Celebrating the longevity and brilliance of Caddyshack

“Czervik?  Czervik?  Is Al Czervik here?” asked the man standing at the front of the room, microphone in his hand, as if he were Ben Stein waiting for Ferris Bueller to answer.

There were a few, muffled chuckles in the room for those of us who got the joke.  Even for those who didn’t, the name sounded familiar.

As the sun set down on the course around us, a hundred or so men (and women) sat in the clubhouse stinking of golf, beer and cigars.  I was one of those hundred.

The lot of us had just finished a local tournament for a good cause.  Between sold mulligans, silent auctions and entry fees, over $40,000 was raised for local charity.  On top of that, the weather was absolutely beautiful.  The temperature was high; the golf scores were higher.

As many of you might know but some of you might not, during tournaments such as these, there are prize holes rewarding good performance.  Very often, you’ll have some local car dealer offering up one of their vehicles on a particular par three.  If someone hits a hole in one, they get to take home the car.  I’ve never seen it happen nor have I ever heard of it happening so their insurance policy is pretty sound.  Tourneys also have longest drive, straightest drive and longest putt.  Prizes, not automobiles, are awarded for all.

The man standing at the front of the room waiting for Al Czervik to respond was reading his name off one of the prize hole’s, winning cards.  When one wins closest to the hole or longest drive, one takes the marker that is left on that hole, writes his name on the sheet with the attached pencil and sticks the holding post back into the grass where his ball has landed.

Al Czervik was today’s winner for longest putt.  Except there was no Al Czervik.

Well, there is but he’s a fictional character, one we all know and love and one, if you’re any sort of self-respecting, amateur golfer, has quoted before.  “You buy a hat like that, you get a bowl of soup with it.”  “How’d you like to make $14… the hard way.”  “Somebody step on a duck?”

Oh, so NOW you know Al Czervik.

Al Czervik is the man who Rodney Dangerfield plays in his very first feature film, Caddyshack.

Someone at the tournament was playing a joke and a good one at that by putting Czervik’s name on one of the prize holes.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the first time that’s ever happened and I’m positive it won’t be the last.

If you’ve ever played golf or even if you haven’t, you’d heard someone quote Caddyshack.  It happens almost every round.  That’s the brilliance of the movie.  Nearly forty years later, people quote movie lines from this ingenious work.  I’m not talking about famous one-liners like “Play it again, Sam” or “We’re not in Kansas anymore” or “I’ll have what she’s having.”  I am talking about line after line from a movie that is effortlessly quotable and sustainably hysterical.

“Gunga Lagunga.”

One could make the argument (and I think that’s what I’m doing here) that Caddyshack is not only the greatest comedy of all-time but that it is also the greatest sports movie ever made.  And not a single Academy Award, ya’ know, for the effort.  What a shame.  We all know how the Academy feels about comedies, which is ironic considering the show they put on Sunday night, announcing the wrong picture for Film of the Year during the show’s final moments, but I digress.

The folks in the clubhouse were having a good laugh as the guy announcing winners didn’t so much as chuckle which means a) he lacks a sense of humor and/or b) he’s due for a Caddyshack viewing asap.

I won’t bore you with Caddyshack trivia like the fact that it was Harold Ramis’ directorial debut or that it was Ted Knight’s last film or that all of Bill Murray’s lines from the film were improvised.  What I will say about those in charge of the film is that they managed to create a work of art that has lasted to this day and every reference even in passing is a perfect tribute to all those involved with its brilliance.

So they’ve got that going for them… which is nice.

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10 Replies to “Celebrating the longevity and brilliance of Caddyshack

  1. I recall seeing Caddyshack at a theatre in Harrisburg PA the day it opened and thinking as the lights came up and the credits started to roll…I’m seeing this movie again tomorrow. I can’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve seen it since but it always makes me laugh like it’s that very first screening.

  2. Liar North…

    It’s easy to grin when your ship comes in and you’ve got the stock market beat.

    But the man worthwhile is the man who can smile when his pants are too tight in the seat.

    I christen thee the Flying Wasp.

  3. Burnsy…

    Saw it in the theater, huh?

    Nice one.

    In 1980, I think I may have been a tad too young to see it in the theater

    (I did, however, see Meatballs, Murray’s first major motion picture, in the theater)

    Rest assured, it didn’t take much longer until Caddyshack entered my life and remained there to this day.

  4. I have the dancing gopher that plays “I’m Alright” when you tap the button in my mancave. Every time I have a party, that fuzzy little dude gets a good workout.

    Great movie that still holds up today. I don’t think I’d call it the best sports movie of all time, but it’s certainly in consideration. A classic film to be sure.

    Funny thing about timing and topics…I came across this earlier today and when I came to your site, I had to backtrack it to share with SportsChump Nation…



  5. Bleed…

    Like the Zen philosopher Basho, and a student of the film, I already knew most of that stuff. Can never have enough Caddyshack in my life. Keeps me smiling.

    Speaking of, what are your top five sports films, in no particular order?

    I’d throw Remember the Titans in there, Raging Bull, Rocky (IV, he he), Hoosiers, maybe. Big Lebowski. Does that count as a sports movie?

  6. Bowling is a game, not a sport. I feel that way about golf, NASCAR, horse racing and a few other games that get tossed under the “sports” umbrella…. But The Dude is a fucking awesome character regardless. Love Happy Gilmore too…but golf.

    You almost have to break it down by sport.

    Off the top of the dome in no particular order…

    The Blind Side
    Remember the Titans
    The Natural
    Mr. Baseball
    Field of Dreams
    White Men Can’t Jump

  7. Do love me some White Men Can’t Jump.

    Aside from being a great flick, it features Rosie Perez on a hotel room bed shot-gunning Stoli out of a bottle while wearing a tank top.

    That in and of itself is worthy of a top five ranking.

  8. I think this place is restricted, Wang…so don’t tell them you’re Jewish.

    Let’s us not forget the Sports Movie March Madness Bracket on Dubsism a few years back when Slap Shot was voted the winner.

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