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Murphy's Law (1986)

An action-packed thriller starring Charles Bronson as Jack Murphy, a cop who is running to stay alive long enough to even the score with his wife's killer.

Director:

J. Lee Thompson
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Bronson ... Jack Murphy
Kathleen Wilhoite ... Arabella McGee
Carrie Snodgress ... Joan Freeman
Robert F. Lyons ... Art Penney
Richard Romanus ... Frank Vincenzo
Angel Tompkins ... Jan
Bill Henderson ... Ben Wilcove
James Luisi ... Ed Reineke
Clifford A. Pellow Clifford A. Pellow ... Lieutenant Nachman
Janet MacLachlan ... Dr. Lovell
Lawrence Tierney ... Cameron
Jerome Thor Jerome Thor ... Judge Kellerman
Mischa Hausserman Mischa Hausserman ... Dave Manzarek
Cal Haynes Cal Haynes ... Reese
Hans Howes ... Santana
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Storyline

Charles Bronson plays Jack Murphy a veteran police detective who is framed for the murder of his ex-wife. Although taken into custody, Murphy escapes from the police station handcuffed to a foul-mouthed car thief. Pursued by the police, Murphy must find the real killer before it is too late. Written by Michael A Kortt <mkortt@metz.une.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's a cop, She's a thief, together they're running for their lives See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 April 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La ley de Murphy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,388,907, 20 April 1986, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$9,947,631
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This Charles Bronson movie was theatrically released between between his pictures Death Wish 3 (1985) and Assassination (1987). See more »

Goofs

Murphy and Arabella leave Murphy's friend's cabin (right before he's murdered by Joan Freeman) and that very evening, Arabella sees a newspaper with the heading "Escaped Cop Kills Again". The newspaper even writes that Arabella is his accomplice. However, there's no reason for the police to assume that the murderer was Murphy. Joan Freeman shoots the victim with his own rifle, not Murphy's gun. Moreover, it's highly implausible that the police could even know about a murder in a very remote cabin in the woods, make inquiries and somehow mark Murphy as a suspect, and get the story into the evening papers, all in the space of a few hours. See more »

Quotes

Arabella McGee: You're welcome, dildo-nose.
See more »


Soundtracks

It's Got to Get Better
Written by Jim Cushinery & Valentine McCallum (as Val McCallum)
Courtesy of The Wigs
See more »

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User Reviews

 
He's been framed!
10 February 2006 | by paul_johnrSee all my reviews

After the ridiculous yet entertaining 'Death Wish 3,' Charles Bronson and his fans needed to relax for a while. Fortunately enough, Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson came out in 1986 with the actioner/dark comedy 'Murphy's Law,' whose texture is almost the complete opposite of DW3. While still carrying its fair share of sex, violence, and overall bad taste, 'Murphy's Law' is a light-hearted film by comparison and makes neat changes to Bronson's on-screen persona.

In a workmanlike script by Gail Morgan Hickman (of TV's 'The Equalizer'), Bronson reprises his earlier cop roles as Jack Murphy, a Los Angeles detective who is going to pieces after breaking up with his sex-starved wife. Murphy is a heavy drinker who struggles to get out of bed in the morning; when he does manage to rise, he argues with other detectives on the force and nags his ex (Angel Topkins), who has begun stripping at a local nightclub.

To fulfill Murphy's Law - "if anything can go wrong, it will" - the justice system has released Joan Freeman (Carrie Snodgress), a psychopath whom Murphy arrested for murder ten years before. Dead-set on revenge, Freeman returns to knock off everyone linked to her case, including Murphy and his acquaintances. Sure enough, Murphy is collared for the death of his ex-wife and finds himself in lockup with Arabella McGee (Kathleen Wilhoite), a foul-mouthed young woman whom he just arrested for driving off with his car. Handcuffed to one another, he manages to take McGee hostage and escape from jail. The bulk of 'Murphy's Law' follows Murphy and McGee in their search for the real killer, ticking off an already-livid mob boss (Richard Romanus) in the process.

Like other Bronson films from the 80s, 'Murphy's Law' doesn't boast Oscar-worthy scriptwriting, acting, or technical work. The film is geared towards an average Bronson connoisseur, with Charles quietly sweeping out the trash. But 'Murphy's Law' isn't without heart: Bronson looks very human, with a healthy amount of vulnerability. In what other 80s film does Bronson get arrested, bleed, pass out, have a concussion, make a friend, and even sit down for a sandwich?

Bronson and Kathleen Wilhoite don't have "chemistry" per se, but to watch an odd friendship develop between Murphy and McGee is entertaining in itself. Although Wilhoite is given a ridiculous number of swear words to toss around ("jock itch" and "camel crotch" are two good ones), McGee still comes off as lovable, a girl you'd actually love to hang around and steal cars with. Carrie Snodgress balances the humor of Murphy and McGee with an intense performance as the killer. The supporting cast, including Robert F. Lyons, Bill Henderson, and Richard Romanus, is quite good, although Romanus is guilty of overacting in certain scenes as mob head Frank Vincenzo.

Compared to J. Lee Thompson's other films of the decade, 'Murphy's Law' is above average technically. The film was decently edited by his son Peter and Charles Simmons (although you should watch Vincenzo's robe during the hooker scene) and crisp cinematography was supplied by Alex Phillips Jr., another Thompson mainstay. Of disappointing quality is the music by Marc Donahue and Valentine McCallum, which is synthesized and very repetitive. Wilhoite sings the more pleasing end theme.

Highly recommended for action fans and a must for Bronson collectors, 'Murphy's Law' is available on DVD from MGM Home Entertainment in dual widescreen and standard format with three-language subtitles. To my surprise, the digital transfer is excellent, showing crystal-clear visuals and almost no grain. Murphy's theatrical trailer is included as an extra, which looks shopworn and has Bronson saying "Don't -mess- with Jack Murphy." Fill in the blank yourself.

After 'Murphy's Law,' Bronson and Thompson hit a dry spell with 'Death Wish 4' and 'Messenger of Death.' They ended their collaboration in 1989 with the engaging 'Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects,' Thompson's last film as a director. Bronson's wife Jill Ireland, incidentally, co-produced 'Murphy' with Pancho Kohner.

*** out of 4


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