Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

R.I.P. Harold Ramis (1944-2014)

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist February 24, 2014 at 1:08PM

If you throw a rock into the comedy world of the '70s, '80s and '90s and you're bound to hit something written, directed or starring (or all three) Harold Ramis. And today you'll want to pull one out and put it on to pay tribute to one of the crucial keys of the American comedy world, as Ramis has passed away today at the age of 69.
5
Harold Ramis

If you throw a rock into the comedy world of the '70s, '80s and '90s, you're bound to hit something written, directed or starring (or all three) Harold Ramis. And today you'll want to pull one out and put it on to pay tribute to one of the crucial keys of the American comedy world, as Ramis has passed away today at the age of 69.

The Chicago-born Ramis got his start writing and performing on the wildly influential "SCTV" and "The National Lampoon Show," building key relationships the folks he could collaborate with later in his career (notably John Belushi and Bill Murray) before making the leap to writing and directing feature films. And the list of achievements speaks for itself. Screenplays credited to Ramis include: "Meatballs," "Stripes," "Caddyshack," "Back To School," "Ghostbusters," and "Ghostbusters II." 

As an actor he'll likely be remembered for playing the delightfully nerdy Egon Spengler in the 'Ghostbusters' films, starring opposite Diane Keaton in "Baby Boom" or one of his many "SCTV" characters. And while his legacy will likely always begin with the megahit '80s ghosthunting comedy, "Groundhog Day" is arguably his finest accomplishment.

The film, which he wrote and directed, sounds a bit easy on first glance—a man stuck in a loop, living the same titular day over and over again—is rigorously edited, finely honed and most importantly of all, a truly hilarious movie that also manages to have something to say. It's nothing particularly profound, as we watch a character put aside his own selfishness for others, but it's rendered sweet and subtly, with a terrific turn from Ramis' longtime friend Murray, who gives one of the best performances of his career.

It's hard to imagine the films of Jay Roach, Peter Farrelly, Jake, Kasdan, Jason Bateman or Judd Apatow without Ramis having cleared the path first, with comedies that could be both high concept and human at their best (the latter honored Ramis with a small role in "Knocked Up").

Ramis' recent films perhaps didn't have the same touch, but his efforts on "The Office" are on some of that series' best episodes. And his impact and importance on silver screen comedy is undeniable. A beloved, well-respected figure with talent that spread over two decades worth of seminal work, Ramis will be missed. And Bill Murray perhaps put it best in a statement to Time: “Harold Ramis and I together did the 'National Lampoon Show off Broadway,' 'Meatballs,' 'Stripes,' 'Caddyshack,' 'Ghostbusters' and 'Groundhog Day.' He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him.”

Below are some vintage interviews with Ramis, "SCTV" sketches, a clip from his appearance in "Knocked Up" and the "Safety Training" episode of "The Office" from season 3.

This article is related to: Harold Ramis


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates