Murphy’s Romance (1985)

Murphy's Romance (1985)

Taglines: Just when you think you’ve found the right guy, someone even worse comes along.

Emma is a divorced woman with a teen-aged son who moves into a small town and tries to make a go of a horse ranch. Murphy is the widowed town druggist who steers business her way. Things are going along predictably until her ex-husband shows up, needing a place to stay. The three of them form an intricate circle, with Emma’s son liking Murphy but desperately wanting his father back.

Murphy’s Romance is a 1985 American romantic comedy film directed by Martin Ritt. The screenplay by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch was based on the 1980 novella by Max Schott. The film stars Sally Field, James Garner, Brian Kerwin, and Corey Haim, and was produced by Laura Ziskin for Field’s production company Fogwood Films. The film’s theme song, “Love for the Last Time,” is performed by Carole King.

Murphy's Romance (1985)

About the Story

Emma Moriarty (Sally Field) is a 33-year-old, divorced mother who moves to a rural Arizona town to make a living by training and boarding horses. She becomes friends with the town’s druggist (pharmacist), Murphy Jones (James Garner), but a romance between them seems unlikely due to Murphy’s age and because Emma allows her ex-husband, Bobby Jack Moriarty (Brian Kerwin), to move back in with her and their 12-year-old son, Jake (Corey Haim).

Emma struggles to make ends meet, but is helped by Murphy, an idiosyncratic widower who drives an otherwise immaculate antique automobile decorated with several political bumper slogan stickers Murphy terms his “causes”. While refusing to help her outright with charity or personal loan, Murphy buys a horse and pays to board it with Emma, while encouraging others to do the same.

He also introduces Emma to the town’s local politicians and provides much-needed emotional support for Emma as well as Jake, who is looking for a father figure to emulate. A rivalry soon develops between Murphy and Bobby Jack. This contest of wills continues until a character shows up from Bobby Jack’s recent past that surprises everyone, while forcing Murphy and Emma to reevaluate the nature of their relationship.

Murphy's Romance Movie Poster (1985)

Murphy’s Romance (1985)

Directed by: Martin Ritt
Starring: Sally Field, James Garner, Brian Kerwin, Corey Haim, Dennis Burkley, Georgann Johnson, Dortha Duckworth, Anna Levine
Screenplay by: Harriet Frank Jr.
Production Design by: Joel Schiller
Cinematography by: William A. Fraker
Film Editing by: Sidney Levin
Costume Design by: Joe I. Tompkins
Set Decoration by: Rick Gentz
Music by: Carole King
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 1985