Jonathan Melville: Harold Ramis death cinema’s loss

Harold Ramis. Pic: Comp
Harold Ramis. Pic: Comp
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THE film world was hit by yet another loss this week with the death of actor/writer/director Harold Ramis, a key player behind some of the biggest comedies ever made.

Supernatural comedy, Ghostbusters, was released in 1984 and has had a major effect on popular culture ever since. Ramis co-wrote the script, though at the time it was his role as scientist Egon Spengler that audiences focused on.

Ghostbusters is a near perfect script, combining some memorable set pieces - I’ll never forget seeing the Stay Puft Man appearing in New York City - with brilliant central performances from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Ramis.

Ramis’s first big success was as the writer of 1979’s Animal House, the frat house comedy that laid the groundwork for every college-set comedy since. Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes followed, their raucous style setting the tone that would be imitated by other comedy filmmakers through the decade.

Much as I love Ghostbusters, it’s the Ramis-directed Groundhog Day which sits on the DVD shelf beside my TV. I realised a few years ago that it’s my one of my favourite comedies and one of the films I return to when I need reminding that comedies don’t need to be full of gross-out humour to entertain.

Following the announcement that Ramis had dies, his friends and fans made statements to the press, including director Judd Apatow, who said:

“I looked up to him as a director but even more so as a man. We hired him to play Seth Rogen’s father in Knocked Up because we all saw him as the dream dad - funny, warm and wise. Harold was one of the nicest people I have ever met and he inspired countless people to go into comedy. His brilliant work will make people happy forever.”