The War of the Roses (1989)

R  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  8 December 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 35,704 users   Metascore: 79/100
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A married couple try everything to get each other to leave the house in a vicious divorce battle.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Donat ...
Gloria Cromwell ...
Harlan Arnold ...
Mary Fogarty ...
Rika Hofmann ...
Patricia Allison ...
Peter Brocco ...


The Roses, Barbara and Oliver, live happily as a married couple. Then she starts to wonder what life would be like without Oliver, and likes what she sees. Both want to stay in the house, and so they begin a campaign to force each other to leave. In the middle of the fighting is D'Amato, the divorce lawyer. He gets to see how far both will go to get rid of the other, and boy do they go far.. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Once in a lifetime comes a motion picture that makes you feel like falling in love all over again. This is not that movie.


Comedy | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 December 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Rosenkrieg  »

Box Office


$83,699,711 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie was filmed during March, April, May and June 1989. See more »


At the estate auction at the beginning of the film, Oliver and Barbara bid against each other for the figurine of a woman. Oliver's auction book shows a photo with the caption, "Chinese Homunculus". The auctioneer then describes it as an "exquisite Japanese carving". See more »


[first lines]
Gavin: [Gavin is talking to a client] You have some valid reasons for wanting a divorce.
[blows his nose with a handkerchief]
Gavin: Excuse me. My sinuses are very sensitive to irritants.
[sprays nasal decongestant up his nostrils]
Gavin: In the past five months, I think I've breathed freely with both sides working maybe a week total.
[pulls a cigarette out of a pack]
Gavin: I gotta cut this out. It's gonna kill me.
[lights his cigarette]
Gavin: I hadn't smoked for thirteen years. I kept the last cigarette from my last ...
See more »


References Murder by Death (1976) See more »


Only You (And You Alone)
Written by Buck Ram and Ande Rand
Performed by The Platters
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects a division of
PolyGram Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Quite a 'War'
24 January 2008 | by (Connecticut) – See all my reviews

From the wickedly clever title to the smashing finale, WAR OF THE ROSES is probably the best dark comedy ever committed to film, Tim Burton and other works by Danny DeVito notwithstanding. A middle-aged couple with marital woes (Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner) fight over possession of their mansion-like home, and I do mean fight. DeVito takes his time building up to the actual fight, and the first half gives us the troubled couple inching along toward self-destruction. The second half -- well, if there's an adult HOME ALONE, this is definitely it. Priceless family heirlooms get smashed, the attic is booby-trapped and a loosened chandelier to rival that from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA becomes the focus of the Roses' final confrontation. It is mentioned early on that Mrs. Rose is a former gymnast, which comes in handy in later scenes where she might have otherwise been a goner. Throughout the movie, Mr. Rose claims to still love his wife, but he sure has some odd ways of showing it, including peeing on a fish dinner she whips up for some very pricey clients. Douglas as always is a wonder. He slips into the skin of this haughty, misguided individual and wears it well. He has given a handful of great performances, in WONDER BOYS, THE American PRESIDENT, FALLING DOWN and THE GAME, but this may be his best. Like Brad Pitt's bumbling Mr. Smith in MR. AND MRS. SMITH, Mr. Rose never quite gets it. It is a highly nuanced performance. Turner looks great and her Mrs. Rose never wavers from her goal, which is to divorce the increasingly unbearable Mr. Smith. You will either love or hate these always believable characters. DeVito as Mr. Smith's lawyer softens the cruel ending by adding a corny physical "gag" as well as a closing moment involving a phone conversation between lawyer and wife. No harm done. No one who has ever seen the chandelier scene is likely to forget it. Douglas and Turner, who with DeVito had done two previous films together, are at the top of their form here.

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