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Landis Schooled By Dean
Wormer on Animal House

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Pictured Left to Right Image 13: Mark Metcalf; Stephen Bishop; Martha Smith; Ben Mankiewicz, Primetime Host, Turner Classic Movies ; John Landis; James Widdoes;Tim Matheson; Bruce McGil. Image courtesy of TCM Film Festival.
AT THE TCM FESTIVAL: Dean Wormer, The Most Formidable Opponent Of Delta House, Played By Actor John Vernon, Was The First To Recognize The Film Would Be A Cultural Touchstone, The Director Says


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By Staff Report
Modern Times Magazine

May 15, 2018 — The character of Dean Wormer, the most formidable opponent of Delta House, was played by an actor, John Vernon, who was the film’s earliest cheerleader, according to the director

The May 14 Hooray for Hollywood Podcast revealed highlights from the TCM Festival last month in Los Angeles, with journalist Tom Johnson reporting the Animal House panel had the most big moments.

Of special note is that heavy was actually the film’s biggest supporter.

“The only person that knew what this thing was going to become was John Vernon, who played Dean Wormer. (Landis) said that after about three days, Vernon called Landis aside and told him, ‘you’ve got something epic here,” Landis said.

But Landis was nonplussed and thought Vernon was off the mark. That’s right, the director himself had no idea he was guiding the biggest comedy of the 1970s and one that continues to resonate with modern audiences.

Just like it wasn’t, “over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor,” Landis got it completely wrong. And with the laughs on him.

Johnson says Landis recalled telling Vernon that Animal House was a “stupid comedy,” and that he wasn’t even sure the funniest bits would make it to moviehouses. Landis replied to Vernon, who also happened to play the heavy in The Outlaw Josey Wales with Clint Eastwood,
“I don’t even know if half the stuff is going to make the final cut because it is so offensive.”

And according to Johnson, the cast all knew they were having a good time doing, but they didn’t know what they had.

“When it came out and started breaking box office records and led to toga parties on campus, they couldn’t believe it,” Johnson says.

Other topics of discussion
— The film Them about giant ants.
— Cicely Tyson and Sounder.
— How cool the car chase scene in Bullitt really is.
— Jacqueline Bissett has to miss a panel and men nearly cry.
Hooray for Hollywood: TCM Festival
Film historian and insider Tom Johnson talks the "work" of Hollywood, while talking (mostly) to those behind the camera. — May 14, 2018
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