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Producer Jack F. Murphy Dies at 69

Jack F. Murphy - P 2013
Courtesy of The Lighthouse Company

The Montreal native produced the 2005 Barbara Kopple film "Havoc," starring Anne Hathaway.

Jack F. Murphy, a film executive and distributor who went on to produce the 2005 Anne Hathaway drama Havoc and other films, died Jan. 6 in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

Born and raised in Montreal, Murphy booked 16mm films with schools and religious institutions as a teenager. In 1963, he became the exclusive nontheatrical distributor in the Quebec province for Seven Arts Productions, which included the pre-1948 package of Warner Bros. features and the theatrical reissues of all Fox films from 1956-62.

Three years later, Murphy founded Criterion Pictures Corp., which became the exclusive English and French 16mm distributor in Eastern Canada for National General/Cinema Center, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. and Astral Films Canada. With offices in Halifax, Montreal and Toronto, Criterion also included many independent packages in its library.

In the early 1980s, with home video beginning to take off, Murphy sold Criterion to U.S.-based Films Inc.

Murphy moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and set up American Cinema Marketing to distribute indie features to the U.S. Armed Forces and the home video market.

Murphy produced a number of independent films, including Canadian features The Klutz (1974) and Pick-Up Summer (1980) and U.S. sci-fi horror films Syngenor (1990), Ticks (1993) and director Brian Yuzna's Progeny (1998).

In 2001, Murphy formed Associated Screen Artists to produce and develop features. He optioned a script written by 17-year-old Jessica Kaplan that would become Havoc. (Kaplan was killed in 2003 when the single-engine plane in which she was an occupant crashed into an apartment building in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles.)

Havoc, starting Hathaway as a bored, affluent teenager in Los Angeles, was helmed by two-time Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple -- her lone feature directing credit -- and co-written by Stephen Gaghan, an Oscar winner for Traffic.

Most recently, Murphy was instrumental in reviving Richard Elfman’s cult musical fantasy Forbidden Zone (1982) as a film festival favorite, was active as a postproduction producer and volunteered his services to the Valley Film Festival, held since 2001 in the San Fernando Valley.

Survivors include his daughter Taylor, former wife Riva Spier, brother George and sisters Johanna and Sarah.