Hello Woodchuck Chuckers! It is time once again to take a look at a film script and reveal the differences between paper and screen. I’ve covered many holiday films in this series and I’m not quite ready to break the trend. Is Groundhog Day a holiday? As a native of Central Pennsylvania, it certainly is to me!
The annual Gobbler’s Knob weather prediction dates back to 1887 with Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadowy companion over 78% of the time (as of 2022.) And while 6 more weeks of winter is always looming, it’s not near as long as the winter depicted in the 1993 film Groundhog Day. The repetitive journey of Phil Connors is one I enjoy watching each February in conjunction with the holiday.
Last year I sat down with several friends and screened Groundhog Day at TRN Drive-In. It was a fun learning experience and the research led to some great facts about the making of the film. Fans have analyzed just about every aspect of the movie and speculated about how and why Phil gets stuck in his time warp. I thought I’d take the analysis a step further for the 30th anniversary by take a look at the script and see what did not make it into the final theatrical cut.
The script I found online is a 122-page screenplay dated January 7, 1992 which was a second revision by director Harold Ramis who co-wrote with Danny Rubin. The pair would clash over the tone of the film with Rubin’s story being more philosophical while Ramis saw the movie as more of a comedy. The studio sided with Ramis’ version which also led to tension between him and star Bill Murray who sided more with the Rubin’s original concept. Outside of a few public appearances together, Murray and Ramis did not speak for nearly two decades after filming was complete. That’s heavy stuff so it should be interesting to think what might be in this early version of the script.
Ramis would revise the script two additional times with the final script dated April 15, 1992. In all, I’ve compiled at least 48 differences between the film and the second revision of the screenplay. Here they are for your enjoyment in chronological order:
Meet the Hogs
The film starts out in the clouds with a transition to Phil giving his weather forecast in the studio. The script begins with a family of groundhogs asleep and nestled together in their burrow. Then the scene dissolves into a winter wonderland of old snowfall on a frozen ground with icy tree branches hanging above.
Country View Credits
In the film, the credits roll as we hear Phil give his forecast against the blue screen and on the TV monitors in the studio. The script opens with Phil giving his forecast but it is inaudible. From the wintery scene mentioned above, an elaborated overhead journey of the Pennsylvania countryside is intermixed with Phil in the studio. The camera “streaks across the winter landscape, flying over fields and farms, small towns and hamlets, railroad lines and interstates, coalyards and factories, until we cross the Allegheny River and follow it to the southwest.” Another shot of Phil and then the journey continues as “the country towns turn to suburbs, traffic on the roads gets heavier and finally we see the skyline of Pittsburgh and the confluence of the Allegheny with the Monongahela and the Ohio. The camera finally zooms into a tall building in the downtown area and the television studio where Phil is giving his forecast. As a native of PA, I would’ve loved to see that opening.
Burrowed on the Couch
The initial scene in the movie has Phil interacting with the news anchor who tells him “Have fun in Punxsutawney, Phil!” We also get Larry the cameraman’s funny reply to Phil’s announcement that a major network’s interest in his services, “That would be the home shopping network.” Phil interacts with the other weatherman about handling the broadcasts while he’s away and we see his new producer Rita testing out the blue screen. None of this is in this early script.
We meet Phil for the first time asleep on a sofa in his office “buried deep under a pile of coats and a stolen airline blanket.” The executive producer of the station wakens Phil and reminds him today is Feb 1 and asks “you know what tomorrow is?” Phil sits up through the coats and tells him “Oh no, not again.” Phil refuses the notion to cover Groundhog Day again as he escapes from his office to prep for the next forecast. The producer chases him down and insists he cover the festival. He introduces Phil to Rita and tells Rita she is going with him to Punxsutawney.
Some of the dialogue here in this script eventually goes to Rita and Larry in the final cut of the movie when they are riding together in the van. The producer mentions covering the swallows returning to Capistrano which goes to Larry. He also mention it’s a cute story and talks about the groundhog wrinkling his nose which goes to Rita.
A closer glimpse at Phil’s office identifies him as a sports fan with “team pictures of the Steelers from the Franco Harris-Terry Bradshaw glory years and a framed memorial portrait of Roberto Clemente.” Also present in his office is “a local Emmy award statue.”
During the opening scene in the script, we see in the studio that Phil’s weather report is named “Phil’s Phorecast” with a caricature of himself next to the title.
In the script we learn Phil is involved with Stephanie DeCastro, a correspondent at the television station, who approaches him as he is packing up a few last minute things in his office before leaving for Punxsy. She asks him “…did I do something wrong or are you just tired of me or what?” Phil say it’s not her that he just doesn’t have time for a real relationship right now. Stephanie questions again, “Are you saying our relationship was a waste of time?” Phil downplays the question, “We went out a total of four times! And only twice did anything happen. It was fun but I don’t see that as a big commitment.” Phil tells her about a job opportunity with CBS but she is having nothing of his excuses.
Stephanie tells him “I had our charts done. My astrologer says we’re extremely compatible. There may even be some past lives involvement here.” Phil tells her “See? So we’ve already done this. Let’s move on. Next case.” Stephanie finally puts him in his place saying, “You know what’s wrong with you, Phil? You’re selfish. You don’t have time for anyone but yourself.” Phil agrees and apologizes if he misled her. As he leaves the office he promises “I’m going to do some serious thinking while I’m in Punxsutawney, okay?”
“Weathermen Like it Wet”
In the film, Phil, Rita, and Larry take the trip to Punxsutawney together in the TV station’s van. In the script, Phil follows the van in his own car, a new Lexus coupe with a bumper-sticker that reads “Weathermen Like it Wet.”
Phil is fumbling through his CD collection and on his mobile phone with another girlfriend who he is trying to convince to meet him in Punxsy. “I thought maybe you could meet me up there tonight and let me vulgarize you for about seven hours….So I’m supposed to spend the night in Punxsutawney all alone? Thanks.” Phil finally pops in a CD and “a great, driving song kicks in.” The script doesn’t specify is the song is Weatherman” by Delbert McClinton which is heard in the film.
Rita the Love Slave
The film and the script both have the scene when they pull up to the hotel and Phil refuses to stay. A small difference is Phil calls the hotel a “Fleabag” in the film but a “minimum security prison” in the script. Rita tells him she booked him at the B&B on Cherry street. Phil is appreciative with Rita replying “Whatever I can do.” The script plays up his “Ladies’ Man” personality even further by asking Rita “Will you be my love slave?” instead of asking her “Will you help me with my pelvic tilt” like in the film. After she invites him to dinner with Larry, Phil then requests that she ditch Larry and go out someplace nice with him which is omitted in the film.
Digital vs Analog
In the movie, the alarm clock in Phil’s room is outdated with the flip style numbers. There’s a fun scene later in the movie where it shows the numbers flipping in slow motion. The script states it is a digital clock even referring to it as an “iRadio” which I’m not sure is an actual product. I think the analog clock makes more sense and glad they made the change.
One of my favorite lines by the radio deejays in the film (which I led off with in this article) is when they announce “That’s right Woodchuck Chuckers, it’s Groundhog Day!” The script’s line is “That’s right Rodent Lovers, it’s Groundhog Day!” I’m glad Ramis rewrote that line.
Another subtle difference in the script is that the scene ends with Phil telling himself “Never again.” I wish that had made it into the movie. I know it’s just two words but how impactful are those words knowing he will be reliving the day thousands of time from this point forward.
There are a couple differences in the dialogue between Phil and the matron of the inn, Mrs. Lancaster. Phil tells her he slept like a “Romanian orphan” instead of saying “alone” in the movie. Phil’s response to her asking if he’ll be checking out today was originally “Unfortunately yes.” in the script but was changed to “Chance of departure 100%” in the film. That could have been a Bill Murray adlib.
The Origin of Prima Donnas
Larry the cameraman’s recurring line throughout the movie is “Prima donnas.” In case you didn’t know, it’s a slang reference to a very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance. There are a few lines in the script that are not in the movie as Rita and Larry are waiting for Phil to show at Gobbler’s Knob (after being attacked by the leech, Ned Ryerson.) Rita wonders why Phil is running late and Larry calls him a prima donna. Rita thinks he’s just being inconsiderate but Larry gives her an explanation. “What happens to some people? They’re born nice. They grow up nice. You put ’em on TV and – Bam! Prima donnas.”
Phil Is No Wolf Blitzer
In the script, there is a diner scene before they head back to Pittsburgh and get stuck in the blizzard. Phil is having a cup of coffee and Rita sits down across from him, telling him his report was lousy. Phil says, “It’s not my fault the little rat went South on us.” She responds. “A real professional would have handled it. You acted like it was a personal insult. Who do you think you are — Wolf Blitzer?” Phil can’t believe she takes the reporting so seriously. She explains, “As far as I’m concerned there are no little stories, Phil. Only little reporters with big egos who think they’re too good for the job they have to do.”
Phil tries to explain that he does care. Rita is too irritated to respond and Phil takes another jab at her asking if their chance of getting together is more glass is half full or half empty. Before she can respond, Larry pokes his head in the diner and tells them the need to go to get ahead of the weather. Phil sits back assuring Larry that the storm is going to miss them completely. Rita stomps off with Larry, leaving Phil behind.
Blizzard Takes a Dump on Harrisburg
In the film, Phil predicts that the storm is supposed to miss Pittsburgh and hit Altoona which is only about 55 miles east of Punxsutawney. In the script, Phil says the storm is going to “take a dump on Harrisburg” which is considerably farther east, about 150 miles from Punxsy. I’m not sure why the city was changed but for geography’s sake, it would make more sense to use Harrisburg.
Reckless in the Lexus
After Rita and Larry leave the diner in the script, we later meet up with Phil on the highway in his Lexus returning to Pittsburgh. He is on his car phone with a woman named Sabrina (not clear if this was the one he talked to on the way up) and tells her he’ll call her after the meeting with the network guy. The phone line goes dead in the middle of the call and then he comes up to the accident on the highway. The scene with the Officer, or “Commander”, is pretty much the same as the movie except the policeman doesn’t give Phil the choice to “go ahead and freeze to death.”
Philandering With Nancy
Back in Punxsy, the film shows Phil at the hotel bar ordering another drink, “this time with some booze in it.” Instead of the scene with Rita and Larry that’s shown in the movie, the script has Phil meeting Nancy for the first time and drunkenly tries to entice her with his charm. Phil tells her he’s a White House correspondent with NBC, begging her to ask him a question to prove it.
Before she can answer, a bride rushes in the bar followed by her bridesmaids. She has runaway from her own wedding and the groom shows up and tries to drag her back. The groomsmen restrain him and the bridesmaids escort the bride out. After the kafuffle, Phil turns to Nancy and says “Good start. I’m sure they’ll be very happy. So what do you say? You want to play doggie obedience school with me? Nancy responds with “I’ll pass, thanks” and gets up to leave. Phil tells her “Sit! Stay!” but he watches her go and then retreats to his hotel room.
Stephanie Curses Phil
This is the biggest difference by far and is probably, the biggest difference I’ll find. The movie is ambiguous about what exactly causes Phil’s loop in time. Did he find a wormhole? Was he cursed? Is it just karma? Watching the movie over the years, I like that it is not explained and it’s simply a vehicle for Phil to change his life. However, this early script gives us the exact reason behind it all.
When Phil gets back to his hotel room, there is a back and forth sequence with him and Stephanie, the correspondent from the beginning of the movie, in her bedroom. First, there is a close-up of a book titled 101 Curses, Spells and Enchantments You Can Do at Home with a “well-manicured feminine hand” opening the book to a
marked page. We zoom back and see Stephanie sitting on the floor wearing a Zodiac print caftan robe and surrounded by candles. She drops Phil’s business card, a Tarot card of the Hanged Man, a chicken bone, and a feather into a dish. Meanwhile, Phil is getting ready for bed and looks at himself in the mirror. Stephanie then mutters incantations in a secret language. She sprinkles some powder on the plate, then adds a few drops of oil. She makes a few passes over it with her hands and, much to her surprise, the contents of the plate spontaneously combust.
Phil flops down on the bed, stares at the ceiling until the room starts to spin. He closes his eyes and falls asleep. Stephanie completes the spell by adding a broken wristwatch to the fire. We see the hands on the watch are frozen at 5:59. Then we cut the scene of Phil waking up and experiencing Groundhog Day again.
When I did research for the Drive-In podcast, I had heard this was an early idea so this scene is not a true surprise. But I do like getting the context of the scene they had in mind if this had been filmed.
Phil Curses Ned
(Not in the way that Stephanie just cursed Phil.) As Phil is accosted by Ned for the second time in the script, he goes a little overboard with his language. He tells Ned that he is not feeling well yet Ned continues his sales pitch asking Do you have life insurance, Phil? ‘Cause if you do, I bet you could use more — who couldn’t?” — but I got a feeling you don’t have any. Am I right?” Phil lashes out at Ned, “Did I say ‘f*** off’, Ned? I can’t talk to you right now.”
Phil Predicts Phil
The script actually has a scene where Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow instead of the scene where Buster plucks him from the stump and pretends the groundhog is whispering to him. Phil’s first experimental prediction happens when he returns to Gobbler’s Knob to find Rita and Larry. He’s still in a fog of deja vu but he finally redirects Larry to a new position where they can actually see Punxsy Phil come out of his hole.
After Phil’s intro on camera, similar to the previous day, he says “My forecast is we’re going to see the groundhog peek its head out of its hole, look around a little bit, then he’s going to come out, scamper over to this general area, look at the crowd for a second, make a little burping noise and run back into the ground.” Rita becomes frustrated with Phil’s report. He then looks at his watch and says “Okay, and here we go.” The groundhog sticks his head out, looks left, looks right, steps out of the hole, and runs away from the press pool, directly over to Larry’s camera. As he stands there, his body casts a long shadow. The groundhog looks right into the camera, lets out a squeak, and runs back into the hole just as Phil predicted. He is speechless that he got the prediction right and wanders off in a moment of thought, leaving Rita to do the camera sign-off.
Phil Does His Best Keith Moon
At the end of the second day in the film, Phil finishes up a telephone call in his room and then breaks a pencil before he goes to sleep. He wakes up on the third day and notices the pencil is whole again. In the script, he decides to take it up a notch after waking up on that third day. Here is the sequence directly from the script.
“Phil is shown walking back to the B&B carrying two gallon buckets of paint and a couple of big bags from a hardware store. Phil enters his room and dumps the bags on the bed. Out fall a couple of big paintbrushes, a small sledgehammer, a handsaw, a crowbar, plastic goggles and assorted other tools. He puts on the goggles, grabs a hammer and some nails and starts nailing the door shut. Mrs. Lancaster and several other guests are gathered in the hall outside Phil’s room, listening at the door and looking very worried. They hear the sounds of loud hammering, wood splintering and glass breaking.
Inside, Phil has demolished just about all the furniture and woodwork in the room. He rips off the last of the wooden moldings with the crowbar, then crosses to the mirror over the demolished sink. He stands there, staring at his image in the mirror, trying to figure out what’s happening to him. He starts breathing heavier, as if gathering courage, then, just when we think he’s going to cut off his ear or something, he raises an electric barber clipper and shaves a bald stripe up the middle of his head. He studies his new look for a moment then smashes the mirror with his sledgehammer. Then he opens the cans of paint, dips the two big brushes into the cans and starts slapping bright red paint onto the walls, madly, feverishly, splashing himself and everything else in the room with it. As a final touch he grabs the bed pillows and rips them open, then shakes them all around the room creating a storm of feathers. Finally, Phil falls exhausted on the bed. From outside we can hear outraged hotel employees pounding on the door. We pan over to the clock radio, the only undamaged object in the room. Feathers drift down past the face of the clock which reads 5:59 AM.
The time changes to 6:00, the radio clicks on and “I Got You, Babe” starts playing as we pan back to Phil sleeping on the bed. He opens his eyes, jumps out of bed and looks around. No paint, no feathers, no damage. Everything is as clean and tidy as the day he checked in. He races over to the unbroken mirror and looks at himself. His hair is completely restored, as if it had never been shaved. The song ends and the deejays come on. Phil says every word right along with them, shocked into a state of complete wonderment.”
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
So far the script is really playing up Phil as a womanizer compared to the movie. It really pays off with some dialogue from Rita. In the diner scene when Phil tries to explain to Rita about his predicament, she thinks his story is just ruse to be with her. After she asks for the truth, Phil thinks she should be with him for the next 24 hours so he can prove his story. Rita is appalled saying, “I see. You know, Phil, you can charm all the little P.A.’s at the station, all the secretaries, and even some of the weekend anchors, but not me— not in a thousand years. Not if I was dying and your breath was the only cure; not if having your child was the only way to preserve the human race. Just get it out of your head because it is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!“
Gus and Ralph
My favorite supporting characters in the movie are Gus and Ralph, the two locals we meet in the diner and then later go on the joyride with Phil. I love the little tidbits in the diner, especially Gus’ lines (played by Rick Ducommon) when the busboy drops the dishes and he tells him “Just put that anywhere, pal.” I also like his interaction with Phil when he overhears that his name is Phil. “Phil, like the groundhog ‘Phil?’ Well, watch out for your shadow there, buddy.” The major difference between the film and script is we don’t meet these characters until they are drinking at the bowling alley with Phil later in the day.
Kiss the Frog
The sequence after the diner when Phil visits a local doctor and psychiatrist happens about the same both the script and the film. However, the script adds a third person which alludes to Phil’s curse by Stephanie. The third person Phil visits is a local middle school science teacher. He tries to explain to Phil about the possibility of a worm hole or an event that could bend time and fold back on itself. Phil asks if he thinks that is a realistic possibility, but the teacher tells him it’s only a theory.
As Phil leaves the school, he walks past a first grade classroom and overhears the teacher telling the story of the Princess and the Frog. She asks a little girl what happened when the princess kissed the frog. She replies, “The princess kissed the frog and the spell got broke and he turned into a handsome prince and they got married and lived happily ever after.” Phil is leaning against the wall listening to the story. There is something arresting about the fairy tale, but finally he just shakes his head and exits. If I had to guess, this is a setup for how Phil breaks the curse at the end of the movie (maybe Rita’s kiss will break the spell.)
The joyride scene is primarily the same in both the script and movie. However, the little nuggets of dialogue from Gus and Ralph are missing from the script. Phil asking Ralph if he wants to throw up on the street or in the car. Gus telling Phil that if they wanted to hit mailboxes, they could let Ralph drive. Ralph asking if anyone else could go for some flapjacks. All those lines were either improvised or added in a later revision to the script.
There is also no mention of driving down the railroad tracks, but the biggest absence from the script in this scene is Phil’s fast food order after he crashes the car including “And flapjacks!” “Too early for flapjacks?”
Lincoln High Reunion
Earlier in the script, we met Nancy Taylor at the hotel bar with Phil attempting to entice her to his hotel room. At this point in the script, Phil spots her near Gobbler’s Knob and asks her the questions about her name, high school, and twelfth grade English teacher. Then, the next day he has the Lincoln High reunion with her in the same spot at Gobbler’s Knob. Since the final cut of the film replaced the earlier Nancy scene with Rita and Larry, the question scene happens in the diner with the reunion at Gobbler’s Knob.
Fight Poetry With Poetry
In the film, Rita shows her contempt for Phil’s breakfast smorgasbord by reciting a line from “Breathes there the man” by Sir Walter Scott. Phil snubs her by laughing and saying “I thought that was Willard Scott.” In the script, Phil’s comeback to Rita is another line of poetry, “There once was a young man from Nantucket—”. Another addition to this scene in the script is Phil then admits to Rita his galivant the night before with Gus and Ralph. She still doesn’t believe him even though he invites her again to spend the day with him. She replies, “You really do have a death wish, don’t you?” Phil counters, “Just the opposite, Rita. I have a life wish. I’m just trying to enjoy it. Taking pleasure in the little things.”
In the movie, we catch up with Phil and Nancy kissing on the couch when Phil says Rita’s name by accident. He covers it up with an impromptu marriage proposal which makes Nancy seem to forget his slip up. In the script, they are “making passionate love” when Phil makes the same mistake. Instead of the proposal, he covers up his name error by saying “It’s just something I say when I make love. You know — ‘Orita’, ‘Orighta’– it’s like ‘Oh, baby’ or something.” Nancy looks strangely but ultimate shrugs it off and they go back at it.
211 Days of Casual Sex
Immediately following the Nancy scene in the script is a scene at the bed and breakfast that is not in the movie. Some elderly guests are sipping coffee and staring uncomfortably at Phil who is standing at the bookcase, wearing only pajamas. He munches on a Danish as he reads from a trashy novel. Mrs. Lancaster tells him “Isn’t it a wonderful collection?” Phil responds, “Yes, it is. You don’t usually find this many trashy novels in one place.” She tells him he can take one to his room if he likes, but Phil explains he’s already read them all and was just re-reading some dirty parts.
She asks him how long he’ll be staying. “Indefinitely. I’ve already been here for 211 days,” Phil replies. She humors him and hopes he’s finding plenty to do in town. He tells her, “Yes, well, I’m getting a little tired of casual sex so today I thought I’d rob a bank and buy myself a really expensive car.”
In the movie, Phil robs the bank by showing off his memorization skills and walking up to the armored truck precisely at the exact moment to take a bag of cash. In the script, Phil surprises the guards by wielding a shotgun and wearing a Batman style cape and a ski mask. He yells them to freeze and drop their guns. He then asks “You guys ever been held up before?” They shake their heads no. “It’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?” He raises his mask and says “By the way, I’m Phil.” The guards introduce themselves. Phil shakes their hands and walks off with both bags of cash.
Phil Buys a Beemer
Right after the robbery, the script has a scene at a car dealership in town. Phil has apparently already spent some cash as he walks in the dealership dressed in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform complete with shoulder pads. Phil admires a BMX 850 with a sticker price of $62,999. A salesman walks up and starts his pitch, but before he can give Phil a discount, he blurts out “I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you $70,000 if you just knock off the car salesman stuff and let me get out of here with my car.” Phil opens a briefcase and starts counting.
One other difference is the movie shows Phil driving a Mercedes when he pulls up to the movie theater in the following scene. In the script, there is also a quick shot of Phil racing through the streets before he gets to the theater.
Sid Vicious on Crack
Another scene in the script that’s not in the film is Phil joining a biker gang. He first visits a tattoo parlor and gets an elaborate tattoo of a heart being pierced by a bloody dagger on his arm. As he’s lying on the table in the parlor, Rita walks by the store window and is appalled. Later that night at a biker bar, Phil is dressed in black leathers looking like “Sid Vicious on crack.” He takes off his hat to reveal red, white and blue hair shaved almost down to his skull. Two girls in tight jeans and bullet bras are coming on to him, practically licking his ears. One of them pops a couple of mystery pills into his mouth and Phil washes them down with a shot and a beer.
Then another scene at Phil’s hotel room with the same gang, blaring heavy metal from a radio. Several unsavory looking men and women are partying, a few already passed out, sleeping off whatever hit them. Someone knocks loudly on the door, shouting complaints about the music. A beer bottle smashes against the door. With his arm around one of the girl and the other cradling a fifth of Wild Turkey, Phil tries to have an intelligent conversation about relationships with the girl who is heavily inebriated. She eventually passes out and Phil mutters, “There’s got to be more to it than this.”
Phil Tells Rita The Truth…Again
The scene where Phil tries to extract Rita’s likes and dislikes in the coffee shop is about the same in the movie and the script with a couple excepts. The script has Phil telling the truth to Rita about what he did the night before with the biker gang. Since that scene was not used in the movie, I guess they replaced that dialogue with what Rita tells Phil is her perfect man.
Tequila with Lime
Rita’s favorite drink in the movie is Sweet Vermouth on the rocks with a twist which actually was the favorite of director Harold Ramis’ wife. In the script she orders, “Tequila with lime, gold if you’ve got it.”
Stop the Violence
The end of Phil’s staged day in the movie ends with Rita slapping him in his hotel room. Then we see a repeat of the snowball scene followed by a series of slaps by Rita. The script is different because it doesn’t have all the slaps and Phil and Rita only make it to the doorstep of the hotel before Rita figures out he planned the day and slaps him once.
Romeo and Rita
A short scene from the script that was filmed but didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie shows Phil outside of Rita’s hotel at night (after the series of slaps.) He looks up and waves at her standing in the window. She doesn’t wave back and just draws the curtains.
Another deleted scene from the script is Phil at the pool hall showing off his best shots to a couple local yocals. The script does not have all of Phil’s predictions of the basketball games.
Poop and Loathing in Punxsy
After the scene where Phil predicts Jeopardy questions (the script uses different questions), the script has a scene with Phil walking down the street one morning and counting the sidewalk cracks as he steps. A woman walking a dog passes him. Phil shouts, “Hey, pick up after your dog!” The lady looks at him strange and says, “He hasn’t done anything.” Phil quickly responds, “He’s going to!” and then points, “There and there. And there!“
He continues walking and counting when a group of young kids wander up and start spitting numbers at him, making him lose count. He slowly turns toward them and loudly growls, causing them to scamper away. When Phil turns back around he comes face-to-face with a cop. He asks Phil if he has a problem. “Yeah, I got a problem, buddy! I can’t stand this place anymore! I can’t stand this street and I can’t stand the fourteen bars and the five banks and the one star food and the bad weather and the “quaint” little shops and most of all, I can’t stand anything—ANYTHING— with a groundhog on it.” He sees a patch of a groundhog on the sleeve of the officer’s uniform and rips it off. The cops asks him his name and they do the “Phil, like the groundhog” routine, but this time, Phil gets an idea before he can say “groundhog.”
The Hog Must Die
There are a couple scenes in the script before the big groundhog kidnapping that is shown in the movie. At nighttime, Phil approaches the groundhog stump as if to case it. He pulls a rifle from his coat, approaches the mound, and throws a smoke bomb inside. He hits the deck nearby, aiming the rifle right at the opening. Smoke is pouring out as a woman walks by and tells Phil, “He ain’t in there. They keep him in the library.” Phil lowers the rifle in disappointment as the woman walks off. She looks back and says, “Plug him once for me.“
The next day, Phil approaches the library and enters. Walking past the front desk and a young woman reshelving books, he pulls out a shotgun and pump a shell into the chamber. He walks up to the glass case and aims at the groundhog. There is a loud gunshot as Phil squeezes off a round. The glass is not damaged as the groundhog looks up playfully at Phil. He squeezes off four more rounds and starts pounding on the glass with the butt of the gun. Phil is then seized by two large men, taking the shotgun from him and wrestling him to the floor. A bystander asks the librarian, “Is he all right?” She responds, “He’s just fine. That’s two inches of bullet-proof glass there. You can’t be too careful in this day and age.”
Phil Friends Witness His Deaths
During the sequence of suicide attempts in the movie, Phil is shown jumping off a belltower. In the script, Phil jumps from a tall building that contains Ned Ryerson’s office. Ned sees a body fly past his window and looks down on the street to see a lifeless Phil.
Rita and Larry also witness first hand Phil stepping in front of the bus. And in another scene not in the movie, they watch Phil being gunned down in front of the bank after he emerged in army fatigues holding an assault rifle.
Countdown to Fire
In the script, Phil takes Rita around the diner telling her about everyone they see (like in the movie.) One difference is instead of the tray of dishes being dropped by the waiter, he counts down until a grease fire starts in the kitchen with smoke billowing out into the diner.
Phil Does His Homework
After the long night at the hotel with Rita staying up with him, Phil is finally inspired to make the most of his day. In the movie, Phil gives a long report at Gobbler’s Knob that touches the people around him. In the script, there are scenes leading up to the speech (mixed with the piano lessons) of Phil checking out philosophy books at the library. He’s actually gives more than one charming report in the script, one includes a few tidbits about the history of groundhog hibernation and Groundhog Day itself.
Ice vs Marble
One small difference is instead of performing ice sculpting like in the movie, the script has Phil sculpting from marble at the cemetery.
My Doggie Was Cold
Another deleted scene from the film that is in the script is another rescue scene. (You probably remember the boy that falls out of the tree.) A little girl with a dog in her coat approaches an intersection with a truck approaching. Phil reaches out and pulls her back just before the truck blows by. Phils tells her, “Hey! Did you forget to look bothways? You didn’t even look one way. The girl tells him, “My doggie was cold.” Phil replies, “Yeah, well, my doggies are freezing, but I’m still gonna watch out for cars. See you around, kid.”
Random Businessman Chokes
The script uses a random businessman that is choking in the restaurant. Of course in the film, Phil saves Buster the Groundhog Day ringleader from choking by using the heimlich maneuver.
One of Phil’s “errands” in the script is visiting the hospital in which he first dresses like a doctor to correctly diagnose a patient that was rushed in from an ambulance. He corrects a nurse who thinks she’s in diabetic shock to pump her stomach from an overdose.
We later see Phil in the children’s ward making balloon animals for the kids. He had told Rita to meet him at the hospital at 5pm and she finds him among the kids and looks on in awe.
Rita Sees More Kindness
In the movie, Rita finds Phils at the hotel playing the piano and bids on him at the bachelor auction (which isn’t in the script.) However, Rita and Phil walk to the hotel in the script with Rita witnessing more of Phil’s kindness. She is with him when he catches the boy from the tree. She is also with him when Phil writes a note to put with the dying homeless man in the street. He scampers away when the paramedics arrive but Rita is the one who reads the note. This is a deleted scene from the movie, but it only features Phil.
This One’s For the Frog Prince
After Phil carves Rita’s image into the snow sculpture, they share a kiss and then the scene fades into the alarm clock going off on Feb 3. The script gives a call back (as I thought it might) to the earlier scene of Phil listening in to the Princess and the Frog story at the school. Before they kiss, Phil tells her “This one’s for the Frog Prince.” She is confused but Phil tells her it’s nothing. Actually, it’s THE thing that breaks his long Groundhog Day loop.
A New Day
The film ends with Rita and Phil walking out of the B&B. Phil suggests they live there (renting to start) as they share a kiss and hop over the gate to the street. (Gate was actually frozen shut.) The script ends the story a little differently.
Phil and Rita greet the people at the B&B. Phil introduces her to Mrs. Lancaster “This is Rita. She Loves me.” They hit the streets of Punsxy, walking past the local florist who wants to thanks Phil for something and hand him a bouquet. He passes them to Rita and starts and internal monologue:
“And so began my final lifetime, and ended the longest winter on record. I would find myself no longer able to affect the chain of events in this town, but I did learn something about time. You can waste time, you can kill time, you can do time, but if you use it wisely, there’s never enough of it. So you’d better make the most of the time you’ve got.”
Just then, a car skids on the ice and smashes into a tree. Phil and Rita rush over to help, but the driver waves that he’s okay and they continue their walk. Phil continues his monologue:
“Larry never got through the blizzard, so none of my groundhog reports ever made it on the air. But Rita and I— we lived happily ever after.” They walk off together, but across the street, Larry is being haggled by Ned Ryerson. “But Phil told me you were his accountant!” Larry responds, “Look, I told you! He’s nuts!”
He keeps trying to walk away from Ned, but he won’t leave him alone. “Let me just tell you about single premium life—” Finally, Larry slugs Ned and storms off, leaving Ned floundering in a snowbank.
Phil and Rita continue their walk with a wide shot of the town. THE END.
So that was a fun trip through the Groundhog Day script. Lots of insight into the backstory like the origin of Phil’s time warp. It would have been fun to see Phil destroy the hotel room and shave his head. It also would have been comical to see him trying to hunt the groundhog down in the library. But ultimately I’m glad we got the story we did with more Gus and Ralph and less womanizing from Phil.
For more insight into the film, be sure to check out Groundhog Day at TRN Drive-In. Also read the other articles in the Script Differences series:
Awesome work as usual. I always enjoy these script difference pieces. Happy Groundhog Day!
I hope to do more this year!