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Continental Divide (1981)

  • Comedy Romance
  • A hard-nosed Chicago journalist has an unlikely love affair with an eagle researcher.



    A hard-nosed Chicago journalist has an unlikely love affair with an eagle researcher.





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    This is not a comedy; it's a drama-romance with amusing touches RELEASED IN 1981 and directed by Michael Apted, "Continental Divide" stars John Belushi as Ernie Souchak, a popular Chicago columnist, whose controversial reporting compels his boss to send him to the scenic Rocky Mountains to interview a bald eagle researcher, Nell Porter (Blair Brown). Souchak is a city man who chain-smokes whereas Nell revels in the wilderness and hates journalists. Do ya think a relationship will blossom? This is not a typical John Belushi comedy, but rather a romantic drama with some amusing touches. "Continental Divide" is one of John’s only serious roles, and he does it well. It's also one of his last films; less than six months after its release John passed away from drug abuse at the too-young age of 33 on March 5, 1982. I'm not a fan of romcoms, but I will occasional watch them if they’re unconventional enough; and "Continental Divide" fits that description. There are a few minor laughs, usually tied to Souchak's awkwardness in the wilderness, but that's about it. Although light-hearted, this is indeed a serious film. It's not only entertaining; it surprisingly has a few notable things to say. The most prominent part of the film is the hour or so where Souchak goes to the Rockies and stays with Nell. Most men will likely become infatuated with Blair Brown as Souchak falls in love with Nell. I did. Blair was 35 years old at the time of filming and has a very earthy look; she never wears make-up and never reveals a lot of flesh. She doesn't need to. She has a strong, independent mindset and yet, at the same time, is winsome and alluring. Her body has the necessary natural roundish-ness and curves that attract red-blooded men. I heard some reviewers complain about the mountain man part (played by studly Tony Ganios). They argue that this is a meaningless and unneeded sequence. Actually the story is making a statement with this subplot. See my commentary below, if interested. The first two times I saw "Continental Divide" I felt it was dubiously named. Much of the story takes place in the mountains near the Continental Divide, so what? The third time I watched it the title's meaning dawned on me (aduh): Souchak and Nell's lives are divided by half a continent; how could a long-term relationship possibly work? The ending is surprising and unconventional, but it works. THE FILM RUNS 1 hour, 43 minutes and was shot in Chicago, Colorado, Washington and Los Angeles. WRITER: Lawrence Kasdan (observe how the kiss-his-wounds scene is reminiscent of the similar scene in Kasdan’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which was released a few months earlier). GRADE: B+ ***SPOILER ALERT*** (Don’t read further until you view the movie). Although Nell would occasionally meet the macho stud as a sexual outlet in the lonely wilderness, it's obvious she doesn't love the dude in a romantic sense. Their relationship is superficial because it fulfills only one purpose and doesn't go any deeper. As the story progresses Nell falls in love with Souchak, a man who is the antithesis of the studly mountain man in every way. Souchak isn't macho-looking at all; he's only of average height, if that, and isn't in very good physical shape. He is, however, an intelligent and expert writer, amongst other things. The message we can glean from this is that men don't have to be ultra-masculine-looking to win the heart of a beautiful woman. And you know what? It's true. Just look around. This is an encouraging message for guys who aren't the "tall, dark and handsome" type.



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