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FRED MACMURRAY- Nice Guy and Underrated Actor

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Is this title a takeoff on PADON MY SARONG?

Not to my knowledge. I think PARDON MY PAST is a reference to the fact that it is set in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin where Fred MacMurray actually grew up. So he was using elements of his own real-life past for this story. He's probably asking the audience to pardon his indulging in such cinematic 'nonsense.'

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Tonight is the peak of Fred MacMurray`s starring performances in DOUBLE INDEMITY 1944.DI had a hill to climb before this top notch film noir was made. Director and co screenwriter Billy Wilder`s long time collaborater Charles Brackett refused to co-write the script. Charles found the James Cain novel to be adapted was immoral.Detective novelist Raymond Chandler was hired to co-script. Wilder and Chandler fought, but Raymond brought to the script Walter Neff`s narration and witty remarks. The casting of Phyllis Dietrichson and Walter was another problem. Billy wanted Barbara Stanwyck to play Phyllis. He knew that she had the goods,but Barbara wasn`t sure if she wanted to play such a rotten and cold blooded killer. As I previously wrote, Billy asked George, but he thankfully turned down the part. Alan Ladd and Brian Donlevy, who were PARAMOUNT contract actors,did not like the plot. Dick Powell wanted the role, but he was tied up with another commitment. After going the list of PARAMOUNT actors under contract, Billy found Fred MacMurray`s name. Fred was affable, easy going, and All American. The against the type casting was right for Walter Neff. After much persuasion by Billy, Fred accepted. When Barbara learned that Fred was cast, she signed to reteam in her second film with Fred. Edward G. Robinson initially was apprehensive because the role of Barton Keyes. The claims investigator for the insurance company where Walter worked, was a important but supporting role. Edward G. had always starred in his movies, but he took the part. He is the conscience of the film, the guy with the little man in his stomach. Once Walter rings the doorbell of the Dietrichson house to try and sell a insurance policy to Phyllis`s husband, he is hooked. Walter can`t take his eyes off of Phyllis`s anklet as she descends the staircase wrapped in a robe. Phyllis is smart and quick, and she knows that she can get Walter to do anything for her even murder. The scenes with Walter and Phyllis cheating, plotting a murder, and growing apart are the glue that holds the film together. DOUBLE INDEMITY became a big success critically and financially. Barbara was nominated, but Fred was ignored at Oscar time. Fred had a chance to work with Billy again in SUNSET BOULEVARD 1950.Fred was a little old for the part at 40, but he turned down Joe Gillis because he found him "too morally repellent". Odd since Fred did such a great job as Walter Neff, and his career at this point was not going so well. I am happy that he felt differently when Billy approached him to portray Mr. Sheldrake in THE APARTMENT 1960. TCM has given their fans a fabulous night scheduling the four films that Fred and Barbara made together. 

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Tonight is the peak of Fred MacMurray`s starring performances in DOUBLE INDEMITY 1944.DI had a hill to climb before this top notch film noir was made. Director and co screenwriter Billy Wilder`s long time collaborater Charles Brackett refused to co-write the script. Charles found the James Cain novel to be adapted was immoral.Detective novelist Raymond Chandler was hired to co-script. Wilder and Chandler fought, but Raymond brought to the script Walter Neff`s narration and witty remarks. The casting of Phyllis Dietrichson and Walter was another problem. Billy wanted Barbara Stanwyck to play Phyllis. He knew that she had the goods,but Barbara wasn`t sure if she wanted to play such a rotten and cold blooded killer. As I previously wrote, Billy asked George, but he thankfully turned down the part. Alan Ladd and Brian Donlevy, who were PARAMOUNT contract actors,did not like the plot. Dick Powell wanted the role, but he was tied up with another commitment. After going the list of PARAMOUNT actors under contract, Billy found Fred MacMurray`s name. Fred was affable, easy going, and All American. The against the type casting was right for Walter Neff. After much persuasion by Billy, Fred accepted. When Barbara learned that Fred was cast, she signed to reteam in her second film with Fred. Edward G. Robinson initially was apprehensive because the role of Barton Keyes. The claims investigator for the insurance company where Walter worked, was a important but supporting role. Edward G. had always starred in his movies, but he took the part. He is the conscience of the film, the guy with the little man in his stomach. Once Walter rings the doorbell of the Dietrichson house to try and sell a insurance policy to Phyllis`s husband, he is hooked. Walter can`t take his eyes off of Phyllis`s anklet as she descends the staircase wrapped in a robe. Phyllis is smart and quick, and she knows that she can get Walter to do anything for her even murder. The scenes with Walter and Phyllis cheating, plotting a murder, and growing apart are the glue that holds the film together. DOUBLE INDEMITY became a big success critically and financially. Barbara was nominated, but Fred was ignored at Oscar time. Fred had a chance to work with Billy again in SUNSET BOULEVARD 1950.Fred was a little old for the part at 40, but he turned down Joe Gillis because he found him "too morally repellent". Odd since Fred did such a great job as Walter Neff, and his career at this point was not going so well. I am happy that he felt differently when Billy approached him to portray Mr. Sheldrake in THE APARTMENT 1960. TCM has given their fans a fabulous night scheduling the four films that Fred and Barbara made together. 

 

FMcM underrated? There was a magazine--ESQUIRE?--that, in the 70s, featured in its last page a cartoon of a famous movie, accompanied with a critique. One of those movies was DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and the critique said that FMcM delivered there HIS ONE GOOD PERFORMANCE. Can you imagine MacMurray's reaction to such an insult???

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THE RAINS OF RAINCHIPUR is one of my favorite of Fred's films.  I find Joan Caulfield and his romance much more interesting than Burton and Turner's. 

 

Watching Double Indemnity last night I was struck by Fred's resemblance to one of my favorite almost-stars, Don Megowan, who I was just watching on Cheyenne.  Both men could play it good or bad and make us believe it either way.  That Fred never even got an Oscar nomination is outrageous.

 

That story that his daughter told about the irate fan smacking him with her purse after seeing him in The Apartment  because she couldn't tell reel from real got me.  Because she saw it he chose never to play negative characters again.  I'm wondering how many great performances that woman cheated us all out of. 

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THE RAINS OF RAINCHIPUR is one of my favorite of Fred's films.  I find Joan Caulfield and his romance much more interesting than Burton and Turner's. 

 

Watching Double Indemnity last night I was struck by Fred's resemblance to one of my favorite almost-stars, Don Megowan, who I was just watching on Cheyenne.  Both men could play it good or bad and make us believe it either way.  That Fred never even got an Oscar nomination is outrageous.

 

That story that his daughter told about the irate fan smacking him with her purse after seeing him in The Apartment  because she couldn't tell reel from real got me.  Because she saw it he chose never to play negative characters again.  I'm wondering how many great performances that woman cheated us all out of. 

 

I was also disappointed by that story related to The Apartment.   I don't support an actor not taking on roles just to protect their image unless they are just starting out and the reason is economic.   

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THE RAINS

 

I was also disappointed by that story related to The Apartment.   I don't support an actor not taking on roles just to protect their image unless they are just starting out and the reason is economic.   

THE RAINS OF RAINCHIPUR is one of my favorite films. The movie isn`t shown often because it was released by 20th Century Fox.I enjoyed Fred`s performance of Tom the alcoholic and outspoken friend of Lana Turner. I would rather have watched this film again, instead of ABOVE SUSPICION. In my opinion, Fred and Joan did not make a good match. I think this film was Joan`s last under her MGM contract.

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Fred had a different opinion, but I feel that Barbara Stanwyck was his best partner. Barbara is my No.1 actress because she was convincing in all types of roles. REMEMBER THE NIGHT 1940 could be classified as a Christmas movie, but I can watch this film anytime. For their pairing in this comedy drama, Fred and Barbara were so attractive. My favorite part of this film happens when Fred realizes that he loves Barbara. The courtroom scene was touching when he tried to have her case thrown out of court. Barbara knew that wasn`t in Fred`s best interests, and she pleads guilty. Barbara knew she had to serve her sentence to pay her dues for her mistake. In the last scene, I felt that fred would be waiting for her when she is released. DOUBLE INDEMITY 1944 is a film noir where both actors are evil. Barbara more so than Fred who she hooked from their first meeting. She suckered him in a plan to murder her husband. Barbara was a true femme fatale in this film.At the end she tells Fred that she never loved him, only used him and admits how rotten she is. Their third pairing was THE MOONLIGHTER 1953. Maybe not a great western though the screenplay written Niven Busch. Barbara loved making westerns, and I do not think that many actresses would have performed the waterfall scene. How dangerous that stunt looked, and I am not surprised that Barbara was bruised. I enjoyed Fred and Barbara`s scenes together in a different setting. In the end Fred reforms with Barbara`s love and assistance. THERE`S ALWAYS TOMORROW 1956 was the last time they worked together. A melodrama directed by Douglas Sirk, Barbara plays a fashion designer who loved Fred twenty years ago. Fred is a married man with three children, and he is not happy. Ignored at home by his selfish children, Joan Bennett as his wife is busy with the children and her home responsibilities. Fred tries reaching out to his family, but they aren`t listening. Bored, restless, and angry Fred meets Barbara who has come to Los Angeles for her fashion designing business. They meet and fall in love. Fred doesn`t want to take no from Barbara, but she decides in everyone`s best interests to fly back to New York City where her business is based. Fred goes home to his family where hopefully Fred will find happiness with his now more thoughtful household. Too bad that AFI does not make available the AFI`S honorees from past years. Barbara Stanwyck receiving the award in 1987, is the presentation I would most like to see.

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Last night I watched my own dvd of THE EGG AND I 1947. I is a shame that TCM wasn`t able to show this comedy in January. Based on the book by Betty Mac Donald`s book. Fred and Claudette Colbert are cast as a just married couple who move from the city to the country. Fred bought a chicken farm, and he believes that Claudette will share in his excitement. When they arrive at the dilapidated house and farm,Claudette wants to turn around and head back to the city. The farm will need a lot of repairs, and the kitchen is a room of horrors. The neighbors down the road are Ma and Pa Kettle and their twelve children. Pa is a lazy worthless borrower, and Ma is a great cook and seamstress, but a sloppy housewife. The only part of the movie that I recalled was Ma sweeping the cluttered items on her dining table to the floor, so Claudette can have a place to sit. Fred and Claudette fix their home and tend to the animals. A attractive ranch owner has her eyes set for Fred, but Claudette keeps her eyes open. Finally a disaster occurs, and the MacDonalds are almost whipped out. Friendly and helpful town folk come to their aid. I haven`t seen many of the other films that Fred and Claudette made, but I would rate THE EGG AND I as one of the funniest.

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Last night I watched my own dvd of THE EGG AND I 1947. I is a shame that TCM wasn`t able to show this comedy in January. Based on the book by Betty Mac Donald`s book. Fred and Claudette Colbert are cast as a just married couple who move from the city to the country. Fred bought a chicken farm, and he believes that Claudette will share in his excitement. When they arrive at the dilapidated house and farm,Claudette wants to turn around and head back to the city. The farm will need a lot of repairs, and the kitchen is a room of horrors. The neighbors down the road are Ma and Pa Kettle and their twelve children. Pa is a lazy worthless borrower, and Ma is a great cook and seamstress, but a sloppy housewife. The only part of the movie that I recalled was Ma sweeping the cluttered items on her dining table to the floor, so Claudette can have a place to sit. Fred and Claudette fix their home and tend to the animals. A attractive ranch owner has her eyes set for Fred, but Claudette keeps her eyes open. Finally a disaster occurs, and the MacDonalds are almost whipped out. Friendly and helpful town folk come to their aid. I haven`t seen many of the other films that Fred and Claudette made, but I would rate THE EGG AND I as one of the funniest.

I loved THE EGG AND I so much, I ended up buying it with all the Kettles films, released by Universal.

Screen%2Bshot%2B2016-01-17%2Bat%2B4.18.4

When I am needing a good laugh, these are my go-to funny bone classics. 

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I've been rummaging through my collection of old books and stuff and came upon a book "Rating the Movie Stars" by Consumer Guide, this book is from the early 1980's.  A lot of actors/actresses  are covered here giving brief rundowns of their careers and then giving them a "rating" for their work.  (Some people don't get treated so nicely in these ratings.).  Fred Mac gets a high rating, the opening comment stating that "he made acting look easy" , which is an appropriate compliment.   Like one of his contemporaries , Joel McCrea,  Fred should have sought out some more challenging, or dynamic,  roles to play. Both of these men were rather modest of nature and seemed to underestimate themselves.  When they did play those occasional complex characters they could deliver great performances.  It's no wonder that Fred's popular legacy is DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE CAINE MUTINY,  and THE APARTMENT, and then all of the light hearted comedic roles , ending with a popular tv show and series of Disney films.  Fred excelled at all he did but somehow I wish he had pushed the envelope a little more.  Still, I respect that he did what he felt appropriate or comfortable with.  The TCM tribute narrated  by Fred's daughter was very nicely done I  think.  "Here's to you, Lt.  Keefer" , you likable scoundrel you.  :)

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I'm really enjoying January's SOTM and discovering some of Fred MacMurray's more obscure films. I was also very impressed by the tribute to FM voiced by his daughter, Kate.  It's wonderfully written and she does a great job voicing it.  I was sufficiently intrigued to try to find out a bit more about Kate MacMurray.  Here's a recent write up about her:

 

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/csp/mediapool/sites/PressDemocrat/News/story.csp?cid=2260209&sid=555&fid=181

 

Lydecker

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I loved THE EGG AND I so much, I ended up buying it with all the Kettles films, released by Universal.

Screen%2Bshot%2B2016-01-17%2Bat%2B4.18.4

When I am needing a good laugh, these are my go-to funny bone classics. 

I enjoyed the bonus extras on the dvd. A short biography of Claudette Colbert, Carl Lemmele the founder of Universal Studios. and agent Lew Wasserman who brought Universal into the big time, adding TV production, brought Alfred Hitchcock to series TV, and began a trend with stars first James Stewart on WINCHESTER 73 1950. He advised Jimmy to take a smaller salary and receive a percentage of the movie`s gross. Jimmy became a millionaire with the deal, and many stars soon wanted the same on their participation in a movie.

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I'm really enjoying January's SOTM and discovering some of Fred MacMurray's more obscure films. I was also very impressed by the tribute to FM voiced by his daughter, Kate.  It's wonderfully written and she does a great job voicing it.  I was sufficiently intrigued to try to find out a bit more about Kate MacMurray.  Here's a recent write up about her:

 

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/csp/mediapool/sites/PressDemocrat/News/story.csp?cid=2260209&sid=555&fid=181

 

Lydecker

Thank you for posting the wonderful article on Katie MacMurray.Every TCM SOTM should be so lucky to have a tribute about them given by a relative, friend or admirer. June and Fred were married in a civil ceremony at the Ojai Valley Inn on June 28, 1954. June did not want to wait any longer for the Catholic Church to annul her short first marriage. I can`t say that I blame her. Nowadays annulments are easier granted. I think that things were straightened out later. Fred and June are laid to rest at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetary in Los Angeles.

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Finally a disaster occurs, and the MacDonalds are almost whipped out.

 

Did they take fries with that?

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I'm looking forward to Callaway Went Thataway.  Very entertaining comedy.

Borderline is another good one.  But the song Claire Trevor and the girls sing in one scene can be annoying.

 

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Last night I watched a very funny film FATHER WAS A FULLBACK 1949 starring Fred and Maureen O`Hara as George and Elizabeth Cooper. They are the parents of two daughters Constance (Betty Lynn) and Ellen (Natalie Wood). George is the head football coach of State University, and the team is not doing very well. Rudy Valle is the president of the alumni association, and he is constantly badgering Fred to start winning. Fred tells him that his football players do not have great ability, and he is doing the best job that he can. Problems arise on the homefront too, when older daughter Connie keeps complaining about her lack of a boyfriend. Family, neighbor Jim Backus, and sassy maid Thelma Ritter try to fix Connie up with a boy incognito. Their good intentions fail when younger sister Ellen spills the beans. A hot prospect in town has signed with Notre Dame a loss to State. Fred keeps trying, and the team keeps losing in close games. Connie forgets about boys, and she writes a short story that is bought by a national magazine. The hot prospect reads the article, and he changes his plans. Now he will attend State Univ. next season, and the team will vastly improve. Fred will keep his coaching job, and everybody is happy at home.Nobody came back with a faster quip than Thelma Ritter, and Fred and Maureen made a good couple. Maureen was under contract to Fox, and she had to appear in the movies assigned to her. Betty Lynn was only six years younger than Maureen, and it was unfortunate casting for Maureen. Loretta young was more believable as Betty Lynn`s mother in MOTHER IS A FRESHMAN also 1949.The movie is available on YOU TUBE, and inspite of a minor quibble, I found the film funny. Fred always made me laugh in comedies. 

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Last night I watched a very funny film FATHER WAS A FULLBACK 1949 starring Fred and Maureen O`Hara as George and Elizabeth Cooper. They are the parents of two daughters Constance (Betty Lynn) and Ellen (Natalie Wood). George is the head football coach of State University, and the team is not doing very well. Rudy Valle is the president of the alumni association, and he is constantly badgering Fred to start winning. Fred tells him that his football players do not have great ability, and he is doing the best job that he can. Problems arise on the homefront too, when older daughter Connie keeps complaining about her lack of a boyfriend. Family, neighbor Jim Backus, and sassy maid Thelma Ritter try to fix Connie up with a boy incognito. Their good intentions fail when younger sister Ellen spills the beans. A hot prospect in town has signed with Notre Dame a loss to State. Fred keeps trying, and the team keeps losing in close games. Connie forgets about boys, and she writes a short story that is bought by a national magazine. The hot prospect reads the article, and he changes his plans. Now he will attend State Univ. next season, and the team will vastly improve. Fred will keep his coaching job, and everybody is happy at home.Nobody came back with a faster quip than Thelma Ritter, and Fred and Maureen made a good couple. Maureen was under contract to Fox, and she had to appear in the movies assigned to her. Betty Lynn was only six years younger than Maureen, and it was unfortunate casting for Maureen. Loretta young was more believable as Betty Lynn`s mother in MOTHER IS A FRESHMAN also 1949.The movie is available on YOU TUBE, and inspite of a minor quibble, I found the film funny. Fred always made me laugh in comedies. 

Shows how much football has changed. Today, the fullback is basically a blocking back who gets little or no attention.

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I just finished watching FATHER WAS A FULLBACK right now on YouTube, thanks to Maureen's comments. How come TCM can't (won't?) show this film?

220px-Father_was_a_Fullback_-_1950_Poste

I love how they go all generic and say State University, as it could be any state, and any university. LOL The voice-overs at the beginning are supposed to be Maureen O'Hara's character, but clearly it's a different woman's voice. Later on, some of her lines are dubbed by the same strange voice. Jim Backus is credited as James G. Backus, in one of his first screen roles. 

 

Fred's a bit heavier in this film, has a much fuller face. But his comic timing is good as always. It's nice to see Rudy Vallee, Thelma Ritter and Natalie Wood in the picture. 

 

The interior of the house looks like the same one used in SITTING PRETTY a year earlier.

 

Overall, this is just a really cute movie. File it under the old 'don't make 'em like this anymore.' 

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Shows how much football has changed. Today, the fullback is basically a blocking back who gets little or no attention.

I know very little about football because I have always found the scoring difficult except field goals and touchdowns. The in between yardage and referee line calls and penalties baffle me. Baseball is slower, but it is my favorite sport. I still went to the movie theatre to see CONCUSSION 2015,and watched FATHER WAS A FULLBACK 1949.

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I just finished watching FATHER WAS A FULLBACK right now on YouTube, thanks to Maureen's comments. How come TCM can't (won't?) show this film?

220px-Father_was_a_Fullback_-_1950_Poste

I love how they go all generic and say State University, as it could be any state, and any university. LOL The voice-overs at the beginning are supposed to be Maureen O'Hara's character, but clearly it's a different woman's voice. Later on, some of her lines are dubbed by the same strange voice. Jim Backus is credited as James G. Backus, in one of his first screen roles. 

 

Fred's a bit heavier in this film, has a much fuller face. But his comic timing is good as always. It's nice to see Rudy Vallee, Thelma Ritter and Natalie Wood in the picture. 

 

The interior of the house looks like the same one used in SITTING PRETTY a year earlier.

 

Overall, this is just a really cute movie. File it under the old 'don't make 'em like this anymore.' 

TB, I love how you show us the movie posters for the films that we watched. Maureen O`Hara said that director John Stahl was like William Wyler in that he asked for many takes. He must have known what he was doing because FATHER WAS A FULLBACK is very funny, and Mr. Stahl also directed Gene Tierney to her Oscar nominated performance in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN 1945.

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If anyone wants to see how funny Fred was, watch the two YOU TUBE clips from WHAT`S MY LINE. In the first clip Fred is with his wife June Haver 1957, and the second clip Fred was even funnier alone plugging THE SHAGGY DOG 1959.

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TB, I love how you show us the movie posters for the films that we watched. Maureen O`Hara said that director John Stahl was like William Wyler in that he asked for many takes. He must have known what he was doing because FATHER WAS A FULLBACK is very funny

You're welcome! And yes, the film has some very funny moments.

 

FATHER WAS A FULLBACK was the third time Stahl directed O'Hara at Fox. Previously, they collaborated on IMMORTAL SERGEANT and THE FOXES OF HARROW.

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I know very little about football because I have always found the scoring difficult except field goals and touchdowns. The in between yardage and referee line calls and penalties baffle me. Baseball is slower, but it is my favorite sport. I still went to the movie theatre to see CONCUSSION 2015,and watched FATHER WAS A FULLBACK 1949.

The referree line calls and penalties baffle a lot of people, including the players and coaches.

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The referree line calls and penalties baffle a lot of people, including the players and coaches.

 

LOL

 

Yeah, especially THIS year!

 

(...where DOES the NFL find these bozo refs lately anyway, HUH?!!!)

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LOL

 

Yeah, especially THIS year!

 

(...where DOES the NFL find these bozo refs lately anyway, HUH?!!!)

It can't be a full-time job, because they'd have nothing to do during the week, so they have to hire guys who have careers in other areas---such as blacksmiths, shepherds, and hod carriers.

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