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Continental Divide (1981)

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




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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ernie Souchak
Nell Porter
Howard McDermott (as Allen Goorwitz)
Tony Ganios ...
Max Bernbaum
Liam Russell ...
Deke Lewis
Everett Smith ...
Bill Henderson ...
Train Conductor
Eddie Schwartz ...
Harold Holmes ...
Mr. Feeney
Elizabeth Young ...
Mrs. Feeney
Frankie Hill ...


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. Written by Ray Hamel <hamel@primate.wisc.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Comedy | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

18 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amerikai románc  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Because of the Chicago filming logistics and the planned filming at the Universal Studio stages, as well as the Los Angeles location work, Hub Braden, was assigned by William D. DeCinces, Universal Studios' Art Department & Studio Services Manager, to work with Peter Jamison as his art director. Braden had been the art director to resume and finish Peter Jamison's Barbra Streisand-Gene Hackman film All Night Long (1981) directed by Jean-Claude Tramont. The film had been interrupted by an actor's strike. Jamison was now working on Continental Divide (1981). He was required to fly to Chicago with the cinematographer who would direct second unit for process plates outside the train at the tracks and platform area in the Chicago train station. Braden consulted with Jamison and both directors, regarding building a duplicate train car exterior and interior compartment and corridors, on stage, for the process plate filming of the train's interior scenes. Braden's resume had included designing-art directing the 1979-80 NBC-TV Supertrain (1979) series which had required extensive process plate filming. Together, discussions between Jamison and Braden included designing the train, designing stage sets to build back at the studio, and locations in Los Angeles. A major penthouse interior set focused their attention because this set required immediate attention related to the film schedule at the studio. Back on the West Coast, plans, elevations and models were prepared and sent to Jamison, in Chicago, for his meetings with director Michael Apted. A dining room featured a mirrored wall at a restaurant the two had dinner in Chicago; this became a focal novel point in the stage set design. When Linda Spheeris returned to the studio to begin dressing the stage sets, arriving a week earlier than Jamison, walking the stage set with Braden, Spheeris commented why the room looks exactly like the Architectural Digest photograph of the Chicago penthouse that Peter copied! Good job! Braden's reaction was why didn't he just tell us to get the issue. They wouldn't of had the design grief putting this set on paper! The set's dining room mirror wall were vertical twelve inch wide, floor to ceiling high, beveled mirrors centered on pivot rods. The cinematographer just had to slightly angle each panel avoiding seeing a camera and floor lighting equipment. Tricky, but the mirror wall reflected the room, the actors, and the Chicago city buildings' rear flood-light-Chroma-trans-backings surrounding the penthouse glass window walls. See more »


When the apartment blows up the headline on Souchak's column is "Room Wanted - Quiet Tenant," while later, when Nell is looking through Ernie's Rolodex of saved columns the headline is "Apartment Wanted - Quiet Tenant." See more »


Ernie Souchak: It's so quiet up here, you could hear a mouse get a hard on.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, after some mountain shots, there's a sequence of a selection of some of the black-and-white photos of Ernie and/or Nell that Souchak had on his desk. See more »


Theme from Continental Divide (Never Say Goodbye)
Music by Michael Small
Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager
Performed by Helen Reddy
Available on MCA Records
Record Produced by Joel Diamond
See more »

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User Reviews

Criminally under-rated Belushi gem.
10 December 2005 | by (Stirling,Scotland) – See all my reviews

John Belushi's screen persona is fixed in most peoples minds thanks to his performances in the raucous, knock-about comedies 'The Blues Brothers' and 'Animal House'. But here he gets the rare chance to put in a performance of exceptional depth and nuance. Belushi plays hard-boiled investigative journalist Ernie Souchak who finds himself a little too close to some major City Hall corruption, and so, on the advice of his editor and friend, he heads to the mountains of Colorado, to chill and to write a piece on a reclusive conservationist, played to exquisite perfection by Blair Brown.

The film begins as a serious piece on political corruption but soon turns into a charming, bittersweet 'fish-out-of-water' romance. The scenes set amongst the Colorado mountains feature some of the most breathtaking cinematography I've ever seen. The movie belongs to John Belushi though. He puts in a splendid mature performance, dominating the action like a major presence. It is through this movie, rather than his more famous works, that I feel we now sense the feeling of loss that his tragic early death gave the world of cinema. He carries all the weight and clout of a genuinely gifted actor, and his comic timing, even in the smallest scenes, is a joy to behold. Blair Brown, too, is another enigma. Why is she not much more famous than she is? Her performance is both tough and sexy, and she and Belushi make a great screen partnership. Throw into the mix one of the rare screen appearances from the great Tony Ganios, and this really is a movie worthy of rediscovery.

Watch for it.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Continental Divide is four stars seabreeze-1
this movie? looks like a real cool one ogfw
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Whatever happened to Tony Ganios? dnasty68
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