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Murphy's Romance Reviews

In an age in which screen romance inevitably means teenagers in various states of undress, MURPHY'S ROMANCE is a welcome relief, a warm--if not entirely successful--portrait of two people falling in love. Emma Moriarity (Sally Field) is a divorced woman who moves with 13-year-old son Jake (Corey Haim) to a ranch on the outskirts of a rural Arizona town where she hopes to start her own horse-training business. When Emma meets the town pharmacist, Murphy Jones (James Garner), the two gradually build a comfortable friendship until she is unhappily surprised by a visit from her irresponsible ex-husband, Bobby Jack (Brian Kerwin). As Bobby Jack becomes increasingly annoying to Emma, she finds herself turning more and more to Murphy. MURPHY'S ROMANCE builds the friendship between Field and Garner in a slow and wholly natural manner, a refreshing change from the "instant" love stories that abound in modern cinema. Garner's performance is thoroughly likable and earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination. Field, though she gives a spirited performance, is not entirely believable. Director Martin Ritt and screenwriters Harriet Frank, Jr., and Irving Ravetch rely too heavily on little vignette sequences to move the narrative, a technique that quickly becomes tedious and predictable. William Fraker also received an Oscar nomination for his cinematography.