|Index||5 reviews in total|
This film was not easy to find, and compounded with the 3 different titles
it had, it basically destined itself to obscurity. "Murph The Surf" does not
exactly scream, marquee mangetism. This film manages to wedge its greasy
fingers into a few different pies. It bounces from true story mystique to
cheap TV drama, and then tries to inject flawed interpersonal relationships
into the mix. The lack of story cohesion goes a long way to confuse and
disinterest the viewer.
The film is surprisingly well shot, and has a budget that's not evident in other AIP films. The production team went a long way to prove that these two playboys are brazen beyond belief. But the acting ranges between wooden and soap-opera emoting. The story makes these characters impossible to believe; nobody is bashful about the fact that they're jewel thieves, and the life they live only barely scrapes the bedrock of reality. The scene where Murph starts to have second thoughts in the museum is probably the deepest any character in the film gets. It seems fair that the idea was to show how soulless the central characters lives were, however without some subtlety it merely comes off cold. In other words, boring.
There's a pretty good boat chase in the film, and a few worthwhile scenes where your interest is almost heightened, but other than that it's unfortunate and hard to watch.
It's a disposable 70's heist movie, eclipsed by many better ones. I guess there's a reason why this stuff only remains on late-nite pay TV.
Murph has always said the movie didn't follow his recommendations for the script. Instead of trying to make it a comedy the director Marvin Chomsky should have kept it as an action docu-drama..playing more faithfully to the actual life events of Murph and his partner Allan Kuhn. Having known him personally for 18 years I can say they(Hollywood) need to do a Murph the Surf Part 2..to show the rest of the story which in many ways is more riveting and moving than the first half of his life. As a full time minister the work Murph has been doing in the jails and prisons of this country and around the world are in my book far more significant events than the escapades of a gifted but misdirected youth.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Robert Conrad and Don Stroud respectively play jewel thieves Allan Kuhn and Jack Murphy in "Tank" director Marvin J. Chomsky's "Murph the Surf," otherwise known as "Live a Little, Steal A Lot." These Miami playboys lived it up and behaved like daredevils. They made real-life history back in 1964 when they pulled off "Greatest Jewel Heist of the 20th Century," stealing 22 precious gems, among them the Star of India, the 100.32-carat de Long Ruby, and the 16.25-carat Eagle Diamond, from the J.P. Morgan jewel collection at New York's American Museum of Natural History. These guys almost got away with the perfect crime. Chomsky chronicles their early careers in Florida up to their biggest haul in New York. He relies on flashbacks to generate a modicum of suspense. One of the best scenes occurs when our thieves clean out a house and out run a cop. They make it to their power boat and the police in cars and boats try to nab them with no luck. This is a genuinely exciting race and the rooster's tail of water that Kuhn puts up as he eludes the authorities is spectacular. This proves to be the bonding moment of their career when they prove just how reckless that they really were as thieves. Murph picks up an attractive lady, Ginny Eaton (Donna Mills of "Play Misty for Me"), and she becomes his exclusive girlfriend until he dumps her after the Star of India heist. During one of the somber moments of their heist thriller, Ginny commits suicide with pills after Murph cuts her loose. The insensitive Kuhn calls Murph on the carpet for his cavalier attitude, and Murph defends himself, arguing that he never told the girl that he loved her. Eventually, the two guys wind up behind bars but Kuhn cries uncle and gives up the gems. Murph didn't believe that neither Kuhn nor he could be convicted on the basic lack of evidence. Kuhn took the deal because he knew where the stones were stashed. Amazingly enough, the actors resembled their real-life counterparts. Allan Kuhn and Jack Murphy are no longer behind bars. Kuhn served as the technical adviser on this above-average epic. Robert Conrad appears just as fit as he did during his "Wild Wild West" years. Stroud performs his own surfing stunts. The real Murph was a champion surfer. Chomsky and scenarist E. Arthur Kean have created an thoroughly entertaining chapter in criminal history.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1964. Gutsy Allan Kuhn (a solid and credible performance by Robert Conrad) and his reckless buddy Jack Murphy (robustly played with lip-smacking gusto by Don Stroud) are a couple of Florida beach bums who eke out a lavish life for themselves by stealing jewels. The pair decide to pull off a daring heist by robbing a slew of precious gems from New York's Museum of Natural History. Director Marvin Chomsky, working from a compact script by E. Arthur Kean, relates the compelling story at a swift pace, neatly captures the enticing lazy haze of the hedonistic high roller lifestyle, and stages a bravura boat chase set piece with rip-roaring élan. Moreover, the plot makes a valid point about how crime ultimately doesn't pay in the long run without ever resorting to heavy-handed moralizing and offers a few nice bits of brash humor throughout. Conrad and Stroud display a loose, natural, and engaging chemistry that results in a strong dramatic pay-off at the end. The big museum caper is quite exciting and audacious. The fine acting from a bang-up cast qualifies as another major plus: Donna Mills as the sweet Ginny Eaton, Luther Adler as cagey fence Max 'The Eye,' Paul Stewart as shrewd lawyer Avery, Robyn Millan as perky call girl Sharon Kagel, Morgan Paull as folksy fed Arnie Holcomb, Ben Frank as persistent agent Hopper Magee, and Burt Young as the scruffy Sgt. Bernasconi. Michel Hugo's sharp cinematography provides a pleasing handsome look. Phillip Lambro's lively and groovy score likewise does the trick. A really fun flick.
This movie is worthwhile for one and only one reason - to see Robert Conrad at the top of his form. Shot just a few years after Conrad had stunned audiences with his extraordinary good looks in The Wild, Wild West, this film has him playing Allan Kuhn, a jewel thief and a gigolo -a perfect role for him. He has many scenes in a hot red bathing suit and others in very tight white cut-offs. His body is remarkably tight and tan throughout, and his performance is scorchingly hot. Check the opening scene of his getting it on with his girlfriend (including a brief look as his bare ass) and the scene with the backrub of one of his clients, among the many highlights. Conrad was in his early forties at the time, and Hollywood has simply never had a sexier star of his age. This movie is hot, hot, hot!
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