Study Guide

Groundhog Day Behind the Scenes

  • Director

    Harold Ramis might be most famous for his role as Egon in the original Ghostbusters movies, and it was on the Ghostbusters set where Ramis met Bill Murray…which led to him eventually choosing Murray for the lead in Groundhog Day.

    Unfortunately, Ramis and Murray would have a falling out during the filming of Groundhog Day and would hardly speak to each other for the next (yup, you guessed it) ten years.

    Ramis' other big directing credits came in the world of comedy, with such gems as Caddyshack in 1980 and Analyze This in 1999. Along the way, he racked up a lot of writing (SCTV) and acting (Knocked Up) credits.

    Basically, Ramis pretty much did it all up until his death in 2014. RIP, you magnificent man.

  • Screenwriter

    Danny Rubin was the dude who wrote the screenplay for Groundhog Day and brought it to Harold Ramis to direct. But the two quickly differed in their opinions on how cheery or dark the final movie should be. Danny Rubin originally wrote the script as if Phil Connors were stuck in Groundhog Day for 10,000—count 'em— 10,000 years.

    Harold Ramis, on the other hand, pegged it somewhere around 10. That's a pretty huge difference. But you can see the Danny Rubin darker side come out in the montage where Phil Connors kills himself in a half-dozen brutal ways only to wake up again in his B&B bed.

    In the end, it's probably best that Harold Ramis won out and that Phil's time in Groundhog Day was a long (but manageable) 10 years. At least in this interpretation the movie has a positive spin—we're willing to bet that in Danny Rubin's version Phil would have wound up staring off into space and drooling after being stuck for 10,000 years.

    Oh yeah: Rubin's original script called for the Rita character to start her own time loop after Phil's had ended. But that wouldn't make any sense according to the logic of the film, since Rita is already a good person and would have nothing new to learn.

  • Production Studio

    Columbia Pictures released Groundhog Day in 1993 at a time before production companies whittled their branding to the narrow focuses they have today. Columbia was pretty broad in its interests back in 1993, which you can see from a quick scan of the movies it released immediately before and after Groundhog Day.

    In 1992, they released the Oscar-winning courtroom drama A Few Good Men ("You Can't Handle the Truth!") and in 1993 they released Last Action Hero, a weird comedy-action flick that many people would argue is the worst film ever made. Go figure…but hey: Columbia was willing to take some risks.

    The production history of Groundhog Day can completely change the way we look at this movie, especially when you focus on the question of how many days Phil Connors is supposed to actually spend stuck in February 2nd. When screenwriter Danny Rubin first handed the script to director Harold Ramis, Rubin wanted the movie to start right in the middle of Phil's struggles and to give us no background at all on how Phil found himself in his predicament. But Ramis and the folks at Columbia felt like audiences would get mad if they couldn't see Phil's slow realization of what was happening to him.

    So here's the deal with the whole "number of days" question. Harold Ramis says in the movie's DVD commentary that Phil Connors is probably stuck in Groundhog Day for ten years, and that's the explanation many people tend to go with. But in a later interview, Ramis said that ten years was too short and that it was probably more like 30 or 40 years.

    Yeesh. That's a pretty big difference.

  • Production Design

    Watch Groundhog Day alongside a movie like Home Alone and you'll see that there's a clear mid-90's vibe that runs through both these movies. A lot of the camera shots and conversations are of short-to-medium length and many of the scene transitions use classical music.

    There's really nothing about Groundhog Day that breaks the mold as far as production goes, but that's one of the reasons why it's such a good typical example of movie directing back in the mid-1990s.

  • Music (Score)

    The music in Groundhog Day includes a lot of different songs like "I Got You Babe" and a really killer piano solo played by Phil Connors at the Groundhog Day Dance. But the general score to the movie follows a jaunty clarinet-based motif by composer George Fenton.

    This music has a bouncy, almost polka-like feel to it, which makes sense when you think of how many towns in Pennsylvania were settled by Germans (infamous lovers of the polka). Yes, we admit that the connection is a bit of a stretch, but the polka motif comes back again later in the movie with "The Pennsylvania Polka". The rest of the music is mostly just the generic soft rock that you'd expect from an early-90's comedy.

  • Fandoms

    Groundhog Day is not the kind of movie that you'd imagine would attract a cult following. On the surface, it's a pretty typical comedy from the early 90s that shows a jerk learning how to be a good person.

    But since it's release this movie has steadily accumulated an army of fans. Many of these fans have come from a variety of religious perspectives: many believe that the movie contains one of the most powerful spiritual messages of the 20th century.

    And when we say "variety" we mean variety. Hasidic Jews love the message in this movie. So do Buddhists. It's voted as being one of the 50 best Catholic movies of all time.

    But it also has a serious agnostic, and even atheist, fan base. Groundhog Day continues to inspire articles written by people finding new and interesting things to say about the movie. The Guardian has even gone so far as to say that the movie is "the perfect comedy".

    Basically, the more you search the internet, the more you'll learn just how big of an impact it has had on people.