On April 24th, 1981, one of the most iconic comedies in film history was released: “Stripes,” starring Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. Directed by Ivan Reitman, “Stripes” follows the misadventures of two friends who join the Army and go through basic training together.
The film was a huge hit, grossing over $85 million at the box office and launching the careers of several future comedy legends. Bill Murray, who had already established himself as a comedic force with his work on “Saturday Night Live” and in films like “Caddyshack,” solidified his status as a leading man with his performance in “Stripes.” Harold Ramis, who co-wrote the film with Dan Goldberg, would go on to write and direct several classic comedies, including “Groundhog Day” and “Caddyshack.”
“Stripes” was praised for its irreverent humor and subversive take on the military, which was a departure from the more traditional depictions of the armed forces in films like “The Green Berets” and “Patton.” The film also tackled issues like masculinity and patriotism, and remains a beloved classic to this day.
One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Murray’s character, John Winger, leads his fellow soldiers in a dance to the hit song “Twist and Shout” by the Beatles. The scene, which was shot on location in downtown Chicago, is a perfect example of Murray’s signature comedic style, as he improvises and ad-libs his way through the dance, creating a sense of pure joy and spontaneity.
“Stripes” has had a lasting impact on the world of comedy and entertainment, inspiring countless imitators and launching the careers of several future stars. The film was also notable for its diverse cast, which included several actors of color and a strong female lead in actress P.J. Soles.
In addition to its commercial success, “Stripes” was also a critical darling, with Roger Ebert praising the film as “a very funny movie, the kind of film that is more interested in being entertaining than in preaching to us.” The film also earned a spot on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time.
Overall, “Stripes” remains a classic of the comedy genre, a film that pushed boundaries and paved the way for future generations of comedians and filmmakers. Its release on April 24th, 1981, marked a turning point in the careers of several iconic performers, and its impact can still be felt today in the countless films and TV shows that have been influenced by its irreverent humor and subversive spirit.