Continental Divide
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Apted
Written byLawrence Kasdan
Produced byRobert T. Larson
CinematographyJohn Bailey
Edited byDennis Virkler
Music byMichael Small
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • September 18, 1981 (1981-09-18)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$9 million[1]
Box office$15 million

Continental Divide is a 1981 American romantic comedy-drama film starring John Belushi and Blair Brown. It was the first film to be credited as being produced by Steven Spielberg's production company Amblin Entertainment. It was directed by Michael Apted and written by Lawrence Kasdan.


Chicago newspaper reporter Ernie Souchak (Belushi) is investigating a corrupt alderman. While doing an exposé on some shady land dealings, he is assaulted by two crooked police officers sent by the alderman and ends up in the hospital.

Souchak's editor decides to send him out of town for his own safety. A city boy, Souchak reluctantly travels to the Rockies to interview the reclusive Dr. Nell Porter (Brown), who has been conducting research on the American bald eagles for several years.

The two are at odds at first. After finding out he is a reporter, she is reluctant to let him stay, but realizes he is not able to survive in the mountains without his guide, who is not scheduled to return for two weeks. He is skeptical about her work, but comes to admire Porter for her strong character and dedication. Eventually, they fall in love.

At first, she lets him stay as long as he doesn't write his story. As they learn to respect each other, she agrees to let him write about her. During his adventures, he sprains his back in an accident, is mauled by a cougar, and meets an All-American football player who has left civilization and become a mountain man.

Souchak returns to Chicago with her very much on his mind. When he finds out that one of his sources has been "accidentally" killed, he once again doggedly pursues the investigation until the alderman is forced to flee the country.

The same day, Souchak finds out that Porter is coming to Chicago to present a museum lecture on her work. With some uncertainty, he decides to attend, and they quickly rekindle their relationship. Happy as they are together, they cannot reconcile the different paths each has taken in life, and so they reluctantly decide to part again.

Souchak, seeing her off on the train, ends up traveling with her all the way back to Wyoming. After getting off at her stop, they decide that they cannot live without each other and decide to marry. Souchak catches the next train back to Chicago, but the newlyweds promise to meet again very soon.




The Ernie Souchak character was loosely based on longtime Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko.[2]


Many of the scenes were filmed around Chicago:

Many of the mountain scenes were filmed in Colorado in Custer County.

Other scenes were filmed at:[4]


Singer Helen Reddy performed the "Theme from Continental Divide (We Will Never Say Goodbye)".[6]


Continental Divide holds a score of 73% on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 11 reviews with an average rating of 6.2/10.[7] On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 64 out of 100 based on seven critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[8]


  1. ^ "AFI|Catalog".
  2. ^ "Lawrence Kasdan: The Hollywood Interview".
  3. ^ Corcoran, Michael; Bernstein, Arnie (June 2013). Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies By Michael Corcoran, Arnie Bernstein. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781613745786.
  4. ^ "Continental Divide: Filming Locations". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Continental Divide: Google Sites".
  6. ^ "Theme from Continental Divide (We Will Never Say Goodbye) - Helen Reddy". Amazon.
  7. ^ "Continental Divide". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 3, 2023.
  8. ^ "Continental Divide Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved July 3, 2023.