Sign in to follow this  
Rick2400

Fred MacMurray

299 posts in this topic

It would still be possible to feature him because he had plenty of films at other studios after his contract with Paramount ended. Plus, they could try to get Paramount titles for one night out of four. That's not unreasonable. He should be SOTM.

Absolutely. There are plenty of Fred MacMurray films which appear regularly on TCM  --  way more than Grace Kelly. What did she appear in?  A mere 14 features and she has been SOTM.  The rationale as to who gets to be TCM SOTM (and why) is a never ending mystery.

 

Lydecker

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would still be possible to feature him because he had plenty of films at other studios after his contract with Paramount ended. Plus, they could try to get Paramount titles for one night out of four. That's not unreasonable. He should be SOTM.

I can't believe he hasn't been.

 

In addition to most of his well known flicks, I liked No Time For Love. Not sure I would still like it, but it is seldom seen.

 

His TV show, like Mr. Ed, hasn't stood the test of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends. A three camera sitcom is a relatively soft gig. Many stars, especially actresses, try to get them as it allows for a regular schedule (because of little if any location work) enabling a more stable home life if you have children.

 

 

Garner discussed this in his Playboy interview, mentioning Janssen and James Arness by name.

 

If you watch Gunsmoke, you can see the series gradually evolve from leading-man dominated, to equal time with support and guest stars, and eventually to episodes with support and guest stars only, Arness appearing only in the wraparounds (which, in the MacMurray tradition, could be filmed in bunches on the marshal's office set). This was done at Arness' insistence, in order to minimize his workload.

 

Something similar was attempted on Rockford, less successfully, with Bo Hopkins coming in briefly as a lawyer friend of Jim's. This did not work out, partly because it's hard for a loner private eye to share the burden. Much of the genre's impact derives from the solitary, crusading PI asking  questions to get at the truth. So Garner often ended up in virtually every scene in some episodes.

 

And since it was an action show, there were many fight scenes. All that aggravated Garner's knee problems from Korean War wounds (Arness had been wounded at Anzio -- after surgery one of his legs was left shorter than the other) and an old University of Oklahoma football injury. Some Rockford episodes have chase scenes on foot where you can actually see Garner limping -- not running with a slight impediment, but fast-walking, almost stumbling after bad guys who are zipping away. It's almost comical.

 

Barry Morse, Lt Girard on The Fugitive, said nothing made Janssen happier than to see him on the set -- his presence meant that, because their characters seldom shared scenes due to the show's format, Janssen's workload would be lightened considerably. Janssen had injured his back as a high school pole vaulter, and his condition was inevitably worsened by the inevitable fight scenes.

 

Compare these examples to William Shatner on Star Trek, who was infamous was wanting to be the center of attention in every episode, sometimes even demanding speeches intended for other characters be given to Captain Kirk. It was this egotistical attitude that inspired the ST cast to give him the nickname "Shat".

 

Still, you can't criticize his willingness to work...

Egotistical attitude resulted in nickname "Shat"? I don't get it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't believe he hasn't been.

 

In addition to most of his well known flicks, I liked No Time For Love. Not sure I would still like it, but it is seldom seen.

 

His TV show, like Mr. Ed, hasn't stood the test of time.

NO TIME FOR LOVE is in the public domain (and TCM does show a public domain copy). So it should be easy to keep rebroadcasting this film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends. A three camera sitcom is a relatively soft gig. Many stars, especially actresses, try to get them as it allows for a regular schedule (because of little if any location work) enabling a more stable home life if you have children.

 

 

Garner discussed this in his Playboy interview, mentioning Janssen and James Arness by name.

 

If you watch Gunsmoke, you can see the series gradually evolve from leading-man dominated, to equal time with support and guest stars, and eventually to episodes with support and guest stars only, Arness appearing only in the wraparounds (which, in the MacMurray tradition, could be filmed in bunches on the marshal's office set). This was done at Arness' insistence, in order to minimize his workload.

 

Something similar was attempted on Rockford, less successfully, with Bo Hopkins coming in briefly as a lawyer friend of Jim's. This did not work out, partly because it's hard for a loner private eye to share the burden. Much of the genre's impact derives from the solitary, crusading PI asking  questions to get at the truth. So Garner often ended up in virtually every scene in some episodes.

 

And since it was an action show, there were many fight scenes. All that aggravated Garner's knee problems from Korean War wounds (Arness had been wounded at Anzio -- after surgery one of his legs was left shorter than the other) and an old University of Oklahoma football injury. Some Rockford episodes have chase scenes on foot where you can actually see Garner limping -- not running with a slight impediment, but fast-walking, almost stumbling after bad guys who are zipping away. It's almost comical.

 

Barry Morse, Lt Girard on The Fugitive, said nothing made Janssen happier than to see him on the set -- his presence meant that, because their characters seldom shared scenes due to the show's format, Janssen's workload would be lightened considerably. Janssen had injured his back as a high school pole vaulter, and his condition was inevitably worsened by the inevitable fight scenes.

 

Compare these examples to William Shatner on Star Trek, who was infamous was wanting to be the center of attention in every episode, sometimes even demanding speeches intended for other characters be given to Captain Kirk. It was this egotistical attitude that inspired the ST cast to give him the nickname "Shat".

 

Still, you can't criticize his willingness to work...

Garner never attended or played football for the U. of Oklahoma. He never even graduated from high school.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Garner never attended or played football for the U. of Oklahoma. He never even graduated from high school.

 

Garner dropped out or HS in the '40s. After army service in Korea he got a HS equivalency degree.

 

From his autobiography The Garner Files:

 

When I came home from Korea I visited my dad in California for a few months, but I still hoped to play football, so I went back to Norman and enrolled in the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, my knees were so messed up I couldn’t play. I dropped out after one semester, even though I had a B average. I just wasn’t interested in school.

 

I thought he he'd said he aggravated his war wounds playing football, but apparently I misremembered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Garner dropped out or HS in the '40s. After army service in Korea he got a HS equivalency degree.

 

From his autobiography The Garner Files:

 

 

I thought he he'd said he aggravated his war wounds playing football, but apparently I misremembered.

..but you can't play football for Equivalency High School.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Garner dropped out or HS in the '40s. After army service in Korea he got a HS equivalency degree.

 

From his autobiography The Garner Files:

 

 

I thought he he'd said he aggravated his war wounds playing football, but apparently I misremembered.

"Misremembered"? Ah, fond memories of Roger Clemens' testimony before Congress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like Fred MacMurray.  My first "encounter" with him was as Steve Douglas on My Three Sons, his Disney films and his appearance as himself on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.  Then I saw Double Indemnity.  It was amazing to me, that this actor who seemed to typically play good guy and father parts was suddenly involved with a femme fatale and helping her murder her husband so they could take advantage of a double indemnity clause in the insurance he was selling.

 

MacMurray's Walter Neff was slick and quite the smooth talker.  He was the villain; but at the same time, he also seemed like a good guy that just somehow got in over his head-- I guess that was the power of Barbara Stanwyck.  I thought he was fantastic in this film and I liked seeing him as a villain.  His deep voice, good looks and towering frame made him very effective in this role (and many of his others).  It was believable that the ladies would be interested in him and that other men would be intimidated by him.

 

Aside from his antagonist role in Double Indemnity he was also great as the antagonist turned protagonist in Dive Bomber.  He was great as an adversary of Errol Flynn, who portrays a flight doctor.  For most of the film, MacMurray treats Flynn horribly because he thinks he was responsible for his friend's death.  Only after spending more time with Flynn and seeing how Flynn (and Ralph Bellamy) are trying to create flight suits and improve conditions for the pilots to help them deal with altitude sickness does MacMurray finally come around. 

 

I liked him in his collaborations with Claudette Colbert.  I just watched No Time For Love.  I got the DVD through Netflix.  I believe it is part of "The Claudette Colbert Collection" that was released by Universal a few years ago.  I thought No Time For Love was a great film.  MacMurray was perfect as the beefy but intriguing construction worker that Colbert falls for.  I think my favorite of their collaborations was The Egg and I.  Aside from being hilarious it showed how adept MacMurray (and Colbert) were at comedy. 

 

He definitely deserves to be SOTM.  He definitely has enough film appearances and has a very diverse filmography.  MacMurray appeared in a multitude of genres: Romance, Comedy, Action, Adventure, Drama, Family, Film Noir, you name it. 

 

I wonder if another reason Fred MacMurray seems to be overlooked is that he's mostly remembered as a TV Star.  Some seem to believe that his career starts and stops with My Three Sons.  His name doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking of movie stars.  He was obviously a big name at the time as he co-stars with many big name Hollywood stars (Claudette Colbert, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Lemmon, just to name a few). 

 

Hopefully Fred MacMurray will get his due in 2015!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I wonder if another reason Fred MacMurray seems to be overlooked is that he's mostly remembered as a TV Star.  Some seem to believe that his career starts and stops with My Three Sons.  His name doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking of movie stars. 

 

Barbara Stanwyck was also seen as a TV star (Big Valley); You can also make a case for Joan Blondell, and she later did TV work. Yet they made SOTM at one point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I wonder if another reason Fred MacMurray seems to be overlooked is that he's mostly remembered as a TV Star.  Some seem to believe that his career starts and stops with My Three Sons.  His name doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking of movie stars. 

 

Barbara Stanwyck was also seen as a TV star (Big Valley); You can also make a case for Joan Blondell, and she later did TV work. Yet they made SOTM at one point.

I understand what you're saying regarding Stanwyck's being a TV Star as well.  I am not familiar with Joan Blondell's TV work.  To me, prior to contributing to this board, I was only aware of Blondell as "the lady who played the waitress in Grease."  I would speculate that perhaps the reason why Stanwyck is viewed as a movie star even though she might be better known to later generations as the matriarch on Big Valley whereas MacMurray is seen as a TV star even though he had a prolific career in movies is because his TV Show ran like 12 seasons whereas Stanwyck's only ran for 3 (4)? An entire generation grew up with MacMurray on television. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand what you're saying regarding Stanwyck's being a TV Star as well.  I am not familiar with Joan Blondell's TV work.  To me, prior to contributing to this board, I was only aware of Blondell as "the lady who played the waitress in Grease."  I would speculate that perhaps the reason why Stanwyck is viewed as a movie star even though she might be better known to later generations as the matriarch on Big Valley whereas MacMurray is seen as a TV star even though he had a prolific career in movies is because his TV Show ran like 12 seasons whereas Stanwyck's only ran for 3 (4)? An entire generation grew up with MacMurray on television. 

"The Big Valley" was hardly a "My Three Sons".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True. Big Valley was not as big a TV hit as MTS.

 

Blondell starred in "Here Come The Brides" with two yet-to-be-known actors (Bobby Sherman and David Soul). She also guest-starred on scores of TV shows during the '70s, working up until her death in 1979.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand what you're saying regarding Stanwyck's being a TV Star as well.  I am not familiar with Joan Blondell's TV work.  To me, prior to contributing to this board, I was only aware of Blondell as "the lady who played the waitress in Grease."  I would speculate that perhaps the reason why Stanwyck is viewed as a movie star even though she might be better known to later generations as the matriarch on Big Valley whereas MacMurray is seen as a TV star even though he had a prolific career in movies is because his TV Show ran like 12 seasons whereas Stanwyck's only ran for 3 (4)? An entire generation grew up with MacMurray on television. 

 

There is a lot of speculation about how other views these two stars and as we have discussed before it is folly to speculate how others (e.g. the general public),  view them without some type of data.   

 

To me anyone that claims to like studio-era movies is familiar with MacMurray based on Double Indemnity alone.    Yea, of course the degree of knowledge may vary (when I first got on this forum I meet a many people that were NOT aware of his films with Lombard (for example),  and only knew about Double Indemnity.

 

As for the general public;   I have made this point before;   My GUESS is that they don't know who Stanwyck is,  MacMurrary, Flynn (yes even your boy) or the vast majority of major stars.    They only know the icons like Monroe,  Dean,  Wayne, Audrey Hepburn and a handful of others and even with these icons if one ask them what movies they have seen,  well,  most of the time I get a blank stare! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True. Big Valley was not as big a TV hit as MTS.

 

Blondell starred in "Here Come The Brides" with two yet-to-be-known actors (Bobby Sherman and David Soul). She also guest-starred on scores of TV shows during the '70s, working up until her death in 1979.

Poor Blondell, poor Stanwyck, poor Fred. They were so pathetic in their television shows, obviously needing the money because they didn't save enough and didn't have any dignity. Peck and Garbo and Swanson never gave in to television. Young and Sothern were the least pathetic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Poor Blondell, poor Stanwyck, poor Fred. They were so pathetic in their television shows, obviously needing the money because they didn't save enough and didn't have any dignity. Peck and Garbo and Swanson never gave in to television. Young and Sothern were the least pathetic.

 

I guess you're being serious here.   If so,  I couldn't disagree more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Poor Blondell, poor Stanwyck, poor Fred. They were so pathetic in their television shows, obviously needing the money because they didn't save enough and didn't have any dignity. Peck and Garbo and Swanson never gave in to television. Young and Sothern were the least pathetic.

I don't think MacMurray was in need of money. From multiple sources that I've read, MacMurray was very frugal and invested his money wisely. I believe he was one of the wealthier actors in Hollywood.

 

I can't speak about Stanwyck and Blondell as I don't know about their financial situations; but Stanwyck doesn't seem the type to be frivolous. Why is it that a movie actor must have done television out of necessity? How does starring in a television show cause someone to lose their dignity? Why can't they have a television show because they want to try something new? Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz moved away from their successful careers and made I Love Lucy. Neither *had* to do the show.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a lot of speculation about how other views these two stars and as we have discussed before it is folly to speculate how others (e.g. the general public),  view them without some type of data.   

 

To me anyone that claims to like studio-era movies is familiar with MacMurray based on Double Indemnity alone.    Yea, of course the degree of knowledge may vary (when I first got on this forum I meet a many people that were NOT aware of his films with Lombard (for example),  and only knew about Double Indemnity.

 

As for the general public;   I have made this point before;   My GUESS is that they don't know who Stanwyck is,  MacMurrary, Flynn (yes even your boy) or the vast majority of major stars.    They only know the icons like Monroe,  Dean,  Wayne, Audrey Hepburn and a handful of others and even with these icons if one ask them what movies they have seen,  well,  most of the time I get a blank stare! 

I agree that it's pure speculation.  I was just venturing a guess myself.  I also agree that most people, if they're aware of Double Indemnity will be aware of MacMurray through that.  Many might not be aware that he even appeared in any other films. 

 

As much as it disheartens me to agree with you regarding the general public's lack of awareness regarding the major studio stars, I have to agree.  It seems that many are only aware of "Old Hollywood" through Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, John Wayne, and perhaps Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Clark Gable and Bette Davis.  I would also like to go a step further in regard to Monroe, Dean, Hepburn and Wayne and say that many of their so called "fans" are only fans of their image perpetuated by marketing and the media.  Monroe is seen as the epitome of "sex" (so to speak), Dean the epitome of cool and/or rebellion, Hepburn symbolizes glamour, class and high fashion and Wayne is the All-American tough guy.  I also agree with you that many of these people would be hard pressed to name a favorite film or even name a film that one of these people appeared in.  I had an acquaintance that claimed to be a huge Marilyn Monroe fan.  I (also being a fan of Monroe's work) asked her what her favorite Monroe film was.  "Oh, I haven't seen any of her movies," the acquaintance answered.  I finally made her watch Some Like it Hot just so she could answer the question.  In the case of Bogart, Grant, Gable and Davis, oftentimes their pictures are used to represent Classic Hollywood.  In the case of Davis, some people might only be aware of her as a subject of the Kim Carnes' song "Bette Davis Eyes."  Maybe fans of Madonna's "Vogue" would be aware of some other Hollywood stars-- although to them, perhaps they think that Madonna is just a clever lyricist for "creating" all those rhyming names.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How does starring in a television show cause someone to lose their dignity? 

It's considered a step down because it's like someone getting demoted to B films (TV movies) or a batch of small-budgeted programmers (a series of episodes on a long-running series). If you were an A star in big budget studio movies and you are suddenly doing vast amounts of television work, it is a signal that your career has gone into decline. Of course, for some of them, it's a good sort of decline, because it's a way to continue a career and remain before the public eye, and if the TV projects are moderately successful, it can be quite lucrative. It's also a way for aging performers to still find jobs, and some of them need to work at least intermittently to keep their insurance through the Screen Actors Guild.

 

Lucille Ball was able to prolong her screen career by thirty years. She knew that approaching her forties and having already worked at every major studio by 1950, she had limited options. TV, like radio, was a way to reinvent herself. She had to do TV to continue her career, and when you're used to a certain level of fame and income and want to keep performing, then you need to do television. This is why years later, we have seen people like Bette Midler and Robin Williams turn to the weekly series grind. But in the pecking order of Hollywood, network TV (less so for original cable TV series work) is still considered a bit of a step down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look at the career of RICHARD LONG (Dec. 17, 1927 -  Dec. 21, 1974).  He started out appearing in prestige theatrical films in 1946 when he was 18, but by the time he died at 47 in 1974 he hadn't been in a theatrical film in 10 years.  After 1964 his career was television series work and a couple of made-for-tv movies released the year he died.  I never thought his starring role as 'Jarrod Barkley' in THE BIG VALLEY was a step down.  He was right for the role and I enjoyed watching "The Big Valley".  (I think there's re-runs on the INSP (Inspiration) channel). 

 

    I remember watching a re-run of  MATCH GAME '74  where Richard Long was a guest panelist and he talked about the Tv movie he had just completed filming and called it 'Cruise of Death' (the title was changed to 'Death Cruise' before it premiered).  The recently deceased Polly Bergen also starred in this 74-minute TVM. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never thought his starring role as 'Jarrod Barkley' in THE BIG VALLEY was a step down. 

 

That's because he was never even close to being a movie star

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, shucks, if you say so then it must be true.  I bow to your superior cinema intellect in regards to the late Richard Long. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's considered a step down because it's like someone getting demoted to B films (TV movies) or a batch of small-budgeted programmers (a series of episodes on a long-running series). If you were an A star in big budget studio movies and you are suddenly doing vast amounts of television work, it is a signal that your career has gone into decline. Of course, for some of them, it's a good sort of decline, because it's a way to continue a career and remain before the public eye, and if the TV projects are moderately successful, it can be quite lucrative. It's also a way for aging performers to still find jobs, and some of them need to work at least intermittently to keep their insurance through the Screen Actors Guild.

 

Lucille Ball was able to prolong her screen career by thirty years. She knew that approaching her forties and having already worked at every major studio by 1950, she had limited options. TV, like radio, was a way to reinvent herself. She had to do TV to continue her career, and when you're used to a certain level of fame and income and want to keep performing, then you need to do television. This is why years later, we have seen people like Bette Midler and Robin Williams turn to the weekly series grind. But in the pecking order of Hollywood, network TV (less so for original cable TV series work) is still considered a bit of a step down.

Yup. You got it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's considered a step down because it's like someone getting demoted to B films (TV movies) or a batch of small-budgeted programmers (a series of episodes on a long-running series). If you were an A star in big budget studio movies and you are suddenly doing vast amounts of television work, it is a signal that your career has gone into decline. Of course, for some of them, it's a good sort of decline, because it's a way to continue a career and remain before the public eye, and if the TV projects are moderately successful, it can be quite lucrative. It's also a way for aging performers to still find jobs, and some of them need to work at least intermittently to keep their insurance through the Screen Actors Guild.

 

Lucille Ball was able to prolong her screen career by thirty years. She knew that approaching her forties and having already worked at every major studio by 1950, she had limited options. TV, like radio, was a way to reinvent herself. She had to do TV to continue her career, and when you're used to a certain level of fame and income and want to keep performing, then you need to do television. This is why years later, we have seen people like Bette Midler and Robin Williams turn to the weekly series grind. But in the pecking order of Hollywood, network TV (less so for original cable TV series work) is still considered a bit of a step down.

Most actors went to TV went they got a bit older. It's the rare actor who can continue his movie AA list status when he or she is pushing 50.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most actors went to TV went they got a bit older. It's the rare actor who can continue his movie AA list status when he or she is pushing 50.

Yes, and I think Fred MacMurray is an example of someone who went to TV and continued to star in films at the same time. But most of the films he did in the 60s for Disney were very modestly budgeted-- they did not have David Selznick type production values-- and in a way his screen career was in decline. Gone were the days when he would be offered something prestigious like his role in THE CAINE MUTINY. When they made SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, they did not think to call Fred MacMurray for a supporting part. They let him share scenes with an alligator in THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us