The Beat Chicago

Watch The 1979 Classic Meatballs



Meatballs is a classic Bill Murray movie from 1979.

Every Thursday we feature a classic movie, trailers, or amazing clips from movies from back in the day for you to watch at work, on the way to work, on the way home from work or on your day off to watch and share.

Today’s feature takes you back to 1979 for Bill Murray in Meatballs!

Back in the day, you had to either have cable TV in its infancy, ONTV or Spectrum (subscription TV) or simply go to the theater to watch movies.

Lucky for you, the double-edged sword we call technology provides some wonderful services for us, like being able to watch this classic at home, on our SmartPhones and SmartTV’s, anywhere in the world.

Released on June 29th, 1979, enjoy the movie in its entirety below along with fun facts.


Budget: About 1,600,000 Canadian Dollars
Gross USA: $43,046,003.00
Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $43,046,003

Tripper Harris on is the head counselor of a group of new counselors-in-training (CITs) at Camp North Star, a cut-rate summer camp. Camp director Morty Melnick (called Mickey by everyone, a play on Mortimer Mouse) falls victim to Tripper-led practical jokes, mainly by being taken from his cabin in the middle of the night and waking up in unusual places.

Rudy Gerner, a lonely boy who is sent to summer camp by his father, decides to run away from camp. Noticing Rudy is shy and having difficulty fitting in, Tripper tracks Rudy to a nearby bus station and takes him under his wing. Each morning they go jogging and rapidly bond as friends. Tripper helps Rudy gain confidence while Rudy encourages the reluctant Tripper to start a romance with Roxanne, the girl’s head counselor. Love is also in the air for many of the CITs; Candace “kidnaps” Crockett in a speedboat and confesses her feelings for him. Wheels, who had broken up with A.L. the year before, successfully rekindles their relationship during a dance. The nerdy Spaz develops a crush on Jackie.

A subplot deals with North Star’s rivalry with Camp Mohawk, a wealthy summer camp located across the lake. During a basketball game, North Star is being beaten by Mohawk when they attempt their own perverse form of victory. This sets the stage for the yearly Olympiad held between the camps in which Mohawk carries a 12-0 record.

During the first day of competition, Mohawk dominates North Star, cheating in many cases to win. Crockett fails to clear the high jump bar, Hardware gets pummelled in boxing, and Jackie suffers a broken leg in field hockey, thanks to the dirty work of two Mohawk girls. The score at the end of Day One is: Mohawk 170, North Star 63. That evening at the North Star Lodge, Tripper gives a rousing speech, telling the demoralized campers that it doesn’t matter whether they win or lose. In unison, Camp North Star begins to chant, “It just doesn’t matter!” Day Two of the Olympiad belongs to newly inspired North Star as they win every event.

Wheels out wrestles his opponent, Spaz defeats Rhino in a stacking contest with inspiration from Jackie and a thwarted Mohawk cheating attempt, and, after 12 years of North Star defeats, Fink finally beats “The Stomach” in the hot dog eating contest. North Star now trails by only 10 points with one event left, a four-mile cross country run for 20 points. Tripper steps forward and selects a surprised Rudy to compete against Horse, Mohawk’s star runner. The many mornings Rudy spent jogging and training with Tripper pay off as he wins the race, giving North Star its first Olympiad victory by a score of 230–220.

Later that evening, Morty, Tripper, Roxanne, and the CITs sing around a campfire and say their final goodbyes as the camp prepares to close at the end of summer. Rudy has already decided to return to camp next year and Roxanne agrees to live with Tripper. The two ride off on Tripper’s motorcycle, leading the buses out of camp and leaving Morty behind, in bed, on a raft in the middle of the lake.


Several of the shots in the movie were added after initial filming ended. These included the scenes of Rudy and Tripper at the bus station and of them playing blackjack for peanuts. During the time off, Chris Makepeace had entered puberty and had the beginnings of a mustache. Bill Murray decided that it had to go so he took Makepeace over to a sink, lathered him up with soap and shaved off his mustache. So Makepeace received his first ever shave from Murray.

Jack Blum, who plays Spaz, was also the film’s casting agent.

This was Ivan Reitman’s first major studio film as a director. He and Ramis had wanted John Landis but he was busy shooting “The Blues Brothers” here in Chicago and elsewhere.

The red shorts and colorful Hawaiian shirt that Bill Murray is seen wearing in the movie were his own clothes. Out of the four Meatball movies, this is the only one to feature Bill Murray.

This was the first collabo of many to come for Bill Murray and the late, great Harold Ramis functioning in any combination of various roles as actor, writer, director. A refresher course on those movies? Here ya go, Stripes (1981), Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989) and Groundhog Day (1993).

Principal shooting of the movie was August and September of ’78. The movie was filmed at an actual summer camp, Camp White Pine, in Haliburton, Ontario (a few hours north of Toronto).

Many of the extras in the film were actual campers and counselors of the camp; most if not all locations were actual camp facilities (basketball courts, mess hall, swim docks, cabins, etc.).

The “Visitors Day” scene/montage was actually filmed during the camp’s Visitors Day; White Pine also had a similar yearly event to the “Olympiad” although rather than being a inter-camp competition, it was an intra-camp relay-type competition that was just part of an overall all-day themed event. These competitions were nicknamed “Mohawk Relays”, perhaps serving as inspiration for the name of the rival camp in the movie.

At the time of release, the movie broke Canadian box office records.


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