Not filmed in Punxsutawney, but actually in Woodstock, Illinois (just 45 miles from "Bill Murray's hometown of Wilmette). There is a small plaque that reads "Bill Murray stepped here" on the curb where Murray continually steps into a puddle. There is another plaque on the building wall at the corner that says "Ned's Corner" where Bill Murray was continually accosted by insurance salesman Ned Ryerson.
According to the website Wolf Gnards, Bill Murray spends 8 years, 8 months and 16 days trapped in Groundhog Day. The website Obsessed With Film claims he was trapped 12,403 days, just under 34 years, in order to account for becoming a master piano player, ice sculptor, etc.
Bill Murray was undergoing a divorce at the time of filming and was obsessing about the film. He would ring Harold Ramis constantly, often in the early hours of the morning. Ramis eventually sent writer Danny Rubin to sit with Murray and iron out all his anxieties, one of the reasons why Murray stopped speaking to Ramis for several years.
Supposedly Paul Lynde was the inspiration for one of the film's more famous lines. After a high-speed chase through the San Fernando Valley one night when he was driving recklessly while intoxicated, Lynde crashed his car into a mailbox. The police came to the car, guns drawn, and he lowered his window and said, "I'll have a cheeseburger, hold the onions, and a large Sprite." Another account has the scene inspired by an incident involving comedian Shecky Greene in Las Vegas. One night, while intoxicated, he drove his car into the big fountain in front of Caesar's Palace. As bystanders pulled him out, with water from the fountain raining down onto his car, he shouted, "Clean the floor mats and no hot wax!"
The scene where Phil picks up the alarm clock and slams it onto the floor didn't go as planned. Bill Murray slammed down the clock but it barely broke, so the crew bashed it with a hammer to give it the really smashed look. The clock actually continued playing the song like in the movie.
Phil at the piano teacher's house, when he is fumblingly playing Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paginini", is actually Bill Murray playing. He does not read music, but he learned that much of the song by ear. Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paginini", specifically its 18th Variation, was also used in another time fantasy movie, Somewhere in Time (1980).
Stephen Tobolowsky, who played Ned "the head" Reyerson the insurance agent was the honorary grand marshal in Punxsutawney, PA on Feb. 2nd, 2010. During his speech on stage he performed the "whistling belly button" act he refers to in the film.
Writer Danny Rubin said that one of the inspirational moments in the creation of the story came after reading "Interview with the Vampire," which got him thinking about what it would be like to live forever.
Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis both said that they avoided exploring the truly dark side of Phil's time lapsing in which he could do truly horrible things without consequence (i.e. murder, torture, etc.).
Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis wanted to add another Ned Ryerson scene at the last minute, so Stephen Tobolowsky wrote the scene where he rattles off a number of insurance policies. Tobolowsky based his character on his own insurance agent. After the movie's release, the agent called Tobolowsky to thank him for portraying agents so accurately rather than making fun of them as most movies do.
Bill Murray quotes lines from a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Work Without Hope": "All Nature seems at work; slugs leave their lair, The bees are stirring; birds are on the wing, And winter, slumbering in the open air, Wears on his smiling face a dream of spring; And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing, Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing."
In the original version of the script by Danny Rubin, Phil Connors was already trapped inside Groundhog Day at the start of the story. We joined him on a typical day, with the audience wondering how he knew everything that was going to happen. Harold Ramis promised not to change this aspect of the script, but ultimately decided to do so.
According to Harold Ramis' commentary in the DVD, the last scene involving Ned Reyerson involved the line (as it was written) "Oh, let's not ruin it!" from Rita. However, since Andie MacDowell was speaking in her thick native South Carolina accent, the word 'ruin' was distorted repeatedly and Ramis felt viewers would be confused by what she was trying to say. It was at that point where the word 'ruin' in the line was changed to 'spoil'.
The idea of Phil reading to Rita while she sleeps came from Bill Murray. His wife drank too much champagne on their wedding night and fell asleep early, so Murray read aloud to her until he too fell asleep.
When Phil is explaining to Rita his experiences he first says "I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen" and so on. Those were all methods used by the assassins of Russian mystic Grigory Rasputin, but (with the exception of electrocution) were not seen done to Phil. This could also be a reference to Murray's film Ghostbusters II (1989), in which similar methods are named as the cause of Vigo the Carpathian's death.
The house that was used for the piano teacher's home is less than a block away from the house used for the bed and breakfast. Though not visible in the film, it is actually located on the street that Phil sees directly proceeding from his room window just a few houses down on the left-hand side.
In one scene, Connors throws himself from the bell tower of a high building. This building is actually an opera house in Woodstock, Illinois. Local legend has it that a ghost of a young girl haunts the building since a girl once fell off of the balcony section inside the opera house and died.
Among Phil's books in the coffee shop are "Treasury of the Theatre: From Agamemnon to A Month in the Country" by John Gassner (Simon & Schuster, 1964), and "Johann Strauss: Father and Son, a Century of Light Music" by H.E. Jacob (Greystone Press, 1939). The classical piano piece that draws his attention in the same scene is Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545.
In the penultimate encounter between Connors and annoying insurance salesman Ned Ryerson, Bill Murray was ad-libbing when he tells Ned, "I don't know where you're headed, but can you call in sick?" and causes Ned to run away.
A scene was shot in which Phil destroys his room, slashing pillows, spray-painting the walls, etc. He also shaves his head then the camera pulls back from his face to show that his hair and the room were back to normal the next morning. But Harold Ramis had trouble making the dissolving shot match so the scene was changed to Phil breaking a pencil instead.
The scene where Bill Murray gets out of the news van and talks to the state trooper was filmed on the Amstutz Expressway under the Grand Avenue overpass just outside of downtown Waukegan, IL. You can see the Waukegan business district in some of the shots. The Amstutz Expressway was also used for the filming of the big chase scene in the The Blues Brothers (1980).
The scenes showcasing Bill Murray filming his weather predictions at the news station, along with the introduction of Andie MacDowell's character were not conceived until the editing process. They had to go back and shoot them to be edited in later.
After its release, several writers emerged, claiming that the story was stolen from their idea. Science-fiction author Richard Lupoff claimed that it was a rip-off from his short story '12:01pm', whilst Ken Grimwood - author of 'Replay' - was another. However,Danny Rubin said his only jumping off point of inspiration for this film was the 1892 story "Christmas Every Day" by William Dean Howells.
The store Lloyds - always seen in the background in the scenes where Bill Murray encounters Stephen Tobolowsky - tried to sue the production for several thousand dollars for lost business, a rather spurious claim seeing as their suit exceeded the store's average earnings.
The lines Andie MacDowell quotes in the café - "unwept, unhonoured, and unsung" - are from Sir Walter Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel", Canto vi, Stanza 1, which begins with the famous line, "Breathes there a man with soul so dead..."
Director Harold Ramis was surprised to find that his film was attracting a lot of attention from various religious groups, meditative gurus and other parties who were into metaphysics. Ramis was particularly surprised as he was expecting a backlash against him.
The French poem Phil recites in the German restaurant is quoted from the 1957 Jacques Brel song "La bourrée du célibataire" or "Bachelor's Dance". "La fille que j'aimera / Sera comme bon vin / Qui se bonifiera / Un peu chaque matin." This has translated into English as: "The girl that I will marry / Will age without a fear / And like the wine grow mellower / With every passing year."
Ramis and Danny Rubin considered including an explanation for Phil being stuck in a time loop. The possibilities included was that Phil had been cursed by a scorned lover or someone he had verbally abused. But they decided it was best to leave it a mystery.
In 2003, this movie was the opening night film in the Museum of Modern Art's "The Hidden God: Film and Faith" series. A December 7, 2003, New York Times article called "Groundhog Almighty" discussed both the seeming incongruity of Groundhog Day being curated alongside such "serious" films as Luis Buñuel's Nazarin (1959), Federico Fellini's 8½ (1963), Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light (1963), and Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev (1966) and the opinions of different clergy-people and religious adherents (including rabbis, Jesuit priests, Buddhists, practitioners of Falun Dafa, and Wiccans) about how the movie is applicable to or actually about their respective religion.
At one point in the chase scene involving the red Cadillac Eldorado, Bill Murray and friends were to race along the sidewalk in front of the movie theater, barely missing the ticket booth, which was still occupied. The scene was filmed, but left on the cutting room floor.
In the Jeopardy! (1984) sequence, the second player we see is Jim Scott, a five-time "Jeopardy!" Champion who won his fifth game on the October 1, 1990 broadcast. He went on to win the Tournament of Champions contest that season.
Harold Ramis has stated that the inspiration for this movie was NOT the 1905 novel "The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin" by P.D. Ouspensky, but many others think that it was. Ramis made this denial within his contributions to a jacket blurb for one edition of the Ouspensky book. In the book, Osokin is given the opportunity to live his life over again by a magician... and Osokin takes him up on the offer, only to make the same mistakes all over again. Eventually he reaches the point in time where he met the magician, who explains to Osokin that he cannot change the recurring wheel that is "this trap called life"... and that Osokin must learn to sacrifice in order to escape it, to find his salvation.
The interior scenes of the Cherry Street bed and breakfast were not filmed inside the actual house. The only times the crew entered the house at all were to turn on lamps for the proper lighting effects needed for the exterior shots.
The red Cadillac in the "no tomorrow" driving scene is a 1974 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible with a non-stock grille. It is a front-wheel drive car, as can clearly be seen in the burnout at the start of the train track sequence. The Eldorado was equipped with rear-wheel drive from 1953 to 1966, then front-wheel drive from 1967 through the end of production in 2003.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
They shot 25 takes of the closing scene when Bill Murray wakes up next to Andie MacDowell, as they were unsure of the tonality of the scene. They were not sure is Phil and Rita should still be in their clothes or not. Ramis had everyone on set, cast and crew, vote as to how it should be played, and the final tally came down on the side of the the couple still being in their clothes as they had not had sex yet.