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Obituary: Jack F Murphy

The former non-theatrical distributor and independent producer, died in Los Angeles on Jan 6 after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

Murphy was born and raised in Montreal and as a teenager he booked 16mm films with schools and religious institutions.

In 1963, he became the exclusive non-theatrical distributor in the Canadian Quebec province for Seven Arts Productions, which included the pre-1948 package of Warner Bros features and the theatrical reissues of all 20th Century-Fox features from 1956-1962.

Three years later, Murphy founded Criterion Pictures Corporation and it became the exclusive English and French 16mm distributor in Eastern Canada for National General/Cinema Center, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, and Astral Films Canada with offices in Halifax, Montreal and Toronto.

The Criterion library included many independent packages. In the early 1980s as the home video market grew, Murphy sold the company to US-based Films, Incorporated.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and set up American Cinema Marketing to distribute independent features to the Armed Forces and the home video market.

He also produced a number of independent films, including Canadian features Les Deux Pieds Dans La Meme Bottine and Pinball Summer as well as US sci-fi horror films like Syngenor and Progeny.

In 2001 he formed Associated Screen Artists to produce and develop feature films including Havoc. He revived Richard Elfman’s 1980 production Forbidden Zone as a film festival favorite and cult classic.

Murphy is survived by his daughter Taylor Murphy, former wife Riva Spier, his brother George, and sisters Johanna and Sarah Murphy.

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