Murph the Surf (1975)

PG | 101 mins | Drama | 26 March 1975

Director:

Marvin Chomsky

Writer:

E. Arthur Kean

Cinematographer:

Michel Hugo

Editor:

Howard Smith

Production Designer:

James D. Vance

Production Company:

Caruth C. Byrd Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film begins with the opening lines: “This film is based on actual events,” and “October 29, 1964.” End credits contain the following information: “Allan Dale Kuhn was released from Riker’s Island Prison after serving his full sentence. He is currently living in northern California”; “Jack Roland Murphy was released from Riker’s Island Prison after serving his full sentence. He was later convicted of subsequent crimes and is currently serving a life sentence in Raiford State Penitentiary, State of Florida”; “We wish to express our thanks to: The Florida Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services Division of Corrections, Florida State Prison; Miami Police Department; Miami Beach Police Department; North Bay Village Police Department; Slaton Chevrolet of Ft. Lauderdale. The special jet boat was built for Caruth C. Byrd Productions, Inc. by the Thunderbird Products Corporation.” Also, “Names and characterizations of persons other than Murph the Surf and Allan Kuhn have been changed to protect the innocent.”
       The first part of the film is a series of flashbacks from the New York City museum robbery to the Miami events leading up to it.
       ”The Great Star of India” robbers Allan Kuhn, Jack Murphy, and Roger Clark signed over all film, book, magazine, and newspaper rights to Irving A. Fein, the executive producer of comedian Jack Benny’s television shows, the 4 Oct 1963 DV reported. Fein planned to produce a film for $4 million, but the project remained in limbo until the 17 Apr 1972 HR announced that screenwriter Allan Weiss’s new production company, Allan Productions, Inc., had acquired the rights to “the ‘Murph the Surf’ story” and was currently interviewing Murphy at Raiford Prison in FL, ... More Less

The film begins with the opening lines: “This film is based on actual events,” and “October 29, 1964.” End credits contain the following information: “Allan Dale Kuhn was released from Riker’s Island Prison after serving his full sentence. He is currently living in northern California”; “Jack Roland Murphy was released from Riker’s Island Prison after serving his full sentence. He was later convicted of subsequent crimes and is currently serving a life sentence in Raiford State Penitentiary, State of Florida”; “We wish to express our thanks to: The Florida Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services Division of Corrections, Florida State Prison; Miami Police Department; Miami Beach Police Department; North Bay Village Police Department; Slaton Chevrolet of Ft. Lauderdale. The special jet boat was built for Caruth C. Byrd Productions, Inc. by the Thunderbird Products Corporation.” Also, “Names and characterizations of persons other than Murph the Surf and Allan Kuhn have been changed to protect the innocent.”
       The first part of the film is a series of flashbacks from the New York City museum robbery to the Miami events leading up to it.
       ”The Great Star of India” robbers Allan Kuhn, Jack Murphy, and Roger Clark signed over all film, book, magazine, and newspaper rights to Irving A. Fein, the executive producer of comedian Jack Benny’s television shows, the 4 Oct 1963 DV reported. Fein planned to produce a film for $4 million, but the project remained in limbo until the 17 Apr 1972 HR announced that screenwriter Allan Weiss’s new production company, Allan Productions, Inc., had acquired the rights to “the ‘Murph the Surf’ story” and was currently interviewing Murphy at Raiford Prison in FL, where the inmate was serving a double life sentence for murder. The following year, Dallas, TX, financier Caruth C. Byrd bought the film rights to the gem heist, the 7 Nov 1973 Var noted, but his writer, E. Arthur Kean, was basing the script on a treatment written by Kuhn, not Murphy. The proposed budget was $1.5 million. The 29 Nov 1973 HR stated further that principal photography would begin 7 Jan 1974 in Miami, FL, and then move to New York City and Honolulu, HI. Two months later, the 29 Jan 1974 HR noted that filming was underway in Miami for four weeks, but the production would then move to Hollywood, CA, for interiors. The 15 Apr 1974 HR announced that principal photography on the film, then titled Star of India, ended that day in Honolulu. Roger Clark, who served as an accessory during the Star of India robbery, was not included as a character in the film.
       According to the 26 Dec 1973 DV, a recording trio called the Feminine Touch was hired to sing two songs in Star of India. The 7 Jan 1974 Box also reported that actor Robert Conrad’s daughter, Nancy Conrad, would make her motion picture debut, portraying “Edna.”
       Retitled Murph the Surf, the motion picture was screened for three weeks, beginning 9 Aug 1974, in Miami, Coral Gables, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, the 1 Aug 1974 HR noted. The film grossed $111,386 and prompted American International Pictures (AIP) to acquire it for distribution, according to the 2 Dec 1974 Box. By the time AIP released the film in Dallas, TX, New Orleans, LA, and Washington, D.C. on 26 Mar 1975, the new title was Live a Little, Steal a Lot, the 7 Apr 1975 Box reported. The 9 Apr 1975 MPHPD complained about the continuing title changes, which included, at one point, Allan and Murph the Surf. By the time the film opened in New York City, however, the title had reverted to Murph the Surf, the 10 Jun 1975 LAHExam reported. On the day before the film’s release, Allan Kuhn toured New York’s American Museum of Natural History, where the original gem theft took place, and pulled a replica of the Star of India out of his pocket as a publicity stunt.

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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Jan 1974.
---
Box Office
2 Dec 1974.
---
Box Office
7 Apr 1975.
---
Box Office
16 Dec 1974
p. 4743.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1963.
---
Daily Variety
26 Dec 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1974
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1974
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1975
p. 6.
LAHExam
10 Jun 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 May 1975
p. 13.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Apr 1975.
---
New York Times
12 Jun 1975
p. 30.
Variety
7 Nov 1973.
---
Variety
4 Sep 1974
p. 20.
Variety
2 Apr 1975
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Caruth C. Byrd presents
An American International Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Prod sd mixer
Rerec mixer
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Looping ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod secy
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Allan and Murph the Surf
Live a Little, Steal a Lot
Star of India
Release Date:
26 March 1975
Premiere Information:
Miami, Coral Gables, and Fort Lauderdale, FL opening: 9 August 1974
Production Date:
January--15 April 1974 in Miami Beach, FL, New York City, Los Angeles, CA, and Honolulu, HI
Copyright Claimant:
Caruth C. Byrd Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 February 1975
Copyright Number:
LP46555
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision Equipment
Duration(in mins):
101
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

On the night of 29 October, 1964, Miami Beach, Florida, hustlers Allan Dale Kuhn and Jack Roland “Murph the Surf” Murphy break into New York City’s American Museum of Natural History to steal the valuable “Star of India” sapphire and other precious gems. Sometime earlier, their friendship begins at a beach hotel, where both men provide swimming lessons, massages, and “stud” service to wealthy women, as well as steal their jewelry. When Jack sells one of his jewels to Allan for $10,000, he discovers that his partner is in a much higher bracket of thievery, despite his humble apartment. Allan lets Jack accompany him to a meeting with local black market buyer, Max “the Eye,” who pays Allan $20,000 for the jewel that Jack sold him for $10,000. Later, at Max’s beachside estate, Max informs Allan that a man in Peru is willing to pay a huge amount of money for the 563-carat Star of India, the world’s largest black sapphire. Over the next few weeks, Allan and Jack spend more time together, surfing and dating women. Allan falls in love with Ginny Eaton, a former flight attendant, but she loves Jack, despite his poor treatment of her, so Allan settles for an on-again-off-again relationship with Sharon Kagel, a high-class prostitute. Allan also teaches Jack how to evaluate jewels and find their flaws. He takes him on a speedboat ride through the wealthy section of Biscayne Bay, identifying the people who live in the beachside estates and the jewelry they own. One day, a local insurance man, Bucks, hires Allan and Jack to rob a mansion, but during the break-in they set off a silent alarm, which alerts policeman ... +


On the night of 29 October, 1964, Miami Beach, Florida, hustlers Allan Dale Kuhn and Jack Roland “Murph the Surf” Murphy break into New York City’s American Museum of Natural History to steal the valuable “Star of India” sapphire and other precious gems. Sometime earlier, their friendship begins at a beach hotel, where both men provide swimming lessons, massages, and “stud” service to wealthy women, as well as steal their jewelry. When Jack sells one of his jewels to Allan for $10,000, he discovers that his partner is in a much higher bracket of thievery, despite his humble apartment. Allan lets Jack accompany him to a meeting with local black market buyer, Max “the Eye,” who pays Allan $20,000 for the jewel that Jack sold him for $10,000. Later, at Max’s beachside estate, Max informs Allan that a man in Peru is willing to pay a huge amount of money for the 563-carat Star of India, the world’s largest black sapphire. Over the next few weeks, Allan and Jack spend more time together, surfing and dating women. Allan falls in love with Ginny Eaton, a former flight attendant, but she loves Jack, despite his poor treatment of her, so Allan settles for an on-again-off-again relationship with Sharon Kagel, a high-class prostitute. Allan also teaches Jack how to evaluate jewels and find their flaws. He takes him on a speedboat ride through the wealthy section of Biscayne Bay, identifying the people who live in the beachside estates and the jewelry they own. One day, a local insurance man, Bucks, hires Allan and Jack to rob a mansion, but during the break-in they set off a silent alarm, which alerts policeman Hopper Magee. As they flee the grounds and escape in Allan’s speedboat, Magee calls ahead to the Biscayne Bay patrol boats, but Allan’s knowledge of bridges and narrow waterways lets them evade their pursuers. Later, Allan, Jack, Ginny, and Sharon sail to the Bahamas and check into an exclusive hotel. Using a duplication device, Allan creates a master key from their room key, and they steal jewelry from other guests. Returning to Miami, they drop a jewelry-filled plastic bag into the water outside the marina for safekeeping. Magee and another policeman arrest both men as they dock, but there is no evidence to hold them in jail. When Allan, Jack, and Ginny take Sharon to the airport for one of her out-of-town clients, Allan makes a last-minute decision to take another plane to New York City and steal the Star of India and other valuable gems at the Museum of Natural History. At a hotel, Allan throws a party, and becomes disturbed by the way Jack ignores Ginny, slipping away with another girl named Edna. Later, Allan, Jack, Ginny, and Edna’s roommate, Sally Nash, visit the museum, where Allan and Jack determine its weak spots and unlock a window. That night, Allan and Jack rappel down a rope from the roof to the unlocked window, break into the protective glass cases, and steal the gems. Expecting an alarm, they save the huge sapphire for last and prepare to hurry back up the rope, but the museum’s management allowed the alarm wiring and batteries to corrode. Both men are shocked to find nobody responding to their crime. They return to Miami and play marbles with the jewels on the carpet of their hotel room. The next day, Special Agent Arnie Holcomb and his men raid the hotel room and find nothing. However, since they know Allan and Jack were in New York City during the robbery, they arrest them. Meanwhile, New York County Assistant District Attorney David Hauser tells his men he wants the jewels back at all costs. When Avery, Allan’s attorney, bails him and Jack out, Special Agent Holcomb immediately re-arrests them. Other federal agents arrest Ginny because she held Allan’s briefcase on the airplane from New York City to Miami. Though one policeman, Sgt. Bernasconi, tries to implicate her as an accessory, Ginny remains quiet out of loyalty to Jack, and Bernasconi is forced to release her. Allan and Jack throw a party at a bar and are treated as heroes. When Ginny arrives, she is disturbed to find Jack making love to another woman. Jack tells Ginny he is leaving her because he will probably go to prison, but he will assure she is financially secure. Ginny leaves, despite Allan’s attempt to catch her eye. When he later goes to her room, he finds Ginny dead from an overdose of barbituates, along with a note telling Jack she is doing what he wanted. Mourning her death and tired of Jack’s callousness, Allan takes a deal offered by Asst. D.A. Braun: only one year in prison in return for all the stolen jewels. Jack objects, but since Allan is the only one who knows where the jewels are hidden, there is nothing Jack can do. Both men take the deal. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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