The one where he runs into a Manhattan restaurant and steals fries from a stranger’s plate, saying “Nobody will ever believe you,” before disappearing into the New York night. The one where he takes over bar-tending duties at a nightclub with members of Wu-Tang Clan, serving only tequila. The one where he turns up at a Scottish students party and does the dishes before leaving. The one where, having been told by producers on the set of ‘Groundhog Day’ that he needs an assistant to help him with communication, he hires a deaf mute.
The stories of Bill Murray‘s eccentricity are legendary. A quick Google search will show you what I’ve mentioned is merely the tip of the iceberg. For many actors, such tales could threaten to eclipse their career. But when you have a body of work as impressive as Murray’s, there’s not much chance of that. Murray has starred in some of the funniest films of the 80’s and 90’s. ‘Caddyshack’, ‘Ghostbusters’, ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’, ‘Scrooged’, ‘Groundhog Day’, ‘Ed Wood’. Towards the end of the latter decade he began his working relationship with Wes Anderson which has proved incredibly fruitful, with Murray appearing in every one of Anderson’s films from ‘Rushmore’ onwards. In the 00’s he employed his trademark deadpan expression to more dramatic roles like ‘Lost In Translation’ and ‘Broken Flowers’. It’s an incredible C.V., and one that will grow next year now he has (eventually) agreed to take a cameo role in Paul Feig‘s ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot.
But ‘Quick Change’ is one film that is often unfairly overlooked. Based on the novel by Jay Cronley and released in 1990, Murray stars as Grimm, who dresses as a clown to pull off the perfect robbery of a New York bank. Taking the entire bank hostage, he uses the titular quick change to trick his way out of the bank, escaping with his girlfriend Phyllis (Geena Davis) and dim-witted brother Loomis (Randy Quaid). Their seemingly perfect escape is scuppered by mishap after mishap, as New York itself seems determined not to let them leave., and they are pursued relentlessly by dogged Chief Rotzinger (Jason Robards).
The escalating chaos that impedes the three would-be escapees could become repetitive, but the three leads ensure this doesn’t happen, and things are livened up by early roles for the likes of Stanley Tucci and a hilarious turn by Tony Shalhoub. Robards superbly parodies his gruff image and there are a few surprising touches of surrealism.
Not only is it a perfect example of the sardonic comedy that is his trademark, ‘Quick Change’ is also notable for being, to date, the only film Murray has ever directed (along with Howard Franklin).