17 Solid Facts About Stripes

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Stripes was originally pitched by director Ivan Reitman as a Cheech and Chong Army movie. But it turned into a modern comedy classic featuring an embarrassment of acting riches with a cast that included Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, and P.J. Soles. It was also the first shot in the spotlight for Sean Young, John Larroquette, Judge Reinhold, Timothy Busfield, and “Hey! It’s that guy!” actor John Diehl. Here are 17 things you might not have known about the 1981 hit.

1. HAROLD RAMIS AND COLUMBIA PICTURES DID NOT WANT HAROLD RAMIS IN THE MOVIE.

With the knowledge that the studio didn’t want him, and more comfortable with writing at that point than with acting, Ramis was reluctant to play Russell. He even had Dennis Quaid (P.J. Soles’s husband at the time) read for his part. Bill Murray stepped in and insisted that he only wanted to work with Ramis.

2. BILL MURRAY AND P.J. SOLES DID BOOT CAMP FOR THREE DAYS.

Both John Winger and Stella initially planned to wake up at 0500 and jog with real soldiers for two weeks.

3. THEY FILMED THE SPATULA SCENE AT 3 A.M.

It was improvised by Murray.

4. THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT LIKED THE SCRIPT.

So they gave the crew a ton of access, including allowing Ivan Reitman and company to shoot in Fort Knox and letting real troops play extras.

5. MURRAY WAS UNEASY ABOUT MAKING A MOVIE WHERE HE CARRIED A MACHINE GUN.

He reasoned with himself that if guns were used to save your friends, it was okay.

6. ARMY RECRUITMENT NUMBERS WENT UP AFTER THE MOVIE WAS RELEASED.

By about 10 percent.

7. MOST OF THE CAST WAS DRUNK FOR TWO WEEKS FOLLOWING JOHN LENNON’S DEATH.

John Larroquette (Capt. Stillman) later admitted that he was drunk in the scene when he dressed down the company after they watched and participated in mud wrestling. Even after filming moved to Los Angeles, Murray and Warren Oates (Sgt. Hulka) had a drunken evening beside the grave of late actor Strother Martin.

8. JOHN LARROQUETTE BROKE HIS NOSE.

Larroquette permanently scarred his nose running into a door in the scene where he discovers that the EM-50 has been stolen.

9. WARREN OATES CHIPPED HIS TOOTH.

Unbeknownst to Warren Oates, Reitman told the actors to grab Hulka and drag him into the mud in one of the obstacle course scenes. After his tooth got chipped and he screamed at Reitman, he insisted that they could just shoot from the other side of his face and filming could continue before he was talked into seeing a dentist.

10. HULKA WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE.

The fall from the high platform was meant to be fatal. The character and actor were too well liked for that part of the script to not change.

11. KENTUCKY DOUBLED FOR CZECHOSLOVAKIA.

The Czechoslovakia scenes were filmed at the Jim Beam-owned Chapeze Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. Ramis said that the third act was set in that country because Reitman’s family were Czech refugees.

12. LARROQUETTE AD LIBBED “I WISH I WAS A LOOFAH.”

Reitman told Larroquette to improvise stuff to say while looking at naked women in the shower. He came up with “I wish I was a loofah.” After Reitman yelled “Cut!” he asked the actor what a loofah was.

13. A NINE-MINUTE ACID TRIP SCENE WAS SHOT BUT CUT.

John and Russell took LSD and went on a mission to fight rebels in the Colombian jungle. Reitman didn’t think it fit with the tone of the rest of the movie.

14. A SCENE WITH CRUISER AND HULKA WAS CUT, TOO.

Cruiser pulled a grenade pin and counted too slowly before losing count entirely. Hulka then grabbed it out of his hand and threw it to save their lives.

15. DIEHL WAS PAID $1500 A WEEK TO PLAY CRUISER.

The young actor was very happy with the salary.

16. MURRAY AND JOHN CANDY HAD DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO BOND WITH THE PLATOON.

Murray arranged a screening of the 1968 film The Bofors Gun, a dark military drama set in West Germany following World War II. Candy invited the company to his house to watch the famous Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard fight and enjoy a spaghetti dinner made by his wife.

17. ONLY CANDY AND PSYCHO KNEW THE LYRICS TO “DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY”

Conrad Dunn (Psycho) recalled that he and Candy had to teach it to the rest of the outfit.

10 Dramatic Downton Abbey Fan Theories

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Despite its exhaustively polished veneer, Downton Abbey was always a soap opera. Julian Fellowes's historical drama about a family of aristocrats and their many servants could never resist a good shocker, and it deployed plenty of them over the course of six seasons. The valet was suspected of murder (twice). One of the Crawley sisters got knocked up by her older married boyfriend, who promptly went missing. And another sister’s first sexual encounter ended in death. Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that fans have developed similarly wacky theories about the show. These fan theories include secret parentage, undercover spies, and, of course, poison.

Brush up on the best of them before the Downton Abbey movie hits theaters—just in case the whole miscarriage curse comes up.

1. Mr. Carson is Lady Mary’s father.

This theory all comes down to eyes. As you may recall from science class, certain genes are dominant and others are recessive. This is perhaps most easily understood through eye color, where brown eye color, a dominant gene, is expressed as BB and blue eye color, a recessive gene, is expressed as bb. A parent with brown eyes might carry the recessive blue eye gene (i.e. Bb), but if you plot out genetic probabilities on a basic Punnett square, two blue-eyed parents with double bbs have seemingly no shot at producing a Bb baby. Now, what does any of this have to do with Downton Abbey? Both Lord and Lady Grantham have blue eyes, but their eldest daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This has led some fans to speculate that Lady Mary is actually the daughter of Carson, the family’s beloved butler who has always acted as as sort of second father to Mary. As debunkers have noted, two blue-eyed people can have a brown-eyed child, because recessive genes aren’t that simple. But isn’t it wild to think of Carson and Cora having an affair?

2. Thomas Barrow poisoned Kemal Pamuk.

One of the soapiest subplots of Downton Abbey's first season involved “poor Mr. Pamuk,” the dashing Turkish diplomat who makes a fateful visit to the Abbey. After enjoying a day of fox hunting and an evening of sparkling conversation, Kemal Pamuk drops dead ... right in Lady Mary’s bed. The cause, it is later revealed, was a heart attack, but many viewers suspected something more sinister. Earlier in the episode, the Crawleys’ closeted footman, Thomas Barrow, made a pass at Pamuk, which the diplomat rejected quite forcefully—so much so that he threatened to get Thomas fired. That placed the footman in a tricky situation, but it was nothing a little poison couldn't fix, and that’s exactly why some fans believe Thomas slipped something into Mr. Pamuk’s dinner.

3. Lady Grantham’s miscarriage started a curse.

In the Season 1 finale, tragedy strikes. The newly pregnant Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, falling onto the bathroom tiles and inducing a miscarriage. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also, Reddit claims, the source of the house’s future misfortune. According to this theory, the miscarriage kicks off a curse of deadly pregnancies: Lady Sybil dies in childbirth; Matthew Crawley dies in a car accident soon after the birth of his son; and when the maid Ethel Parks becomes pregnant with Major Bryant’s child, he dies, too.

4. Mr. Bates is actually a bad guy.

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Downton Abbey invests a lot of time and effort in convincing us that John Bates, Lord Grantham's trusty, is a great guy—despite his checkered past and multiple murder allegations. But what if everyone’s assumptions about Bates are exactly right? Some Redditors believe Bates is just a remorseless serial killer, pointing to his intense hatred of his first wife and “creepy vibes” as evidence. Anna had better watch out.

5. Michael Gregson is a spy.

Lady Edith’s boss and lover Michael Gregson is the publisher of a London magazine, The Sketch. Thanks to his job, he knows tons of important people, travels all over the world, and speaks multiple languages. He eventually disappears inside Germany in season 4, and later dispatches to the Crawley family imply that he was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s “thugs.” (The show timeline places Gregson in Munich right around the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.) Or at least, that’s the official story. Another one suggests that Gregson was a British spy gathering intel on the insurgent Nazis—and he might not have died at all. His superiors simply needed to feed Edith a lie that would discourage her from poking around, so they made up a cover story that someone who follows the news would believe.

6. Lady Rosamund Painswick is Lady Edith’s mother.

When Lady Edith becomes pregnant with Michael Gregson’s child, she finds a strong support system in her aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Upon learning Edith’s secret, Rosamund travels to Downton Abbey to help her niece through her pregnancy, and suggests adoption options as the due date draws near. Some fans have interpreted this empathy as a clue that Rosamund, not Lady Grantham, is Edith’s true mother. It could also explain why Edith looks (and behaves) so different from her sisters. Or it could just be a sign that Rosamund cares about her niece.

7. Lady Mary’s “operation” was IVF.

In season 3, Lady Mary claims to have undergone a “small operation” that will help her start a family with Matthew. It’s maddeningly unclear what this operation entails, but one wild guess is that she had an early version of IVF. The complete crackpot theory is that this was a cover for Matthew’s infertility, which the doctors wouldn’t disclose to him, presumably to preserve his 1920s masculinity.

8. Lady Mary’s son George becomes a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.

Lady Mary’s son George is only five years old in the series finale of Downton Abbey. But that means he would theoretically be 18 in the fall of 1939, which is exactly when World War II broke out in Europe. He would almost certainly enlist, as show creator Julian Fellowes himself has suggested. But Decider has more specifically theorized that George would join the Royal Air Force (RAF), “with a desire to rebel against his emotionally distant mother and find purpose in a greater cause.” Sounds like George would be taking part in some dangerous missions, putting the entire family’s future at risk.

9. Public tours keep the estate alive.

The Crawleys spend much of Downton Abbey fretting about the future management of their estate—partially because Lord Grantham is kind of bad at it. But Lady Mary has taken over when the series ends, and Fellowes believes she’d find savvy ways to keep her family’s home in their hands. “She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did,” Fellowes told Deadline. “And she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters. My own belief is that the Crawleys would still be there.”

10. The Dowager Countess keeps Denker and Spratt around for the drama.

Gladys Denker is a maid to the Dowager Countess. Septimus Spratt is her butler. These two do not like each other, and they’re quite public about it. Denker and Spratt’s unprofessional squabbles would’ve gotten plenty of other servants fired, but fans believe the Dowager Countess keeps them employed for her own amusement.

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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