The film comedy “Stripes” turned 40 last year. A popular hit that hit theaters back in 1981, the film by Bill Murray and John Candy has become a classic, and jokes are endlessly quoted at military bases around the world. That’s a fact, Jack!
Director Ivan Reitman died unexpectedly at the age of 75 on February 12, 2022. Although he previously had some success with the low-budget comedy “Meatballs”, the achievement of “Stripes” marked the beginning of a long Hollywood career.
Reitman directed some of the most successful comedies of the 80s, including both original films “Ghostbusters”, “Twins”, “Kindergarten Cop”, “Dave” and “Junior”. He later found success as a teacher for young directors and produced films such as “Old School”, “Private Parts”, “Space Jam”, “I Love You, Man” and an Oscar nominee for his son Jason’s best film. “In the air.” ».
All the success goes back to The Strip, a chaotic and obscene comedy that is certainly not anti-war and was released at a time when cinemas were still filled with disturbing dramas about the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Let’s go further and say that the success of “Stripes” opened the door for the return of films on military themes, where the emphasis was not on the negative, but on the positive. Would we have watched “Top Gun” or “Officer and Gentleman” if “Stripes” hadn’t proved that viewers need war films that recognize the benefits of service? Probably not.
Like many great comedies, the film we saw was not necessarily the one originally planned by the creators. “Stripes” went a long way from the idea to the screen and made some weird twists before the project hit theaters. Here are six amazing facts about “Stripes”.
1. The script was written for Chich and Chong.
Reitman came up with the idea of pro-The army a comedy about how best friends come together, and enlisted screenwriters Lena Bloom and Daniel Goldberg to write the screenplay.
“It was just before the premiere of the meatball in Toronto, Canada,” Reitman said in interview with the U.S. Army website. “I felt it was time for another comedy service. We were in peacetime, it was after Vietnam, and I thought it would be great to look at the army, that would not be another protest film. The main part of Hollywood. My the idea was for Chich and Chong to join the army, that’s what Dan and Lenny did [Blum] originally written ”.
It could be a hilarious movie. Chich and Chong were passionate after the unexpected success of “Up in Smoke” in 1978, but they wrote their own films, and the director was Tommy Chong (although their manager Lou Adler somehow took credit for Chong’s work on the first film). They quickly ground the movies. Both “The Next Movie of Chicha and Chong” and “Pleasant Dreams” were released before “Stripes,” so they were never going to appear and star in someone else’s film.
Luckily, Reitman got along with Bill Murray from “Mitkadelki” and recruited him to play the lead role, John Winger. After they signed John Candy for the role of recruiting Dewey “Ox” Oxberger, the pieces were in place for a truly chaotic comedy.
2. The army supported the filmmakers.
You have to wonder if anyone at the Pentagon has read the script before giving an army blessing on the Strips. Although the film followed the old Hollywood arch of “recruits who went through training before fighting the enemy on the battlefield,” all the anarchy was in detail.
In many ways, the reason that “Stripes” works is that the film was shot in real military conditions. And the army’s decision to support production all mattered. “This support has made it very easy for us to get troops during filming,” said screenwriter and producer Daniel Goldberg. “It just took away any negativity from the film, and that support really made it a very enjoyable experience for everyone because we were really embraced by the army.”
3. The “stripes” were made by Canadians.
Why did one of the most beloved army comedies be shot by Canadians? Sure, it’s true that the top best friends of John Winger and Russell Ziskey were played by Chicago natives Bill Murray and Harold Remis, but on set they were completely surrounded by our friends from the North.
Reitman was born in Czechoslovakia but emigrated to Canada as a child. Screenwriters Goldberg and Bloom are Canadians. Candy was the same, and he was joined in the film by SCTV colleagues, Canadians Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty.
That’s a lot of Canadians. It may have taken foreigners to remind Americans how ridiculous the military can be.
4. Warren Oates was the only legitimate military connection in the film.
After graduating from high school, future actor Warren Oates entered the service in the United States Marine Corps in 1946 and served as an aircraft mechanic for two years. He received the rank of corporal before his dismissal in 1948. He discovered theater as a student at the University of Louisville, and became an actor.
Drill Sergeant. The play has become one of the most iconic roles of the actor. Oates managed to express the threat with a straight face, still conveying the feeling that he was in the joke of the film. “Stripes” works mostly because it keeps the chaos at bay.
In the 60’s Oates became a star actor and starred in some great films, including “In the Heat of the Night”, “Wild Band”, “Two-Strip Blacktop”, “Bedlands” and “Dillinger”. He worked at a breakneck pace throughout his career and made three films after “Stripes” before dying of a heart attack at the age of 53 less than a year after the premiere of “Stripes”.
5. Scenes of the Czechoslovak border were filmed in Kentucky.
The army allowed the filming Fort Knox, and the producers realized that the Kentucky forest had become a great place for the Czechoslovak border. This not only cut the budget, but also the filming for several actors took place near the house. Oates hails from the small town of Depoy, Kentucky, and Sean Young, who played his first major film role and later starred in “Running on the Blade,” “Dune” and “No Way Out,” was from Louisville. John Deal, who began a successful career after playing Howard’s recruiter “Cruiser” Turkstra, is a native of nearby Cincinnati, Ohio.
6. “Stripes” was one of the first films to use Steadicam for filming.
Another reason viewers love “Stripes” is the look of the prom scene. Reitman counts Gareth Brown, the inventor of Steadicam. Although he was not credited with working on “Stripes,” Brown oversaw the use of Steadicam for this part of the film.
Almost 50 years later we got used to Steadicam, but the camera was a revolution when Brown invented it in 1975. Steadicam is a mount that isolates the camera from camera movement, allowing the camera to move smoothly, even if the camera itself is moving on uneven ground.
Prior to Steadicam, the filmmakers had to use heavy-duty tracks to ensure stable shooting motion. The setup process was time consuming and therefore expensive. Steadicam made a revolution in filmmaking in the 80s.
Reitman had the impression that “Stripes” was only the second film after “Rocky”, which used this technology. This is not entirely true. Woody Guthrie’s biopic “Bound for Glory” (1976) has a fascinating sequence that introduced Steadicam to the world. In “Marathon Man” (1976) there is an excellent chase sequence and of course the training sequences in “Rocky”.
However, the film’s creators figured out the technology when Brown pushed the boundaries to create a climactic scene in “Stripes”. Next time you watch, tell your friends that the film was not just a stupid comedy, but also a technical breakthrough in cinema.
– This story was inspired by Fr. History of the US Army based on an interview that Ivan Reitman and Daniel Goldberg gave in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Stripes in 2021.
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https://www.military.com/off-duty/movies/2022/02/14/6-amazing-facts-about-army-comedy-stripes.html 6 amazing facts about the army comedy “Stripes”