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


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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

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"

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George Murphy with Alice Faye - A perfect combination!

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Nice you were able to get his autograph. His teeth don't look bad to me.

Here he is in his 30s:

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And in his 40s:

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Probably, everybody smoked back then. The "bad teeth" might just be the way they're tilted and catch shadows. Lighting is so important to great portraiture!

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I also see credit ^^^for Ken Murray! His Hollywood My Hometown movies are my favorites.

 

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One thing I am noticing in the thread, without sounding too critical, is that we classic movie viewers tend to compare people. A bit unfairly sometimes in my opinion. So far we've had him compared to Gene Kelly, to Fred Astaire, to Ralph Bellamy (!) and even to Ginger Rogers.

Why not just evaluate or judge the star on his own merits. He made 20 films at MGM from 1937 to 1952, plus he remained on contract to the studio through 1958, appearing in MGM television productions. That has to be some indicator of his success to have survived regime changes and to have seen "bigger" stars like Garbo, Shearer, Gable, Garland, Turner and Garson all leave before he did.

He made 44 motion pictures--

MGM: 20
RKO: 7
COL: 5
UNIV: 4
FOX: 4
UA: 2
PAR: 1
WB: 1

None at any poverty row studios.

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12 hours 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 shouldn't have used Ginger as my example.   You see  I also view Murphy as a second tier dancer.   What Speedy said is on target.       Thus I should have said if Murphy had found his Fred instead of his Ginger.       I.e.     If the studio had paired him with a top notch female dancer in multiple movies over multiple years he might be more well known today.      

Hey,  he could have been like George Brent was to Bette Davis;       Good enough to be a leading man when the actress is the one that is carrying\leading the film (and in this case the actress "carrying" most of the dancing scenes).

 

      

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9 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Thus I should have said if Murphy had found his Fred instead of his Ginger. 

Um, did you mean "If Murphy had found his Ginger"?

Murphy would have been great paired with Ginger better than Murphy paired with Astaire.

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2 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Um, did you mean "If Murphy had found his Ginger"?

Murphy would have been great paired with Ginger better than Murphy paired with Astaire.

Uh,    the points by Dargo and Speedy was that Murphy was a good dancer just not a top notch one.    Speedy also added that Ginger Rogers wasn't top notch as well.   I.e. Ginger was at her best when she had a partner like Astaire;  Top notch.

  If the studio had paired Murphy with a top notch female dancer in multiple movies over multiple years he might be more well known today.      

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Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 9.20.55 AM.jpeg

In the Turner library:

LONDON BY NIGHT (1937)..MGM
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 (1937)..MGM
THE WOMEN MEN MARRY (1937)..MGM
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940 (1940)..MGM
TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY (1940)..MGM
LITTLE NELLIE KELLY (1940)..MGM
A GIRL A GUY AND A GOB (1941)..RKO
RINGSIDE MAISIE (1941)..MGM
TOM DICK AND HARRY (1941)..RKO
FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942)..MGM
THE MAYOR OF 44TH STREET (1942)..RKO
THE NAVY COMES THROUGH (1942)..RKO
BATAAN (1943)..MGM
THIS IS THE ARMY (1943)..WB
BROADWAY RHYTHM (1944)..MGM
STEP LIVELY (1944)..RKO
SHOW BUSINESS (1944)..RKO
HAVING WONDERFUL CRIME (1945)..RKO
UP GOES MAISIE (1946)..MGM
CYNTHIA (1947)..MGM
THE ARNELO AFFAIR (1947)..MGM
TENTH AVENUE ANGEL (1948)..MGM
BIG CITY (1948)..MGM
BORDER INCIDENT (1949)..MGM
BATTLEGROUND (1949)..MGM
IT'S A BIG COUNTRY (1951)..MGM He appears in one of the segments.
NO QUESTIONS ASKED (1951)..MGM
TALK ABOUT A STRANGER (1952)..MGM

Complete filmography:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Murphy#Films

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I liked George Murphy in Little Miss Broadway and Broadway Melody of 1938 and 1940 with Fred Astaire. I don't think he had as much pizzazz as some other male dancers, but he definitely had the foot talent. He needed a steady partner, one that would have given his dance numbers heart. Even Donald O' Connor had a partner. Apart they were great, but together they were even better.

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  • 8 months later...
On 3/29/2020 at 9:06 AM, jamesjazzguitar said:

Uh,    the points by Dargo and Speedy was that Murphy was a good dancer just not a top notch one.    Speedy also added that Ginger Rogers wasn't top notch as well.   I.e. Ginger was at her best when she had a partner like Astaire;  Top notch.

  If the studio had paired Murphy with a top notch female dancer in multiple movies over multiple years he might be more well known today.      

Interesting comment. Besides Judy Garland, who else would MGM have put him with...?

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I liked Murphy in "Broadway Melody of 1940" and  "Two Girls on Broadway". The funny thing is, "Two Girls" is the actual remake of Broadway Melody of 1929 set in 1940, where Broadway Melody of 1940 has nothing to do with any of the previous films. I thought Murphy brought a great deal of energy to both of these films. I think he had lots of bad luck in some of the other roles he got.

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2 hours ago, LsDoorMat said:

I liked Murphy in "Broadway Melody of 1940" and  "Two Girls on Broadway". The funny thing is, "Two Girls" is the actual remake of Broadway Melody of 1929 set in 1940, where Broadway Melody of 1940 has nothing to do with any of the previous films. I thought Murphy brought a great deal of energy to both of these films. I think he had lots of bad luck in some of the other roles he got.

I agree that he brings a lot of energy to his films. Recently I watched STEP LIVELY (1944) and I enjoyed it quite a lot. He's a "straight man" who can also be funny.

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On 12/13/2020 at 5:24 PM, TopBilled said:

Why just meh...care to elaborate?

George Murphy is never an actor I think about nor is he one that I'm excited to see in the credits of a movie of which I'm unfamiliar. 

I won't deny he has talent. I just never think of him as I do other actors of his day. I think of him as a serviceable actor or entertainer who rounds out the cast. 

One might conclude his departure from acting into politics was not unlike that of Ronald Reagan. An actor whom I would, more or less, put in the same category. I may have said this about someone else but George Murphy could very well be the Ralph Bellamy of Musicals.

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I have to laugh at myself. (and call myself out to some degree.) I thought I was responding to a new post when I wrote the above. Little did I realize this was a post from March where on page one I did indeed refer to George Murphy as the Ralph Bellamy of musicals.

I hadn't realized how indifferent I am to George Murphy until I reread this entire thread just now. It almost seems mean. This is why this TCM board is the extent of my social media.  I refer to social media as a place where you apologize today for the things you said the day before.

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  • 11 months later...
On 12/13/2020 at 6:54 PM, yanceycravat said:

George Murphy is never an actor I think about nor is he one that I'm excited to see in the credits of a movie of which I'm unfamiliar. 

I won't deny he has talent. I just never think of him as I do other actors of his day. I think of him as a serviceable actor or entertainer who rounds out the cast. 

One might conclude his departure from acting into politics was not unlike that of Ronald Reagan. An actor whom I would, more or less, put in the same category. I may have said this about someone else but George Murphy could very well be the Ralph Bellamy of Musicals.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have to laugh at myself. (and call myself out to some degree.) I thought I was responding to a new post when I wrote the above. Little did I realize this was a post from March where on page one I did indeed refer to George Murphy as the Ralph Bellamy of musicals.

I hadn't realized how indifferent I am to George Murphy until I reread this entire thread just now. It almost seems mean. This is why this TCM board is the extent of my social media.  I refer to social media as a place where you apologize today for the things you said the day before.

So..have you revised your opinion of George Murphy???

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I found George Murphy amiable and talented in any role he was placed. Thinking of this finally made me think of a star I did NOT like - Barry Nelson. He is always smirking obnoxiously. Even in "Shadow of the Thin Man", when he is knocked out cold, he looks like he is smirking.  Probably the most punchable face in film history. 

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I'm impressed by George in CYNTHIA as Elizabeth Taylor's put-upon father.   Murphy has chemistry with Mary Astor who plays his wife.   Good also in TOM, DICK AND HARRY as Ginger Rogers' ambitious car salesman boyfriend.

My view is that he was an underrated dramatic actor who effectively specialized in upright (and uptight) businessmen-types in an almost similiar fashion to Rudy Vallee ( the latter excellent in THE PALM BEACH STORY, THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY SOXER, plus a nice turn as the doctor in I REMEMBER MAMA.  And let's not forget HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT EVEN TRYING)  I could see George doing these roles; well, perhaps with the exception of THE PALM BEACH STORY and SUCCEED, since Rudy did project a well-heeled, millionaire persona.  George looked more solidly middle-class.

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Here  a list  of  George  Murphy  films   with  big  stars  not  covered  yet.  The  Big  Menace  1935  with  Jean  Arthur    This  is  the  Army  1943   with  Ronald  Reagan  and    Joan  Leslie     Bataan   1943   with  Robert  Taylor   and  Thomas  Mitchell    Big  City  1948   with  Margaret  O'Brien   and  Robert  Preston    It's  A  Big  Country  1951  anthology  movie  with  Fredric  March,  William  Powell  Janet  Leigh   and  Gary  Cooper

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Always have liked George Murphy's easygoing charm.  Low-key, in a good way.  Looked great in a tux.   For me,  Astaire is up there, wheeling high in the universe with no rivals, so I don't really think about other dancers competing with him-- it's not possible!   But I adore other dancers for their individual qualities.

Like fabulous Gene Nelson,  kinetic and thoroughly appealing:

 

 

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