Variety - 12/18/1985
"...Director Martin Ritt has just the right touch....[A] sweet and homey picture which casts two very decent actors (Sally Field and James Garner) in two very decent roles..."
A charming, low-key romantic comedy, MURPHY'S ROMANCE is full of the small pleasures missing from other pictures of its genre. James Garner, in his first Oscar-nominated performance, is the title character, Murphy. Garner lends his unique, down-home persona to the character while the film's writers endow the character with some memorable lines. Murphy's romance begins when Emma (Field) arrives in the small Arizona town where he lives. With her she brings her son Jake, and a feisty attitude. Though this sounds like a set-up from any number of other film romances, it becomes clear from their first meeting that the director, Martin Ritt, is more interested in his carefully observed setting, and in the comic flirtations between Murphy and Emma flirtations, than in making a conventional picture. In fact, some of the film's strongest comic scenes occur when the locals show off their color, including a hilarious sequence during a bingo game that showcases the amazing support cast. Of course, there is some drama and confrontation, but the focus remains on the setting and the relationship between Murphy and Emma, whose lengthy romance is the clear mark of one of the most highly enjoyable movie courtships ever seen.
In a small Western town, love blossoms between an unlikely pair. Emma Moriarty leaves her attractive but hopelessly irresponsible husband and heads to Arizona with her adolescent son. There she struggles to start a horse ranch with some help from Murphy Jones, an appealing oddball who is several years her senior. A mutual attraction develops, but comic complications arise when Emma's estranged spouse shows up on the ranch and tries to patch things up.