I'm continuing to find photos of this year's Academy Award nominees from earlier in their careers. This time it's Eddie Murphy, who's up for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Dreamgirls. My husband and I were in the mood to watch an Eddie Murphy comedy last week, but we didn't think we'd like Norbit. Fortunately, Austin Film Festival was holding a special screening of one of Murphy's first films, Trading Places, the 1983 film in which he co-stars with Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Ackroyd, as shown in the above publicity still. At the time, Murphy had been a hit in 48 Hrs. and was well known for his recurring characters on Saturday Night Live. Trading Places holds up remarkably well, and the audience enjoyed the film a lot. I'm especially fond of Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the two millionaires who decide to use Murphy and Ackroyd as human guinea pigs in their experiment testing heredity vs. environment.
I was amused to see Al Franken in an early role as a stoner baggage handler. Frank Oz practically reprises his cameo in The Blues Brothers, which was also directed by John Landis. We rented Coming to America over the weekend to get even more of our Landis/Murphy fix, but the DVD was damaged and stopped playing about halfway through the movie ... before we could see Ameche and Bellamy again. Coming to America (what we saw of it) wasn't nearly as funny as Trading Places. My least favorite part of Trading Places is the costumes-on-a-train sequence, and I realized I prefer watching Murphy when he's not disguised in a fat suit or as an old man or with an accent. That may be why I'm in the camp that thought he was one of the highlights of Dreamgirls, although I'm torn between him and Jackie Earle Haley for the Oscar.