Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned "The Head" Reyerson the Insurance Agent) was the honorary Grand Marshal in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on February 2, 2010. During his speech on stage, he performed the "whistling belly button" act to which he refers in the film.
Not filmed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but actually in Woodstock, Illinois (just fifty miles from Bill Murray's hometown of Wilmette, Illinois). 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 (Stephen Tobolowsky).
On the DVD, Harold Ramis states that the original idea was for him to live February 2nd for about ten thousand years. Later, he says that Phil probably lived the same day for about ten years. A breakdown of this day count and Ramis' thoughts can be found here: youtu.be/swJ-kNdtrdQ
The scene where Phil picks up the alarm clock and slams it onto the floor didn't go as planned. Bill 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.
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.
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 (for example, murder, torture, et cetera).
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).
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.
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.
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!"
When Phil takes the elderly man to the hospital, and talks to the nurse, a boy with a broken leg can be seen in the background. This is the same boy who falls out of a tree later on in the film, only this time, Phil catches him.
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.
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.
The Swedish title of this movie translates as "Monday the entire week". The movie, however, does not specify what day of the week it is supposed to be, and Groundhog Day in 1993 was actually on a Tuesday.
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 "12:01 p.m.", while 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.
A scene was shot in which Phil destroys his room, slashing pillows, spray-painting the walls, et cetera. 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.
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.
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.
In the 1880s, some friends in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania went into the woods on Candlemas Day to look for groundhogs. This outing became a tradition, and a local newspaper editor nicknamed the seekers "the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." Starting in 1887, the search became an official event centered on a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil. A ceremony still takes place every year.
While filming the "Kidnapping Phil" scene, Bill Murray spontaneously improvised the line "Don't drive angry, don't drive angry!" to cover the fact that the groundhog (which he was holding on his lap) was agitated and trying to escape by climbing over the steering wheel. A moment later, the groundhog bit Murray's hand so badly he had to seek medical treatment.
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."
The scenes showcasing Phil (Bill Murray) filming his weather predictions at the news station, along with the introduction of Rita (Andie MacDowell), were not conceived until the editing process. They had to go back and shoot them to be edited in later.
Early drafts of the script explained the cause of Phil Connors' weird experience: a disaffected ex-lover named Stephanie cast a spell on him, to teach him a lesson,to make sweet love to groundhogs all over the land while reading Charles Dickens, while covered in shame.
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, Illinois. 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 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 be like a fine wine / that will become better / a bit every morning."
The store "Lloyd's", always seen in the background in the scenes where Phil (Bill Murray) encounters Ned Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky), tried to sue the production for several thousand dollars for lost business. They were unsuccessful.
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 house that was used for the piano teacher's house, 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.
When Phil is explaining to Rita his experiences, he 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 Ghostbusters II (1989), in which similar methods are named as the cause of Vigo the Carpathian's death.
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 Nattvardsgästerna (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.
The German title of the movie is "Und täglich grüßt das Murmeltier", which can be translated as "The groundhog greets every day". The title has been adapted in Germany as a humorous proverb, which is often used when something is frequently repeated, especially annoying or awkward things.
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 ice sculptures featured in the movie (called Winged Victory) were carved by Randy Rupert, a.k.a. The Chainsaw Wizard. Randy is actually a Punxsutawney resident, and has a shop downtown. He can be found in the city park every Groundhog Day carving and selling his wooden sculptures.
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.
This film and Edge of Tomorrow (2014) have a character called "Rita", and both films are about men trapped in a never ending day. Also, at the climax, Phil pinches Rita to prove that tomorrow has finally arrived, and in the novel that inspired Edge of Tomorrow (2014), the lead character Cage pinches himself when time first resets. In the novel, Cage awakens at 6 o'clock, like Phil Connors, and he gets Phil's line, "same old, same old". Also, anything new terrified Cage, while Phil has the opposite reaction.
The song that Bill Murray's character is playing on the piano at the bar with the band is called "Cleaning Up the Town", and was also featured in Ghostbusters (1984). In the earlier film, the sound is playing as the Ghostbusters are fleeing the library.
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.
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.
When Phil gets all five "Lakes and Rivers" responses on the Jeopardy! (1984) episode he's seen numerous times, the other bed and breakfast guests watching with him give him a round of applause. This matches the tradition on Jeopardy to do just that when a contestant likewise "runs" a category.
Fred and Debbie, the young couple who are supposed to get married that day, are played by Michael Shannon and Hynden Walch. Both would later go on to be better known for playing characters from DC Comics. In both cases, they played superstrong aliens from another planet. Walch voiced Starfire from the planet Tamaran in Teen Titans (2003), while Shannon played General Zod from the planet Krypton in Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
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.
Casey Bartholomew, a popular radio talk show host (from KFI in Los Angeles, WDBO in Orlando, and New Jersey 101.5) is in the crowd at Gobbler's Knob during the Groundhog Day festivities, though he has no interaction with the main characters.
In the German restaurant scene, when the waitress behind Phil is walking away from a customer she just served, she touches the customer on the shoulder and leaves some beer suds there. The second time there, she does the same thing, but no suds are visible.
In the scene where Phil says he has some errands to do, one of the people he saves is a man choking on some steak. Phil uses the Heimlich maneuver. Two years earlier, Bill Murray played Bob Wiley in the film What About Bob? (1991). In that film, he used the Heimlich maneuver to save his psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss).
Cinematographer John Bailey directed China Moon (1994), the following year starring Madeleine Stowe. Groundhog Day (1993) star Andie MacDowell co-starred with Stowe in Short Cuts (1993) and Bad Girls (1994). Incidentally, Groundhog Day and Short Cuts were both released in 1993, plus China Moon and Bad Girls were both released in 1994. So two lots of two films were released in the same year.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to the website Wolf Gnards, Bill Murray spends eight years, eight months and sixteen days trapped in Groundhog Day. The Movie Truth review series calculated Murray spent 4,576 days (twelve years, six months, and eleven days) stuck in the loop. While the website Obsessed With Film claims he was trapped 12,403 days, just under thirty-four years, in order to account for becoming a master piano player, ice sculptor, et cetera.
They shot twenty-five 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 if 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 couple still being in their clothes, as they had not made love yet.
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 numerous 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.
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.
The last time it is February the Second, and Phil kisses Rita, it begins to snow, foreshadowing that the loop has been broken. The same thing happens at the end of It's a Wonderful Life (1946), where the snow signifies George being back in the reality where he exists.
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" was changed to "spoil".
The old man is the only one to die and stay dead. Phil, the groundhog, and the old man are the only ones in the loop known to have died. The fate of the cops chasing Phil on the railroad tracks is not shown, but since there was no crash as the train went by, it's likely they got off in time.
In the narrative behind why Phil changes, and why he helps the people in Punxsutawney. Phil begins to understand why he is stuck in the twenty-four hour loop of February the Second, and he realizes that he must change and become a better person, and he uses his knowledge of the day's events to better himself, and the lives of the townspeople.