Murphy’s Romance (1985)
Girl next door Sally Field stars here in a slow moving romance film that works because of the actor playing the title role. Mr. James Garner.
Martin Ritt directs Sally for the third and final time with this Columbia pictures release. The first two being her triumphant Norma Rae as well as Back Roads in 1981. This time out Sally is a single Mom moving to a run down farm/ranch that she intends to fix up and turn into a working ranch for boarding horses. She just needs to overcome a few obstacles to make a go of it.
First off she’s strapped for cash and secondly she has a deadbeat of an ex husband played by Brian Kerwin who would like nothing better than to laze around the new ranch and let her earn the money. With a little luck he might even be welcomed back into the bedroom. Or maybe even the hayloft.
Garner is a much older and wiser man about the small town. He’s a widower who seems to have a way with the ladies. His straight forward style seems to have caught the younger Sally’s eye. Best of all is he knows it. That’s one of the endearing things about this film. The playfulness between the two that lasts throughout the entire running length of 108 minutes.
While no classic there is plenty to recommend here. Best of all is Garner in his only Oscar nominated performance. Every time I try to describe Garner on screen the word naturalness comes forward. It’s a credit to him that he never seemed to be trying hard. It should also be noted that this time a younger woman is interested in an older man. Hollywood is often attacked for having older leading men romancing females young enough to be their daughters.
Brian Kerwin who plays the no good ex was just one year away from starring in one of cinema’s great guilty pleasures, King Kong Lives. If you haven’t seen it give it a shot and if you have you probably should deny that you had a good time doing so.
Canadian born child star Corey Haim plays Sally’s son here and would go on to some success before passing away in 2010. For me he’ll always be one of the stars in The Lost Boys. A film I fondly recall from my younger years.
For trivia fans I noticed that while the lead characters go to the theater to see Friday the 13th part 3 it’s not a 3D presentation as it was back in the day of it’s release.
I also spotted a cranky old character actor named Charles Lane. Hard to believe he’d been in films since the thirties and seems like that’s all he ever played. Cranky mean spirited characters.
With James Garner’s passing this year it was nice to revisit this film. Then again it’s nice to revisit anything with Mr. Garner.