15 Behind the Scenes Factoids from the Harold Ramis GROUNDHOG DAY Commentary

Any film that succeeds in touching on deep themes through perfect comedy is bound to build a lasting connection with audiences. In his DVD commentary for Groundhog Day (1993) Harold Ramis recalls some of the feedback he received on the film and plenty of fun tibits from it’s production. To celebrate the prognostication, we’ve rounded up a few more of our favorite factoids from Ramis’ commentary:

  • Ramis received letters from the Hasidic Jewish community, the yoga community, fundamentalist Christians and psychological communities all claiming that the movie espoused their viewpoints and that he “must be one of them.”
  • Punxsutawney sent delegates to Woodstock to make sure the ceremony was being depicted accurately. Ramis claims that the Punxsutawney delegates thought that Woodstock looked “a lot better than their own town”.
  • The top hat wearing official that pulls the groundhog from the recreation of Gobbler’s Knob is played by the animal wrangler who bred a family of groundhogs for the film.
  • The production team did cash giveaways every few hours while shooting crowd scenes to encourage the extras to continue braving the cold.
  • Danny Rubin’s original script begins after the time warp is already in gear and includes a voice over from Phil describing what’s happening to him.
  • On the Larry King show, Bill Murray said that Groundhog Day was probably the best work he’s ever done and the best work Ramis would ever do.
  • The prognostication scene originally included a sequence with the groundhog running away. The production team ultimately felt that much detail wasn’t necessary and dropped it.
  • Groundhog Day was titled “Black Hole of Love” in Brazil
  • In the original screenplay, Phil marks the passage of time by reading one page from a book in the library of the bed and breakfast each day. He makes it through all the books more than once.
  • After many takes perched on the steering wheel during the kidnapping car chase Scooter the groundhog bit Bill Murray. Murray received medical attention for the bite.
  • Bill Murray learned how to play Rachmaninoff ‘s Variations on a theme by ear for the piano lesson sequence.
  • The snow sculpture that Murray creates of Andie MacDowell at the end of the movie was sculpted by a professional artist in LA. Three or four duplicates were shipped to Woodstock, IL for the production.
  • According to Ramis, a psychologist wrote in the Journal of Object Relations Therapy that the ending of the film “shows that Bill had not progressed that far because he thought he still needed a woman to complete his life.”
  • Ramis had the cast and crew take a vote to decide if Phil and Rita would be wearing pajamas or be naked in bed at the end of the movie. They voted that the couple had not yet made love so they appear wearing pajamas.
  • Phil and Rita climb over the gate of the bed and breakfast in the final shot of the movie because it was actually frozen shut.

Check out our 12 Groundhog Day Commentary Tibits post from Monday, see where Groundhog Day (1993) is screening to celebreate Groundhog Day 2012 and check out the Groundhog Days festival in Woodstock, Illinois Groundhog Day's shooting location. Don't forget to read about 24 Hours of Groundhog Day at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Get Your Hog On