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DEC. 5-Dec. 11
“Bill Murry [sic]I’m not funny anymore,” reads my note on the March 19, 1977, episode of Saturday Night Live. It’s the first mention of Murray among my obsessive cataloging of every sketch during SNL’s first five seasons. Though Murray had joined the show that January, I’d apparently not deemed him worthy of mention until that moment, that moment being the infamous “New Guy” sketch, wherein Murray addressed the audience, apologized for his lameness, and begged for support. But the specter of Chevy Chasewho figures as prominently in my notebook as he did in the presswould not be exorcised until the “Shower Mike” sketch weeks later, which provided the first glimpse of Murray’s now-patented lounge persona. In the March/April 1979 issue of Washington Rock Concert Magazine, Murray told publisher Craig A. Broffman, “I’d go out on the street with Gilda and they’d all recognize Gilda and no one even knew who I was. And I’m on the same show.” By then, of course, he was a star. SNL writer Tom Schiller had it right in describing Murray as “an itinerant monk actor,” and many of Murray’s film roles have proved enduring and worthy of a retrospective. Which is why the American Film Institute is screening “Bill Murray: Found in Translation” and not “Chevy Chase: Extreme Foul Play.” Included are movie-stealing supporting roles in Tootsie, Caddyshack, and The Royal Tenenbaums; star turns in Meatballs, Stripes, and Ghostbusters; and examples of that monkishly serious comedy in Groundhog Day (pictured), Rushmore, and Lost in Translation. Forgive the man Mad Dog and Glory when the series opens Friday, Dec. 5, at the AFI’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Dave Nuttycombe)