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It's not pretty, but 'Animal House' defines a generation
Miami Herald ^ | 08/24/03 | GLEN GARVIN

Posted on 08/24/2003 1:19:39 AM PDT by Pikamax

TELEVISION

It's not pretty, but 'Animal House' defines a generation

BY GLEN GARVIN ggarvin@herald.com

LOS ANGELES -- Dean Wormer: Who dumped a whole truckload of Fizzies into the swim meet? Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween the trees are filled with underwear; every spring the toilets explode.

Marmalard: You're talking about Delta, sir.

Nobody had ever seen anything like it. It was rebellious, it was anarchic, it was gross. It had kids getting wasted and puking and being promiscuous, sometimes all at once. Its heroes were drunks and slobs and Peeping Toms; its villains were teachers and cheerleaders and anybody who was or would ever be grown up. It trashed militaristic ROTC Nazis and limp-wimp folksingers with equal glee. It was grungy rock 'n' roll in the slam-glam Age of Disco. It made audiences crazy. It was Animal House, and it was something.

It was also -- read it and weep, baby boomers -- 25 years ago. Animal House has confounded its own conception by growing into a distinguished middle age, officially celebrated at 9 tonight with a behind-the-scenes special on Spike TV. That's followed Tuesday with the release of a DVD that includes the original film and several extras, among them a ''mockumentary'' on what happened to the characters later.

If that sounds like a big to-do about a bunch of delinquent frat rats, well, Animal House was much more than that. For one thing, it pioneered -- invented -- the gross-out kid comedy genre. Every party-hearty sex-drugs-and-rock 'n' roll flick from Porky's to American Pie has merely treaded the same twisted path carved out by Animal House.

More importantly, it was the first comedy that was made by, for and about baby boomers. Though released in 1978, it was located squarely in the '60s -- not just in terms of its story, but its in-your-face sensibility.

''I guess you could say M*A*S*H was tonally, attitudinally, in the ballpark,'' says Ivan Reitman, barely 30 when he wangled the job as Animal House's producer. ``But this was the first movie that went all the way in embracing our generation and its values.

``We articulated that among ourselves while we were making it, that this was a movie for us. Remember, comedy back then was still Doris Day and Phyllis Diller. There was very little being made for this generation.''

TOUGH START

It almost wasn't made. The story that emerges in interviews with the cast and crew, as well as tonight's Animal House: Unseen And Untold on Spike TV, is of a movie that virtually nobody believed in. Universal tried to kill it on almost a daily basis; eight directors turned it down, not to mention 12 colleges in six states. (It was finally shot at the University of Oregon where the president OK'd it without reading the script -- he was still sick over saying no to The Graduate because he thought it was dirty, and had concluded he didn't know how to read screenplays.)

Its only champions were a couple of young low-level executives -- and the brain trust of the National Lampoon, a sacred-cow-slaughtering humor magazine for college-age kids, which had conceived the project.

But the Universal suits found Animal House's slapstick food fights, furtive furgling, and generally mutinous attitude to be vulgar, scruffy and mystifyingly unfunny. It survived their wrath only because its budget was so tiny that it was almost certain to turn a profit.

''The studio didn't want to make it,'' Reitman agrees. ``They only gave it a budget of $2.7 million, which was small even then.''

Although Animal House would launch much of its cast -- including John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Kevin Bacon and Tom Hulce -- toward stardom, they were barely known then, much less bankable. Belushi, with a cultishly small following from the new TV show Saturday Night Live, drew the top salary: $40,000. When Bacon, a waiter who had never been in a movie, was told he was being paid scale (that is, union minimum), he thought it had something to do with his weight.

Still, Bacon was a model of sophistication next to Stephen Furst, signed to play the hapless Delta pledge Flounder. Furst, a Hollywood pizza delivery boy, stuffed his picture and résumé inside every pie he delivered -- an impossibly unlikely strategy that paid off when he delivered a double pepperoni to National Lampoon publisher Matty Simmons.

At the last minute, Universal insisted that Animal House add an actual movie star. Director John Landis got his pal Donald Sutherland to take a small role as a hip English professor -- two days of shooting for $25,000. (Sutherland turned down a deal for $10,000 plus a share of the profits, which probably cost him $5 million.)

PUSHING LIMITS

But it wasn't just the lack of star power in Animal House that appalled Universal executives, it was everything. A movie set in the 1960s, which everybody was going dancing at Studio 54 to forget? A movie about a renegade college fraternity, at a time when fraternities were on the brink of extinction? Worst of all, a movie in which Hollywood's eternal definitions of good guys and bad guys were turned on their heads?

The execs would have felt even worse if they'd known that even some of the cast members were nervous. Martha Smith was no prude -- she'd already done a Playboy centerfold -- but she shuddered every time at the parts of the script involving her character, the randy cheerleader Mandy.

'I'm reading along, and it says, `She stands nude in front of the sorority window and masturbates herself.' And I'm thinking, 'How am I going to cover this up from my parents?' '' Smith laughingly recalls. ``Or -- this was cut from the movie -- `Bluto [Belushi's character], hiding underneath the bleachers, looks up her skirt and discovers she's wearing no panties.'

Finally Smith gave up and asked to switch to the role of another cheerleader, the priggish (and fully clothed) Babs.

Outlandish as the script was by Hollywood standards of the day, it was downright sober compared to earlier drafts. The first one was about the Manson family in high school, and even 20 drafts later, director John Landis still found himself cutting out a scene of a 10-minute vomiting contest.

Some of the other bits vetoed by Landis or Reitman are not the stuff of family newspapers to this very day: encounters between sensitive bodily parts and various substances including frozen hot dogs and buckets of hot tar; a beer keg bursting out of the forehead of a paper-mache replica of President Kennedy on a homecoming float; and jokes about Bob Dylan and Norway's King Olav IV (don't ask).

Reitman still tenses up a bit at the mention of his daily wrestling matches with the screenwriters, Doug Kenney, Harold Ramis -- and particularly Chris Miller, a porn-prone National Lampoon writer ''whose erotic prose was so prurient it practically ran down the page,'' as another Lampoon editor once observed.

''There was this constant dialogue back and forth about about how much drinking should the characters be doing? How many drugs should they be doing? How much sex should there be?'' Reitman recalls. ``Finally I just had to tell Miller, there's a point past which things are not funny, they're just tasteless.''

But when the final arguments about the script were over, the actual filming -- just 32 days -- went smoothly, if exhaustingly. (Especially the memorable toga party scene, which lasted for two 12-hour days.)

Reitman and the National Lampoon crowd, as they watched the dailies, thought the movie was going well. But they weren't sure until its first sneak preview screening in Denver. The audience went nuts, even tearing out rows of seats.

''That was one of the great screenings of my life,'' says Reitman, who went on to make both Ghostbusters movies, among others. ``I've never seen an audience get into a movie like that. It was like a rock concert.''

BOX OFFICE GOLD

Even so, neither Reitman nor anyone else could have predicted the mania that struck when Animal House was released that summer. It would eventually rake in more than $170 million and for years was the most successful comedy of all time. Reitman, who had a share of the profits, was rich. So was National Lampoon. Belushi's face was on the cover of Newsweek. Fraternities boomed, and on some college campuses there were toga parties so huge they had to be held in football stadiums.

In Hollywood, that can only mean one thing: Sequel. And they tried, oh National Lampoon tried. There was one script set in a sorority. Another centered around D-Day, leading a revolution in Central America. Kenney, Ramis and Miller finally settled on an idea: the Delts would reunite five years later in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, during 1967's Summer of Love.

But those plans suffered a blow when Kenney tumbled to his death from a cliff during a Hawaiian vacation in 1980. Eighteen months later, Belushi's fatal drug overdose put an end to them. For most of the cast, those two deaths -- especially Belushi's -- are the only sad memories connected to a movie that was as much fun to make as it was to watch.

''The greatest tragedy is that there's a generation out there that doesn't know John Belushi and what he could do,'' Matheson declares. 'You hear kids say, `Hey, don't you mean Jim?' And it's just not right.''


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
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1 posted on 08/24/2003 1:19:42 AM PDT by Pikamax
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To: Pikamax
*BUMP* !

Of course, I loved this flick.

2 posted on 08/24/2003 1:27:03 AM PDT by ex-Texan (My tag line is broken !)
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To: WhyisaTexasgirlinPA; hobbes1; dubyaismypresident; VRWCmember; MeeknMing; maxwell
"FOOD FIGHT!" ping.
3 posted on 08/24/2003 1:57:57 AM PDT by Argh
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To: Pikamax
I was 13 or 14 when it came out. But by then, I'd already been prepped (!!!) by watching Monty Python and WNDU's (South Bend, IN) own student-run comedy half-hour, Beyond Our Control.
4 posted on 08/24/2003 2:13:03 AM PDT by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: Pikamax
"Nobody had ever seen anything like it. It was rebellious, it was anarchic, it was gross. It had kids getting wasted and puking and being promiscuous, sometimes all at once. Its heroes were drunks and slobs and Peeping Toms; its villains were teachers and cheerleaders and anybody who was or would ever be grown up. It trashed militaristic ROTC Nazis and limp-wimp folksingers with equal glee. It was grungy rock 'n' roll in the slam-glam Age of Disco." Except the millions of us that LIVED it! DUHHH...
5 posted on 08/24/2003 2:32:38 AM PDT by At _War_With_Liberals (If Hillary ever takes the oath of office, she will be the last President the US will ever have. -RR)
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To: Pikamax
"Animal House" was nothing!

If you want to really have a mind streching experience...

read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter Thompson.

In order to get the full effect, a little weed would be good, acid doesn't allow you to read, I tried...

alcohol can fill in if you are afraid or unable to score!!

Either or any of these ways and the book will cure you of "Animal House!!"

Guaranteed!!!

6 posted on 08/24/2003 2:33:54 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: Nitro
"acid doesn't allow you to read, I tried..."

Gotta wait til its wearing off and you feel physically tired, yet mentally wide awake. Best of both worlds.
7 posted on 08/24/2003 2:38:28 AM PDT by At _War_With_Liberals (If Hillary ever takes the oath of office, she will be the last President the US will ever have. -RR)
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To: At _War_With_Liberals
Actually, for me the wearing off consisted of leg cramps mostly...

I think I slept right through the conventional hangover, Thank God because the acid allowed me to pour beer down my throat like water down a spout!

Actually, I should mention I only took real acid once, I mostly did micro-dot mescaline and occasionally "Magic Mushrooms."

8 posted on 08/24/2003 2:52:15 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: Pikamax
I'd like you to meet Mohammed, Jugdish, Sidney and Clayton..."
9 posted on 08/24/2003 3:00:33 AM PDT by lorrainer ("Knowledge is good." - Emil Faber, 1904)
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To: Pikamax

How about when Belushi did the "I'm a zit" riddle and showered all that half-chewded food over the girl in the cafeteria and started the food fight to create enough confusion to escape? What a genius!

That was a classic. Belushi should have gotten an Oscar for that magnicent performance.

10 posted on 08/24/2003 3:18:48 AM PDT by putupon (I'm doing the best I FReeping can under the circumstances!)
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To: Nitro
If you want to really have a mind streching experience... read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter Thompson.

A couple of years ago I re-read it for the first time since it came out. I got to Page 9 before I collapsed in laughter.

"..But the part that scared me was the ether..."

11 posted on 08/24/2003 3:58:35 AM PDT by Gorzaloon (Contents may have settled during shipping, but this tagline contains the stated product weight.)
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To: Argh
''The greatest tragedy is that there's a generation out there that doesn't know John Belushi and what he could do,'' Matheson declares. 'You hear kids say, `Hey, don't you mean Jim?' And it's just not right.''


We're On A Mission From God

12 posted on 08/24/2003 4:39:06 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP (Check out the Texas Chicken D 'RATS!: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/keyword/Redistricting)
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To: Gorzaloon
My favorite part is when the maid found the friend in the closet and puking in the shoes...
13 posted on 08/24/2003 4:39:55 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: Nitro
My favorite part is when the maid found the friend in the closet and puking in the shoes...

Mine was the adrenochrome. "Yes??, Yes??" Trying to pull the words out of his mouth...I was clawing the blankets, sitting on the bed, and they had formed a ball between my legs.."

Or..the ether binge at the Circus Circus. Or anything at all to do with ether, come to think of it..hahaha.

They DID make a movie out of it and it was not bad..but something about trying to focus on the printed word through tears of laughter was what was magic about the book.

14 posted on 08/24/2003 4:45:06 AM PDT by Gorzaloon (Contents may have settled during shipping, but this tagline contains the stated product weight.)
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To: putupon; Argh


15 posted on 08/24/2003 4:46:51 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP (Check out the Texas Chicken D 'RATS!: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/keyword/Redistricting)
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To: Pikamax
Mind if we dance with your dates?
16 posted on 08/24/2003 4:47:00 AM PDT by sakic
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To: Gorzaloon
Thank God, a patron of the printed word!!

I had long thought I was alone!!

17 posted on 08/24/2003 4:49:53 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: Pikamax
D-Day,my favorite,RAMMING SPEED!!!!!!! animal house ruled
18 posted on 08/24/2003 4:52:49 AM PDT by MetalHeadConservative35 (Zug Island: Where jesus isnt the only thing that can walk on water)
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To: Gorzaloon
Honestly, it has been a long time since I read it and I need at least a half-z and a copy!!
19 posted on 08/24/2003 4:54:08 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: sakic
No. Not at all. We were just......LEAVING!
20 posted on 08/24/2003 4:57:33 AM PDT by day10 (Homeschool Rocks! Spare your children the misery of the public school system.)
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To: Nitro
Honestly, it has been a long time since I read it and I need at least a half-z and a copy!!

I found that when you go back and re-read something you have not seen for a decade or more, it is even more enjoyable. You are already starting with the major plot, and the rereading lets you pay attention to ALL KINDS of stuff you missed before, either due to laughter, or (whatever), or even being younger the first time.

HST is is nuts; It is genius on the very border. He is reputed to have hung metal gongs in the woods near his house. On some boring nights, he likes to shoot at them at odd hours.

Ether or N2O do not work as reading aids, BTW....

21 posted on 08/24/2003 5:03:39 AM PDT by Gorzaloon (Contents may have settled during shipping, but this tagline contains the stated product weight.)
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To: Gorzaloon
I weep for the loss of cheap, abundant and effective Mexican Maijuanua!!
22 posted on 08/24/2003 5:07:50 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: Pikamax
TOGA!, TOGA!..............
23 posted on 08/24/2003 5:14:47 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: Pikamax
Animal House and Caddy Shack are my favorite funny movies.
24 posted on 08/24/2003 5:19:53 AM PDT by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: Pikamax
Forget Hollywood lifers like Reitman, Ramis and Landis -- all old Lampoon fans knew the real secret behind AH was Doug Kenney and Chris Miller. Basic scenes in the movie all appeared in early Lampoon issues, in particular their 1964 High School Yearbook parody, featuring Larry Kroger.

It always made me laugh when critics called the film "low-brow" -- Miller was retelling his Dartmouth fraternity days, and Kenney was of course the Harvard Lampoon's most brilliant editor.

If you can find it, Chris Miller's novelization of the movie is hilarious, with loads of scenes and character details that never made the film.
25 posted on 08/24/2003 5:37:14 AM PDT by Jhensy
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To: Nitro
There are unwanted orphan seeds, soil, water, and sun!

Do your duty!

Save the orphans.

26 posted on 08/24/2003 5:42:03 AM PDT by Gorzaloon (Contents may have settled during shipping, but this tagline contains the stated product weight.)
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To: BradyLS
It defined college life when it came out. Luckily, I was in college. After the movie, the fraternity pretty much threw caution to the wind.
27 posted on 08/24/2003 5:46:43 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: Pikamax
Animal House was actually a pretty PC movie.

It always fascinated me how the Hollywood rebels and nonconformists always rebel in the same way. The same people are always the villains and the same groups are always the good guys, although now that I think about it, I don't recall the Black guys saving the day in this one.

Have to admit tho, it really was funny.

28 posted on 08/24/2003 5:50:27 AM PDT by yarddog
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To: Gorzaloon
Do you think Brooklyn, New York has a sufficient growing cycle?

And where the seeds, if YES!

29 posted on 08/24/2003 5:57:40 AM PDT by Nitro
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To: Pikamax

"Happy Birthday, Delta!"

30 posted on 08/24/2003 5:59:02 AM PDT by Jonah Hex (Kittens are only dangerous if you're a 'Rat.)
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To: Pikamax
The finest moment is when Belushi smashes up the folkie's guitar, then says, "Sorry."
31 posted on 08/24/2003 6:04:24 AM PDT by Rocko
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To: Rocko
Mr. Blutarski. Zero point zero.
32 posted on 08/24/2003 6:11:14 AM PDT by Fresh Wind (Never forget: CLINTON PARDONED TERRORISTS)
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To: Nitro
Terry Gilliam's move made me look at the book different, not as a avant agrde interesting piece of work but rather a desperate flush down a large toilet bowl.

Gave me the skeevys. HST was going totally insane. The end of the movie depicts what happens to him and it's not pretty, brutally ugly and something no one should think about really.

Used to be a fan of the book 'til I saw that.

33 posted on 08/24/2003 6:23:54 AM PDT by Benrand
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To: Rocko
“I gave my love a cherry / that had no stone...
I gave my love a chicken/that had no bone...”

Yes, Animal House was about the '60s... but it was about the booze-chugging, madras-wearing, Ivy League '60s. Kenney & Co. had nothing but scorn for the knit-browed, “sincere” folk-rock hippie '60s. None of the Deltas would have been caught dead at Woodstock; they would have hated the patchouli oil and flower-power Freaks as much as they'd have despised the ROTCies, the faculty, and the other Straights.

“Son -- fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.”

34 posted on 08/24/2003 6:24:55 AM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: Pikamax
Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.
 

35 posted on 08/24/2003 6:28:27 AM PDT by Radix
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To: Argh
"FOOD FIGHT!" ping.

Back when I was in college, in the mid-'60s, a dorm at the (then) all-male Ivy League school "down the hill" had a Tom Jones Dinner. Finger foods...chicken, peas, french fries, were the menu, no silverware. Yep, we sat there in the dorm dining room, throwing food at each other. Then, there was that toga party...

Ahhhh, those were the bad ol' days!

36 posted on 08/24/2003 6:29:56 AM PDT by grania ("Won't get fooled again")
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To: Rebelbase
Bluto-Over? OVER? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

Boone-"Germans?"

Otter-Forget it, he's on a roll...

37 posted on 08/24/2003 6:31:17 AM PDT by Exeter
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To: B-Chan
"Sorry."
38 posted on 08/24/2003 6:33:39 AM PDT by Rocko
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To: Rocko
Nah...when Otter has 'Shelly' in the back of the car outside the nightclub, saying "I used to touch (whatever her name was) like this"
and she says "I know, she told me"

Greg, honey? Is it supposed to be this soft?
Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
No, let me give you a hint. She's got a couple of major league yabos.
May I have 10,000 marbles, please.
39 posted on 08/24/2003 6:35:15 AM PDT by 45semi
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To: Pikamax
Senator, and Mrs.John Blutarski,Washington, D.C.

Still in office? Who?
40 posted on 08/24/2003 6:35:32 AM PDT by DUMBGRUNT
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To: Pikamax
One of the great comedy classics of the 70's, along with Blazing Saddles, Pink Panther, Holy Grail, American Graffiti ...

``We articulated that among ourselves while we were making it, that this was a movie for us. Remember, comedy back then was still Doris Day and Phyllis Diller. There was very little being made for this generation.''

This guy is really full of himself, aint he? Guess he never heard of Mel Brooks, Monty Python, George Carlin, etc etc.

And John Belushi was a hugely popular and well-known star.

(It was finally shot at the University of Oregon where the president OK'd it without reading the script -- he was still sick over saying no to The Graduate because he thought it was dirty, and had concluded he didn't know how to read screenplays.)

LOL.

Still, Bacon was a model of sophistication next to Stephen Furst, signed to play the hapless Delta pledge Flounder. Furst, a Hollywood pizza delivery boy, stuffed his picture and résumé inside every pie he delivered -- an impossibly unlikely strategy that paid off when he delivered a double pepperoni to National Lampoon publisher Matty Simmons.

Wow, what a cool story.

a beer keg bursting out of the forehead of a paper-mache replica of President Kennedy on a homecoming float ...

Oh they should have left that in !

... and jokes about Bob Dylan and Norway's King Olav IV (don't ask).

Do tell, do tell ...

But when the final arguments about the script were over, the actual filming -- just 32 days -- went smoothly, if exhaustingly. (Especially the memorable toga party scene, which lasted for two 12-hour days.)

I've been to toga parties that lasted longer :-)

41 posted on 08/24/2003 6:35:58 AM PDT by fnord ( Hyprocisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue)
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To: 45semi
Fawn Lebowitz...
42 posted on 08/24/2003 6:36:59 AM PDT by 45semi
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To: Nitro
Don't forget the ether!


43 posted on 08/24/2003 6:42:34 AM PDT by G-Bear
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To: 45semi
Does yo mind if I dance wif yo dates?
44 posted on 08/24/2003 6:43:35 AM PDT by Fresh Wind (Never forget: CLINTON PARDONED TERRORISTS)
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To: Pikamax
I was there.

We're having our 39th reunion week after next.

45 posted on 08/24/2003 6:50:57 AM PDT by bert (Don't Panic!)
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To: Nitro
Thank God because the acid allowed me to pour beer down my throat like water down a spout!

We felt it coming on. We fished the Russian River. We drank about a ton of beer. We talked about baseball so much our jaws ached. We stayed on through the night and the sun came up....

46 posted on 08/24/2003 6:51:05 AM PDT by freebilly
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To: Pikamax
''The greatest tragedy is that there's a generation out there that doesn't know John Belushi and what he could do,'' Matheson declares. 'You hear kids say, `Hey, don't you mean Jim?' And it's just not right.''
If there's anyone from the cast who's made a career out of "those" kinds of movies it's Matheson. Belushi, as we all know, was destined for the US Senate. >:)

I have two very authentic looking "Faber College" golf shirts. It's amazing how few people get it.

-Eric

47 posted on 08/24/2003 6:52:47 AM PDT by E Rocc ("Dry counties" are a Protestant version of "sharia")
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To: B-Chan
One of my all time favorite comedic scenes in a film when Belushi smashes the faux-hippies guitar on the stairs..it still makes me laugh!

And If you look close enough, Belushis wife is one of the women 'swooning' over the 'I gave my love a cherry' guy

48 posted on 08/24/2003 6:56:04 AM PDT by prarie earth
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To: Pikamax
Bluto:What?! Over? Did you say over? NOTHING is over until WE decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL, NO!

Otter: Germans?

Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.

Bluto: It ain't over now! For when the goin' gets tough,..............the tough get going! Who's with me!? LET'S GO! C'MON! OOOOOOOOOOOO!

49 posted on 08/24/2003 7:00:24 AM PDT by jws3sticks ((Hillary can take a long walk on a short pier, anytime, the sooner the better!))
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To: Pikamax
Here is a great collection of sound bites from Animal House. Just click HERE to go to a website with lots of WAV files.

My notice of new email is the Kevin Bacon line: "Thank you, Sir, may I have another."

50 posted on 08/24/2003 7:08:17 AM PDT by jws3sticks ((Hillary can take a long walk on a short pier, anytime, the sooner the better!))
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