Fred MacMurray, good at stuff

We Morlocks will be writing about actor Fred MacMurray all week, mostly focusing on key films in his resume to define that particular quality or set of qualities he possessed that made him distinctly Fred MacMurray.  Yet it also bears noting that the sum of a man is not just the sum of his film roles and TV appearances but also how he dances when no one is watching.  This funny little bit of studio-mandated fluff catches MacMurray in an “unguarded” moment at home…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9r4Lh40fBg]

This short subject reminds me of all those great portraits of Hollywood stars purportedly relaxing at home:  Peter Lorre watering his garden (what’s buried there?), Boris Karloff biting into an orange plucked from one of his own trees and sucking out the sweet blood juice.  Those allegedly candid photos of the stars letting their hair down are as endearing as they are phony because surely there is some truth in there.  And as such, I have no doubt believing, as the narrator of this short proclaims, that when Fred MacMurray wasn’t shooting pictures on the soundstages of Paramount and elsewhere he was fashioning leather holsters for his cowboy friends.

Do actors have tool benches anymore?  Are any of today’s stars good with their hands?  I don’t even think they have yachts these days, as Errol Flynn and John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart once did.  Hell, Bette Davis used to knit – but you don’t see Angelina Jolie stitching and pearling, for all the children she has.  I think actors are just pretty much on the cell phone these days, or appearing somewhere and looking vaguely annoyed at having their pictures taken.  I think we lost something special when the crafting actor rode off into the sunset.

I love how MacMurray doesn’t even really acknowledge the camera here.  Call me romantic, call me corny, call me naive, but I think he would have been making that holster even if the camera crew weren’t there that day.  I think Fred MacMurray enjoyed his quiet time, actually doing something with his hands when he wasn’t required to spin straw into gold in Hollywood.  I think everyone who loves Fred MacMurray feels this when they remember his long and quiet career.

Man, I wish I had that holster.

24 Responses Fred MacMurray, good at stuff
Posted By Medusa : August 5, 2008 12:01 pm

What a terrific little clip of the holster-making, and Fred looks genuinely capable and relaxed making his leather goods. You are so right — the don’t make stars like they used to. Evidently Fred M. had a big ranch up in California wine country which his daughter still is involved with — he was a real outdoors kind of guy, obviously. I think we’re going to all fall in love with Fred by the time this week is over! That clip started it for me!

Posted By Medusa : August 5, 2008 12:01 pm

What a terrific little clip of the holster-making, and Fred looks genuinely capable and relaxed making his leather goods. You are so right — the don’t make stars like they used to. Evidently Fred M. had a big ranch up in California wine country which his daughter still is involved with — he was a real outdoors kind of guy, obviously. I think we’re going to all fall in love with Fred by the time this week is over! That clip started it for me!

Posted By moirafinnie : August 5, 2008 1:13 pm

Thanks for adding this charming clip to our little Fredathon, RHS.

Stars today seem preoccupied with being photographed on the red carpet and saving the world in their spare time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…but last I heard, there seem to be few demon gardeners or Sunday painters among them, (though the estimable Morgan Freeman is reportedly a great sailor–hope he’s off the injured list soon).

I loved that wink and sheepish little grin at the end from Fred. Yeah, prepare to fall…

Posted By moirafinnie : August 5, 2008 1:13 pm

Thanks for adding this charming clip to our little Fredathon, RHS.

Stars today seem preoccupied with being photographed on the red carpet and saving the world in their spare time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…but last I heard, there seem to be few demon gardeners or Sunday painters among them, (though the estimable Morgan Freeman is reportedly a great sailor–hope he’s off the injured list soon).

I loved that wink and sheepish little grin at the end from Fred. Yeah, prepare to fall…

Posted By Patricia : August 5, 2008 1:15 pm

I may be wrongheaded and judgmental about this, but I get a sense from actors in the classic era that they are bringing life experience to their roles and from today’s actors that they are bringing classroom experience to their roles.

Posted By Patricia : August 5, 2008 1:15 pm

I may be wrongheaded and judgmental about this, but I get a sense from actors in the classic era that they are bringing life experience to their roles and from today’s actors that they are bringing classroom experience to their roles.

Posted By Jeff : August 6, 2008 10:24 am

Fred may seem a bit dull and unexciting comparable to most of the other stars featured in TCM’s Summer Under the Stars festival (with the exception of Marie Dressler) – but could any of them make a leather holster? Noooooooooooooo! Plus he was drinking buddies with W.C. Fields. How cool is that?

Posted By Jeff : August 6, 2008 10:24 am

Fred may seem a bit dull and unexciting comparable to most of the other stars featured in TCM’s Summer Under the Stars festival (with the exception of Marie Dressler) – but could any of them make a leather holster? Noooooooooooooo! Plus he was drinking buddies with W.C. Fields. How cool is that?

Posted By RHS : August 6, 2008 12:31 pm

W.C. fields and George Arliss. Can’t you just imagine that phone call? “Hey, Disraeli, me and Whipsnade are having a toot over at Jasper’s. Give the Model A a crank and get your ass over here pronto!”

I used to think Fred MacMurray was dull but nothing bores me more than today’s stars. Fred seems positively magnetic by comparison.

Posted By RHS : August 6, 2008 12:31 pm

W.C. fields and George Arliss. Can’t you just imagine that phone call? “Hey, Disraeli, me and Whipsnade are having a toot over at Jasper’s. Give the Model A a crank and get your ass over here pronto!”

I used to think Fred MacMurray was dull but nothing bores me more than today’s stars. Fred seems positively magnetic by comparison.

Posted By edie : August 6, 2008 2:17 pm

love him he is funny,serious,very good looking and well he isfred macmurry.

Posted By edie : August 6, 2008 2:17 pm

love him he is funny,serious,very good looking and well he isfred macmurry.

Posted By Ken Loar : August 6, 2008 5:51 pm

I grew up watching Fred MacMurray as Steven Douglas on “MY THREE SONS”. You can just imagine my surprise the first time I saw “DOUBLE INDEMNITY”. At first, it seemed so out of character, but finally I came to realize that it was a quality that really made him such a good actor. He could portray people in the best and worst of circumstances with equal vigor. He shows that it doesn’t take much to turn a nice guy sour. Quick cash, the wrong broad at the wrong time, a knife in the back.

Posted By Ken Loar : August 6, 2008 5:51 pm

I grew up watching Fred MacMurray as Steven Douglas on “MY THREE SONS”. You can just imagine my surprise the first time I saw “DOUBLE INDEMNITY”. At first, it seemed so out of character, but finally I came to realize that it was a quality that really made him such a good actor. He could portray people in the best and worst of circumstances with equal vigor. He shows that it doesn’t take much to turn a nice guy sour. Quick cash, the wrong broad at the wrong time, a knife in the back.

Posted By nana : August 7, 2008 12:05 am

For years I have been looking for the Fred MacMurry 1951 movie, “A Millionaire for Christy”, co-starring Eleanor Parker. I have never seen in on TCM nor anywhere else. Please let me know if it is available for sale or if it will be shown on a future TCM program. I recall this was a very funny film with Fred at his comic best. Thank you for any information.

Posted By nana : August 7, 2008 12:05 am

For years I have been looking for the Fred MacMurry 1951 movie, “A Millionaire for Christy”, co-starring Eleanor Parker. I have never seen in on TCM nor anywhere else. Please let me know if it is available for sale or if it will be shown on a future TCM program. I recall this was a very funny film with Fred at his comic best. Thank you for any information.

Posted By Robert E. : August 7, 2008 5:33 am

Be sure to see Fred’s western, “Face of a Fugitive.” I have always remembered it as a great western. Glad it will be shown on TCM in a day or two. I see that TV Guide gave it 2 out of 4 stars. It deserves 3-1/2 stars. …. ….. ….. Also very good (if slow in places) is another good Fred M. western, “Good Day For a Hanging.”

Posted By Robert E. : August 7, 2008 5:33 am

Be sure to see Fred’s western, “Face of a Fugitive.” I have always remembered it as a great western. Glad it will be shown on TCM in a day or two. I see that TV Guide gave it 2 out of 4 stars. It deserves 3-1/2 stars. …. ….. ….. Also very good (if slow in places) is another good Fred M. western, “Good Day For a Hanging.”

Posted By Scott : August 7, 2008 9:13 am

Fred MacMurray was always the Dad in My Three Sons. I am an avid classic film and TCM fan, so I saw great performances in films like Double Indemnity and The Caine Mutiny. I happen to love his performance in The Apartment, one of my favorites of all time, for Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine and Billy Wilder.

Posted By Scott : August 7, 2008 9:13 am

Fred MacMurray was always the Dad in My Three Sons. I am an avid classic film and TCM fan, so I saw great performances in films like Double Indemnity and The Caine Mutiny. I happen to love his performance in The Apartment, one of my favorites of all time, for Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine and Billy Wilder.

Posted By TCM’s Movie Blog : August 9, 2008 11:38 am

[...] I also learned from my fellow morlocks just what a private individual MacMurray was in terms of the Hollywood social scene. He preferred to spend time with his family and on hobbies such as golf, gardening, music (he played the saxophone and was a bandleader at one time – he even had a pleasant singing voice), horseback riding, investing and leather making – which morlock RHSmith discovered in his blog “Fred MacMurray- Good at Stuff” http://moviemorlocks.com/2008/08/05/fred-macmurray-good-at-stuff/ [...]

Posted By TCM’s Movie Blog : August 9, 2008 11:38 am

[...] I also learned from my fellow morlocks just what a private individual MacMurray was in terms of the Hollywood social scene. He preferred to spend time with his family and on hobbies such as golf, gardening, music (he played the saxophone and was a bandleader at one time – he even had a pleasant singing voice), horseback riding, investing and leather making – which morlock RHSmith discovered in his blog “Fred MacMurray- Good at Stuff” http://moviemorlocks.com/2008/08/05/fred-macmurray-good-at-stuff/ [...]

Posted By Carole & Co. entries, August 2008 « Carole & Co. : December 9, 2011 11:06 am

[...] * “Fred MacMurray, good at stuff.” The actor’s life away from the studio (http://moviemorlocks.com/2008/08/05/fred-macmurray-good-at-stuff/). [...]

Posted By Carole & Co. entries, August 2008 « Carole & Co. : December 9, 2011 11:06 am

[...] * “Fred MacMurray, good at stuff.” The actor’s life away from the studio (http://moviemorlocks.com/2008/08/05/fred-macmurray-good-at-stuff/). [...]

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