A married couple try everything to get each other to leave the house in a vicious divorce battle.


Danny DeVito


Warren Adler (novel), Michael Leeson (screenplay)
4,768 ( 137)
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Oliver Rose
Kathleen Turner ... Barbara Rose
Danny DeVito ... Gavin D'Amato
Marianne Sägebrecht ... Susan
Sean Astin ... Josh at 17
Heather Fairfield ... Carolyn at 17
G.D. Spradlin ... Harry Thurmont
Peter Donat ... Jason Larrabee
Dan Castellaneta ... Man in Chair
Gloria Cromwell Gloria Cromwell ... Mrs. Marshall
Harlan Arnold Harlan Arnold ... Mr. Dell
Mary Fogarty Mary Fogarty ... Mrs. Dell
Rika Hofmann Rika Hofmann ... Elke
Patricia Allison Patricia Allison ... Maureen
Peter Brocco ... Elderly Mourner


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:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The film delivered its narrative by telling its story utilizing a flashback technique being told by Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas)'s attorney Gavin D'Amato (Danny DeVito). See more »


When Oliver reads the letter to Barbara that he wrote in the hospital, he says he didn't have the strength to sign it. When Oliver and Barbara are in her lawyers office, the lawyer produces the letter as supposed evidence that Oliver owes everything to Barbara. Without Oliver's signature on the letter or some proof that he wrote it, the letter would be inadmissible in court. 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 pack....
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Crazy Credits

The fanfare in the 20th Century Fox logo at the beginning of the movie segues into the opening theme of the movie. See more »


Referenced in Flat Earth & Other Hot Potatoes: Episode #1.20 (2015) See more »


Only You (And You Alone)
Written by Buck Ram and Buck Ram (as Ande Rand)
Performed by The Platters
Courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects a division of
PolyGram Records, Inc.
See more »

User Reviews

A comedy about contempt
30 March 2011 | by Red-BarracudaSee all my reviews

A middle-aged affluent couple hit marital problems and start fighting over the ownership of their mansion. This leads to increasing levels of antagonism and borderline sociopathic behaviour.

The War of the Roses is very 80's, very loud and kind of fun. If you want a subtle study of marital breakdown then seek it somewhere else because this most certainly is not it. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner play the warring couple. We follow their story from their first meeting, through the happy early days to the outright marital war that constitutes the end of their relationship. Douglas and Turner are basically let loose on this film to chew the scenery and go cartoonishly over-the-top. And for the most part it's a great deal of fun seeing them do this, as both are very capable actors who can play mildly deranged very convincingly. I felt, however, that the film lost a bit of steam in its final section. As the pair went increasingly berserk in their antics, the film lost me a bit. Having said that, it is a funny film at times and it's quite a bit of fun watching both principal actors going hell for leather. It's probably a film that people going through a divorce can relate to best. It most probably will give them a few ideas.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

8 December 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The War of the Roses See more »


Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,488,794, 10 December 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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