Friday, May 15, 2009

5/13/09: Murphy's Romance (1985)

GRAB BAG
Today's choice is actually a holdover from last week's AFCA marathon, a late recommendation by Huey Callison and Peter Boulding. As a confirmed chick-flick fan, I've always been curious about this romantic comedy, released when Sally Field was nearly 40 (she plays 33) and co-star James Garner was 57 (he plays 60). So in the movie, they are separated by nearly three decades, while in reality, it's 17 years. Given that Sally Field is the only pictured star in the film's original movie poster (shown above), Murphy's Romance is a curious title for this picture—especially considering that there's no actual romancing going on with him until the final couple of minutes. Poster notwithstanding (the DVD cover is a much more accurate representation of the film), Garner is pivotal to the story, and he deserved the Oscar nod for Best Actor he received for his portrayal of the rugged but suave Arizona pharmacist Murphy Jones. It's basically a small-town love-triangle romcom with a modern Western setting, which renders the movie's jazzy, sax-drenched soundtrack (by Carole King) somewhat odd, although not unpleasant. This is a very light but charming tale with two exceptional lead actors and solid direction from Martin Ritt, whose camera seems to be having a love affair with Sally Field's jeans-covered bottom. Rating: 4/5.

2 comments:

Joan said...

You wrote:
"So in the movie, they are separated by nearly three decades, while in reality, it's 17 years."

This reminds me of "The Graduate" where Anne Bancroft is plays a member of "the older generation" in relation to Dustin Hoffman's character, when in reality, she was only 6 years older than Hoffman.

I haven't seen "Murphy's Romance" in years. I think I saw it on VHS shortly after it was released. But one thing that sticks out in my memory is a scene in a drugstore where Field's character is upset about something and is attempting to cry a bit on James Garner's shoulder. Instead of being sympathetic, he scolds her with something that ends, "And I'm not your damn Dutch uncle!" and then walks out on her. I think this was supposed to be humorous, and maybe he was trying to snap her into standing on her own two feet, but I found it jarring and cold.

Does my 30+ year memory of this scene bear any resemblance to what you saw, and if so, did you react differently than I did?

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He was making it clear he wasn't interested in being a father (or uncle figure) He wanted a roamntic relationship.

Though gruff, It was a sweet moment actually.