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Top Five Movies Written by Harold Ramis

Updated on February 28, 2014

Since the mid-1960s, Harold Ramis was involved in bringing comedy into our homes. He was a talented actor and is most beloved for his character Dr. Egon Spengler from the Ghostbusters films.

Yet, from the beginning, Ramis was always involved with comedy film writing, sometimes writing himself into the story, other times for an entirely different cast. While most of the films Ramis wrote are well-known comedy hits, here are his five best.

As a St. Louis native and an employee of Washington University, I found this early interview of Ramis to be particularly enjoyable.

Animal House (1978)

credited as Written By

On a college campus, 2 rival fraternities are continually butting heads. One, with seemingly sophisticated well-to-do students, the other housing middle class layabouts with questionable grooming practices. The latter fraternity, known as Delta Tau Chi (Delta House) is responsible for numerous pranks and disturbances on campus and the dean wants to kick them out. When the dean enlists the help of their arch enemy, the fraternity of Omega Theta Pi, the situation quickly becomes out of hand.

Quotable Quotes

“Who dropped a whole truckload of fizzies into the swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween, the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring, the toilets explode.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests—we did. [winks at Dean Wormer] But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick perverted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg: isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do what you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen! [Leads the Deltas out of the hearing, all humming the Star-Spangled Banner]”

Stripes (1981)

credited as Written By

John Winger is caught in a swirling pool of problems. Frustrated by obnoxious tourists, he walks out on his job. When he gets home, his live-in-girlfriend leaves him. Chasing after her, he drops his dinner, a pizza, topping-side down in the middle of a grimy street. He feels unhappy, unloved, out of shape, and without prospects.

Then, he sees one of the propaganda commercials for joining the U.S. Army. It shows in shape, disciplined, fulfilled-looking men and promises the chance to live up to ones’ full potential. John decides that joining the Army is just what he needs. The question is, does the Army need a wise-cracking goofball like him?

Quotable Quotes

“We're Americans, with a capital 'A', huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! Here's proof: his nose is cold! But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw Old Yeller? Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? [raises his hand] Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I'm sure. [hands are reluctantly raised] I cried my eyes out. [even more hands go up] So we're all dogfaces. We're all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We're mutants. There's something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us! We're soldiers, but we're American soldiers!”

“I've always been kind of a pacifist. When I was a kid, my father told me, ‘Never hit anyone in anger, unless you're absolutely sure you can get away with it.’"

“C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like we're going into Wisconsin.”
Well, I got the shit kicked out of me in Wisconsin once. Forget it.”

Ghostbusters (1984)

credited as Written By

Ghostbusters is by far the best Horror-Comedy film to date. Even though it was heard in theaters thirty years ago, the tag line “Who You Gonna Call? “ is still part of our pop culture vernacular. This film pulls the viewer in from the very beginning with a cold opening of an extreme haunting at a library. Next, we are introduced to three academics with questionable social skills who all study otherworldly phenomena with varying degrees of sophistication and validity. What follows is a wild cops & robbers story played respectively by four for-hire ghost specialists and an array of nasty specters.

Quotable Quotes

Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.”
“They caused an explosion!”
Is this true?”
Yes it's true. ... This man has no dick.”

Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!”
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!
The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

Back to School (1986)

credited as Screenplay by

Jason Melon is a freshman in college. He is a straight C student who finds his life unremarkable. He is not enjoying college and feels like he is wasting his time. During a visit home, Jason vents his frustration to his father, Thornton. When Thornton lectures his son on the importance of a college degree, Jason is annoyed that he seems to value a college education so much; yet doesn’t have one himself. To keep his son in school, the sexagenarian makes a deal with Jason that he himself will enroll at the same college to prove how easy it is.

Quotable Quotes

“Are you FAT? When you go jogging, do you leave pot-holes? When you make love, do you have to give directions? At the zoo, do the elephants throw YOU peanuts? Do you look at a menu and say 'OK'? Well, now, you can eat all you want, because at Thornton Melon's "Tall & Fat" stores, we've got you covered. That's right. Fine woolen, and woolen-blend suits and sport coats, in all the larger sizes - husky, stout, extra-stout, and the new Hindenburg line. And for you ladies we have caftans, muumuus, and our own exclusive A-frame in all colors and patterns. Yes, we have miles and miles of fabric. So take it from me, Thornton Melon, if you want to look thin, you hang out with fat people. “

“Mr. Melon, your wife was just showing us her Klimt.”
“You too, huh? She's shown it to everybody.”
“Well, she's very proud of it.”
“I'm proud of mine too. I don't go waving it around at parties, though.”
“It's an exceptional painting.”
“Oh, the painting.”

“Lay off Vanessa. She gives great headache. Lou, I can't believe it. Married five years. Seems like yesterday! [sighs] And you know what a lousy day yesterday was.”

Groundhog Day (1993)

credited as Screenplay by

Phil is a pain in the ass. He is a weather-man who finds no joy in his work or his life and makes everyone around him miserable. It is nearly Groundhog Day and his boss at the news station sends him to cover the festivities in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where he continues his air of obnoxiousness and self-importance. What was to be a one-night trip turns into a second overnight stay when the snowstorm Phil predicted to miss the town hits it full force and shuts down the roads. Phil goes back to his B&B and goes to sleep. When he awakes the next morning, he begins to experience what seems to be the longest bout of Déjà vu; then he realizes the awful truth – he is living the same day over.

Quotable Quotes

“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

See Also: Obama pays tribute to Ramis

Many quotes found via:
Fact checking performed via:

Written by: Jeanette Cline
February 2014


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