Friday, September 6, 2013

i've already done it... twice

Subtitle: Notes on a script revision while sitting in the backseat of a car - part one.

In the "Second Revision by Harold Ramis" Phil is already older, no longer the first time on air reporter. He's in his "mid-thirties, smart, rugged-looking, perhaps a little full of himself, but clearly a guy with a lot of personality."

Some early lines go to Hawley, the Action News executive producer, that go to Larry and Rita later. For example, he tells Phil, "When I worked in San Diego, I covered the swallows coming back to Capistrano for ten years in a row." In the film, that's Larry's line, though he only covered the swallows for six years. Hawley also tells Phil, "It's a cute story. He comes out. He looks around, he wrinkles up his little nose, he sniffs around a little, he sees his shadow, he doesn't see his shadow—it's nice. People like it." In case you're as new as film Rita, that's her line in the movie.

Phil has a nice line talking to Hawley that doesn't make it to the movie:

Then you should've killed yourself. I don't want to get stuck with the groundhog for the rest of my life.

Phil has been talking to a network, CBS.

Stephanie Decastro, the jilted girlfriend, is in this draft. There's an interesting bit in her exchange with Phil.

Stephanie: I had our charts done. My astrologer says we're extremely compatible. There may even be some past lives involvement here.

Phil: See? So we've already done this.

A nice bit of the repetitiveness of life that is prevalent in the film.

Phil doesn't ride in the van to Punxsutawney. Instead he drives separately in his Lexus, and it's got a CD player and he's got an earphone hooked to a phone long before bluetooth became common.

Weird bit of niceness on the part of Phil, after he asks Rita out during what would be the "pelvic tilt" scene:

Okay. I get it. You're a little intimidated by me, you're all excited about the shoot tomorrow, you want everything to go just perfect. I understand. You just get some sleep. Tomorrow will be great

And, this is before he knows the day's repeating. It's probably good this bit got lost in later revisions.

The groundhog's release from his burrow is still inaccurate, like Rubin's version. I guess they hadn't been to Punxsutawney yet to see how it really goes. So, the groundhog actually comes crawling out of the burrow after the knocking and door opening, scurries around a bit, actually sees his shadow. It makes for a nice reason for Phil to later suggest moving the camera—something that makes it into the film, though the way they do the groundhog in reality and in the film doesn't seem like different angles would be all that different.

The shovel is already there.

Phil sees Debbie (still called Doris) running away from her wedding, crying and shouting, bridesmaids chasing her.

Some jokes haven't been perfected yet—some of the best lines in the film came from ad libs by Bill Murray—like for example, in response to Phil asking Mrs. Lancaster (who's first name is Florence, by the way) if she ever has deja vu, she says, "Is that the Italian dessert with the brandy and the chocolate mousse?" Phil replies, "No, that's spaghetti." It's sillier, still sorta funny, but it doesn't have the bite of the film's version: "I don't know but I can check with the kitchen." It's almost like this version is Phil on his later dates with Rita, trying too hard for the funny.

It hadn't occurred to me just how clean the movie really is until I was reading this draft and see Phil say, "Did I say 'fuck off,' Ned? I can't talk to you right now." It's a little much, I think. And, it isn't like that single "shit" in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There, the profanity worked because the situation really called for it; here, it's an easily lost "fuck."

One line I really like, as Phil is about to do one of his reports... I think it's Day 3 and Rita says, "Phil, there is no tomorrow on this one. It's Groundhog Day." The line itself is a bit, I don't know... it doesn't sound like something anyone would actually say, but I can imagine it getting cut into the trailer pretty well.

The pencil breaking is here, but so is Phil trashing the room. I was under the impression the pencil breaking was added later because they realized the room trashing was overkill and would be expensive to shoot, but here we have both.

There's a bit at a school in Punxsutawney which is amusing, but I see why it was cut. There are two parts to it, the later one involves a first grade teacher reading The Frog Prince—later Phil would say kissing Rita was "for the Frog Prince." It's notable in basically foreshadowing the end of the film, as a little girl explains to her teacher:

The princess kissed the frog and the spell got broke and he turned into a handsome prince and they got married and lived happily ever after.

More upholding of "traditional" values, the happy fairy tale ending with marriage to signify everything's alright. According to Rubin, that was in the shooting script but cut from the film. The first part, though, I think, is more interesting. The scene begins with what looks like a serious scientist telling Phil,

Now if the moon exerts a gravitational pull strong enough to cause the tides, then it may be theoretically possible for a Black Hole or a Singularity of sufficient magnitude to actually bend time enough to cause it to fold back on itself.

But, it turns out, this is just a eighth grade science teacher, so what does he know? Plus, it's a little weird that this bit that borders on explaining what's going on is in the same draft that includes Stephanie and the curse.

And, the last note for part one is this: When Phil has his big table full of food and lights up a cigarette as well, Rita asks him if he has a death wish. His response sums up a lot of what the film is arguably about. He says:

Just the opposite, Rita. I have a life wish. I'm just trying to enjoy it. Taking pleasure in the little things. Don't you ever just want to cut loose and go wild?

Of course, he hasn't hit rock bottom yet, which is a little different in this draft, but I'll save that for next time.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: I'll be obvious and say, to take pleasure in the little things.

No comments:

Post a Comment