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Stripes (1981) Poster

(1981)

Trivia

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.
Jump to: Spoilers (1)
The cast improvised virtually all of the dialogue 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 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 dialogue or help him improvise.
Bill 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 Chicago Cubs baseball games instead.
The cast got drunk for two weeks upon hearing of John Lennon's death. John Larroquette later admitted that he was drunk in the scene when he dressed down the company after they watched, and participated in, mud wrestling. Even after filming moved to Los Angeles, Bill Murray and Warren Oates had a drunken evening beside the grave of late actor Strother Martin.
John Larroquette improvised the dialogue 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 Ivan Reitman what a loofah was.
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 an 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.
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".
Bill Murray arranged a screening of The Bofors Gun (1968), a dark military drama set in West Germany following World War II, as a way of bonding with the platoon.
Bill Murray improvised the "Aunt Jemima Treatment" sequence and P.J. Soles reacted naturally to whatever he said and did.
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.
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.
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.
'Do Wah Diddy Diddy', a central theme performed by cast members, was originally recorded in the U.S. by The Exciters in late 1963. During "The British Invasion" it was covered by Manfred Mann and rose to #1 U.S. Pop in July 1964. The song has become a popular cadence in the U.S. Military.
The EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle was built from a 1973-1978 GMC Motor Home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Among the crowd at the Graduation Parade (albeit unseen) was P.J. Soles' then-husband Dennis Quaid.
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.
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.
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 uniform 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.
Hulka was originally supposed to be killed in the mortar accident and replaced by his twin brother, also played by Warren Oates. However, the 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". Ironically, Bill Murray turned 30 two months before the filming of this movie.
Ivan 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.
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).
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.
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.
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: 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.
Robert J. Wilke had trouble remembering his lines. His shots took longer to shoot than the soldiers' graduation drill routine.
Ivan Reitman was a fan of the westerns that Warren Oates had been in and wanted someone who was strong and that everyone respected to control the film's misfit platoon. Judge Reinhold said that during filming Oates would tell stories about working on films like The Wild Bunch (1969) and they would be enthralled. Reitman wanted "a little bit of weight in the center", and had a serious argument between Hulka and Winger. It was not played for laughs and allowed Bill Murray to do something he had not done before.
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.
Bill Murray and Sean Young did not get along. Young did not like Murray's method of ad-libbing during scenes. Murray vowed to never work with Young again.
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Final film of Robert J. Wilke.
Film debut of Timothy Busfield.
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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In one of the basic training scenes we hear the platoon singing, (led by Bill Murray), a jingle from the armed forces recruitment television commercials from the late 1970s and early 1980s. It went "Pick a service, pick a challenge, set yourself apart, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines! What a great place, it's a great place to start!"
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Conrad Dunn remembered John Candy inviting the men in the platoon to his house while filming was under way, for a homemade spaghetti dinner and to watch the famous Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Durán II No Más Fight (November 25, 1980). He recalled that he and Candy were the only two cast members who knew the lyrics to the song, "Doo Wah Diddy", and taught them the rest of the company. "I really enjoyed playing Psycho", he said.
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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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Daniel Goldberg knew John Candy from Toronto and told Ivan Reitman that he should be in the film; he was not required to audition.
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The mud wrestling scene was made up on the spot by Ivan Reitman. John Candy felt uncomfortable during filming, but Reitman talked him through it.
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Leon appeared as a soldier in the "jungle acid trip" deleted scene.
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According to Ivan Reitman in the DVD commentary during the scene where the recruits recieve their basic training haircuts he did not tell the actors that real Army barbers would be shaving their heads until the scene was shot. He lined all of the actors up and shot the scene as scripted to get their genuine reactions to their heads being shaved. John Candy became depressed after the scene was shot. This is why you see him picking up his hair and looking sad when he walks out of the barber shop. Since Bill Murray and Harold Ramis were bigger names at that point than the rest of the cast, they were required to cut their hair shorter, but not to shave their whole heads.
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Winger and Ziskey's recruiter, Morgan, carries the rank Army E-7, Sergeant First Class, Infantry, 101st Airborne.
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Fort Knox is also near the U.S. Bullion Depository.
Army recruitment figures went up by 10% after the film came out.
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In 1993 Bill Murray reflected, "I'm still a little queasy that I actually made a movie where I carry a machine gun. But I felt if you were rescuing your friends it was okay. It wasn't Reds (1981) or anything, but it captured what it was like on an Army base: It was cold, you had to wear the same green clothes, you had to do a lot of physical stuff, you got treated pretty badly, and had bad coffee".
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This was the fifth most popular 1981 movie at the U.S. and Canadian box offices.
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Bill Murray and P.J. Soles did boot camp for three days. They both initially planned to wake up at 0500 and jog with real soldiers for two weeks.
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Near the end of the film, an image of an army newspaper indicates that Capt. Stillman (John Larroquette) was transferred to the Arctic command. This is later referenced in an episode of Night Court, in which Dan Fielding (John Larroquette) reveals he is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. By the end of the episode, his commanding officer orders him transferred for duty in the Arctic Circle.
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The spatula scene was filmed at 3 a. m.
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John Larroquette became good friends with John Candy and John Diehl during the production. Larroquette has kept in touch with Diehl over the years.
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Lance LeGault and William Lucking were both in The A-Team (1983) as the team's adversaries Col. Decker and Col. Lynch respectively.
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Sean Young was cast based on her looks, and Ivan Reitman felt that her "sweetness" would go well with Harold Ramis.
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Four actors with the first name "John", are listed back-to-back-t in the final credits: John Candy, John Larroquette, John Voldstad, and John Diehl.
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Casting director Karen Rea saw Conrad Dunn on the stage and asked him to read for the role of Francis "Psycho" Soyer in New York.
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John Diehl had never auditioned before and won his first paying job as an actor.
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In the Philippines this film was remade unofficially under the title Asboobs: Asal bobo (2003).
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Warren Oates died a year after the film premiered due to a heart attack
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John Candy, John Larroquette, and Lois Hamilton all appeared in summer rental.
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Spoilers 

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 thereby created a conflict with Czechoslovakia, his birthplace.

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