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Moriarty's Rumblings From The Lab #6Re: IRON GIANT, BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, Bill Murray and R.O.T.L.A.

Folks, Harry here, and ya know... Moriarty is in a gleeful happy mood cause I do believe the man has scored his giant sized IRON GIANT toy. Poor old man, someone his age still playing with toys... I mean... I'm just a tenth of his age, yet there he is in his silken robes and monocle firmly lodged into the glassed over blind right eye. The toy... one he can barely lift, but still behold the joy that this evil genius has as he talks about today's subjects.... I tell ya... He's like a twentysomething all over again! Well... Here's the Professor...

Hey, Head Geek...

"Moriarty" here.

To celebrate the fact that there's only 10 days left till the release of IRON GIANT, I have programmed the hidden speakers that run throughout the Moriarty Labs to play nothing but that psychotic "Salt Peanuts" cover from the soundtrack, over and over and over again. To get an idea of what it sounds like, it's as if the voices from decided to perform the jazz classic. True, it's driven the henchmen stark raving mad, and, yes, they're beginning to randomly turn on one another, but I'm loving it. It's got me in such a good mood that all I want to do today is talk about the positive, setting aside all the MPAA claptrap, and just deal with the things about this business that currently make me happy.

That astonishing second weekend for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT... that makes me happy. Over $60,000 per screen? Crazy, man. I don't understand the media outlets that keep saying the film has done this without the benefit of a single TV commercial. I've seen TV spots for the film for the last month, and I've even caught a few of them on tape. Running TV spots doesn't take away at all from how miraculous the opening has been, so why keep making the false claim?

There are certain artists whose work does more than just make me happy. Over the course of a lifetime, certain people and their work has actually caused shifts in my perception of an entire art form. Van Gogh, Stanley Kubrick, John Zorn, Vittorio Storaro, Ennio Morricone, Jim Thompson, John Irving, Carl Stalling, Philip K. Dick, Richard Pryor, Buster Keaton, and John Coltrane... these are a few of my favorite things.

There's one other name I'd put on that list, and I'm always surprised that more people haven't actively declared him a genius, a gift, a national treasure. I'm speaking from the bottom of my heart about Bill Murray. It was the recent release of RUSHMORE and GHOSTBUSTERS on DVD that got me thinking about Bill again, since each film represents a career high for him in different ways. Taken together, they're a real measure of what makes him so special.

Like many of our biggest comic stars from the past 20 years, Bill got his first major national exposure on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. Because he joined the cast in the second year, just as Chevy Chase was leaving, there was an initial perception that he was Chase's replacement. I'd be willing to say that over the course of Bill's five years on the show, he shone brighter than Chevy ever did, and more consistently. He quickly established himself as a unique comic presence, one that meshed nicely with Belushi, Aykroyd, and O'Donohue, the original "Bully Boys." There was something raw, almost threatening, about Bill's particular charisma. When he made the jump to starring roles in features with 1979's MEATBALLS, it was an interesting indicator of the eventual shape of his career.

The film itself is crude, almost amateurish, but there's no denying how good Bill is every time he's onscreen. In particular, his scenes with Chris Makepeace (as "Wudy the Wabbit") reveal something sincere behind the sarcasm and the bluster. Bill forges a real connection to the kid, and it grounds the film's silliness in something that at least resembles reality. Over the course of the film, Bill manages to make his co-stars look more gifted than they are because of how well he plays off of them.

This has been one of the trends of Bill's career. When he makes a film like SPACE JAM or LARGER THAN LIFE, he never acts like he's slumming. Instead, he manages to breathe life into the material, providing individual moments that make you want to forgive the film itself. In THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE, a fairly dreadful film overall, Bill brings the same innocence and sense of play that he contributed to WHAT ABOUT BOB?, and it almost makes the spy parody work. In particular, there's a scene at the end of the movie, when Bill has to dance at a Russian embassy party, that benefits enormously from his exuberance, his joy in performing. In the Warner Bros. commercial... um, movie, I mean... SPACE JAM, Bill uses his real-life friendships with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan to put the two non-actors at ease, and the result is the most natural material in the film. For a few moments, Michael Jordan's real-life charisma shines through the weak material, and the laughs are genuine, not forced.

When Bill is in a film that actually works, it frequently is hailed as great, even if the movie is only average. Take STRIPES, for example. This is a screenplay with a serious structural flaw. The first half of the film is very funny, and builds to a wonderful graduation day conclusion. The second half of the movie seems aimless, tacked-on. Still, if you ask most fans of Murray about STRIPES, they'll tell you they're very fond of the film. It's that first half that does it. There's so much funny material there, and Bill is surrounded by so many other talented performers (Harold Ramis, John Candy, John Larroquette, Warren Oates) that it feels effortless. Think of how many moments jump out of that film. There's the introduction scene ("Chicks dig me because I don't wear underwear, and when I do, it's usually something unusual"), there's the classic "Who cried at the end of OLD YELLER?" scene, there's the bizarre seduction scene involving P.J. Soles and an ice-cream scoop, and there's the wonderful opening of the film, where Bill's job and his relationship both go south. All of that material could have been flat in the wrong hands, but with Bill onboard, it seems both real and hysterical. One scene that's not funny involves Bill and Warren Oates, who plays Sgt. Hulka, in the latrine. Oates gives Bill a rather thorough pounding, and there's not the slightest hint of a joke. Instead, Bill knows that you have to give us something real to make us identify with the characters we're watching.

And then there's the film that I believe is the pinnacle of Bill's starring work, GHOSTBUSTERS. This film is just as smart and as funny today as when it was released in 1984. I think it's funny to listen to Ivan Reitman moan about some of the film's effects on the new DVD's secondary audio track. Who cares, Ivan? They may not be the best effects ever done, but they have real character. Besides, that's not what makes the film work. Instead, it's just how invested Aykroyd, Ramis, and Murray are in making Stantz, Spengler, and Venkman into real people. When you watch an Adam Sandler film like THE WATERBOY, there's a breezy silly nature to the movie that keeps you from ever taking it seriously. When you see GHOSTBUSTERS, it is absolutely essential that you take the situation seriously. It's the only way the laughs work in the film. If they're not in danger of the world ending when the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man comes storming down the street, then why would we care? It makes it even funnier when Bill yells, "No one steps on a church in my town!" Venkman is fearless, and there's a strong desire in us, the audience, to either be Venkman or to be his friend. This is the kind of guy you want in your corner -- unflappable, always ready with the right thing to say, rumpled but somehow in style. Knowing how free Bill is with the written word makes me think of him like some kind of jazz musician, but with comedy. Bill knows when to stick to what was written and when to take the liberty. He knows innately how to make a scene funnier without changing it. There are ad-libs of his that didn't make it into movies that reveal just how quick he can be. One moment in GHOSTBUSTERS involved the first form of Zule, the fashion model version. She orders the Ghostbusters to "choose and perish," but the actress' thick European accent prompted Murray to shoot back, "Jews and berries? Honey, we don't understand!" Since she was going to be dubbed in the final film for clarity, the ad-lib didn't work, but the instinct was definitely right.

What marks GHOSTBUSTERS (and its sequel to a lesser extent) as a departure from the usual Bill Murray vehicle is the real heat generated by his love interest in the movie. I would go so far as to say that Sigourney Weaver has never been better matched with an actor onscreen. For one thing, no one knew she was funny until she and Bill proved it. When you watch her work with Bill, there's a gradual wearing down of her defenses that feels authentic. Bill earns her affection in the film. It's not just given to him because he's the lead. We can understand the attraction between these two people, and it makes her even sexier. I wish someone would wise up and reteam them instead of giving us more dreck from the team behind PRETTY WOMAN. This is a reteaming I'd pay for. Sigourney's never shown that level of life again opposite anyone, and I'm sure she would benefit as much as Bill from the reunion.

Bill's got another career trend, though, that's worth exploring, and that's his supporting work. He's one of the few true movie stars on the planet today who consistently takes small roles in interesting pictures. The first example of that would be one of his best-known characters, Carl the Gardener. I have the production draft of the CADDYSHACK script, and there's not even a character named Carl. The role was invented wholecloth by Murray and Ramis during production, and it's really detailed, fascinating work. How many people have you heard try to imitate that bizarre manner of speaking that Carl has? How many times has a friend of yours quoted the character? His monologue about caddying for the Dalai Lama is one of my favorite individual moments of his career, and never fails to delight me immensely.

There's one scene in the film, though, that should have earned Bill an Oscar, but not because of what you see onscreen. Instead, it was just the effort of staying on set and not attacking his co-star that should have been rewarded. The scene is the one that takes place in Carl's little shack late one night as Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) is practicing for his big match. He drives a ball into Carl's place, then comes in looking for it. In real life, there was such intense antagonism between Chase and Murray that I'm surprised they could even get insurance that would allow them near each other. You can read about the origins of the feud in the wonderful book SATURDAY NIGHT, but the short version is that when Chase came back to be a guest host on SNL, he made sure Bill knew that he was a replacement, and that Chase was the original. Bill got bumped from all but one sketch that week, despite the enormous popularity he was enjoying, and in that one sketch, he only had a couple of lines. Chase's ego has been the downfall of his career in recent years, but even during his funnier early days, he was evidently full of himself. Bill, on the other hand, has always been a generous comic performer, and when you see him in CADDYSHACK, he even manages to give Chevy several great moments. Next time you see the scene, enjoy it, because it's the only time they'll ever be onscreen together.

The same year as GHOSTBUSTERS, Bill took a small role as Dustin Hoffman's roommate in TOOTSIE, and it was liberating. All he had to do was come in, kill for a few scenes, and leave. Without the responsibility of carrying a whole film, Bill was just pure comedy, and it was awesome to behold. The same is true of his few moments of screentime in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, where he played a masochistic patient desperate to be hurt by Steve Martin's sadistic dentist.

There's one film in Bill's career that is truly a reflection of his comic sensibility from start to finish, and that's QUICK CHANGE, the film he co-directed and co-wrote with Carl Franklin. An adaptation of a droll Jay Cronley novel, the film is much funnier than it was given credit for upon release, and it seems to have stopped Bill's career as a filmmaker cold. That's a shame. If he can bring the same kind of keen intelligence to his work behind the camera as he brings to his work onscreen, then we would no doubt have several classic eccentric comic gems, films that we'll never see now.

It wasn't until ED WOOD that Bill's career as a supporting actor finally kicked into high gear. His performance as Bunny Breckinridge is hysterical and oddly touching, like almost everything about Tim Burton's oddball biopic. It's also fairly brave work. Bill doesn't have any ego about looking cool or hanging onto his previous persona. Instead, he gives Bunny a pathetic quality tempered with sweetness that is memorable and even touching. He does equally great work with almost no screen time in John McNaughton's trash masterpiece WILD THINGS. Bill's shyster lawyer is very, very funny, but he's also real, and he makes a strong impression.

It was last year, though, that Bill's work as a supporting actor finally paid off with a breakthrough performance in Wes Anderson's delightful RUSHMORE, one of the most eccentric pictures of last year. A spiritual descendent of THE GRADUATE, the film gives Murray one of his best roles. He could be the grown up version of Benjamin Braddock in the film, a guy who rushed into his life, made a ton of money, but has never really found happiness. In one classic moment, he is sitting apart from his family during a birthday party for his giant moronic sons, watching the proceedings with naked contempt on his face. He stands, walks around to the high dive board, and climbs it. For a long moment, he stands there with a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other, his majestic gut hanging over the front of his awful Budweiser bathing suit. He's a glorious image of potential gone to seed, and when he finally dives into the pool, sinking to the bottom, you can't help but remember Ben Braddock lying on the bottom of his pool. Both men are trying to escape from life, but from different ends of the deal. In the scenes he shares with the astounding young actor Jason Schwartzman, there's a real sense that Bill is amused and delighted by the work he's witnessing. There's a joy on Bill's face that works well for Max Blume, his character, and that also proves how little ego Murray has. He is perfectly willing to hand a scene over, and does so on numerous occasions. He lets Schwartzman shine, and he also gives wonderful support to Olivia Williams, the film's female lead. Hers is subtle work, easily overshadowed, but Bill never pushes her or bullies her. For all of his supposed reputation for running over his co-stars, there's no hint of it in the film.

So is this a sign of the Bill to come? I sure hope so. He's in Michael Almareyda's HAMLET this year, as well as Tim Robbins' THE CRADLE WILL ROCK. Neither one is a starring role. I only hope that Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson have written him a phenomenal lead role in their new still-untitled film about a family of eccentric geniuses in New York. I know that there's a short film premiering in NY this week called SCOUT'S HONOR that I would love to see. It stars Bill and Alec Baldwin as basketball scouts. Baldwin's a new scout who uses technology to find his prospects, while Bill is old-school all the way, using nothing more sophisticated than his judgement. Neil Leifer is the director of the short, and it's the second time he's made a short film with Murray hoping to turn it into a full-length picture. The first time was THE GREAT WHITE HYPE. I haven't seen either of these short films, but I hope they become available in some way. To know there's Murray work out there that I haven't had access to drives me insane.

In the end, whatever direction Murray's career takes in the future, I'll follow gladly. He is the only one of our great film comedians who hasn't soured with age. If anything, he's continually revealed new elements of himself to us, and he seems to mature as an actor each time he steps in front of the camera. Bill Murray is the definition of professionalism, and we are richer for the work he has done.

Before I go, I want to break my promise to only talk about the positive for just a moment. I have to, actually. I can't be quiet when Paramount is about to do one of the stupidest things I've ever seen in this business. Remember... Carrot Top made a film, so it's not easy to win the title of "stupidest decision ever." Paramount Home Video is in the running, though, with their plans to retitle RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for a new video release. I understand the reasons they're claiming it's a good idea -- it promotes the series as all connected, it means they can be put next to each other alphabetically on a shelf in a store -- but forget all that.

I know this is an unpopular opinion among film geeks, but it's my contention that there is only one classic film in the Indy series, and that's the first one. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is, in my opinion, the finest pure adventure film of all time. Both of the sequels are fine, I suppose, but don't really do much for me on repeat viewings. I think the second one's just too cruel, and for no good reason, while the third one is the most half-hearted effort I can imagine. RAIDERS stands alone, and I've always liked that the title was different. Besides... isn't Indy one of the titular Raiders? After all, it's him who cracks the Well of Souls and finds the Ark to begin with. The new title is not just awkward, it's stupid. Paramount, I can promise that I will never own a film on DVD called INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, and I'm not alone. Save yourself the public relations nightmare and pull the plug on the plan now. It's a horrible idea that will bring you nothing but heartache in the long run.

I'm putting together some artwork now to accompany my long-promised LORD OF THE RINGS article, so we're in the home stretch. Nice to see my mention of Ian McKellan and Ian Holm joining the cast be picked up by everyone else a week later. Just remember where you read it first, everyone. Let me go now and put the finishing touches on the piece. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 27, 1999, 2:26 a.m. CST

    Another sign of the apocalypse

    by Dr Vooch

    If Paramount decides and Lucas and Spielberg allow a name change to "Indian Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark", I will burn my WGA card and move to Seattle to live out my days making furniture.

  • July 27, 1999, 2:28 a.m. CST


    by Zcarstheme

    Indiana Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Ark? NEVER! I hope Paramount have realised that lengthening that title is going to make it even more uncomfortable when the whole world tell them to shove it up their ass..

  • July 27, 1999, 2:43 a.m. CST

    Harry do something about this

    by Darth Fart

    Harry, you must stop them from changing the title of the first on-screen Indy adventure (second since TOD was a prequel of sorts). Write an editorial please. This is stupid, Indy is also a Raider. Indy Jones and the Lost Ark, Lucas don't do it!!!

  • July 27, 1999, 2:53 a.m. CST

    Call it luck, call it fate, call it karma

    by Alessan

    ... but I believe that Ghostbusters is one of the greatest comedies ever made, up there with The Court Jester and the Marx brother's best films. It's also the only film I know virtually by heart, having seen it maybe 200 times (it's my Dad's favorite film too - I only have to mention the phrase "important safety tip" and he cracks up. I've never seen Murray deliver a bad performance. The man is a god - a relatively lower echelon, layed-back sort of god, but a god nonetheless - and the American people should be more aware of the fact that his existance is a privelage to their nation. Thank you.

  • July 27, 1999, 3 a.m. CST

    Bill Murray

    by Lady C

    Thanks for the commentary on the brilliant career of Bill Murray. I am a huge fan and have basically wanted to marry the man since I was 9 years old. Your country should be very proud of such a comedy genius!

  • July 27, 1999, 3:07 a.m. CST

    Bill Murray

    by Billy Idol

    Bill Murray is a comic god, on par with Richard Pryor, (early) Eddie Murphy, and Andy Kaufman. And not only is he absolutely hilarious, he makes you feel better about yourself: he's not very attractive, he's bald, overweight, and yet his wit and charm always win him the hot ladies. A welcome change from the typical Hollywood image of a leading man. Side note: most of Murray's lines in Tootsie were improvised (the script would just say "JEFF responds" or "JEFF questions MICHAEL" More proof of his comic genius...

  • July 27, 1999, 3:24 a.m. CST


    by Darth Taun Taun

    Man, if you're going to blatantly rip off Roger Ebert's review of Rushmore with the whole "Graduate" comparison, at least give the man some credit. And yes, Bill Murray is a goddamn genius.

  • July 27, 1999, 3:32 a.m. CST

    Groundhog Day

    by Templer

    I might be making a long shot here, but I predict that in 50 years, "Groundhog Day" will be remembered with almost the same amount of affection as "It's A Wonderful Life." Murray's performance in that film is -- I believe -- the best of his career. Or at least, should be his most cherished. Also, the film seems to have gained such a large cult status around the world you can tell the film has touched a special nerve within people from all over.

  • July 27, 1999, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Big Bad Bill

    by Zcarstheme

    'Quick Change' is definitely a bit of a lost gem. The chemistry of the leads is a rare treat to behold, and it kind of hurts to see it sitting in the Bargain Bucket in most video shops. Makes me want to grab every customer renting a Chevy Chase movie, and cunningly swap the box in their hand so they accidentally take a good film home with them. Spread a little happiness, and all. Oh, and I've calmed down about the Indy title change thing, mainly because 'Beppo The Super Monkey' is such a FANTASTIC title..

  • July 27, 1999, 3:45 a.m. CST

    No Theft Involved... Just Common Sense

    by Moriarty

    Hey, Darth Taun Taun (jeez, the names around here)... I've never read Roger's review of RUSHMORE, but any filmgoer who is well versed in older films would have picked up the strong GRADUATE vibe that RUSHMORE gives off. It's unavoidable, and I'm sure even intentional on the part of Wes Anderson. And to whoever brought up GROUNDHOG DAY, I forgot to mention what a turning point that film was for many people regarding Murray. They realized that they didn't just laugh at him... they loved him. "Moriarty" out.

  • July 27, 1999, 4:09 a.m. CST

    Indy is a Raider ?

    by Darth Fart

    Don't you think Indy is a Raider ? He is stealing it for display in a musuem. The ARK was never meant to be moved. The ARK isn't his or the NAZI's hence the title I could be wrong though.

  • July 27, 1999, 4:48 a.m. CST

    Yes, he is a Raider! What's next, Jaws the Shark?

    by Drath

    It's such a tight and kick butt movie, only total morons would need the Indiana Jones name tacked on. The sequels were inferior(not as inferior as Moriarty contends, but still less than the first) so they are the only ones that need Indy's name. People will always watch Raiders because that's the classic! Like It's like saying that there's a shark in "Jaws." What idiot needs that information in the title? This is more surperfluous than the added junk in Star Wars Special Edition. George, stop adding to the old movie you made that were masterpieces. Focus instead on adding to the movie you only half finished and released this summer! Get those effects nailed, introduce Jar Jar better, give Anakin a moment to look up in awe at those sleek Naboo fighters, but do not touch the title or any frame of Raiders! Okay, remaster it, but change nothing!

  • July 27, 1999, 4:48 a.m. CST


    by Jidaigeki

    Never knew that about Chevy Chase. What an asshole.

  • July 27, 1999, 4:55 a.m. CST

    Good summary of HALF Bill Murray's career

    by Taxman

    Thanks for 'attempting' a wrapping up of Mr Murray's career, but I can't believe you didn't mention his best work in Groundhog Day and also in the understated and underated Mad Dog and Glory! And what about Kingpin for some of his funniest scenes! You didn't mention them, yet you managed to mention Larger than Life, and The Man who knew to Little. Well, I'm afraid you do the man a disservice. On the other issue here, I can't see why it's THAT big a deal about making it Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc (it does take a while to type though doesn't it). Call me a blasphemer, but I never saw what was the big deal about the film anyway. Kinda dull, kinda silly, and not exactly very deep.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:02 a.m. CST

    "Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark"

    by Call me Kenneth

    I'd pay to see that movie. I too find it incredible that you failed to mention Groundhog Day. This is a film I can watch again and again, in some kind of ironic twist on the whole thing. It just get's funnier. I'd like to marry Bill too. And I'm a man.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:06 a.m. CST

    MURRAY Vs. chase

    by Milo_357

    How can I put this simply? Chevy Chase SUCK APE NUTS. simple? Bill Murray ROCKS. When he dies, he'll be doing standup for God. simple? Thank you for your time. -- Milo

  • July 27, 1999, 5:12 a.m. CST

    "You're a little monkey woman..."

    by W. Leach

    Bill Murray has always been my favorite SNL actor to make it in the movies. While I consider my favorite SNL player (past or present) to be Chevy Chase (who really WAS an overnight celebrity in 1975-1976), his movie work (with the exceptions of CADDYSHACK, NATIONAL LAMPPON'S VACATION, and FLETCH) can't hold a candle to Murray's. Among my favorite Murray films: WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM (1980). Okay, so the movie itself is pretty much of a dud, but Murray gives an interesting performance as Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. In fact, Murray was so into the character of Thompson, that when he returned to SNL for the 1979-1980 season (he was still shooting the movie), he stayed in character the whole time. If you watch some shows from this season, you'll definetely notice Murray seems to be phoning in his performances. For the most part he looks bored, cranky, and just plain miserable. Compare it to an earlier season, and you'll see what I mean. The movie died a horrible box office death, and Murray, who was a pain behind the scenes as well at this time, quickly shed his Thompson personality. The movie isn't as cartoony as FEAR &'s more of a realistic portrait of Thompson. STRIPES (1981). Like Moriarty said, this is an uneven film. The first half is brilliant, with Murray's character losing his girlfriend, his apartment, and his pizza. The army induction scene, the basic training scenes, and Murray's smart remarks to his sergeant (Warren Oates) are memorable. But the film seems to take a totally different turn after the sergeant is injured, and the guys are on their own. Sure there are still funny moments, but none as good as the beginning portion. GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) is probably the definitive Bill Murray comedy. If someone were to say "Who's Bill Murray?" this would be the one for them to watch. It's his movie all the way, from the "electricute the nerd" scene to the finale, where he barely has any Stay-Puft on him. Oops. I almost forgot about CADDYSHACK (1980). I did not know the character of Carl was more or less created on the set. Carl basically IS CADDYSHACK. It would be unimaginable without him. You think I'm wrong? One only needs to look at the painful CADDYSHACK II (with Dan Aykroyd more or less playing--or trying to play--I say shamelessly rip off--the Murray role). THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1984) is an underrated adaptation of the classic novel, with Murray playing a dramatic role, that of a World War One vet looking for spirituality. After the success of GHOSTBUSTERS, Columbia promised Murray any project he wanted. Although the film was widely panned, it's actually quite good, and an early example of Murray's dramatic skills. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986) Although Murray was taking time off from film work, he agreed to appear in Frank Oz's adaptation of the off-Broadway hit (based, of course, on the Roger Corman film). While the stage musical didn't have the scene with the pain-loving patient, the original did, played memorably by Jack Nicholson. Murray and Steve Martin walk away with the funniest five minutes in the film, with Murray's pain-loving character acheiving orgasm as his teeth are pulled, causing Martin's dentist to throw him out of his office in disgust. A brilliant scene, that I suspect was improvised on the set. SCROOGED (1988). This is a brilliant updating of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, written by Mitch Glazer and Michael O'Donoghue (who wrote for SNL in the 1970s). Bill Murray in a perennial Christmas favorite? Yup. And he does fine as a slimy TV president who discovers the true meaning of Christmas via three ghosts. QUICK CHANGE (1990). I hadn't seen this one in a while, but viewed it recently last week. It's a good adaptation of Jay Cronley's novel about a man who robs a bank disguised as a clown, but who can't seem to get out of New York City. Murray co-directed the film, which, if I remember correctly, bombed when it was originally released. WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991). Murray as a hypochondriac who follows psychiatrist Richard Dreyfuss and familynon vacation. Another Frank Oz-directed effort, WAB? is one of Murray's best films: "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm psychotic, and so am I." In 1993, Murray released two offbeat films, one a quirky comedy, the other a quirky black comedy. GROUNDHOG DAY is probably Murray's best starring role since GHOSTBUSTERS, with him playing a snobby TV weatherman who gets stuck in Pennsylvania for the annual waking of the groundhog, and is forced to relive that day over and over. His next, MAD DOG AND GLORY, pitted him against Robert De Niro. De Niro plays a cowardly cop who saves the life of a mobster, played by Bill Murray. As a gift, Murray "gives" him a young woman, Glory (Uma Thurman) to do whatever he wants with her for one week. Naturally, De Niro and Thurman fall in love, and when Murray comes to collect...originally Murray was offered the role of the cop, and De Niro the mobster, but the two decided to switch roles, playing against type. It works. Finally, ED WOOD (1994). As I said before, I consider this one to be Tim Burton's masterpiece. Every role is perfectly cast, including Murray as drag queen Bunny Breckenridge, who yearns for a sex change operation ("Goodbye, penis!"), and who is memorably cast in Wood's PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Brilliant, brilliant movie. I look forward to Murray in the upcoming Hamlet, as Polonius, and the Orson Welles drama THE CRADLE WILL ROCK.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:21 a.m. CST

    What a Dork

    by The Doctor

    Taxman, your email address seems very appropriate. In case you didn't notice, Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action movie. Go watch a damn Bergman movie and shut up.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:23 a.m. CST

    chase vs murray??!!!

    by temp

    I wonder if moriarty is correct on this chase vs. murray thing. for one, he is completely incorrect about chase and murray only being together in caddyshack. last year, when murray was promoting "rushmore" he hosted snl. during the show, they did a caddyshack skit and chevy chase did a guest appearance WITH murray. It certainly did not seem like they were enemies.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:25 a.m. CST

    "Bad Dates."

    by r_dimitri22

    Harry did mention the title change last week, and I made the exact same point in talkback that Moriarty makes above. Indiana Jones *is* the primary "raider" of the lost ark. Not only is the title change awkward and blasphemous, but also it makes no sense. Additionally, I agree with Moriarty's point about the quality of the first film as compared to the other two. I love both Temple of Doom and the Last Crusade, but Raiders transcends them both.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:40 a.m. CST

    "Not bad for a quadriped."

    by r_dimitri22

    I agree that Moriarty should have mentioned Groundhog Day. I quote Murray's dialogue from that as if not more often than I do Ghostbusters. Regardless, both are masterpieces, and Murray is the master. (Incidentally, I didn't care much for Rushmore. It needed more Bill Murray!) Deltahead, I agree that the word "raider" has at its root the negative connotation which you claim. I also acknowledge that Indy's primary purpose was to keep the Ark away from the Nazis. However, you can't tell me that as an archaeologist Indiana Jones did not derive some excitement from successfully using the map room and from excavating the Well of Souls. Indiana did not truly realize that he had no more business messing with the Ark than the Nazis did until the conclusion. On a separate topic, I recall the first time that I saw Raiders (when I was 6 years old). I remember hoping that if Marion could come back to life that maybe the Nazi monkey could as well. (I just thought the monkey was cute. I didn't understand that he was an agent of evil.)

  • July 27, 1999, 5:42 a.m. CST

    Taxman. Oh dear.

    by PMD

    Don't usually do this kind of thing, but felt I had to throw in my 2 cents worth. Taxman,I figure there's two possible motivations for your post. 1. You actually love ROTLA and you are just trying to incite some sort of 'reaction' from anguished film geeks. If this is the case, grow up. 2. You actually think the film is 'dull and silly' and you meant every word you said. If this is the up watching films mate, because you have missed the entire f**king point. I usually respect other people's opinions, but on the basis of your comments, I actually feel a tremendous amount of pity for you. Another definition of solipsist by the way is 'I am a wanker and have an 'eclectic' opinion just for the sake of it.'

  • July 27, 1999, 6:16 a.m. CST

    Indiana Jones

    by Azure Tyger

    Although it doesn't get me all hot and bothered, aren't there better alternatives to changing the movie title? Can't they just sub title the jacket of all three or something so that they display in order? It doesn't matter that much to me, though, it will still be the same awesome movie.

  • July 27, 1999, 6:17 a.m. CST

    Indiana Jones and the Other Raiders of the Lost Ark

    by tdibble1

    Um ... yeah, well, at least it's logically correct. But then, people might read it and think "Oh, here's Raiders of the Lost Ark, and here's the 'Other' Raiders of the Lost Ark" ... Ugh, this naming thing is maddenning. ---- Can't think of a single Bill Murray movie I haven't enjoyed.

  • July 27, 1999, 6:27 a.m. CST

    Our Boy Bill

    by BlinkBoy

    Moriarty, my good man, I must confess to not being much of a fan of your long-winded articles. They rarely do anything at all for me. Until I saw the name "Bill Murray" in the little blurb. "What could he have to say about my god and saviour Bill Murray? I must read on and know!" What a loving tribute you've made to the most subtle comic genius in film history. I commend you, sir, for your words and will now be an enthusiastic read from this day forth. Bill Murray can, with a single solitary glance, convey more sarcasm and cynicism than any of these "jaded 20-something Gen Xer comedians". I will leave you now with one of the quintessential Bill Murray "Ghostbusters" quotes: "No, we're exterminators. Someone saw a cockroach on three." "Must be one helluva big cockroach." "Bite yer head off, man."

  • July 27, 1999, 6:49 a.m. CST

    Blair Witch commercials

    by soylentphil

    Moriarty's confused - what's remarkable about the Blair Witch campaign is not that there haven't been commercials (there have); what the press is remarking upon is that there have been NO NETWORK SPOTS. That means the big four or five - all the spots have been on cable channels, which is unheard of for a summer flick that's doing this well.

  • July 27, 1999, 6:59 a.m. CST

    A constructive solution?

    by StuEdwards

    It seems that the only reason that they want to change the title is so that it will set next to the other two films on the video shelves. If this is the case, then why don't they just put 'Indiana Jones In...' in VERY SMALL TYPE above the real title? No-one will ever call it anything else other than 'Raiders of The Lost Ark' anyways, because it's too much of a mouthful! Solved!

  • July 27, 1999, 7:09 a.m. CST

    Farrelly Bros. Talk Murray

    by Elston Gunn

    Check out the KINGPIN Special Edition DVD (I think it's a special edition, it may be the only KINGPIN DVD out there). ANYWAY, during their commentary the Farrelly Bros. say that Bill Murray is the funniest man on the face of the earth hands down. They also go on to mention how much of his performance was improv. "You're on a gravy train with biscuit wheels," "Hi--not you--hi." Great stuff and you'll appreciate Murray EVEN MORE. Genius, indeed. Looking forward to his role in Tim Robbins' THE CRADLE WILL ROCK.

  • July 27, 1999, 7:22 a.m. CST

    DWD: Raiders Name Change & Lucasfilm

    by DwDunphy

    As far as I know, it's not Paramount that is calling for the "Raiders" name change, it's Lucasfilm itself,citing creating "Continuity". So keep on complaining about it. Frankly, I hate the idea they're changing the name, but it's happened before. Can anyone else here say "Star Wars... A New Hope?"

  • July 27, 1999, 7:22 a.m. CST

    A Rose By Any Other Name

    by Stefka

    What is all the fuss about the name change for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Get over it people. It's not like they are changing the movies or digitally erasing Ford's genitals or anything. Sheesh!

  • July 27, 1999, 7:22 a.m. CST

    What about Groundhog Day?

    by M. Hulot

    I know Harold Ramis deserves a lot of credit for the genius that s GROUNDHOG DAY, but surely this movie deserves mention in a long bit on Bill Murray's great career. Seriously, this is one of the best movies of the nineties, and it just gets better every time you watch it. Murray does a more subtle job of comic acting here than he's ever done before and more than matches his Rushmore performance. If you haven't seen it yet, GO RENT IT!!!!!! (Has Moriarty seen it, I wonder?)

  • July 27, 1999, 7:25 a.m. CST

    Indy Last Crusade

    by Fenn Rysha

    I'm afraid I have to disagree on Moriarty's rating of the three Indy films. I am of the firm opinion that Last Crusade is the best of the bunch and contrary to his statement about repeat viewings and a half-hearted effort, I could (and have) watch it over and over. But I agree that they shouldn't re-title it. That's just plain crazy. I'd still buy Raiders and Crusade on DVD though... (as long as they are cleaned up and have some nice extras-unfortunately, Lucas seems to be staying away from DVD...)

  • July 27, 1999, 7:44 a.m. CST

    Murray as "serious" actor

    by nipper

    Thanks W. Leach for bringing up THE RAZOR'S EDGE. This is one of my favorite Murray flicks and I could never understand why it wasn't better received. I remember SNL ran a gag commercial for it at the time: "Bill Murray as you've never seen him before...boring." I couldn't believe they would do that. Considering all the absolute crap that SNL alum have put onto celluloid over the years, why pick on something good, just because it's "serious." For those of you who haven't seen it, I recommend it. He adds a lot of warmth and humor to a stiff, often-melodramatic plot. The original version of this movie had Tyrone Power as the lead--good looking but dull as paste. I read the original novel and I think the character is really more suited to someone "real" like Bill. Besides, he's just really charming in the love scenes. By the way, I've had a crush on him for ages, so that must go to show that he's leading man material. THE RAZOR'S EDGE is also notable because under-rated brother, Brian Doyle Murray plays a small role as Bill's mentor during WWI. Their scenes together are funny and touching.

  • July 27, 1999, 7:46 a.m. CST


    by primemover

    When Raiders of the Lost Ark came out the character of Indiana Jones was an unknown property. It was a serial..with a flashy main character. But after its success, Indiana Jones became the star and main attraction. Actually, I liked Raiders because there was that sense that he wasnt the star...the Ark was. If he had looked at the ark he would have been toast like the nazis. It was about the search for the ark..indiana jones was just one of the players. It is a stupid title change about Fred c. Dobbs and the Treasure of the Sierra Madre? :\

  • July 27, 1999, 7:46 a.m. CST


    by Z

    nice article about Bill M., always like the guy. I'm probably in the minority here, but my personal fave is Indy.... temple of doom. Lucas gave spielberg total control on that project and spielberg ran with it. It's the most gruesome, most frightening, most coolest Indy movie. Shit, it even parodies the first Indy movie (the scene where Indy reaches for his gun, cocky grin on his face, only to realize it's not there!). we owned all three of the Indy movies when I was a kid, but the one I kept coming back to was the temple of doom (saw them all in the theatre too). I'll never forget cringing and closing my eyes when they're in that cave filled with all sorts of nasty, creepy crawly bugs (IMHO much, much creepier then Indy and marion in the snake pit). Oh, well, i understand why people like raiders better, it's the original, the first. But to me, at least, Temple of Doom will always be the best. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, i agree, the title does not need to be changed, raiders of the lost ark is a kick ass title.

  • July 27, 1999, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Scrooged and other tributes

    by All Thumbs

    Moriarty, I'm surprised you didn't mention that Murray's role in GHOSTBUSTERS was originally written for Belushi. You could have tied it in to the replacing Chase thing. Belushi was a great comedian, but I honestly don't think he could have pulled off the arrogance and wit of Vehnkman that was needed in the movie. It would have been an entirely different movie because Murray and Weaver, along with Rick Moranis(in his better days...*sigh*) made that movie. 'Nuff said. To Leech, thank you for mentioning SCROOGED!!! That is my favorite Christmas movie of all time...the best part is when the old bums think he's Richard Burton. Classic...and true, he does look a bit like him, especially when you take a look at Burton in CLEOPATRA opposite Liz Taylor. To SSZero, I have to say I agree with you. (wow, we agree on something!) There should be more tributes paid to people while they are alive rather than look back and thank them for their warmth, entertainment and groundbreaking antics when it's too late. "I'm a nut, but not just a nut." -Bill Murray

  • July 27, 1999, 8:43 a.m. CST

    Star Wars was not always Part IV

    by soylentphil

    "I own the last edition that was put out in a blue boxed set I believe it was '92 or '93 and "A New Hope" has always been there." Whoah, really reaching back into the vaults, huh? I'm not sure about the "A New Hope" part, but Star Wars had "Episode IV" added to the crawl somewhere around 1979/1980. It was not on the 1977 release. I have film magazines from the time period that confirm this. In the beginning, Lucas had no idea what legs the franchise had - if he did, that frigging Holiday Special would not exist.

  • July 27, 1999, 8:53 a.m. CST

    to DeVore

    by r_dimitri22

    If your first point is true, then it is a good one. I was not aware that Lucas originally conceived that title. That makes this a little less irksome. Nevertheless, I still think that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is a better title. Just because those words still appear in the title does not make the new title any less burdensome. You're talking about the fact that I can comfortably shorten the titles to "Temple of Doom" and "Last Crusade" when speaking. I'm talking about preserving a film for posterity as the public originally knew and loved it. Star Wars is not a fair comparison, because the episodes in Star Wars are clearly sequential and dependent upon each other. The Indiana Jones films function as a serial and are therefore independent adventures. As for your third point, if Indy is one of the "raiders," it doesn't make as much sense to list him separately. It's not a totally illogical fallacy, but it just doesn't flow as well for me. Yes, he is participating in "The Last Crusade," but that doesn't mean that Indiana Jones is an actual subset of that adventure known as The Last Crusade. Likewise, Indiana Jones is certainly not a subset of the Temple of Doom. Therefore, I do not think this point is "sadly juvenile," as you say.

  • July 27, 1999, 8:55 a.m. CST

    Scrooged, Indy & A New Hope

    by Chrisedge

    Scooged is a classic too. "I want a disclaimer run every half hour!" Indy: I don't like it, but I'll get over it. Cause...I got over A New Hope. To the guy above thinking it's always been there, You must be under 25, cause if you saw it in '77 it's STAR WARS, nuttin else. Chrisedge

  • July 27, 1999, 9 a.m. CST

    That's all she wrote

    by Lester

    Bill Murray is to my generation what Sandler seems to be to the kids today, which is quite sad. But I don't want to build Murray up by taking Sandler down. In a hundred years when they're looking back on what was cinema, Murray will be one of the perormers that endures. And, I hate to be the nitpicker, but it was Howard Franklin (The Public Eye) who co-directed Quick Change with Murray and not Carl Franklin (One False Move).

  • July 27, 1999, 9:15 a.m. CST

    Murray as god

    by Darkly

    Check out this month's Sight and Sound (top-grade if artsy-biased UK film magazine) for an article discussing just exactly how brilliant Murray really is. Now that's recognition. Of a sort.

  • July 27, 1999, 9:16 a.m. CST


    by Evil Otto

    "And stop staring at me, . . . you've got the bug eyes"

  • July 27, 1999, 9:23 a.m. CST

    Dammit man...

    by creamy goodness

    Pictures for your review of the LOTR script?!?! Dammit man, I wouldn't care if you inked the review in chicken's (or henchmen's) blood, then scanned it in! Just give us it! Yes, my precious. Give it us! Smeagol will keep nice script, yes precious. Nice script... Um... sorry. -CG

  • July 27, 1999, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Such a good gush job I thot Murray was dead...

    by Fred4sure

    Nice tribute, Professor. It scared me, though. I thought maybe Murray had kicked the bucket while I wasn't looking. Not too long ago I never would have thought Lucas could get away with renaming Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I guess he figured if we bought 'The Phantom Menace' we'd buy anything. And we will. --Fred4Sure

  • July 27, 1999, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Bad news concerning Indy and DVD

    by Matt Martinez

    From what I've read, it seems that there are no plans as of yet to release the Indiana Jones Trilogy (including Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark---what's the big deal about that? It's just four words. Now if Lucas tries to make the swordsman shoot first, maybe then I'll be pissed.) on DVD. This may be part of Stephen Spielberg's evil scheme to toally piss off the DVD consumers. I hope VHS all but dies out some time in the near future so he can stop being such an ass about releasing his movies on DVD!

  • July 27, 1999, 10:21 a.m. CST

    What's wrong with changin the name?

    by PumkinKing

    I'm sure if they had the foresight to see sequals, they would have named the original "Indiana Jones and the..." anyway. It's not like people haven't taken to calling the original Star Wars "...:A New Hope". I mean, get real... you can't be so generation-centric as to assume that our future spawn will automatically know that the three IJ titles are related without the addition to the title (I can't even recall which were the Dirty Harry titles... I mean, if I cared) Besides, I figure it'll give fan-boys one more thing to brag about down the line...(ie "yep, this is one of the original releases... before they changed the title")

  • July 27, 1999, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Chevy Chase/Bill Murray were recently on screen together

    by Cineman

    I don't know if Moriarty caught the recent episode of Saturday Night Live that Bill Murray hosted but in one sketch that was about the film Caddyshack, Chase made a surprise appearance and the two of them looked like they were having fun in this little semi-reunion. Maybe this was a sign that they had ended their little feud. BTW, you forgot to mention how great Bill was in Kingpin, one of the funniest movies ever!

  • July 27, 1999, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Whither "Razor's Edge"?

    by Alexandra DuPont

    Great Bill Murray retrospective, Moriarty, but there's at least one glaring omission that I would have loved to see you put into context: His weird remake of "The Razor's Edge."

  • July 27, 1999, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Viva Bill Murray

    by stevecheese

    Bill Murray is definitely a genius. Enough so, that even the X-FILES decided to do a tribute episode to two of his great films, GROUNDHOG DAY and QUICK CHANGE.

  • July 27, 1999, 11:07 a.m. CST

    Steve Martin

    by Killer Bee

    Bill Murray is without a doubt a great actor. And since we're posting messages about a comic genious, let me mention another who also desrves some respect. I'm talking about Steve Martin. Yes, he's also a very funny man. Also, what's the big deal about the name change? The title is essentially the same, only they tacked on the name Indiana Jones and a colon like the other two movies. It still says Raiders of the Lost Ark, and surely this decision by paramount does not deserve to be compared to its decision to make the Carrot Top movie (*sound of puking*). I think your making to big a deal about a stupid title alteration. Obviously Moriarty, your still a little steamed up about all this MPAA nonsense that's been happening lately, so cool down a little, it's not the end of the world.

  • July 27, 1999, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Chase Vs. Murray

    by W. Leach

    Okay, here's the deal on the rivalry between Chevy Chase and Bill Murray: Chase left SNL on October 30, 1976, a few weeks into the second season. Bill Murray had actually auditioned for SNL in early 1975, but Lorne Michaels felt he was too young. Billy joined the cast of an ABC series called SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE WITH HOWARD COSELL. When Chase left, SNL had a player to replace. By then, the Cosell show was history. Bill didn't join the cast until January 1977, right after the Christmas break. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn't an overnight sensation. In fact, most of America hated him for apparently taking Chevy's place. Murray seemed uncomfortable on the air during his first few shows, flubbing lines, and often stuttering a bit. Finally, midway through the season, he developed a following, due to his smarmy Weekend Update commentaries and his Nick the Lounge Singer act. By October, 1978, Murray, along with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, was the star of the show. Chevy Chase came back to host that month, acting every bit the superstar. Murray (and many others associated with the show) resented this holier-than-thou attitude. The two bickered throughout rehearsals, and finally, everything boiled over on Saturday night. Minutes before airtime, Murray and Chase got into an argument. Murray said something like "It's my show now," and Chase replied that Murray's acne-scarred face "looked like Neil Armstrong walked on it." A few punches were thrown, but they mostly hit Belushi and Aykroyd, who were holding the two fighters back. Needless to say, the show went on, without any problems (except that Chase seemed quite shaken), and during the goodnights, Aykroyd and Belushi stood on both sides of Murray, to make sure he didn't lose his cool. During SNL's 1980 season (the last with the original cast), Chase returned. During Chevy's opening monologue, Bill Murray came out, and the two apparently made up on the air, even singing a medley of songs together (including, of all things, I AM THE WALRUS). Apparently the two have been friends (or at least on speaking terms) since then. Like a few posters mentioned, Chevy made a guest appearance on SNL earlier this season when Murray hosted.

  • July 27, 1999, 11:32 a.m. CST

    I make it a rule never to get involved with posessed people...

    by chiefy

    ...well, actually it's more of a guideline than a rule. Bill rocks. No question. I've loved him since I was 8. His performance in Caddyshack was awesome. I particularly love the scene where's he's fashioning plastic explosives into the shape of small woodland creatures to try to fool the gopher. "yeah, hello mr. gopher, it's me, mr. squirrel. I'm not a plastic explosive or anything." Groundhog Day is also great; it's a movie that shows an amazing amount of heart and sincerity for all of Bill's sarcasm. And Stripes is a legend. "Lee Harvey, you are a MADMAN!"

  • July 27, 1999, 11:45 a.m. CST

    "Nobody Likes A Whiner"

    by Slygabo

    Moriarity you evil bastard. You had to go and mess up a great homage to the great Bill Murray with a complaint about something as trivial as a title change. Now the talkback is littered with Raiders arguments when it should have been simply a forum to honor Murray. In the man's immortal words from GBII (another unmentioned film, not his best, but so what?) "Nobody likes a whiner."

  • July 27, 1999, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Re: thanks for the goddamn corrections

    by jeffv

    Montag606: neither "Episode IV" nor "A New Hope" were on the opening crawl of the original May 1977 release of Star Wars. It was changed only in re-release, once they realised there was a future. You said you didn't see it until two years after its initial release, so the first version you saw was probably this touched-up version. Anyway, this Indy title change IMHO is all part of a dumbing-down trend in Hollywood. We've had a number of one-word, get-the-plot-in-the-title movie names lately. A movie about a police negotiator? We'll call it "The Negotiator". "On Any Given Sunday" was changed to "The League" (at least for a time). I seem to recall some desire to retitle "Deep Blue Sea" to something more blatant as well, but I might be imagining it. (BTW, I don't count "The Matrix" in this as the meaning of the name isn't obivous.) To the "Jaws the Shark" suggestion, I'd say if they were titling it now for the first time and there was no investment in the name "Jaws", it'd just be called "The Shark".

  • July 27, 1999, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Stripes variation

    by Van Helsing

    Anybody else seen the Stripes bootleg? video with the different ending? After the montage of magazine covers, the screen darkens, we hear a plane in trouble... followed by a short bit on an island, with Bill serenading the locals! I got the tape several months before the movie was released at theaters. A few other different scenes also...

  • July 27, 1999, noon CST

    Get a grip, people!

    by acaana

    Okay, I don't think it is necessary at all for RotLA's name to be changed... but what's the bug deal? All this "sign of the apocolyps" stuff and "Paramount are a bunch of morons" stuff is just stupid. Remember a little movie called Star Wars? Well, when it became increasingly clear that it was going to be a part of a bigger series, it got a name change (for those of you living under a rock, it was to "Star Wars: A New Hope"). Did the world end? No. Did ANYONE out there refuse to buy the multiply-versions of the video or boycott the theatrical release of the Special Editions? No, not anyone that I know. So just deal with it. BTW, Moriarty, that LotR piece had better come soon, or I just may starve to death waiting...

  • July 27, 1999, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Murray and Ramis

    by GodBear

    I've said for years that Bill Murray was a genius but you know what's even more genius. Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. Ramis is probably the funniest movie writer around and he knows how to write for Murray and Murray knows how to run with the material. Off the subject of Ramis, for all out Murray smartass and wit I think you have to go with Quick Change and Scrooged. Lets see Mike Meyers or Sandler share the screen with so many really funny people, let them have their moments and still own the film. "Yeah. Great story. Go tell readers digest."

  • July 27, 1999, 12:13 p.m. CST


    by acaana

    Opps! I meant "BIG" deal...

  • July 27, 1999, 12:49 p.m. CST

    If you want to know how good Bill Murray really is, go see the c

    by paragonian

    A lot of the best stuff in that movie was improvised by Murray and the Farrely Brothers were smart enough to let Murray do whatever he wants. Go check it out.

  • July 27, 1999, 1:06 p.m. CST

    The SS Minoe.

    by TheButcher

    What about Scrooged? This has got to be one of the best christmas films I have ever seen. It takes the whole Christmas Carol idea into modern times without losing the heart and soul of Scrooge. This film is the best version of Charles Dickens immortal classic that I have ever scene and that is because of Bill Murray. One of the best scenes in the whole movie is between Bill and The Ghost of Christmas Past as they watch a rerun of his relationship between father and mother. That scene always makes laugh and then breakdown into tears. The father's line about people and their excuses for not working "My back hurts, My legs ache, I'M ONLY FOUR!" one of the best lines in the whole movie and the interaction between the young bill and his mom always breaks my heart. What a great way to reincarnate Scrooge then to make him a TV executive who is cheap, selfish, and only cares about ratings. The guy sends his secretary a towel instead of a bonus. Bill Murray truly is amazing with this script. You can see the way the character grows throughout the film and I know no other actor could achieve the same effect as Mr. Bill Murray.

  • July 27, 1999, 1:08 p.m. CST

    musings . . .

    by fonebone

    (1) I'm glad someone agrees with me on "Last Crusade" -- a sad imitation of Raiders, indeed. (2) Groundhog Day was not only funny, it was almost exisitential -- like Sartre's "No Exit." (3) Does anybody think Blair Witch should have opened more widely on July 16? I'm not sure why it's coming out in dribs and drabs. Also, I agree with the poster who clarified that BWP has had no network commercials.

  • July 27, 1999, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Veeck As In Wreck??

    by Moleman

    i've been seeing this film's title in bill murray's filmography in the IMDB for the past couple of years. does anyone know anything at all about it??

  • July 27, 1999, 2:27 p.m. CST

    My Love for Bill and Sigourney...

    by Mia Fudge

    And a young girl in Alabama screams: "Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!" I've had a 20-some year crush on Bill, ever since seeing "Meatballs", and those SNL skits with him giving noogies to Gilda Radner...He's my biggest crush, and Sigourney Weaver my biggest female crush, so seeing them together--oooh...some people do not understand this. Some newspaper guy recently wrote about how unrealistic the ending of "There's Something About Mary" wuz because Cameron chose Ben Stiller over Brett Favre and Matt Dillon...(some people do not understand what women actually find appealing...make me laugh, baby.) Goodbye.

  • July 27, 1999, 2:35 p.m. CST

    All of you people comparing the Raiders name change with the Sta

    by r_dimitri22

    The Star Wars movies are sequential and dependent upon each other. Since Lucas wanted to refer to the entire story arc as "Star Wars," it is necessary to distinguish A New Hope from the other films. However, the Indiana Jones films are a serial. The adventures are not dependent upon each other (aside from the fact that Indy's survival implies there can be another movie and notwithstanding allusions that refer to the other films). You people who say "what's the big deal?" simply leave your argument at that. That's not going to convince me. You do not address any of the specific reasons I raise that this name change is ridiculous. DeVore is the only one who presented a cogent point by point argument as to why the name change is o.k. If what he says is true, than I will begrudgingly and unhappily accept the modification. (I still think it's wrong. I'm glad Lucas didn't kill Lando and destroy the Millenium Falcon, but the story would not have gone that way if not for test audiences.) Regardless of the process that created it, why tarnish cinematic perfection?

  • July 27, 1999, 3:07 p.m. CST

    BOYCOTT Raiders DVD! And Roger Rabbit if they changed it as well

    by Funmazer

    Raiders is my favorite movie. I plan to buy a DVD player soon. But I WILL NOT, WILL NOT, WILL NOOOOOOOTTTTT!!! buy a DVD called INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. I'd rather watch my blurry, played-a-billion-times pan & scan TAPE of it, than some hack-eyed, named-changed CRAP! A title that long, when Indy walks in front of the mountain, we won't see ANYTHING!!! I urge ALL of you to NOT buy this. Make it known that we will NOT stand for this. Changing the name of one of the most classic films EVER and no one can deny that it isn't. What's next, "Casablanca, Cuz Everybody Comes to Ricks?" "The Ten Commandments from The Prince of Egypt" "A Civilization Gone With The Wind"? BOYCOTT AND STOP THEM NOW!!!!!!................. PART 2..... "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" is probably my second favorite film of all time. And I hear the DVD of this new release is gonna take out Baby Herman saying 'Excuse me, toots' in the opening scene. I WILL NOT, WILL NOT, WILL NOT buy a DVD of Roger Rabbit if they do something like this. BOYCOTT THAT AS WELL! I suppose they're gonna digitally remove Joel Silver from that scene as well, since he produced The Matrix which OBVIOUSLY caused the Columbine Incident? BOYCOTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PS. This pisses me off, why should I even BUY a DVD player when my 2 most favorite films can't be bought for it? BUT I STAND FIRM!!!!

  • July 27, 1999, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Murray / Indy

    by Krinkle

    Okay, I've just rifled through all of these postings, and I've gathered enough reactionary opinions to merit a posting of my own. As far as Bill Murray goes, I certainly don't think it would be fair to imply that he and Chevy Chase had quite so clear a gap in their talent levels. Both were, in thier prime, terrifically funny and subversive in a neo- "Bob And Ray" sort of way. And while I can't disagree that Chase's movie career has been a wash (the three "Vacation" sequels", the "Fletch" sequel, and just about everything else), I think certainly that his own work in Caddyshack (his finest screen work, I think) easily rivals Murray's one-note gross-out bit. And, on top of that, may I say that I can't IMAGINE how Moriarty could possible lionize "Ghostbusters" while slamming the last two Indiana Jones pictures. The ONLY action adventure film that could POSSIBLY make "Temple Of Doom" and "Last Crusade" look slightly less than top-notch would be "Raiders" (in a class by itself, wouldn't you say?) I would go so far as to say that the THREE Indy pictures are the three finest such pictures ever crafted in Hollywood. YES, that means I like them better than "Gunga Din" and the Errol Flynn "Robin Hood." (You would have to be Leonard Maltin not to.) And as far as "Ghostbusters" goes, having just rewatched the film with all the DVD bells and whistles, my first impression stands : it's just not FUNNY! It is really, really hard to try to be a special effects blow out AND a comedy, and I've always felt that "Ghostbusters" succeeds as neither. Dan Aykroyd's presence is too keenly felt, and I've never agreed with him on what is and what is not funny. And, while it's true that Murray's asides in the movie steal what there is of the show, the picture bogs down in a schizophrenic mess every time. I will say that I enjoy the sequel as bit more, as it at least has a gem of a comic idea (New York bad vibes setting of sci-fi apocalypse.) Where Bill Murray really shines, when all is said and done, is in his supporting roles (and the movies he chooses to grace the background of) : "Ed Wood", "Rushmore", "Kingpin", "Wild Things", and especially "Tootsie". Now , THAT'S a rock solid comic resume (and one that will, regardless of "Meatballs" and "Larger Than Life" and "The Man Who Knew Too Little", assure Murray's place in the pantheon.) By the way, wouldn't "Groundhog Day" have really been a keeper if Ramis had gone with the original idea of implying that Murray's character had spent a thousand years reliving that day, and that he had reached a level of Buddha-like wisdom? Oh, and as far as the "Raiders" retitle thing goes, I could care less if it means that Lucas is trying to generate hype for a fourth Indy vehicle. Bring it on! With all this running around that Harrison Ford is still doing in movies, he might as well be wearing that fedora, eh? (And consider this: a reliable source informed me, two years back, that ILM was doing some effects work on "Raiders". Whether this was a remaster or a revamp, it's interesting.)

  • July 27, 1999, 3:42 p.m. CST

    bill murray for supreme ruler of earth, and here's why

    by tommy five-tone

    [1] quick change - security guard: "what kind of clown are you?" bill (as gun-wielding bank-robbing clown): "the crying on the inside kind, i guess." [2] scrooged - burly stage hand: "you can hardly see them nipples." bill: "see? and these guys are REALLY looking." [3] ghostbusters - "egon, this reminds of the time you tried to drill a hole through your remember that?" [4] stripes - "folks, don't order the schnitzel - they're using schnauzer." [5] ed wood - "you're definitely going to get a role, because you look like peggy lee...but i don't want anyone else to resent that." god DAMN, is anyone funnier than bill murray? thank you, moriarty, for giving bill his due.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:07 p.m. CST

    brian doyle murray

    by gaveltogavel

    saw somebody up there do a quick mention of brian doyle murray. why have we never seen this guy in big roles. he's always good! every damn little piece of film he's in FREAKIN SHINES! take a look at his roles in the vacation movies (director of that shit-ass log-cabin camp in the first vacation and chevy chase's evil boss in christmas vacation). the guy can bring laughs. by the way, thx moriarty for the bill murray retrospective. he truly is a national treasure. groundhog's day, meatballs, and rushmore are my faves. the only one of his films that never quite did it for me was scrooged. it seems too ungenuoinly sappy towards the end (although I love the ending credits where murray tries to get the audience to sing along. when i saw scrooged in the theater, everybody sang. quite an experience. nobody would be able to pull off a feat like that except for bill.) i'm actually more partial to a christmas story and, of all things, christmas vacation, for my holiday humor.

  • July 27, 1999, 5:32 p.m. CST

    Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the lost collector's items

    by Powerslave

    With this name change, does this mean the all old copies of "Raiders" will now become collector's items? They wouldn't be valuable, given the number of them out there, but they would at least become minor curios. On the subject of "Raiders," did any computer gamers out there catch the reference to the movie in the game "Sin?"

  • July 27, 1999, 5:39 p.m. CST

    oh, by the way.... check this out

    by gaveltogavel

    there's a great interview of Kevin Smith on the Howard Stern show posted over on in streaming real audio. In it, Kevin describes a really scary meeting with Chevy Chase back when Smith was thinking about writing a new Fletch movie. The interview makes Chase look like a complete ass. pretty amusing stuff.

  • July 27, 1999, 6:55 p.m. CST

    Who *is* this Moriarity character?!?!

    by Senor Smoke

    Granted, I agree that Bill Murray is long overdue such accolades, and I really appreciate you mentioning a truly brilliant and underrated film (Quick Change). But to clear up a few things... Tootsie was released two years prior to Ghostbusters (1982 to 1984) and you apparently did not see Murray's last SNL guest hosting spot -- not only did he and Chase share the screen together -- they acted out the very scene from Caddyshack you described in a funny bit about that film permeating our society. But that's just me nitpicking... My big beef is your breakdown of Ghostbusters... it's my humble opinion that you have completely missed the boat -- real characters? The film, at it's core, is a sendup of effect-laden films and the beyond super superhero at it's center. Real? I always thought Murray and company (Murray, especially) were spoofing that role, putting a twist on the idea of who should be at the forefront of such a movie. I really don't think realism has a thing to do with it. In fact, it's his bigger than the film itself performance, the wink, wink, nudge, nudge, yeah, I know there's a 50 foot marshmellow man in the middle of downton New York that makes the film so damn funny. Who else could have pulled that off? I honestly can't think of a soul with the possible exception of pre-BHC Murphy. To me -- *that's* the essence of Bill Murray -- no matter how big the film is, no matter how out of control it might spin, he'll never let it swallow him. He'll always be on our side, sitting with us, fully aware of its magnitude and ridiculousness. For a prime example of a film that tried this approach and failed, see Men in Black -- not only was it a pale GB's ripoff, but Will Smith could never, not even in his dreams, touch Bill Murray when he's on. Maybe that's what you meant -- though I don't know if I'd use the word real. It seems Murray always rose to the occassion, even as the film got bigger (it's also why the sequel sucked such ass -- they tried to make the other guys just as funny, and boy, did they not seem in on the joke). He never lost sight of the joke in the first film he always let us know he was fully in on it -- always. One of the saddest days of this past year was receiving the news that Duvall, for giving a performance he could do in his sleep, was nominated and Murray wasn't -- I was crushed at the lack of balls the Academy showed. It was so safe and predictable -- and it promised to hide and shelter not just a pefromace, but a film that should be shown by more people... Also, I've read some of these posts -- and shame on you for not mentioning Groundhog Day!! I too feel this will be Murray's leagcy. No, it wouldn't rank, for me, above GB's, but it will, in my opinion, live longer. It is a powerhouse of a great film, and holds up to many repeated viewings. Thanks again for the Murray piece and for those who haven't seen Quick Change -- treat yourselves. The look on Murray's face when Quaid blows the whole plot is... well, vintage Murray!

  • July 27, 1999, 7:44 p.m. CST

    "Scrooged," "Quick Change," and "Groundhog Day":

    by Freud

    Three good reasons to be a movie freak in this day and age. Bill Murray is such a master that when he nails a role people think he's just being himself. They don't understand the skill, the training, the perfectionism inherent in a classic Murray performance. Could anyone else pull off the emotional speech at the end of "Scrooged," the clown act in "Quick Change," the casual middle finger in "Groundhog Day"??? Christ, he's amazing. In "Quick Change" one of the bank customers says to him "They don't give you no money if you ain't got no receipt" and the way Murray just BLINKS at him is pure genius. Even Murray's appearances on late-night talk shows are weird and amazing. And about that Chevy Chase thing: he's great in "Funny Farm," but Murray in that role would have made it a classic. Thanks Moriarty.

  • July 27, 1999, 8:41 p.m. CST

    Murray is a comic Kingpen

    by The Godfather

    First of all, Krinkle, how is Ghostbusters not funny? I just watched it on DVD and Murray absolutely kills! He is naturally funny in almost every scene.....Tommy five - tone you forgot one from Kingpen: "Keep em comin' sweets, I got a long drive ahead of me. And would you mind washin' that perfume off before you come back to our table?"..Murray has been a comic genuis I almost forgot all of his great performances until this chat session. Murray does improv most of his lines in Kingpen and it's easily the funniest shit from any Farrelly Bros movie. I think if you had to pick one movie to show people the true greatness of Murray it would have to be his hilarious, ironical, smug turn in Groundhog Day. And just think...on his death bed he will receive total consciencness. So he's got that goin' for him...which is nice. Out.

  • July 27, 1999, 8:55 p.m. CST

    I almost forgot

    by The Godfather

    Raiders is my third favorite movie of all time behind The Godfather and Godfather Part 2. Having said that I'm not gonna be happy if they change the name so I don't have to walk an extra 30 feet to find a movie. But, I'm also not going to deprive myself of the greatest action adventure movie ever made because some pencil pushing dipshit wants to change the title. I'll get over it as soon as I hear that great theme music from the genuis John Williams blaring out of my surround sound (on DVD) as some of you silly bastards try and tape together your 20 year old piece of shit beta machine while clinging to some ridiculous "I'll never give in to the name change" bullshit. Just a thought. Have a nice day. Out.

  • July 27, 1999, 10:19 p.m. CST

    Read your sherlocks senorsmoke.Moriarty is the one with 'theBrai

    by morpheus

    he's actually..(cue ominous music)...Pinky!!

  • July 27, 1999, 11:47 p.m. CST

    I have to disagree...

    by ToasterKiller

    ... about indiana. If the title was being changed to "Indiana Jones and the big box that the Nazi's wanna get their hands on" I'd go out and buy it on DVD in a second. I wouldn't be happy about the title change, but I'd buy it anyway.

  • July 28, 1999, 2:05 a.m. CST


    by RodimusPrime

    It's "ZUUL" not "Zule", and it's not Zuul anyway who appears on the rooftop, it's GOZER. Gozer is a Sumerian god/goddess, also known as The Traveller and The Destructor. Zuul (and Vinz Clortho) are the "terror-dogs", demi-god servants of Gozer. Zuul possesses Dana Barrett, and Vinz possesses Louis Tully. Geez, Moriarty, if you are going to mention the masterpiece that is Ghostbusters, please get your facts straight. Oh, and by the way, Ghostbusters II is much better than people give it credit for, and features another masterful performance by Bill Murray. Go watch it again NOW.

  • July 28, 1999, 2:13 a.m. CST

    to senor smoke

    by little joe

    comparing will smith to bill murray is obscene!!! smith couldn't kiss murray's ass even if he would stand on his toes...

  • July 28, 1999, 2:25 a.m. CST

    random thoughts

    by blueboy

    just thought i'd throw my hat in the ring.. Yes, IJ&ROTLA is a bonehead title, but I don't think I'd be able to resist buying the DVD.. if it ever comes out, that is. I think the culprit for that is Spielberg, who I guess is still licking his wounds over DIVX; that's why there isn't a single Spielberg movie on DVD (that I know of, anyway). Lucas, on the other hand, has publicly commented favorably on the medium, and he and Rick McCallum have both said SW is gonna be available eventually; also, American Grafitti is on DVD, remastered (and it looks really great). Hey, somebody just told me that is taking pre-orders for TPM on VHS & DVD, have no idea what's going on there. Star Wars was originally just called Star Wars, no Ep. IV, no ANH. I still remember reading the Time article when Empire came out; it was a really big deal than it had the Ep. V subtitle on it. On Murray, I've always enjoyed his work; saw Where the Buffalo Roam again recently... it's not a very good movie, and it especially doesn't compare favorably to Gilliam's Fear and Loathing, which is a much better rendition of Thompson's personality and style in a cinematic setting. Murray is at pains doing his Thompson impression, though you gotta admire him for trying.

  • July 28, 1999, 4:01 p.m. CST


    by The Godfather

    Just to let you know...I've seen Amistad and The Color Purple on DVD, but that's it. There might be one more, but I can't remember. Of course, the ones we're really waiting for are Raiders, Jaws, SPR, CEOT3K,etc...OUT.

  • July 28, 1999, 6:09 p.m. CST

    a few more reasons why bill rules the world

    by tommy five-tone

    [1] 'quick change' - "he actually said 'baby, up your butt with a coconut'. i think he was PREPARED TO DO IT! but i saw no coconuts..." [2] 'ed wood' - "let's hear you call boris karloff a cocksucker." [3] the end of 'scrooged', where the mute kid finally says "god bless us, every one", and bill's sublime reaction shot. get drunk on xmas eve and watch this, and you too will get misty-eyed and discover the true meaning of the season. [4] 'ghostbusters 2' - (to sigourney weaver) "may i put the baby down?" (to baby) "you're short and your belly button sticks out too far and you're a terrible burden on your poor mother!" [5] 'ghostbusters' - "dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria!"

  • Aug. 16, 2006, 1:28 p.m. CST

    It's a real gas!

    by Wolfpack