There’s always a certain apprehension that comes with watching a film that you loved when you were younger. Will it live up to your memories, or will your changing tastes taint your feelings for that particular film forever? I've certainly been let down before, and as such sometimes I feel it's better to just let a pleasant memory stay in the past where it can remain more pure. However, a couple of years ago I had the great pleasure of viewing Ghostbusters in a beautiful theater in downtown Toledo, and I was happy to find that the film more than held up to my nostalgic expectations. In fact, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the film even more as an adult than I had as a child, largely due to the work of co-writer/co-star Harold Ramis, who unexpectedly died on February 24th.
As an indelible part of the film and television industry for more than 30 years, Ramis deserves to be recognized as one of the greats. Many of the films he wrote and/or directed, films like Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters (directed by Ivan Reitman) and Vacation, are commonly considered to be among the greatest comedies of their time, if not all time, and projects like Analyze This, Stripes and Meatballs aren’t all that far behind. Even some of his less appreciated films, like Multiplicity and The Ice Harvest, have begun to find enthusiastic cult followings. One important thing to note about Ramis was that he was never a show-off. As a writer, Ramis didn’t always give himself the flashiest parts or the most memorable lines but he always more than held his own among his more popular peers and, regardless of his role, his intelligence and sharp wit always shone through. Similarly, he was not a showy filmmaker in the least. His projects contained few auteuristic flourishes, few moments of self-conscious artistry. They simply were remarkably solid films, often pitch perfect and almost always highly enjoyable. In time, a good portion of these films have become recognized as true classics. In 2006, Groundhog Day was chosen for preservation by the National Film Registry. We can only hope that more of his films will soon be given that honor. They certainly deserve to.
In an attempt to illustrate some of the wit and skill of Harold Ramis I’ve collected a few clips. Some of them he appears in as an actor, some he does not. But whether he chose to remain behind the camera or display his gifts in front of it, every project that Harold Ramis worked on bore his truly unique stamp.
[Max Castleman is a thing from Ohio which is trying to make movies. It writes far too many lists and not enough poems and keeps attempting to write a novel. It likes the average dog more than the average person. Some people think it’s a bit strange, but it thinks they’re strange too. It thinks that’s a good thing. It is currently writing about itself in the third-person.]