Tag Archives: Richard Romanus

Murphy’s Law (1986)

murphys law

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Psycho frames arresting cop.

Jack Murphy (Charles Bronson) is an aging cop who drinks too much and has lost a bit of an edge as he even ends up getting taken advantage of in embarrassing fashion by a young female carjacker named Arabella (Kathleen Wilhoite). Now he is being stalked by Joan Freeman (Carrie Snodgress) a criminal he put into jail ten years ago, but is now free and out for revenge. When she frames him for the murder of his ex-wife Jan (Angel Tompkins) he goes on the run. The problem is that he is now handcuffed to that same gal he arrested for carjacking and not only is there a big difference in their ages, but they also can’t agree on anything nor get along.

This is a fun and lively action flick that manages to put a new spin on the Bronson formula. The pairing of Chuck with a young actress is great and the main reason this is so diverting although the idea of having female psychotic wasn’t bad either. The action is pretty good including a nifty chase inside an airport as well as the exciting climactic sequence filmed inside the famous Bradbury Building that takes full advantage of the building’s multi-level balconies in its central atrium.

Wilhoite is peppy and engaging and seems to have no problem holding her own with a much older and more established actor. The wide variety of insulting adjectives that she uses on everyone and anybody is fun although it ends up getting a bit overplayed.

Bronson looks tired and washed-up, but it works great with his character and I thought this was one of his best latter career performances and when he needs to he can still kick-some-ass which is also fun. My only complaint is the character’s tendency to somehow ‘humiliate’ certain people by implying that they are gay which makes him seem homophobic and the film dated and out-of-touch.

Snodgress is excellent in a rare turn for her as a heavy. The age lines on her plain, but still uniquely attractive face has a certain odd sexual appeal especially as the blood of her victim’s splatters across it. The only issue I had with her character is that she enters one of her victim’s homes without a weapon of her own and instead uses the victim’s own rifle which is hanging on the wall to shoot him and although she is shown loading it with bullets that she apparently brought along my question would be how would she know they were the right bullets for that type of gun especially since she had never been to that place before?

Richard Romanus plays Frank Vincenzo another one of Jack’s nemesis and I got a kick out of his sobbing when Jack plays a game of Russian roulette with him. The character is also unique in that he wears a very visible hearing aid, which is interesting to one extent, but it never comes into play so I wasn’t sure why it was put in.

Despite some interesting variations it still ends up being rather one-dimensional and mechanical. It is entertaining to watch, but nothing memorable. Bronson’s wife Jill Ireland does not appear here, but gets listed as the film’s co-producer.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 18, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated R

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Studio: The Cannon Group

Available: VHS, DVD

Sitting Ducks (1980)

sitting ducks 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Running from the mob.

Simon (Michael Emil) and Sidney (Zach Norman) are two average guys with vastly different temperaments who decide to rip-off the mob by stealing their entire day’s collections. They then hide the money in the tires of their car while driving off with it to Florida where they hope to catch a chartered flight that will take them to Costa Rica. Along the way they meet up with two ditzy ladies (Irene Cagen, Patrice Townsend) as well as a chauffeur (Richard Romanus) who dreams of being a singer.

Michael Emil, who is the brother of the director Henry Jaglom, is a very poor actor and comes off as a third-rate Woody Allen. He talks incessantly about all his neurotic problems in a monotone style that has no voice inflections or facial gestures and ends up becoming more boring than funny and he is easily outperformed by his co-star Norman. Townsend, the director’s then wife, is not much better. She shows no ability at creating a character and seems to just mouth all her lines while having this big smile plastered on her face. The overall production has an amateurish look and the story itself seems like two movies rolled into one. The first part starts out like an intriguing crime caper and then the second part becomes this free spirited road movie. It would have worked better had they taken just one of the story lines to its satisfying conclusion instead of having two unsatisfying half stories. The set-up is great, but then doesn’t go anywhere with it and the ‘big’ twist that occurs near the film’s final fifteen minutes doesn’t work and has a bunch of loopholes in it that are a mile wide.

I did like the film’s free-form style that is lacking in many of today’s Hollywood produced movies that have too much of a rapid fire pace. The characters all have a wide assortment of fun quirks and their offbeat conversations are amusing. Richard Romanus, as the group’s chauffeur and struggling musician, comes off best and his songs aren’t bad either and the scene where Simon and Sidney try to have an ‘important’ discussion while walking through a field of cackling chickens is a gem.

This forerunner to the independent film movement has a few good quirky moments and characters, but it never comes together enough to be completely satisfying. Although overall it is still enough to find enjoyable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 4, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Henry Jaglom

Studio: International Rainbow

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video