- Movie Rating -

Continental Divide (1981)

| September 18, 1981

I suppose that all romantic comedies are basically pure fantasy, but Continental Divide kind of hits me where I live.  It’s about a chubby, average-looking news reporter who goes into the wilderness looking for a story, falls in love with a gorgeous environmentalist and then brings her back to his home turf so they can have long walks at sunset and basically live happily ever after.  Doesn’t quite sound as familiar as I might like but my fantasies sure can relate.

The guy is played by John Belushi in his best performance.  He’s funny, charming and has a chemistry with his co-star.  He plays Ernie Souchak, a reporter for the Chicago-Sun Times who, as the movie opens, is getting a little too close to the mob and is assaulted by two crooked cops on the orders of an equally crooked city councilman.  So, in order to pull the heat off, his editor sends him away to Colorado to investigate a reclusive eagle researcher Dr. Nell Porter (Blair Brown) who just wants the city boy to go away and leave her be.

Naturally he’s a babe in the woods and she comes around, particularly when he is mauled by a cougar.  They go through the usual “get lost” dance, up to and including the old don’t-write-about-me bit which breaks down once they inevitably fall in love.  Then, after a wild adventure on her turf, he brings her back home to Chicago, his turf where the tables turns and he teachers her how to survive in the concrete jungle.

The bare bones of this plot sound like they are as old as the hills, and they are, but because Belushi and Blair Brown have such great chemistry together we buy this story.  Belushi in particular reveals a different side of himself.  Stepping away from the comic lock-stop of Animal House and The Blues Brothers, he really gives a performance here, a specific character that we like.  Even better is that fact that we believe that he is a Chicago reporter.  So many actors in his role would seem to be going through the motions but there’s something in his body language, something in his nature that seems to give you the sense that he is really a journalist.

I can’t say much for the story which is predictable, but I buy it because of the romance.  It works, it’s charming, it’s funny and, as a journalist myself, I want believe it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1981) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized