Murphy's Law (1986) from Brainscan and Tuna

Brainscan's thoughts in white:

In the days when Golan and Globus ran Cannon Pictures you knew pretty damn well what you were getting when you walked into the theater. Action. Lots of action. Tough guys, tough gals, bad guys, victims, villains, heroes... those were the staples, the raison d'etre for the film you were watching and for the studio that turned it out.

And Charles Bronson. You got Charles Bronson, a lot of Charles Bronson, kickin' ass and takin' names, or maybe not takin' any names but still kickin' a lot of ass. Usually played a cop who had stepped outside the law, most often falsely accused, sometimes with all good intentions. Common man against The Man, that's what Charles Bronson was... a Dirty Harry for all seasons.

Charles Bronson played Murphy in Murphy's Law (1986). It could have been another 10 to Midnight, and that would have been sad because it had been done and wasn't so very good the first time, either. But Murphy is much better.

A good part of the reason for the quality of Murphy is the screenplay. Oh, there is some silliness and a couple of scenes where things happen only because if they didn't the plot would have gone in another, less dramatic direction. But by and large, the story is more than sorta okay and the dialogue is really quite respectable in moving the story along and in filling in the characters' lives so that, holy moses, you actually care what happens to them, the big lugs.

But what really elevates Murphy's Law above the average Golan and Globus production is the cast. A young Kathleen Wilhoite, at the beginning of her career, adds a youthful bounce to things as she plays off Bronson's world-weariness. And Carrie Snodgrass, in the middle of her own career, brings gravitas to the role of a professional killer who likes her work a bit too much. They are both terrific in this movie. The very last scene where Carrie's character goes from plaintive to desperate to vindictive in the span of 60 seconds is worth the price of admission on its own.


see the main commentary

Seeing as how this a G-and-G production you can expect some T, a little A...but no, no, no B. Only question is, who supplies the T & A.

  • Answer is: Angel Thompkins. I could write volumes about Angel, how she was in Playboy several times in the 70's, how she played the vilest role in the history of cinema... that of a 20-something teacher who seduces her own high-school student played by Dennis the Menace (the horror, the horror) she did a shit-load of guest shots on TV shows and, finally, how her career just petered out as the youthful glow left her face. Twas an above-average career, to be sure, but not the one I suppose she imagined when she moved to Hollywood. Anyway, Angel plays a stripper. You get to see her boobs and bum when she strips the first time, her boobs covered with little shiny pasties the second time. Bronson's character has history with Angel's. So he hangs out at the strip club. But he doesn't enjoy himself one little bit. Disgusted and bored is he. Bottom line here: it's okay to go to titty bars as long as you don't like it when you're there.
  • Kathy Wilhoite gets real close to giving up an unintentional hootie. She's in a tiny, loose-fitting bra and almost lets a nip out on a couple of occasions as she pretends to seduce a security guard.
  • Carrie Snodgrass is in a bra as she drowns a guy. Grabs him by the thighs and dunks him under the water til he drowns. Both of Carrie's arms, together, are thinner than one of this guy's thighs but still she pulls this off without fuss or muss. I'd have loved to have taught a course on Physics and Physiology in Hollywood, but those days are gone.
  • Last up in the exposure dept is a gal who gets all friendly with a bad guy before Charles and Kathy interrupt them. Pretty gal. She shows us her bum in a thong and a good part of one breast but avoids giving up the major goodies. First collage shows a sequence of bum and almost-hooter shots, whereas the second is a montage pieced together from four frames showing off her bum again.
  • Now, I would stop there but while I was piecing together the collage I recognized the woman. She goes by Lisa Vice in the credits and IMDb says it's her only role. Well, maybe as Lisa Vice, but as Lisa Lorient she played one of the main characters in Pretty Smart, also made in 1986. She and Lisa Vice are the same woman, right? Well, I think she is.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Theatrical trailer(s)

  • Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

So far as renting Murphy's Law is concerned it gets down to this: if you watch one movie a week and haven't seen the original Rear Window or Silence of the Lambs or Apocalypse Now, then pass on Murphy's Law until you've run out of A-list movies. When you get to the B list, however, put this one near the top. IMDb says 5 out of 10. I put it a full point higher

Tuna's thoughts in yellow:

Murphy's Law (1986) is a Golan-Globus actioner starring Charles Bronson as Jack Murphy, a divorced police detective with a drinking problem and an attitude. As the film opens, a young thief named Arabella McGee steals Murphy's car. Although she drives it into a showroom window while trying to elude Murphy, she manages to escape after kicking him in the groin. Murphy spots Arabella in a store the next day, and arrests her.

Meanwhile, he finds his final divorce decree in his mailbox. His ex, Angel Tompkins, is now stripping, and living with the owner of the strip club, so he heads to his ex-wife's club, and gets in an argument with her and her boyfriend. What he doesn't know is that an insane woman he arrested and got got committed has been released, is after him for revenge, and has the perfect opportunity when she becomes aware of Murphy's strained, publicly bitter relationship with his ex. The psychotic women kills Murphy's ex-wife and her new lover, and frames Murphy for the double homicide. Murphy is arrested, and ends up cuffed to ...

... to Arabella, the girl who stole his car, who is now waiting for arraignment. Murphy engineers an escape and, of course, has to take Arabella with him. The two are now wanted for murder, and have to try to solve the crime to save themselves. That gets more difficult as more people die.

This has always been a personal favorite film. Bronson essentially plays Bronson, and the plot alone is not enough of a reason to watch the film, but the performance of Kathleen Wilhoite as Arabella (and a pretty good job by Carrie Snodgress as the insane villain) makes it worth your time. Arabella has the most creative potty mouth in the history of film. My personal favorite from her, and one that I use often, is, "You snot-licking donkey fart." The final climactic scene also has one of the great liners of all time, but I won't spoil that one.

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics, possibly even less, depending on just how far below five.

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