'Murphy's Romance' is cute and cuddly
Long-distance lovers face uphill
By John Shea
Y OU LOVED HER as the Flying
Nun, cheered for her in Norma
Rae and cried for her in Places in the
Heart. and now she's back. Sally Field
is here to win you over again, starring
with James Garner in Martin Ritt's
new film, Murphy's Romance.
Murphy's Romance is the story of
Emma Moriarity (Field), a recently
divorced woman who takes her child
and moves from California to a small
town in Texas. Trying to make a
living by boarding horses, Emma has
a tough time making ends meet. While
struggling, she meets the local phar-
macist, Murphy Jones (James Gar-I
ner), a friendly man with old-
fashioned morals and beliefs. Emma
is impressed at how Murphy stood up
to city hall over unfair parking tickets
and soon the two develop an affection
for one another. Emma is finally
learning how to live without her
husband; and Murphy, whose wife
passed away several yers ago, is
learning how to love again. However.
their relationship is barely rolling
when matters get greatly com-
plicated. Emma's ex-husband, Billy
Jack (Brian Kerwin) shows up at her
door. He is a slob and a parasite, bu
Emma doesn't have the heart to turn
Typical conflict, sure enough, and
the story is so predictable that we
know how it's going to end in the first
five minutes. But Harriet Frank Jr.
and Irving Ravetch's script is both
clever and perceptive of small town
life and the people who live there.
Frank and Ravetch manage to keep
us entertained, and there are some
very touching moments, even though
they at time border on being too cute.
Sal/v field and James Garner cut a rug in 'Murphy 's Romance.
IN A MOVIE without laser beams
and blazing machine guns, the ac-
ting has to be especially good, or else
the movie is a flop. The cast holds up
its part nicely. James Garner, who
was a surprise Best Actor nominee,
lends his character both ruggedness
and tenderness. This is seen through
his most prized possession-a bright
red Model-T-which is covered with
bumper stickers of his many causes
("No Nukes," "Save the Whales").
There is a certain honesty and integrity
that Garner has which makes his
character all the more endearing, not
to mention believable. Garner hasn't
done much since The Rockford Files,
but- with an Academy Award
nomination, one can expect to see
more of him soon. It is a pleasure to
see Garner at work, and his
nomination was richly deserved.
Sally Field is undeniably one of the
best actresses in motion pictures
today, and she gives a good perfor-
mance in Romance. Nobody in
Hollywood can puff their cheeks or
play "down-and-out" better than
Field. But the reason why the
Academy didn't call her name last
week was because she's taken the
cute motif to its farthest limits and
beyond. I'm not suggesting that Miss
Field go out and play a child molester,
but the time has come for her to shed
her 'I'm a nice person' image and try
more challenging roles. Cute is
bankable, but it becomes stale after a
Brian Kerwin is excellent as Em-
ma's pathetic ex-husband. He plays
Billy Jack with a lightness that says,
"Hey, don't take me too seriously." In
the course of this movie, Kerwin
cheats at - cards, steals money from
Emma and impregnates his new
girlfriend, and yet there's a part of us
that still likes him; Kerwin does the
near impossible job of evoking sym-
pathy from us.
Director Martin Ritt last worked
with Field on Norma Rae, an enor-
mously popular film which won Field
her first Oscar. As with Norma Rae,
Ritt directs this movie in a very laid-
back style. Not once is there a tense
moment and the slow-panning shots
which dominate the film are as slow
paced as the town itself. Ritt deserves
credit for letting the characters and
the story take over. He creates the
proper atmosphere and Field and
Garner do the rest.
Murphy's Romance is a movie that
dares to be both cute and predictable.
The chemistry between the two stars
is lukewarm at best and there are
times when the movie comes
perilously close to drowning in its own
cuteness. But the performances are
good and there's an easy-goingness to
this picture that's charming in its own
way. If you're not in the mood for a
slice-and-dice movie, and have no
special desire to be mentally
stimulated, then hop along, partner.
You'll find Murphy's Romance to be a
most pleasant ride.
By Caroline Muller.
I didn't want to do it but I got too
I had to call you up in the middle
of the night
I know it's awfully hard to make
S0, YOU'VE come to that point.
You've finally found a relation-
ship that "works" for you. Works,
that is, when you're together. Now
you have to go back to living miles
apart face with such questions as
"When will I see you again?" or "Do I
want to see you again?"
No matter whether the object of af-
fection is minutes away, hours away,
or half a world away, it's all the
same-long distance romance. Such
romances are doomed to failure, ac-
cording to social psychologists. Most
students, however, see the commit-
ment as a strengthening, growing
process which works out well, and
leaves time for studying.
LSA Senior Richard Frank, who
visits his girlfriend every other
weekend in Southfield, says "even the
normal problem's become magnified"
because of the cost of long distance
phone calls and the gap in com-
"You have to work on it," he says,
"and it may require extra work." The
hardest part is that "the person
you're closest to is the farthest
away... it can't get much harder." On
the whole, Frank feels his four-year,
long-distance relationship has grown
stronger, and saved him from com-
peting in the 'singles scene' on campus.
For architecture junior Bob An-
drus, whose girlfriend is living in
Brazil for the year, the commun-
cation gap is the largest problem of
the 21? year-old relationship. "It takes
a week for me to even get a letter
down there, and a week for her to send
a letter back, so there's a two-week
gap before I can read the answers to
my letters," he said. Both are
originally from Grand Rapids, and
since Andrus left that city for Ann Ar-
bor, their relationship has been "long-
distance," but now, he said, he's
"grown to miss her more."
"It's given me time to reevaluate
our relationship," he said. "To sit
back in a very objective way, to look
at the relationship and say, 'Hey, is
this what I really want?' I could
recommend it for anyone who's had a
Y ET DESPITE the positive
outlook from students,
psychological research suggests that
generally, the odds are against long-
distance relationships becoming
anything permanent. Paula Nieden-
thal, teaching assistant in the Univer-
sity's psychology department, cites
two lines of research which scientists
have conducted to examine the pros
and cons of a long-distance relation-
ship. One, the "Propinquity Factor,"
shows that people who live close
together tend to get involved. Thus,
the people involved aren't in close en-
dissolve, because each partner willt
start sharing experiences with the
people closest to them, and willI
become involved with the peoplet
currently sharing their 'space.'
The second line of research, byI
Robert Zajonc, formerly with thel
University's Psychology Department,t
suggests a 'Mere Exposure Effect.'
Professor Zajonc exposed subjects to
nonsense syllables, and concluded1
that the people grew to like the ones
they were most frequently exposed to.t
This works with faces also, Nieden-t
thal says. Thus, by not being exposed
to a person over a time, you tend tot
lose the familiarity, and affectiont
Of course, the experiments do not1
necessarily apply to individual cases,t
and a social psychologist could never1
predict with absolute certainty that a
certain relationship would failt
because the persons were going to be
separated for a time. These results1
simply show that the odds are againstr
And sometimes long-distancet
relationships don't work out. When
Ken Koceski came to the University in
1983 as a freshman, his two-year
girlfriend from home went to1
Michigan State. They broke up in'
February of 1984.
"I thought I could have handled it..'
but we were growing in different
directions," he said. The relation-
ship had allowed for more
freedom-too much freedom," he
said. "I just thought it was a sure
thing... she was just being exposed to'
so much more."
Freedom, however, seems toI
work for other long-distance relation-
ships, especially marriage. Model
Jerry Hall believes a separate career,
and frequent long absences from herI
husband, Mick Jagger, keep life more
unpredictable. "It's boring to sit at1
home watching soap operas and doing
the dishes," She said in a recent Long
magazine interview, "If you have a
career and earn your own money, you
should be a lot more fun to talk to at
dinner... Often I think the main point
of life is having something to talk
about at dinner. Life is just so many
dinners, you know."
Laurie Pankey is missing out on
dinners with her husband, at least for
this year. The LSA senior married her
husband in May, lived with him for
the summer, then came to Ann Arbor
to finish her degree while he con-
tinued to work in Houston, Texas. For
her, it's "always been long-distance,"
and she finds the greatest barrier to
their relationship is the limitations of
the telephone. She said the best thing
is that they "don't waste time
bickering." All the time they do spend
together, she said, is quality time.
'You idealize the person, but
everytime you see the person there's
an adjustment period,' she said. "It's
not eay. It takes a lot 'of commit-
ment. You have to have complete
trust in the other person."
"I think our marriage is stronger
(because of the long distance). It
makes you feel really good to know
that there's someone who cares
enough not to let distance be a
The hardest thing for LSA junior
Beth Baumgartner's marriage, said
the economics major, is that "you
can't come home and get a hug."
Beth's husband is stationed with the
U.S. Air Force in San Bernandino
California, and has two more years to
"People always ask me, 'What's it
like to be married?' and I always say
'I don't know,' because we've been
together only a month in the six mon-
ths we've been married.
"I think it gives us a chance to get
used to each other a week at a time...
to get some practice. It's kind of like
getting a new roommate-you never
know what they're going to do-leave
their toothpaste cap off or whatever.
It's these personal habits that might
clash, but they're kind of silly, little
Beth was friends with her husband
for eight years before they got
married, and her advice is, "You have
to like each other as friends first,
because if you're not friends, there's
no way a long-distance relationship
could keep going on."
Though each relationship has dif-
ferent pros and cons, most persons in-
volved in long-distance relationships
agree that the best part is the time
when they finally do get together,
even if it's just for a short while.
"The time we do spend together is
quality time," said LSA senior Jim
Frederick, who has a girlfriend at
Ferris State. "It's sort of a little awk-
ward at first, finding something to
talk about... it's hard to find a com-
mon ground sometimes."
"After I see her, I'm all motivated
and ready to study, but if I haven't
seen her I think about her a lot and it
gets hard to concentrate."
For Sheila Murphy, a social
psychology T.A. whose boyfriend of
seven years lives in New York, the
short times spent together are seen as
romantic and exciting and both per-
sons are still on their 'best behavior.'
"You don't have time together to
make decisions on permanency. It
sometimes is very unrealistic when
you see each other for a few days.
"I think it gives you a very
unrealistic expectation of what it's
like when you're together. It's like
everything is Disneyland."
Sheila believes it is easy to be
drawn into making a decision without
getting the facts straight. "If you're
trying to hang on to a person, because
you're afraid of losing him...
sometimes it's desperation not to give
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up something that you like."
"Because it is far away, you don't
see the warts, and all the day-in,
But as far as the present goes, the
relationship fits in well with her busy
graduate schedule. "I can't imagine
spending a lot of time with someone
that just was not work-related," but it
"definitely weakens (the relation-
ship). I would never advise anyone to
go through it."
P ERHAPS long-distance
relationships are just a con-
venience a way to get through school
without the responsibilites of a
"I feel really secure, and he's 1500
miles away," said LSA freshman
Mary Snyder, whose boyfriend goes to
school in Colorado. "It's much easier
"I don't think it's hard at all,"
Snyder said, "because we have our
freedom, we can grow... this way
we're not too dependent on each
Mary's boyfriend made a surprise
visit to Ann Arbor during the
Michigan/Michigan State football
game last year. Her friends had
arranged for her to go to Dooley's in East
Lansing, where he showed up non-
"My roommate comes up to me and
says, 'Mary, Mary! Have I got the guy
for you!' And I turned around and told
her to wait. I just thought it was some
.Joe Schmoe and I said I'd see him in a
Combining school. and fooling
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By Kery Murakami
R ELATIONSHIPS SUCK for a
G.P.A. When I left home for
college, my dad gave me one piece of
advice for the real world. "Keep your
pants zipped." Unfortunately, I didn't
heed his advice and now the face of
academic probation stares dreamily
into my eyes from the other end of the
table. You can be loved, or you can be
hired. I'd rather be loved.
But you have to eat. You have to
find a way to support the ten children
you and your significant other are
already naming. You have to find the
job security to be able to stay at home
while your wife goes back to work af-
ter pregnancy leave.
You have to find a way to balance
your sappy time with your study time.
So I went back to my father. "Sorry
Dad," I said, and this time he gave me
some realistic advice:
1.) First, he said, making sure my
mom was out of listening range, tape
your lectures. If you have to read
Shakespeare, buy one of those taped
versions they have at Barnes and
Noble. This way, as you lie in bed
snuggling; you can play these tapes
instead of the romantic stuff you
waste your time with now.
2.) Always bring a book. Half of the
relationship is spent waiting. Waiting
outside the bathroom. Waiting at the
dentist's office. Waiting. Waiting.
3.) Go out with your T.A. Or better
yet, your professor. Make "friends"
with someone in your class. Find out
what a study group really is. This
way, instead of whispering sweet
nothings while worrying about the test
you should be studying for, you can do
both. For example: "Your breasts ...
your breasts are like cannon bAlls
used by Napoleon in the Battle of
Waterloo of 1815. Or, "Your eyes,
your eyes are like the
headlights on Henry Ford's
Model T, first produced in 1908." Or
"Oooh, your musket'...
4.) Live off-campus. In all the time
you spend looking for a private nook
in a dorm, free of roommates and
campus security, you could've read
Moby Dick and War and Peace. Not to
mention all the time you lose being
5.) Talk. That's what my dad says,
but these are only band-aids for a
relationship. Basically, relationships
should be a nuturing process, bringing
out the best in each person. Ideally,
they should bring about the feeling of
calm security that helps you concen-
trate on things other than each other.
Growing shouldn't be a crime against
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