“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.