Continental Divide (1981)

Continental Divide (1981)

Taglines: When they met they heard bells. And that was just round one.

Ernie Souchak (John Belushi), a tough Chicago reporter, gets a little too close to the Mob, and is assaulted by two crooked police officers sent by a crooked councilman, and ends up in the hospital. To take the heat off of him, his editor sends him to Colorado to investigate an eagle researcher (‘Blair Brown’). Sparring partners at first, the pair eventually fall in love, but Souchak must return to Chicago when one of his sources is mysteriously killed.

Continental Divide is a 1981 American romantic comedy film starring John Belushi and Blair Brown. It was directed by Michael Apted from an original screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Bernie Brillstein. Brown was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

An attempt was made during the promotional phase of the film’s release to sell Belushi and Brown as “the new Hepburn and Tracy”, calling to mind the gutsy creative chemistry and double-act performances of those yesteryear actors. This impression was not successfully carried off and Belushi’s death less than six months after the film’s release ensured that potential would never be.

About the Story

A Chicago newspaper reporter, Ernie Souchak (Belushi), is investigating a corrupt city councilman. After doing an expose on some corrupt land dealings by the councilman, he is assaulted by two crooked police officers sent by the councilman and ends up in the hospital.

Souchak’s editor decides to send him out of town for his own safety. A city boy, Souchak reluctantly travels to the Rockies to interview the reclusive Dr. Nell Porter (Brown), who has been conducting research on bald eagles for several years.

The two are at odds at first. After finding out he is a reporter, she is reluctant to let him stay, but realizes he is not able to survive in the mountains without his guide, who is not scheduled to return for two weeks. He is skeptical about her work, but comes to admire Porter for her strong character and dedication.

Eventually, they fall in love. At first she lets him stay as long as he doesn’t write his story. As they learn to respect each other, she agrees to let him write about her. In his adventures, he sprains his back in an accident, is mauled by a mountain lion and meets an All-American football player who has left civilization and become a mountain man.

Souchak returns to Chicago with her still very much on his mind. When he finds out that one of his sources has been “accidentally” killed, he once again pursues the investigation until the day the councilman flees the country.

The same day, Souchak finds out that Porter is coming to Chicago to do a presentation at a symposium. With some uncertainty, Souchak decides to attend the presentation. They rekindle their relationship. Happy as they are together, they cannot reconcile the different paths each has taken in life, and so they reluctantly decide to part again.

Continental Divide Movie Poster (1981)

Continental Divide (1981)

Directed by: Michael Apted
Starring: John Belushi, Blair Brown, Allen Garfield, Carlin Glynn, Tony Ganios, Val Avery, Bruce Jarchow, Ron Dean, Elizabeth Young
Screenplay by: Lawrence Kasdan
Production Design by: Peter Jamison
Cinematography by: John Bailey
Film Editing by: Dennis Virkler
Costume Design by: Moss Mabry
Set Decoration by: Linda Spheeris
Art Direction by: Hub Braden, Russell J. Smith
Music by: Michael Small
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: September 18, 1981