August 9th, 2008

carole lombard 06
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TCM salutes Fred MacMurray today (hooray!)

There are some ballplayers who are so frequently labeled "underrated" that suddenly they're not considered underrated anymore. Among actors, that reputation now seems to apply to Fred MacMurray.

Nearly 17 years after his death, Carole Lombard's most frequent co-star (, MacMurray -- shown above sharing a drink with W.C. Fields and George Arliss -- has largely shaken off his late career "My Three Sons"/Disney movie image, and people are now beginning to recognize what a talented and versatile actor he was...someone whose entire career compares relatively well with contemporaries such as James Stewart or Henry Fonda.

Today, Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. is showing MacMurray films all day -- and while none of his four films with Lombard are included (TCM is saving two of them for October, when Carole is its Star of the Month), there's a lot of good and varied fare here -- Disney, westerns, comedies, dramas. The schedule (all times Eastern):

* 6 a.m. -- "Grand Old Girl" (1935)
* 7:15 a.m. -- "The Shaggy Dog" (1959)
* 9 a.m. -- "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961)
* 10:45 a.m. -- "Son Of Flubber" (1963)
* 12:30 p.m. -- "Too Many Husbands" (1940)
* 2 p.m. -- "Pardon My Past" (1945)
* 3:30 p.m. -- "Callaway Went Thataway" (1951)
* 5 p.m. -- "Good Day For A Hanging" (1958)
* 6:30 p.m. -- "Face Of A Fugitive" (1959)
* 8 p.m. -- "The Apartment" (1960)
* 10:15 p.m. -- "The Lady Is Willing" (1942)
* midnight -- "Alice Adams" (1935)
* 1:45 a.m. -- "Dive Bomber" (1941)
* 4 a.m. -- "Never A Dull Moment" (1950)

At TCM's fine blog site, Movie Morlocks,(, there's been a MacMurray "blogathon" over the past few days. At last count, there are seven entries on MacMurray's career:

* "Crooking The House," an examination of what many regard as MacMurray's greatest performance -- Walter Neff in "Double Indemnity" (

* "Fred MacMurray, good at stuff." The actor's life away from the studio (

* "Small Town Boy Makes Good," featuring a long, illuminating discussion with Charles Tranberg, author of "Fred MacMurray: A Biography" (

* "The Apartment," about MacMurray's role in that Billy Wilder classic (

* "I Never Felt Better In My Life." You're familiar with "Double Indemnity." Well, here's an entry about MacMurray's other noir film, 1950's "Borderline" (

* "Fred MacMurray Needs Some Love," about his reputation as an actor (

* "The Fred MacMurray Blogathon Continues -- Amereica's Favorite Dad," looking at MacMurray's work for Walt Disney and on "My Three Sons" (

And finally, let's not forget that the centennial of Fred's birth occurs three weeks from today, Aug. 30.
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