It's an odd phenomenon when the world loses a celebrity. People are stricken with grief for a stranger they only knew through the lens of a camera. There's a familiarity that exists, like a feeling of deja vu, all because this person played a character, be they beloved, hated, or even feared.
Yesterday, Harold Ramis passed away, and so did a bevy of characters he imagined and portrayed, most notably Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters and Russell Ziskey in Stripes. His earnestness was obvious, and for that reason alone, audiences loved him.
But, as much as he will be remembered for his work in front of the camera, it's his directorial and writing accolades that make him a Hollywood icon (Groundhog Day, Analyze This, Animal House). In his honor, the Blue Starlite Drive-In of Wynwood will be showing two of his most famous works, National Lampoons Vacation Wednesday, and Caddyshack Thursday.
Josh Frank, the owner of Blue Starlite, has a particularly special bond with Ramis. In 2009, he released a book about Peter Ives, an underground video DJ that predated the rise of MTV, who was also close friends with Ramis. His work on Ives' biography allowed Frank access to interview Ramis.
"I woke up this morning, I read the paper, and I was really upset for a couple of hours," Frank said. "I went on the computer, looked at the schedule for my theaters, and then I was able to add the movies. It felt good that I was able to do that."
He added National Lampoons Vacation and Caddyshack because Frank felt those represented Ramis the best.
"These were the movies where he got his start," Frank explained. "They're the ones where he began his career, and the ones that were the most his."
Unfortunately, Ramis' most lasting film memories will be from movies made nearly twenty years ago. His last influential film came out in the late 90's, Analyze This starring Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro, but it was really 1993's Groundhog Day, starring Ramis' best muse Bill Murray, that fans will remember most fondly.
"I was hoping that he'd spent the last ten years planning what he wanted to do next, and I was really looking forward to it," Frank adds. "It seemed like the right thing. One of these days we'd get some great news that he was going to do another movie, and now I can't look forward to it anymore."
Even though fans lost the hope of a new project, his past works can be remembered properly, and what better way than in an old-fashioned drive-in?
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Remembering Harold Ramis. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 10:15 p.m., National Lampoons Vacation. Thursday, Feb. 27, at 10 p.m., Caddyshack. At Blue Starlite Drive-In, 70 NW 29th Street, Wynwood. Tickets cost $8 to $45 via bluestarlitemiami.com.
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