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“48 HRS.” (1982): From the moment he’s first seen in a jail cell — crooning The Police’s “Roxanne” at the top of his lungs, as a convict sprung by a weary cop (Nick Nolte) to help find a fugitive — it’s clear Murphy is making a huge leap from “Saturday Night Live” to the big screen.
“Trading Places” (1983): Terrific writing, casting and directing (by John Landis) aid Murphy and fellow “SNL” alum Dan Aykroyd in this modern “Prince and the Pauper” about a privileged stockbroker and a street hustler maneuvered into switching stations in life.
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“Beverly Hills Cop” (1984): Murphy had it made in movies — for a while, anyway — after his undeniable star turn as Axel Foley, the fast-talking Detroit police detective who invades Los Angeles to find a friend’s killer.
“Coming to America” (1988): As a pampered African prince who leaves home to find a bride in New York, Murphy is pure charm, assisted immensely by Arsenio Hall as his right-hand man.
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“Boomerang” (1992): This underrated effort to remake Murphy as a romantic lead casts him as a suave advertising man who falls for the assistant (Halle Berry) of his heartless new boss (Robin Givens).
“The Nutty Professor” (1996): If anyone was going to try to recapture the Jerry Lewis spirit of multiple personalities, Murphy was the man for this remake, tackling no fewer than seven different roles.
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“Doctor Dolittle” (1998): Another remake made it clear Murphy was no Rex Harrison, but he didn’t have to be as the updated medic who can talk to animals.
“Shrek” (2001): In voice only, Murphy landed one of his biggest movie successes by speaking for Donkey in this fractured fantasy, for which he encored his work in three theatrical sequels and a couple of television specials.
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“Dreamgirls” (2006): An Oscar nomination came Murphy’s way for his performance as an R&B music impresario in this screen version of the Supremes-inspired stage hit.
“Tower Heist” (2011): This caper uses Murphy sparingly, but his street-wise humor remains evident as he plays a thief enlisted to help an old acquaintance (Ben Stiller) even the score with the mastermind (Alan Alda) of a Ponzi financial scheme.
Posted by:Jay Bobbin