Monday, February 24, 2014

HAROLD RAMIS (1944-2014):  Oh, no, this is awful.

Had Harold Ramis never acted, had he never directed, he'd still have been among the most crucial comedic talents of the past half-century: Groundhog Day, Animal House, Caddyshack, Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters all were authored or co-authored by him. Add in the acting and directing, and what a terrible loss.

"It’s hard for winners to do comedy," he once said. "Comedy is inherently subversive. We represent the underdog as comedy usually speaks for the lower classes. We attack the winners." Nathan Rabin did a career retrospective last year, and noted:
Where Belushi angrily demanded the spotlight, Ramis was and remains an inveterate collaborator. Ramis’ name can be found on many of the best and most beloved comedies of the past 35 years, but they’re almost invariably accompanied by the names of other screenwriters. Similarly, he has acted in several hit films over the years, many of them enormously successful, but it’s telling that Ramis never really starred in a movie. Despite the hit films he’s appeared in, co-written, or directed, there has never been a Harold Ramis vehicle. But he does have a gift for custom-creating vehicles for the John Belushis and Bill Murrays of the world, icons with the kind of electric presence Ramis lacks...  
In a comedy (and entertainment) world ruled by ego, Ramis is seemingly content to be the man behind the man, or, particularly during the earlier stages of his career, when he acted more regularly, the man beside the man. He has ascended to the apex of American comedy through an unparalleled gift for harnessing the potential of our culture’s preeminent smartasses, particularly Bill Murray, with whom Ramis shares a long, complicated, and fruitful history. 


  1. Do we downgrade him because everything he did post-Murray was lame? Even if so, that's a great fifteen-year peak.

  2. Adam B.1:39 PM

    Analyze This looks better if you don't know what happens to De Niro's career thereafter, and if The Sopranos never happens. No downgrade.

  3. Joseph Finn7:48 PM

    Bedazzled is a perfectly enjoyable film and The Ice Harvest is a better richer piece of darkness than people give it credit for. So no, no downgrade.

  4. Laura9:19 PM

    His dad to Seth Rogen in Knocked Up is one of the sweetest vignettes I've seen in a movie.

  5. Yes, there's a bunch of not-so-good stuff in his filmography, but one thing I think he deserves a lot of credit for is not participating in the Hollywood gossip market--a tell-all about his relationship with Murray (which was apparently more than a bit tempestuous) would have generated a lot of buzz, and he steadfastly refused to say even the slightest thing bad about him.

    (And Ramis scores better than his closest peer on the directing side--Ivan Retiman, where it's been unmitigated awfulness since Dave.)

  6. Joseph Finn11:44 PM

    No arguments, except that I like My Super Ex-Girlfriend. It's silly fun.

  7. Adam C.9:12 AM

    How about the end of the Trib article when, almost as an afterthought, the reporter mentions that Bill Murray (and brother Brian) visited with Ramis during his illness? I'm sure I'm reading into it at least a bit, but the idea that they may have reconciled brings a teary smile. RIP.

  8. Marsha2:15 PM

    Sid Caesar may have been the once-in-a-century comedy god, but Ramis's death is the one that punched me in the gut.