One of the film's main trailers featured a sing-a-long jingle that summarized the movie's story-line by spoofing the lyrics to the classic 1780 English Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas". The words to the song said: "In the War of the Roses my true love gave to me, twelve traps a flying, lots of orchids dying, piles of statues breaking, all the walls a shaking, lots of flying chairs, tumbling down the stairs, five broken teeth, four fractured bones, three cracked ribs, two wrecked cars, and a puppy in a pâté. Woof." The line about orchids refers to a scene that was deleted from the film, but can be seen in the DVD extras.
While shooting the scene where Michael Douglas (Oliver Rose) and Kathleen Turner (Barbara Rose) are sitting in the chandelier, director Danny DeVito pretended to break for lunch while the two actors were 30 feet above ground.
It's popularly rumored that the filmmakers inserted a short shot of the couple's dog into the "pâté" scene after screen testing audience thought it was too cruel. According to Danny DeVito, the dog was always intended to appear; however, it originally wasn't shown until the end of the chandelier scene, and that particular insert was a late addition.
In August 2009, Richard Shenkman held his ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, hostage for over 13 hours in their South Windsor, CT home after becoming obsessed with this movie-basing some of his actions on the movie itself. Fortunately Nancy was able to escape and although he burned her home down, he was tried and given a 70 year sentence.
Warren Adler, author of the film's 1981 source novel "The War of the Roses", about fifteen years after this pictured debuted, wrote a sequel called "The Children of the Roses", which was first published in 2004, but (to date, September 2013) this book has never been filmed.
The title of both this film and its source novel, "The War of the Roses", references the real life "Wars of the Roses" which were, according to Wikipedia, "a series of dynastic wars fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York (whose heraldic symbols were the red and the white rose, respectively) for the throne of England".
According to director Danny DeVito the first assembled cut of the film ran 3 hours and 4 minutes. It was then cut down to its final length of 1 hour and 56 minutes. Some of the deleted scenes (ca. 20 minutes) can be seen in the trailers and in the deleted scenes montage on the LaserDisc and the Special Edition DVD.
The make and model of the antique sports car that Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) owns in the movie was a black-top creme colored 1960 British Morgan Roadster Plus 4 convertible known to collectors as a Morgan 4/4. The car was really crushed in the film and was purchased by a man named Bill Caruso of Hartford, CT, who restored it with the intention of racing it at Limerock Park, however he died before he could. It was purchased by auto enthusiast Wayne Carini for his show "Chasing Classic Cars".
In 1953, Alfred Newman composed and recorded the 20th Century Fox Fanfare "with Cinemascope extension". In 1989, his son, David Newman re-recorded the fanfare for "The War of the Roses" in order to have the last note of the fanfare segue seamlessly into the first note of the opening titles music.
First theatrical feature film based on a written work by writer Warren Adler. The only other cinema movie [to date, September 2013] based on one Adler's published writings was 1999's Random Hearts (1999) which got made and first released about approximately a decade after this picture.
This picture debuted in the USA three weeks before Christmas 1989 and was a Christmas release for the 20th Century Fox studio. The picture's "The War of the Roses" title on one of the movie's main trailers formed a Christmas tree bauble out of the first letter "O" in the word "of" in the film's title.
Phil Collins was tapped to compose a song for the film, eventually becoming "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven". By the time Collins finished recording, the offer of composing a song for the film had been taken back. Instead the track can be found on Collins' 1989 album "...But Seriously".
Danny DeVito is recounting the story of the Roses to a silent man in a chair played by Dan Castellaneta, best known as the voice of Homer Simpson. DeVito would later provide the voice of Herbert Powell, Homer's estranged brother.