MURPHY’S LAW – 1986, Rated R


By Tom Doty - For The Floyd County Times



A hard-drinking cop must team with a potty mouthed car thief to find out who murdered his ex-wife/stripper in this action/comedy that also ranks as one of Charles Bronson’s funniest flicks.

The story centers on Jack Murphy. His law is basically “don’t mess with Jack Murphy,” or words to that effect. Unfortunately someone is messing with him and they start by killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend. The police suspect Murphy and arrest him before he can exact his own brand justice(and rough stuff too but what else would you expect form Bronson).

He winds up handcuffed to a young lady, Arabella, whose ability to cuss would put a sailor to shame. Her name is Arabella and her put downs string together colorful metaphors to create curse word filled sentences that are unique and often direct their target to perform actions that are physically impossible.

While Murphy tries to elude his fellow police officers the goal of solving his wife’s murder quickly gets complicated. It is partly due to Arabella weighing him down but his quest is knocked further afield by a rising body count due to an ice cold killer that puts Mr. Bronson to shame. Her name is Joan and she is the toughest lady to adopt that moniker since Ms. Crawford railed against wire hangers in “Mommie Dearest.”

This is a Bronson movie so you now the formula . He will triumph eventually but the ride is enjoyable thanks to the verbal gymnastics between Chuck and Arabella. This isn’t exactly ‘Moonlighting” but he pair do have chemistry and it serves to keep the audience entertained as we go through the plot hoops preceding the final shoot out.

This is one of many flicks Chuck made with director J. lee Thompson. What makes this special is the cast. Kathleen Wilhoite(Twin Peaks) steals most of it as Arabella and Bronson is smart to let her do it. Her dialogue would make a great drinking game with viewers having to polish off a shot of spirits every time she cut loose with a creative insult.

In fact the women rule here with Carrie Snodgress doing an excellent job as the evil Joan. this is one killer that totally gets into her role. You can see the brimming hatred in her eyes whenever she takes out another target and you can bet she will tear a small piece out of Chuck before this is through. The flick also benefits from some excellent character actors which include Robert F. Lyons at his smarmiest and veteran tough guy Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs).

Fun Facts: Joan Jett auditioned for the part of Arabella but lost out . She still managed to form a nice friendship with Bronson.

Best Lines: They all belong to Arabella . Here the few that can be printed.

“Lick a door knob.”

“You snot licking donkey fart.”

“What took you so long butt crust?”

By Tom Doty

For The Floyd County Times

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

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