If you were a filmmaker in the early 1980s, were making a comedy and were told by your producers that you could have any three or four people in the world for your cast, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray probably would have been on your wish list.
What you probably wouldn’t have done was take those three and said, “yeah, it’s a good start, but what I really need is annoying, unattractive, charisma-void teenager as my lead.”
That’s not what you would have done, but that is exactly what Harold Ramis (nee Egon Spangler) did with Caddyshack.
Ramis had Dangerfield, Chase and Murray sitting around on the set and decided that the focus of the movie should be Michael O’Keefe’s Danny Noonan, the most insipid character in the entire movie. We know what you are thinking: at least they didn’t give him a completely insufferable girlfriend with a grating Scottish accent.
All that said, the movie is still laugh-out-loud funny and one of the most quotable films ever made.
Chase and Murray are at their absolute peaks (and weren’t even supposed to have a scene together until Ramis noticed this gleaming error at the very end of the shoot and wrote the night golfing scene which might be the funniest in the movie).
Dangerfield is an acquired taste (which neither Bret nor Erin acquired), but the way Ted Knight as Judge Smails plays off him makes his presence tolerable.
Knight actually delivers some of the best lines in Caddyshack, including Bret’s personal favorite: “I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.”
At the end of the day, Caddyshack is still a hilarious film, particularly if you can get past Noonan, his gal Maggie and their entire storyline, which inexplicably takes up about 60 percent of the movie.