Caddyshack blazed trails for slapstick comedy upon its 1980 release, helping bring both the humor and culture of the stand-up world onto the big screen, thanks to some renowned comedians who starred on the golf course including Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield. It also took a once-anomalous approach to movie music that’s now drifted into the standard realm.
In Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story, author Chris Nashawaty depicts how the sleeper hit went from a mixed-reviewed directorial debut by Harold Ramis to a comedic staple — a true cinema Cinderella. The revealing behind-the-scenes book is available now from Flatiron Books.
If it isn’t the unabashed crudeness or the encyclopedia of quotable one-liners that make Caddyshack memorable, it’s the soundtrack. About five years before he became a No. 1 hitmaker in 1984 with “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins wrote and recorded four original songs for the film — which he recalled “laughing his ass off at” during an early screening. Ramis originally suggested Pink Floyd for musical contributions, but the band — then in the golden age of their career timeline — swiftly declined. The project might’ve sounded a bit too off-the-wall (no pun intended) for the psychedelic rockers. Aside from scores, new songs penned specifically for motion pictures were still a new concept at the time.
Thankfully for the Caddyshack team, executive producer Jon Peters had befriended Loggins prior to his sweeping success, and the singer evidently kept an open mind regarding his endeavors. Loggins knew he “fucking had one in the bag” upon crafting Caddyshack’s theme song, “I’m Alright.” The upbeat tune’s walking bass, lighthearted vocals and steady banging drums made it an instant fit to introduce Danny — the ill-fated caddie who’s just trying to make it to college.
“They wanted to present [Danny] as a rebel caught in this country club environment where he had to suppress that,” Loggins said. “I felt like the song should have a fuck-all-you-people quality to it.”
Viewers were definitely feeling alright about the movie’s anthem as well: By October 1980, about two months after the film’s release, “I’m Alright” made its way to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Loggins helped pave the way via Caddyshack for how music in film is ubiquitously used today by crafting movie-ready jams that are also fit for commercial success. He clearly revealed his niche talent as he pored over “I’m Alright” and the three other songs of his that made it into Caddyshack. Loggins went on to record anthems for the films Top Gun, Over the Top, Caddyshack II, One Fine Day and — of course — Footloose.
Many movies in the decade that followed Caddyshack applied the same technique to soundtracks, utilizing original songs that became radio earworms and renowned classics — Dirty Dancing and The Breakfast Club, anyone? Modern-day soundtracks like 2016’s Suicide Squad and this year’s Black Panther are recent examples of the effect Loggins pioneered, with both albums topping the Billboard 200.
When a plain movie score just didn’t cut it, Loggins earned himself a hole in one.