Stripes (1981) Poster



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The cast improvised virtually all of the dialog where they sit around and tell their back stories. This includes Bill Murray's lines about 'Lee Harvey' making out with a cow and calling Sgt. Hulka a 'big toe'.
According to Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray insisted 'Harold Ramis (I)' be cast as his friend for two reasons: 1. They were long time friends in real life. 2. So Ramis could help Murray re-write his dialog or help him improvise.
Murray agreed to do the film two weeks before shooting began. He did not show up until the third day of shooting because he was attending baseball games instead.
The kitchen scene between Bill Murray and P.J. Soles was completely improvised.
According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD Commentary, the scene where Bill Murray is loading the rich woman's suitcases into the trunk and he hits himself in the crotch was accident. Murray really did hit himself in the crotch with the case, thus his very real line "Oh, my balls."
The U.S. Army was actually very helpful and cooperative during filming, which surprised Ivan Reitman since the script depicts the military as being made up largely of buffoons.
According to John Larroquette, he was drunk in many of his scenes.
Basic training in Stripes takes place at the fictional "Fort Arnold" which was actually a fort during 18th century. It was named for General Benedict Arnold. After General Arnold was branded a traitor "Fort Arnold" was renamed "West Point".
John Larroquette improvised the dialog where he's watching the girls in the shower through the telescope, including the odd line "Oh, God! I wish I was a loofah!" According to Larroquette, he had to explain to Reitman what a loofah was.
Bill Murray and P.J. Soles went through basic training with the real troops at Fort Knox for three days.
John Diehl stayed in character as the not-too-bright Cruiser throughout filming. After the film wrapped, Diehl apologized to Ivan Reitman for being dumb all the time.
'Do Wah Diddy Diddy', a central theme performed by cast members, was originally recorded in the US by The Exciters in late 1963. During "The British Invasion" it was covered by Manfred Mann and rose to #1 US Pop in July 1964. The song has become a popular cadence in the US military.
According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD Commentary, Columbia Pictures wanted to cut out the scene where Sgt. Hulka and John Winger have a confrontation in the latrine. They felt the scene was 'too serious'. But Reitman insisted that it be left in to truly establish Sgt. Hulka's strength and authority.
The EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle was built from a 1973-1978 GMC Motor Home.
At the end of the film, the four main characters receive Distinguished Service Crosses.
Winger throws the keys to his cab into the Ohio River from the same bridge where boxing great Muhammad Ali claims to have thrown his Olympic gold medal.
A nine-minute sequence was filmed in which John and Russell take LSD and accidentally end up on a mission to fight rebels in the Colombian jungle. Columbia Pictures thought it was the best scene in the film but Ivan Reitman deleted it because he felt that it did not fit the film's tone.
An Ivan Reitman prank to have some of the characters drag Warren Oates' character into the mud during the obstacle course scene, led to Oates chipping a tooth and Reitman getting a tongue lashing from Oates.
The scene the morning after John Winger and MP Officer Stella Hanson had sex in General Barnicky's house, when they emerge from the trunk, is actually a lift from a cut scene when the guys and girls meet up in Germany. This lift is now something of a continuity error in the Special Edition DVD where those cut scenes in the German Hotel are now restored. You can tell this because if you watch the decor of the General's bedroom and Winger and Hanson's wardrobe, it's the same clothing they're wearing in their German Hotel Suite and the General's decor and the suite are the same.
Among the crowd at the Graduation Parade (albeit unseen) was P.J. Soles' then-husband Dennis Quaid.
John Larroquette broke his nose while shooting an additional take of a scene of him running through a door. The shot shown in the film is the first take. Heavy makeup was applied to Larroquette's nose for the rest of filming.
Harold Ramis was initially reluctant to play the role of Russell Ziskey and Dennis Quaid auditioned for the role but Bill Murray was adamant about Ramis appearing in the film and said he would not do the film without him. Quaid, who was married to co-star P.J. Soles at the time, appears as an extra during the graduation scene.
According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD Commentary, Kim Basinger was offered the part of MP Officer Stella Hanson but she was turned down when her agent asked for too much money.
According to the DVD special features, the film was originally conceived as a vehicle for Cheech & Chong; Ivan Reitman has also stated that the reason this fell through was because their manager insisted (without the pair's knowledge) on a 25% share of Reitman's next five films, which he wasn't willing to give up. The script was then rewritten for Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, and most of the "stoner" humor was shifted to the "Elmo" character played by Judge Reinhold.
P.J. Soles, who plays the role of Stella, also played Pvt. Wanda Winter the year before in Private Benjamin (1980). Coincidentally, she wore the same costume in both films.
The character nicknamed "Psycho" is actually named "Francis". Francis is Norman Bates' middle name in Psycho (1960).
The last sentence the platoon shouts during their performance at graduation, "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog", is a sentence that was popularly used to test typewriters and telegraph machines because it contains every letter of the alphabet at least once.
Reitman requested Joe Flaherty for the part of the border guard. But due to a mix-up, Joseph X. Flaherty was accidentally cast in the role. Reitman was able to contact the Flaherty that he originally wanted. The other Flaherty was given a small role as Sgt. Crocker.
In the final homecoming scene at the airport, although it is not mentioned, Corporal Tyson(listed in credits as Stillman's Aide) has been promoted and is wearing the three stripes of a Sergeant.
Hulka was originally supposed to be killed in the mortar accident and replaced by his twin brother, also played by Warren Oates. But idea was discarded before filming.
John Winger states, after doing push-ups in his apartment, "I gotta get in shape or I'll be dead before I'm 30". Bill Murray turned 30 two months before the filming of this movie.
John Winger's habit of hiding his money when removing it from his pocket is lifted from Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush in A Day at the Races (1937).
The Basic Training scenes were filmed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Fort Knox is home to the U.S. Army Armor Center, which trains new tank crewmen and armored cavalry troopers. The barracks in the film are still at Fort Knox, but they've been gutted and converted into an urban warfare training course. As of 2010, the United States Army Armor School is being moved to Fort Benning, Georgia as part of the United States' BRAC program.
Robert J. Wilke had trouble remembering his lines. His shots took longer to shoot than the soldiers' graduation drill routine.
There is a poster-sized picture mounted under the rim of the basketball net in Winger's apartment. It is a picture of Darrell "Dr. Dunkenstein" Griffith of the University of Louisville Cardinals cutting down the net after they won the 1980 NCAA basketball championship. The movie was filmed in Louisville, KY.
The climax of the movie is set in Czechoslovakia. Director Ivan Reitman was born in Czechoslovakia.
Part of a mini-cycle of Hollywood movies made during the early 1980s centering around military cadet training. The pictures include Taps (1981), Stripes (1981), Private Benjamin (1980), Up the Academy (1980), The Lords of Discipline (1983) and An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). Then the mid-late 1980s saw a few more: Cadence (1990), Biloxi Blues (1988), Heartbreak Ridge (1986) and Full Metal Jacket (1987).
John Winger's red boy scout jacket, that he wears at the bus station and when going AWOL, has a Great Salt Lake Council (Utah) patch on the shoulder.
Final film of Robert J. Wilke.
Film debut of Timothy Busfield.
John Winger's use of the phrase "We are the wretched refuse" to describe how the platoon was made up of men from around the world is a reference to a poem, "The New Colossus", by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus. "The New Colossus", describing the Statue of Liberty, appears on a plaque at the base of the statue.
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The date of the film's release, June 26, 1981, is the same as the date on the Springfield Daily Examiner newspaper announcing of Sergeant Hulka: "ARMY HERO RETIRES" at the end of the film.
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When we first meet Hulka, many of the cast members who are laughing are genuinely laughing, as much improvisation caught them off guard, this is especially apparent with Judge Reinhold.
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Fort Knox is also near the U.S. Bullion Depository.
Winger and Ziskey's recruiter, Morgan, carries the rank Army E-7, Sergeant First Class, Infantry, 101st Airborne.
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Leon appeared as a soldier in the "jungle acid trip" deleted scene.
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" Stripes " was the fifth most popular 1981 movie at the U.S.A. and Canada box office.
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Lance LeGault and William Lucking were both in "The A-Team" as the team's adversaries Col. Decker and Col. Lynch respectively.
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Cameo: Timothy Busfield as 'soldier with mortar.'
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Director Ivan Reitman admits to being embarrassed by the third act of the film. But Reitman had determined that a film about the Army needed to have a war and created a conflict with Czechoslovakia, his birthplace.

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