harold Ramis also had worked as caddies when they were teenagers. Many of the characters in the film were based on characters they had encountered through their various experiences at the club, including a young woman upon whom the character of Maggie is based and the Haverkamps, a doddering old couple, John and Ilma, longtime members of the club, who can barely hit the ball out of their shadows. The scene involving a Baby Ruth candy bar being thrown into the swimming pool was based on a real-life incident at Doyle-Murrays high school. The scene in which Al Czervik hits Judge Smails in the genitals with a struck golf ball happened to Ramis on what he said was the second of his two rounds of golf, on a nine-hole public course.

The film was shot over eleven weeks during the autumn of 1979; Hurricane David in early September delayed production. Golf scenes were filmed at the Rolling Hills Golf Club now the Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie, Florida. According to Ramis, Rolling Hills was chosen because the course did not have any palm trees. He wanted the film to feel that it was in the Midwest, not Florida. The explosions that take place during the climax of the film were reported at the nearby Fort Lauderdale airport by an incoming pilot, who suspected that a plane had crashed. The Fourth of July dinner and dancing scene was filmed at the Boca Raton Hotel and Club in Boca Raton, Florida, while the yacht club scene was shot at the Rusty Pelican Restaurant in Key Biscayne, Florida.

The scene that begins when Ty Webbs golf ball crashes into Carl Spacklers shack was not in the original script. It was added by director Harold Ramis after realizing that two of his biggest stars, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray who previously did not get along due to a feud dating back to their days on Saturday Night Live, but were at least tolerant and professional towards each other while on set, until then, did not appear in a scene together. The three met for lunch and wrote the scene. This is the only film that Chase and Murray have appeared in together.

Murray improvised much of a "Cinderella story" scene based on two lines of stage direction. Ramis gave him direction to act as a child. Murray hit flowers with a hoe while fantasizing aloud about winning a major golf tournament. Murray was with the production only six days, and all of his lines were unscripted. Murray was working on Saturday Night Live at the time, and was not intended to have a large role in the movie. However, he was repeatedly recalled from New York to film additional scenes as production continued.

Cindy Morgan said that a massage scene with Chevy Chase was improvised, and her reaction to Chase dousing her back with the massage oil, where she exclaimed "Youre crazy!" was genuine. A scene in which her character dived into the pool was acted by a professional diver. Before the diver took over, she was led to the diving board by the crew and carefully directed up the ladder since she could not wear her contact lenses near the pool and was legally blind without them.

A deal was made with John Dykstras effects company for visual effects, including lightning, stormy sky effects, flying golf balls and disappearing greens flags. The gopher was part of the effects package. Dykstras technicians added hydraulic animation to the puppet, including ear movement, and built the tunnels through which it moved.

The production became infamous for the amount of drug usage which occurred on-set, with supporting actor Peter Berkrot describing cocaine as "the fuel that kept the film running."


3. Reception

Caddyshack was released on July 25, 1980, in 656 theaters, and grossed $3.1 million during its opening weekend. It went on to make $39.846.344 in North America.

The film was met with underwhelming reviews upon its original 1980 release, with criticism towards the disorganized plot, though Dangerfield and Murrays comic performances were well-received. Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, Caddyshack feels more like a movie that was written rather loosely, so that when shooting began there was freedom - too much freedom - for it to wander off in all directions in search of comic inspiration." Gene Siskel gave the film three out of four stars, saying it was "funny about half of the time it tries to be, which is a pretty good average for a comedy." Dave Kehr, in his review for the Chicago Reader, wrote, "The first-time director, Harold Ramis, cant hold it together: the picture lurches from style to style including some ill-placed whimsy with a gopher puppet and collapses somewhere between sitcom and sketch farce." Vincent Canby gave it a mixed review in The New York Times, describing it as "A pleasantly loose-limbed sort of movie with some comic moments, most of them belonging to Mr. Dangerfield."

Nevertheless, the film has gained a cult following in the years after its release and has been positively reappraised by many film critics. The film holds a 74% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 54 mostly contemporary reviews, with an average rating of 6.69/10. The websites critical consensus reads: "Though unabashedly crude and juvenile, Caddyshack nevertheless scores with its classic slapstick, unforgettable characters, and endlessly quotable dialogue." Christopher Null gave the film four stars out of five in his 2005 review, and wrote, "They dont make em like this anymore … The plot wanders around the golf course and involves a half-dozen elements, but if you simply dig the gopher, the caddy, and the Dangerfield, youre not going to be doing half bad."

Tiger Woods said that he liked the film, and played Spackler in an American Express commercial based on the film. Many of the films quotes are part of popular culture.

Ramis noted in the DVD documentary that TV Guide had originally given the film two stars out of four when it began showing on cable television in the early 1980s, but over time the rating had gone up to three stars. He himself said he could "barely watch it. All I see are a bunch of compromises and things that could have been better," such as the poor swings of everyone, except for OKeefe.

In 2007, Taylor Trade Publishing released The Book of Caddyshack, an illustrated paperback retrospective of the movie, with cast and crew Q&A interviews. The book was written by Scott Martin.

In April 2018, Flatiron Books published Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story by Chris Nashawaty, detailing the making of the film.

Denmark was the only place outside the United States where Caddyshack was initially a hit. The distributor had cut 20 minutes to emphasize Bill Murrays role.


4. Awards and honors

This film is also second on Bravos "100 Funniest Movies."

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • 2000: AFIs 100 Years.100 Laughs – #71
  • Carl Spackler: "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac. Its in the hole! Its in the hole! Its in the hole!" – #92
  • 2005: AFIs 100 Years.100 Movie Quotes
  • 2008: AFIs 10 Top 10
  • #7 Sports Film

5. Soundtrack

In anticipation of the movie, the Kenny Loggins single "Im Alright" was released nearly three weeks before the movie opened and became a top ten hit the last week of September 1980. CBS Records also issued a soundtrack to Caddyshack later that year. It included ten songs, four of which were performed by Kenny Loggins, including the aforementioned "Im Alright."


6. Caddyshack restaurants

On June 7, 2001, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray and their brothers opened a themed restaurant inspired by the film at the World Golf Village, near St. Augustine, Florida. The restaurant is meant to resemble the fictional Bushwood Country Club, and serves primarily American cuisine. The brothers are all active partners and make occasional appearances at the restaurant. Three more Caddyshack restaurants were opened, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Orlando; and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida; these are now closed, leaving the original St Augustine, Florida their flagship location, open to fans and diners.

Bill Murray and two of his brothers were in attendance when another venue opened in Rosemont, Illinois, in April 2018.