Harold Ramis died at the age of 69 and cinema lost one of its great comic writer-directors. Ramis died of an autoimmune infection, something he contracted back in 2011. He was in his home in Chicago and was surrounded by his family when he passed away. While the world of cinema lost a great director, he leaves behind a legacy of work that is almost unparalleled. If fans want to celebrate his career, here are the best movies to watch.
Ramis got his start with the Second City improvisational group in Chicago where he met new friends in John Belushi, Jim Belushi, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. While those friends moved on to “Saturday Night Live,” Ramis took a different direction and went to National Lampoon to continue his comedy work.
It was while at National Lampoon that Ramis got the chance to help write a movie that became the greatest college movie of all time in National Lampoon’s “Animal House.” The movie helped turn John Belushi into a major star and helped Ramis get some of the credit he deserved to help him move on to the next phase of his career.
Two years after “Animal House” was a hit and just following his writing the Bill Murray comedy “Meatballs,” Ramis got the chance to step behind the camera and direct his first movie. That movie was “Caddyshack,” one of the best sports comedies ever made. The film starred Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and a host of comic talent as they all took it to the stuffy sport of golf. The film remains the best movie about golf ever made.
National Lampoon’s Vacation
The next year, Ramis wrote “Stripes” and then quickly started working on his next directorial effort, this one back with National Lampoon, but his first that he never wrote. The story of “Vacation” was written by another top notch director that passed away too early in John Hughes and starred Chevy Chase as a father who seemed to get his family into the worst predicaments possible in the name of the family vacation. The movie spawned a franchise, but this was the only one that Ramis directed.
The very next year, Ramis starred in the movie that made him a star on the screen. Ramis, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray headlined the horror-comedy “Ghostbusters,” where the three men starred and the titular characters. The movie proved that he could be just as funny in front of the camera as he was behind it and he also starred in the sequel. Sadly, he and Aykroyd really wanted to make a third one, but were stopped every step of the way by Bill Murray.
Harold Ramis wrote and-or directed a lot of very funny movies, but nine years after “Ghostbusters,” he might have written and directed his masterpiece. That would be the Bill Murray starring “Groundhog Day,” a movie that saw Murray’s weatherman wake up every day and realize that he is reliving the same day over and over again. Murray’s character must then decide what changes he needs to make in his life in order to move forward. It was smart, funny, and the best movie in a career of comedy classics.