Then there is a young man named Fred MacMurray who can munch a peanut or take off his shoes like one of the boys. Mr. MacMurray's ability to seem completely natural without abandoning his charm ought to make him one of the most popular of the cinema's glamour men in the next few months.
These words were prophetic. The coupling of Colbert and MacMurray produced one of the greatest love teams in the history of cinema. Over the next 3 decades, the two would team up for a total of seven movies. Fred MacMurray's star would continue to soar. He would star in just over 80 films over the span of 5 decades. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, Fred MacMurray would co-star with more of the silver screen's leading ladies than any other actor of his time. His popularity would culminate in 1942 when he became the highest paid actor in Hollywood (the seventh highest salaried person in the nation). He became the most versatile actor in Hollywood performing leads in screwball comedies, melodramas, musicals, westerns, swashbucklers and period pieces. But his most challenging role was yet to come in 1944 when Billy Wilder came a knockin'.
You know, over the years I have been making all these fluffy romantic comedies. And I feel comfortable doing those but this role is not for me. This role requires ACTING.Billy Wilder, after a great deal of coaxing, convinces Fred to do the role. It would be the benchmark performance of his career. Many feel that he was slighted when overlooked for an Oscar nomination. The film would become a classic recently being named as one of AFI's greatest films of all time. The film spawned a whole new genre of American cinema called FILM NOIRE. It also added one more aspect of the versatility that MacMurray carved out in Hollywood. He could now play the Bad Guy effectively. A style of character he would repeat in three more films: THE CAINE MUTINY, PUSHOVER and THE APARTMENT. Fred MacMurray continued acting steadily through the rest of the 40's and 50's. But like other actors of the era, the screwball comedy roles were becoming scarce and he was relegated to starring in Westerns, the popular genre of the 1950's. His performances were surprisingly good considering the material yet they were certainly not his favorite roles. He always lamented, "The horses never hit their mark." The year 1959 would prove another turning point in Fred MacMurray's career when he became the recipient of what one might call the most fitting typecasting of all time.
In reflection, Fred MacMurray has been overlooked as one of the truly great leading men of the Golden Era of movies. Time and again, he would reinvent himself to attain a versatility of performance that could not be rivaled by any of his contemporaries including Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Clark Gable or Gary Cooper. If you have the opportunity to view his early films, you will have the privilege to enjoy an easygoing style that seemed so effortless, the talent in the performance goes sadly unrecognized.
Fred MacMurray Filmography (type the name Fred MacMurray in the search box, then hit go)