The Essential Movie Library #73: Groundhog Day (1993) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #73: Groundhog Day (1993)

Bill Murray plays a misanthropic weatherman who finds himself caught in the loop of a single day lived over and over and over in a small town he despises until he gets his life right

Debate rages about just how long Bill Murray’s misanthropic weatherman finds himself caught in the loop of a single day lived over and over and over in a small town he despises until he gets his life right, with some applied mathematics to make the case. Is it nine years or 34? The film’s director and co-writer Harold Ramis (who just died this past February) variously suggested 10 and 10,000. Murray and Ramis both came out of Chicago’s Second City and would make numerous movies together, this being the one that cost them their friendship, though you have to wonder what the dynamic of such a friendship could have been when Ramis cast Murray because he considered his other choices, Tom Hanks and Steve Martin, “too nice.” 

The story became caught in a tug of war between the perspective of Murray who—the failure of The Razor’s Edge a decade before still resonating—wanted Groundhog Day to be more philosophical, and Ramis’s view that it needed to be funnier. Of course Groundhog Day was an instant classic because both were right, and because each prevailed over the other at just the right time in just the right measure. A throwback to comedies that had head, heart and laughs, and regarded them as not all mutually exclusive, this is the crucial entry in Murray’s filmography, the portal to later performances that were on the tipping point of comedy and drama, and the moment when Murray overcame the limits of the all-pervasive irony that so defined his persona for ‘70s and ‘80s audiences. It’s also when two notions, previously difficult to imagine, became fully credible: Murray as a romantic lead, and Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You, Babe” as the soundtrack of purgatory.

Read them all:

The Essential Movie Library #72: Rear Window
The Essential Movie Library #71: The 400 Blows
The Essential Movie Library #70: Blue Velvet
The Essential Movie Library #69: Dr. Strangelove
The Essential Movie Library #68: The Bicycle Thieves
The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction
The Essential Movie Library #66: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Essential Movie Library #65: Caché
The Essential Movie Library #64: A Hard Day's Night
The Essential Movie Library #63: The Searchers
The Essential Movie Library #62: The Conformist
The Essential Movie Library #61: Bonnie & Clyde
The Essential Movie Library #60: Sweet Smell of Success
The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her
The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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