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Anyone else a fan of this unfairly overlooked classic Hollywood star?


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He danced with Shirley.

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Got tied up with Carole.

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Almost married Ginger.

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Ended up on Broadway with Lana and Joan.

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Played dad to Margaret O'Brien.

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And to Dean Stockwell.

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He went up with Maisie.

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He danced with Fred and Eleanor.

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Danced with Judy.

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He had a crush on Lucy.

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And cuddled with Linda Darnell.

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He looked nice in a suit.

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I like George Murphy. I thought he was great in “Broadway Melody of 1940” with Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. I loved him in “A Girl, A Guy, and A Gob” with Lucille Ball and Edmond O’Brien. Murphy would definitely be an excellent SOTM or SUTS choice. 

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I'd agree SPEED, and if he hasn't before you gotta wonder why.   Nah, I'm not what you'd call a "fan", but I've never minded seeing him in whatever movie he'd show up in. (don't pass up this chance kids!)  Always seemed like a guy you'd like to have as a friend. 

Sepiatone

 

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I think his Hollywood career was largely forgotten when he was elected the Republican Senator of California in 1964.  He had  been elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1945.  Reminds me of another movie star who was also president of SAG before he went into national politics.

But that's not your question.  I agree with Sepiatone and Speedracer.  Not a fan, but I'd watch a few of Murph's movies if TCM wants to feature him. 

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George Murphy was also in the noir Border  Incident.   He was good in comedy as well as dramas. 

He later was elected to the US Senate from the state of CA.  

Related to his experience with the film,  Murphy helped pass legislation related to immigrant farm labor,  the Barcero Program,   but it appears he had a rather odd view, at best,  of the laborers. 

From Wiki:

His election attracted the attention of satirist Tom Lehrer, who wrote and performed a song about him,[6] in response to racist comments about Mexican-Americans made by Senator Murphy in support of the extension of the Bracero Program in 1964: “You have to remember that Americans can’t do that kind of work. It’s too hard. Mexicans are really good at that. They are built low to the ground, you see, so it is easier for them to stoop.”[7]

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He seems to have had a lot of chemistry with his costars. Like he's having fun in the movies he makes.

When I looked at his credits, I noticed he was the lead in two different Maisie pictures with Ann Sothern.

He's quite good in BATTLEGROUND (1949). And I think BORDER INCIDENT (1949), a film noir that pairs him with Ricardo Montalban is excellent.

By the way I did an extensive Google Images search and he's always clean cut. I could only find one (!) photo where he has a moustache. And I still didn't find any where he has a beard or other facial hair.

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This may sound like damning with faint praise, but while I don't particularly seek out his movies, if I'm watching one that's new to me and realize he's in it, I usually settle in and think, "Well, okay, this is probably going to be all right, then."

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7 minutes ago, Ray Banacki said:

Little Nellie Kelly (1940) - IMDb

He also costarred with Judy in FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942). 

While he could "do it all," he excelled in musicals. 

Here he is in THIS IS THE ARMY (1943):

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32 minutes ago, filmnoirguy said:

I think his Hollywood career was largely forgotten when he was elected the Republican Senator of California in 1964.  He had  been elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1945.  Reminds me of another movie star who was also president of SAG before he went into national politics.

He and Reagan costarred in THIS IS THE ARMY (1943). 

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Since starting this thread, I was looking up his collaborations with certain leading ladies. According to the credits on the IMDb, he appeared in a 1959 episode of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse with Lucille Ball and Ann Sothern. 

So of course, this got me a bit curious because I wasn't aware he had done much television. It turns out this was a special musical revue featuring people under contract at Desilu. And the reason George Murphy appears in it is because some scenes are shot in the main offices at Desilu. By 1959 he had become a Vice President at Desilu Productions. 

Incidentally TCM's own Robert Osborne, billed as Bob Osborne, appears in the revue since he was also working at Desilu during this time.

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51 minutes ago, Ray Banacki said:

He should've been a big, big star.

Since musicals are my least favorite genre I wasn't very aware of Murphy,  but looking at his filmography he was in a lot of films and from 1934 until 1944 was in 31 films,  that is 3 films per year,  so he had to be populate during those years.     He continued to appear in 2 films a year (well most years) until 1952.  

Maybe if he had found his Ginger or had the physique of Gene Kelly (so he could have been a lead in adventure films \ musicals),   he would have had a more robust career,   but he still had a very solid one.

 

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23 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Since musicals are my least favorite genre I wasn't very aware of Murphy,  but looking at his filmography he was in a lot of films and from 1934 until 1944 was in 31 films,  that is 3 films per year,  so he had to be populate during those years.     He continued to appear in 2 films a year (well most years) until 1952.  

Maybe if he had found his Ginger or had the physique of Gene Kelly (so he could have been a lead in adventure films \ musical),   he would have had a more robust career,   but he still had a very solid one.

Looking at the filmography one sees that his last film was WALK EAST ON BEACON! (1952). I've seen it, and it's a very engaging cold war "red scare" thriller he made on loan-out to Columbia. In the semi-documentary style, WALK EAST casts Murphy as the brains behind an FBI operation to bring down a communist in the Boston area. It was filmed on location which is an added plus and has a strong supporting cast. Murphy's in fine form and no doubt could have continued to make motion pictures as a leading man. 

He did scenes for MGM's musical DEEP IN MY HEART (1954) which were cut. But interestingly he remained on contract at the Lion. Studio boss Dore Schary put him into the role of genial host for their first weekly television series MGM Parade. In this series, which lasted for a year on the ABC television network, from 1955-56, Murphy performs various duties. He takes viewers on tours of the famed studio, sets up clips of classic MGM films (presumably ones the studio was about to re-issue in theaters) and he also previews new MGM releases about to reach theaters. Sometimes he interviews then-current contract players. 

There were 34 episodes produced for MGM Parade. Each one roughly a half hour in length (probably more like 20 to 25 minutes without commercials). The MGM Parade episodes are in the Turner library and occasionally one of them will air on TCM between movies.

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He was 45 when he played Elizabeth Taylor's dad in CYNTHIA (1947).

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This is not in the movie, but is a candid shot taken of them having fun on the set:

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6 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Since musicals are my least favorite genre I wasn't very aware of Murphy,  but looking at his filmography he was in a lot of films and from 1934 until 1944 was in 31 films,  that is 3 films per year,  so he had to be populate during those years.     He continued to appear in 2 films a year (well most years) until 1952.  

Maybe if he had found his Ginger or had the physique of Gene Kelly (so he could have been a lead in adventure films \ musicals),   he would have had a more robust career,   but he still had a very solid one.

 

Sorry, but Murphy wasn't even close when it came to the dancing talent that Astaire or Kelly possessed. 

I say this because within the past year I watched a film on TCM in which he costarred with Astaire, Broadway Melody of 1940, and in which they play down-on-their-luck dance partners. During the movie Murphy gets to showcase a solo dance number, and I remember thinking while watching it that while he did yeoman's service to the number, he still couldn't hold a candle to his costar Fred's dancing abilities. 

Nope, not even close, and so no, no matter if he would have found his Ginger or not.

(...don't get me wrong though...I'm always found George Murphy a watchable presence on screen but little more than that, and so have never wondered why he wasn't a bigger star than he turned out to be)

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8 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Sorry, but Murphy wasn't even close when it came to the dancing talent that Astaire or Kelly possessed. 

I say this because within the past year I watched a film on TCM in which he costarred with Astaire, Broadway Melody of 1940, and in which they play down-on-their-luck dance partners. During the movie Murphy gets to showcase a solo dance number, and I remember thinking while watching it that while he did yeoman's service to the number, he still couldn't hold a candle to his costar Fred's dancing abilities. 

Nope, not even close, and so no, no matter if he would have found his Ginger or not.

(...don't get me wrong though...I'm always found George Murphy a watchable presence on screen but little more than that, and so have never wondered why he wasn't a bigger star than he turned out to be)

I would agree with you re: Murphy's dancing ability.  While I'm not a dancing expert, having seen a lot of musicals--one of my favorite genres, though I definitely prefer the dancing ones over the singing ones, I would concur that Murphy is more of a second-tier dancer.  I think I would rank him with Ginger Rogers--someone who is very capable at dancing, but lacks that ability to take it to the next level.

Without a doubt, I would say that Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Eleanor Powell were Hollywood's top dancers.  Just a smidge under them, I would add Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen, and Donald O'Connor, perhaps I would throw Rita Hayworth in as well.

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He was my favorite dancing partner when I was a nine-year-old tap dancing student.

Shirley Temple's "Little Miss Broadway" was my fantasy role.

That was a long time ago, but when I saw his obituary in the New York Times I couldn't help but shed a few tears because he was really a good tap dancer--

Any place else but at MGM where he had to compete with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

He lost so many roles to Gene Kelly that he eventually went into politics and did okay and brought Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan with him.

So tap dancing changed the face of politics in an indirect way because of George Murphy.

In "Broadway Melody of 1940", he kept up with every step with Fred Astaire in "Don't Monkey With Old Broadway".

And they looked like they really enjoyed that number. It made me  proud of George.

A movie starring 3 tap dancers--

I think we'll have to go back to 1940 to ever see that again.😓

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With Jane Wyatt in THE NAVY COMES THROUGH (1942)...and I don't think she ever looked so relaxed in any of her other films:

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With Frank in a scene from STEP LIVELY (1944):

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And here's a publicity shot, which I think is the best photo of him that I've found:

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Funny but I never think of George Murphy until I see him in a movie. Certainly talented, for me he doesn't have real "star" quality.

I think of him as the Ralph Bellamy of musicals.

Just my two cents.

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8 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

I think I would rank him with Ginger Rogers--someone who is very capable at dancing, but lacks that ability to take it to the next level.

Nice observation.

I love George Murphy and his photo is included in my living room. Some have noted his "bad" teeth in the photo-is it lighting or did he need work done at some point?

I also have his auto-biography "Say Didn't You Used To Be George Murphy?" Wanting just to read the book, purchased it on ebay for under $5. A fabulous surprise when I found his autograph inscribed inside!

George Murphy is the master of the "leaping up, light landing on a table" step. I once saw 1937's YOU'RE A SWEETHEART at a film festival and Murphy's dancing was delightful-he jumped up onto table tops, landing light as a feather! I have tried replicating that (not as high!) and it takes lots of balance. This movie also contains a favorite movie song of all time, "Scrapin' The Toast"

Cheered me up!

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George Murphy with Alice Faye - A perfect combination!

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