Murphy Beds

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boblipton

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Murphy Beds

PostFri Dec 05, 2008 8:18 pm

I have spent the last hour cleaning up my dvd collection and am taking a look at the Chaplin mutuals. Watching 1 AM I wonder: what's the earliest recorded use of a Murphy bed in a comedy?


Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Murphy Beds

PostSat Dec 06, 2008 11:06 am

boblipton wrote:I have spent the last hour cleaning up my dvd collection and am taking a look at the Chaplin mutuals. Watching 1 AM I wonder: what's th earliest recorded use of a Murphy bed in a comedy?


Bob


And a related question -- was there ever a Murphy bed in a film that WASN'T used for comedy?
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Re: Murphy Beds

PostSat Dec 06, 2008 4:43 pm

Rodney wrote:
boblipton wrote:I have spent the last hour cleaning up my dvd collection and am taking a look at the Chaplin mutuals. Watching 1 AM I wonder: what's th earliest recorded use of a Murphy bed in a comedy?


Bob


And a related question -- was there ever a Murphy bed in a film that WASN'T used for comedy?


Isn't there one in THE CROWD?
MELIOR
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Re: Murphy Beds

PostSat Dec 06, 2008 5:21 pm

boblipton wrote:I have spent the last hour cleaning up my dvd collection and am taking a look at the Chaplin mutuals. Watching 1 AM I wonder: what's th earliest recorded use of a Murphy bed in a comedy?


Bob
Pardon my ignorance, but, what is a 'Murphy Bed' when it's at home. This is probably an American Name that is somewhat lost on a Brit. I am somewhat perplexed and need a lie down anyway....
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Rodney

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PostSat Dec 06, 2008 6:01 pm

A Murphy bed is one that folds up out of the way into a wall cabinet -- much like early ironing boards. So that when you aren't sleeping in it, it's out of the way. Many silent film comedians (notably Charlie Chaplin in ONE A.M.) get tangled in them rising up and down unpredictably, but I'd be surprised if any major comedian of the era didn't get stuck in one at least once...

They are also notable because of a trade-mark ruling. The Murphy company made them, then others copied the design. But the public called any bed of the type "Murphy beds," whether made by Murphy or not. When Murphy tried to enforce their trademark on the name, it was ruled that "Murphy bed" had been the common name for the item, and the company could not prevent others from using the term. Thus, while in France one wraps packages using "scotch," over here it's "Scotch brand adhesive tape;" and in the U.S. you'll see the Lego company trying to get people to call their product "Lego Brand building blocks" rather than "Legos," lest it be claimed they weren't protecting their trademark.
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Re: Murphy Beds

PostSat Dec 06, 2008 6:58 pm

Rodney wrote:
And a related question -- was there ever a Murphy bed in a film that WASN'T used for comedy?


In the James Bond flick YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.
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silentfilm

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PostSat Dec 06, 2008 8:07 pm

Phil Silvers gets stuck in one in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

They were just invented in 1916, so Chaplin was surely one of the first comedians to use them.
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PostSat Dec 06, 2008 11:16 pm

silentfilm wrote:Phil Silvers gets stuck in one in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

They were just invented in 1916, so Chaplin was surely one of the first comedians to use them.


They're intrinsically funny. I don't know why.

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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 2:27 am

There was one in Niles Crane's apartment in 'Shangri La', but apart from his horror of seeing it when being shown around, I don't recall it being used as a comedy prop. It seemed anachronistic - are they still around in the States?? Oh, and the apartment had the ironing board equivalent too....I'd not seen one of those since Fred Quimby-era Tom and Jerry....
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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 3:09 am

According to their official website, the bed was invented in 1900, the patent received that year. But that must be incorrect, because a scan of the original patent document is on Google, which clearly states the patent was applied for April 1, 1915 and granted on June 27, 1916. And they're still in production, so grab yours today!

http://www.murphybedcompany.com/
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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 8:34 am

Penfold wrote:There was one in Niles Crane's apartment in 'Shangri La', but apart from his horror of seeing it when being shown around, I don't recall it being used as a comedy prop. It seemed anachronistic - are they still around in the States?? Oh, and the apartment had the ironing board equivalent too....I'd not seen one of those since Fred Quimby-era Tom and Jerry....


You mean on Frasier ?

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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 8:55 am

Penfold wrote:There was one in Niles Crane's apartment in 'Shangri La', but apart from his horror of seeing it when being shown around, I don't recall it being used as a comedy prop. It seemed anachronistic - are they still around in the States?? Oh, and the apartment had the ironing board equivalent too....I'd not seen one of those since Fred Quimby-era Tom and Jerry....


They were used in small spaces, so therefore not favored by those with money. For many years having an apartment with a Murphy Bed would have placed you firmly in the lower classes. You can see why Niles would have been so horrified. (That episode didn't make me laugh as much as the one wherein Niles needed a rental car and couldn't get his Mercedes--so they gave him something he referred to as "a hunchback.")

I wonder if Murphy Beds are making a comeback these days, when teeny tiny spaces are pretty much all anyone can afford in urban areas?

If it means anything, the St. Francis room in which Al Jolson died has a Murphy bed. I don't know if he was on it when he died.

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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 9:16 am

A shop selling nothing but Murphy beds actually opened here (South Bend) a couple of years ago. The owners said it went over well in Florida, so they decided to try it here too. I suspected that it wouldn't last long, and needless to say, the business...umm, folded in less than a year.
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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 10:10 am

Frederica wrote:I wonder if Murphy Beds are making a comeback these days, when teeny tiny spaces are pretty much all anyone can afford in urban areas?


I would think that in such situations they have pretty much been replaced by sofa beds, which are more space effective, not to mention cheaper than having both a sofa and bed. A sofa bed also frees up that valuable closet space for storing your old nitrate and/or DVD collection.
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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 2:14 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Penfold wrote:There was one in Niles Crane's apartment in 'Shangri La', but apart from his horror of seeing it when being shown around, I don't recall it being used as a comedy prop. It seemed anachronistic - are they still around in the States?? Oh, and the apartment had the ironing board equivalent too....I'd not seen one of those since Fred Quimby-era Tom and Jerry....


You mean on Frasier ?

Jim

Yes, when his divorce from Maris means he has to move out of his first luxury pad, and into a flat in a condo called Shangri La.....
Off topic, but are you familiar with the episode where David Hyde Pierce performs what is all bar a one-reel silent comedy, featuring Eddie, inflammable stain remover, an ironing board and his aversion to the sight of blood??? Genius....
I could use some digital restoration myself...
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PostSun Dec 07, 2008 4:25 pm

I have never actually seen such a bed in real life, only in silent movies and did not know that they were still available. Maybe I should get one to show that I am a real silent film fan :D
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PostMon Dec 08, 2008 8:09 am

T0m M wrote:
Frederica wrote:I wonder if Murphy Beds are making a comeback these days, when teeny tiny spaces are pretty much all anyone can afford in urban areas?


I would think that in such situations they have pretty much been replaced by sofa beds, which are more space effective, not to mention cheaper than having both a sofa and bed. A sofa bed also frees up that valuable closet space for storing your old nitrate and/or DVD collection.


As someone who spent the first two years of married life on a sofa-bed, trust me: you will NOT sleep in a sofa-bed for more than six months if you can help it. They are not designed for everyday (every night) use. After two months, you will prefer to sleep on the floor even if you don't have broadloom.

The only reason my wife and I were able to survive two years on that thing was that I kept holding the store to its two-year guarantee because the guarantee did not specify that the sofa-bed should not be slept on nightly. (I believe they actually changed the wording of the guarantee as a consequence of my deviousness.) I got the mattress replaced twice under the guarantee before we were finally able to afford to buy a real bed.

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PostMon Dec 08, 2008 8:11 am

Penfold wrote:
Jim Roots wrote:
Penfold wrote:There was one in Niles Crane's apartment in 'Shangri La', but apart from his horror of seeing it when being shown around, I don't recall it being used as a comedy prop. It seemed anachronistic - are they still around in the States?? Oh, and the apartment had the ironing board equivalent too....I'd not seen one of those since Fred Quimby-era Tom and Jerry....


You mean on Frasier ?

Jim

Yes, when his divorce from Maris means he has to move out of his first luxury pad, and into a flat in a condo called Shangri La.....
Off topic, but are you familiar with the episode where David Hyde Pierce performs what is all bar a one-reel silent comedy, featuring Eddie, inflammable stain remover, an ironing board and his aversion to the sight of blood??? Genius....


I've only seen the occasional episode in reruns. I like it, but it's not in syndication at times that are convenient for me, and I lost interest in taping shows for later viewing years ago.

Jim
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PostMon Dec 08, 2008 8:19 am

Peter Kalm wrote:I have never actually seen such a bed in real life, only in silent movies and did not know that they were still available. Maybe I should get one to show that I am a real silent film fan :D


On my one and only trip to Vegas we had a murphy bed. It was the first and only one I have ever seen in my life. But the room was odd, in that it also had a huge board-room style table & chairs. I guess it was designed to be a meeting room that could be converted to a bedroom if needed. Once the bellhop turned down the bed it never went back up.

Oh, and it was not terribly comfortable. Not as bad as a sofa bed, but I would have greatly preferred a standard hotel king.
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PostMon Dec 08, 2008 11:33 am

T0m M wrote:I would think that in such situations they have pretty much been replaced by sofa beds, which are more space effective, not to mention cheaper than having both a sofa and bed. A sofa bed also frees up that valuable closet space for storing your old nitrate and/or DVD collection.


That assumes you have space for the sofa--a murphy bed is useful when you have no floor space for either bed or sofa. I've slept on a few, but i haven't seen one in probably a couple of decades.

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PostTue Dec 09, 2008 12:17 pm

I have seen a couple of real Murphy beds (usually in old studio apts.), but I've never seen the real life equivalent of the Murphy bed's strange cousin--the bed that actually stays flat on the ground but slides into the wall, and sometimes into the next room. This type of bed was used in the Keystone BATH TUB PERILS (1916), and in a few later comedies (the Three Stooges' HOT SCOTS comes to mind). The best of many Murphy bed gag I can remember is in the finale to Laurel and Hardy's BE BIG.
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PostTue Dec 09, 2008 12:28 pm

Isn't there some comedy that involves people in both of those rooms sliding the bed back and forth?

I don't understand the point of such an arrangement; seems to me like it means you have to keep two beds' worth of open space, not just one.
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PostTue Dec 09, 2008 1:21 pm

I believe you're thinking of FATTY'S RECKLESS FLING.


Bob
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PostTue Dec 09, 2008 1:48 pm

Sorry, should have been more specific. Isn't there some talkie screwball-type comedy from the 30s or 40s that has a sequence like this?
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PostSat Jan 03, 2009 9:52 am

I must thank you all for such a detailed explanation of the merits of the Murphy Bed, indeed I did know what one was, but, it needed an expert opinion to confirm it. It begets the question, why not make the rooms bigger in the first place, or, why do they cram a car engine into such a small space that nobody can gain access to mend it...? From a design standpoint, they call it progress....mmm!
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PostWed Feb 04, 2009 5:40 am

I was watching, again, I Wake Up Screaming from the Fox Film Noir DVD series, and what happens to my complete astonishment but one of the greatest Murphy bed gags I've ever seen!

I won't describe it because I don't want to spoil it for you ... and it does come as a total surprise, at the end of a very tense scene about 3/4 of the way through.

I don't know how I ever managed to forget this scene after the first time I watched the film, but I definitely won't forget it this time. It's priceless!


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Re: Murphy Beds

PostWed Feb 04, 2009 1:05 pm

dr.giraud wrote:
Rodney wrote:
And a related question -- was there ever a Murphy bed in a film that WASN'T used for comedy?


In the James Bond flick YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.


As another reference to disappearing beds, If my memory serves me well, did not some female get nudged out of the way in a train carriage in 'From Russia With Love', I found it quite funny when I saw that at the cinema, I didn't get another date after that with the girl I was with...
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PostThu Feb 05, 2009 6:06 pm

There's a great murphy beds bit in Mel Brooks's Silent Movie. Brooks's character Funn goes way off the wagon over Bernadette Peters, and winds up on skid row. Funn's so drunk he can't get in the bed! Buster would have approved!
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PostWed Jul 08, 2009 3:08 pm

I'm so happy to see that other people are interested in this topic, as well. Perhaps some of you can help me add to the following list that I've been compiling:

Murphy Beds (and Their Cousins) Throughout Film (and Cartoon) History:

The Burglar-Proof Bed (The American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, July 1900)

Subbubs Surprises the Burglar (Edwin S. Porter, August 1903)

Fatty’s Reckless Fling (Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, March 4, 1915)

Bath Tub Perils (Edwin Frazee, May 27, 1916)

One A.M. (Charlie Chaplin, August 7, 1916)

The Crowd (King Vidor, February 18, 1928)

The Haunted House (Walt Disney, August 1, 1929) (cartoon)

Be Big! (James Parrott, February 7, 1931)

Honeymoon Hotel (Leon Schlesinger Studios, February 17, 1934) (cartoon)

Beware of Barnacle Bill (Dave Fleischer and Willard Bowsky, January 25, 1935) (cartoon)

Annie Oakley (George Stevens, November 28, 1935)

Midnight Blunders (Del Lord, April 21, 1936)

Live, Love and Learn (George Fitzmaurice, October 29, 1937)

Vivacious Lady (George Stevens, May 10, 1938)

Mutts to You (Charley Chase, October 14, 1938)

Porky’s Party (Robert Clampett, June 25, 1938) (cartoon)

Nothing But Pleasure (Jules White, January 19, 1940)

Meet Boston Blackie (Robert Florey, February 20, 1941)

The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, October 18, 1941)

I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone, October 31, 1941)

Hit the Ice (Charles Lamont and Erle C. Kenton, June 2, 1943)

Her Honor the Mare (Izzy Sparber and James Tyer, November 26, 1943) (cartoon)

Detour (Edgar Ulmer, November 30, 1945)

Kitty Kornered (Robert Clampett, June 8, 1946) (cartoon)

Buck Privates Come Home (Charles Barton, April 4, 1947)

Mickey’s Delayed Date (Charles A. Nichols, October 3, 1947) (cartoon)

Little Orphan Airedale (Chuck Jones, October 4, 1947) (cartoon)

Pre-Hysterical Man (Seymour Kneitel and Dave Tendlar, March 26, 1948)

The Hot Scots (Edward Bernds, July 8, 1948)

Shuteye Popeye (Izzy Sparber, October 3, 1952) (cartoon)

The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, December 25, 1952)

Fireman Save My Child (Leslie Goodwins, May 2, 1954)

Phffft (Mark Robson, November 10, 1954)

The Savage Eye (Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, & Joseph Strick, June 6, 1960)

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (Stanley Kramer, November 7, 1963)

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (Norman Taurog, November 6, 1965)

Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! (George Marshall, June 8, 1966)

You Only Live Twice (Lewis Gilbert, June 13, 1967)

The Night They Raided Minsky’s (William Friedkin, December 22, 1968)

Silent Movie (Mel Brooks, June 16, 1976)

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Blake Edwards, December 17, 1976)

Foul Play (Colin Higgins, July 14, 1978)

Union City (Marcus Reichert, September 26, 1980)

The Great Muppet Caper (Jim Henson, June 26, 1981)

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (Jerry Paris, March 29, 1985)

Million Dollar Mystery (Richard Fleischer, June 12, 1987)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis, June 22, 1988)

Spy Hard (Rick Friedberg, May 24, 1996)

Ask the Dust (Robert Towne, March 10, 2006)

What Happens in Vegas (Tom Vaughan, May 9, 2008)
Last edited by Barthesian on Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:25 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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BrianG

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PostWed Jul 08, 2009 4:05 pm

Up until about a year ago, a Residence Inn my wife and I stay at when we visit Louisville had them in their suites. They were very convenient, but over the years got pretty beat up and stopped working. Last year the hotel replaced them with real beds. Having the extra room during the day used to be nice.
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