Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story
By Chris Nashawaty. (Flatiron Books, 291 pages, $26.99.)
Groundskeeper Carl Spackler isn’t in the same upper echelon as Vito Corleone. Then again, Jesse Ventura never asked the Dalai Lama if he had ever seen “The Godfather.”
Entertainment Weekly film critic Chris Nashawaty firmly places himself in the former governor’s camp with “Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story,” a slim but jam-packed tribute to the 1980 film. Bill Murray, who improvised nearly all of Spackler’s lines, as well as co-stars Chevy Chase and Michael O’Keefe, share intimate, often hilarious, memories of the blockbuster that seemed destined for disaster before unexpectedly setting the stage for a new era of loosey-goosey, juvenile romps.
Nashawaty’s unabashed passion for the film is a little over the top, but his enthusiasm most likely persuaded the show’s major players to open up. Even nonbelievers will appreciate the valuable insight into how the style of comedy being practiced on Second City stages and “Saturday Night Live” began making its impact on the big screen. The inability of TV veteran Ted Knight to adapt to all the hijinks speaks volumes about the changing of the guard in Hollywood.
Singer Kenny Loggins, a cheaply assembled gopher and various cocaine dealers make cameos.
The Recipe Box By Viola Shipman.
(Thomas Dunne Books, 324 pages, $26.99.)
There’s a Hallmark Channel quality that burbles through “The Recipe Box,” which isn’t a bad thing. (It’s a very successful channel.) But it makes it crucial to note that as the novel unfolds, it overcomes the pat formula to create some honestly moving moments around the character of Willo Mullins.
Willo is the matriarch of a family orchard and bake shop in northern Michigan. She’s a force — and not in the feisty grandma kind of way, but in the pioneer mold of frank women who are not above passing a bottle of wine back and forth with a granddaughter. Sam is that granddaughter. She seeks to make her mark upon the world, and so leaves the pie pantry to become a pastry chef in New York City.
You can predict the story arc: A blowup at the bakery in New York makes Sam flee to Michigan. Left behind is Angelo, the bakery’s produce deliverer, whose dimples invariably define him, and who has an unrequited crush on Sam. He, of course, ends up in Michigan and is smitten with the family orchard. She, of course, gets a job offer back in New York. You don’t know how they will end up together, but know that they will.
So what makes “The Recipe Box” more than bubble-bath reading material? Simply, the character of Grandma Willo. She’s the fulcrum of the several chapters about the orchard’s history, which are also where Viola Shipman’s writing proves the most compelling, illustrating how every generation confronts balancing ambitions and expectations, independence and family. Plus: recipes!