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September 26, 1981 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-09-26

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a

I

___ARTS
° ~Saturday, September 26, 1981

The Michig'an Daily

Page 5

It's Belushi vs. bears in 'Divide'

By ADAM KNEE
Continental Divide, a romantic com-
edy which opened last week at the State
Street Theatres, is a collaboration of
some of the biggest talents in
Hollywood today-with disappointingly
mixed results.
The film is directed by Michael Ap-
ted, who recently worked on Coal
Miner's Daughter, and boasts as its
screenwriter University graduate
Lawrence Kasdan, whose credits in-
clude Raiders of the Lost Ark and Body
Heat.
JOHN BELUSHI-a performer revered
by college audiences-plays Ernie
Souchak, a Chicago newspaperman at
work exposing a corrupt city politician.
When his column gets a bit too
revealing, his editor fears for
Souchak's life and insists that he work
on a feature out of town. Much-to his
chagrin, Souchak is sent to the Rockies
to do a piece on a reclusive or-
nithologist, Nell Porter (played by
Blair Brown of Altered States).
The film derives much of its humor
from the attempts of the vulgar,
streetwise, out-of-shape Chicago native
to adapt to the wilderness, and from his
contrast to the physically fit, nature-
loving Porter. Quite memorable is the
scene in which awesome-looking bears
steal his valuable rations of cigarettes
as he watches in horror.
Of course, city dweller and mountain
recluse do not hit it off very well at first.
Porter does not want a story done on
her, and Souchak desperately npeds

nicotine; he is only prevented from
leaving by his inability to descend the
mountain on which she lives.
AND, AS IT always happens in that
fantasy world of movies, the two fall in
love. The .reporter, is emotionally torn
when he returns to Chicago, and
throughout the rest of the film, the
lovers struggle to reconcile their dif-
ferent lifestyles.
It is not difficult to get at least a little
swept up in this romance. Many
audiences and critics have found the
film quite enjoyable. Yet Continental
Divide is fraught with problems in
scripting and acting-Oroblems that
keep it from being a truly successful
comedy. -
In his first supposedly serious role,
Belushi is never so much Ernie
Souchak as he is the now-stereotyped
Animal House Belushi character. Again
and again he puts on those irresistable
looks of feigned innocence or sheer
mischievousness. They are funny in
themselves, but often inappropriate
here. The real Souchak is hardly given
a, chance to show through, and, hence,
we find Porter's attraction to him dif-
ficult to accept.
BUT THIS IS not entirely Belushi's
fault; he does not get much of a charac-
ter to work with. Kasdan supplies him
with a continuous flow of one-liners and
sarcastic come-backs that do not work
too well in the comic scenes, much less
in the serious ones. Indeed, Kasdan
does not seem too sure of what tone he
wants to set; Continental Divide hangs
perilously between romantic comedy

and comic romance, never truly
achieving either.
The film's overall structure also
proves troublesome. We move from one
section of the narrative to the next
without any clear resolutions of overall
direction.
The love story of a reporter and a
scientist in the wilderness becomes a
story of the reporter's challenging work
in Chicago and thenof the tiresomely
drawn out struggle between the lovers.
After a while, it is hard to care what
happens to them.
IN THE FINAL sequence, more ef-
fective as a (clearly intended) plug for
Amtrak than anything else, Souchak
travels with Porter to the wilderness
one more time, only to return to
Chicago on the next train. As he rides
off, an elderly bystander inquires,
"You mean they aren't going to con-
summate?" In a dramatic sense, in-
deed they are not.
Blair Brown's performance- is
perhaps the film's major saving grace..
Her absolute believability, even when
character - motivations are obscure,
...................... . . aa a=

gives the film a unity it would not
otherwise have, and her warmth helps
draw us into the focal relationship. '
Other impressive performances
come from those bears, some bald
See BELUSHI, Page 7

ich igan

Ensemble Theatre
cMirunidolina

by. Carlo Goldoni
Sept. 24-27
Oct. 1-4
8:00 p.m.
Sunday Mat.
2:00 p.m.

Lydia Mendelssohn
Theatre
Tickets at PTP--Mich. League
764-0450

BLAIR BROWN AS Nell and John Belushi as Ernie embrace-outside Nell's'
mountain cabin, in "Continental Divide." If you like Belushi and various
wildlife, you'll probably like the film. >

These films are really bad

SU,SEPT.
1:30pm THE BLOB
with Steve
MciQueeni

3:30pm ROBOT
MONSTER,
7pm ATTACK OF
THE KILLER,
TOMATOES

9pm THE MANIAC
.with Phyllis.
Diller

By MARK DIGHTON
The couple sit embraced. After a
reserved-almost polite-kiss, the
woman excuses herself for a moment.
Stealthily, the man reaches for her
angora sweater the moment 'she has
closed the door. He. pulls it close to
him ... perhaps to savor the memories
of her sweet fragrance? No, he lingers
over it a bit tog longingly.
And now he holds it out as if to ap-.
praise its size. Oh no, he's not going
to .. oh yes, he is. Don't make him do
it, Eddy. Oh, please don't. Yes, he's
putting it on. He's standing up to ad-
mire himself in the mirror. He's pan-
tomiming feminine curves as if he were
some godawful Jane Russell in her 18-
hour girdle.
UNEXPECTEDLY (well, sort of
unexpectedly) his fiancee returns and
from there matters go from bad to wor-
se .. ,. especially the acting.
No one makes films like Edward D.
Wood Jr. does... no one would dare.
In this cinematic confession to his ten-
dencies toward transvestitism, I
Changed My. Sex, Wood undermines his
obvious plea for some societal sym-
pathy- with painfully contrived acting,
heavy-handed dialogue, hysterical
, editing, and a completely
claustrophobic box-like set. (You can
tell' the location changes when they
move the furniture around.)
Truly a sad film, but not such that you
won't laugh continually and soniewhat
-

cruelly throughout. The funniest bits of
the entire film are cut-and-paste cut-
aways to Bela Lugosi ranting and
raving all kinds of neo-Freudian, semi-
occultist mumbo jumbo in a vain at-
tempt to justify his inclusion on the
marquee. A sample rant:
"The world is a strange
place to live in. All those
cars?!tAll going some place!
All carrying humans which are
carrying out their lives!"
IF YOU'VE had the bad luck to miss
this gem of bad cinema in the
past . . . then your luck is holding out;
you missed it again last night as part of
the World's Worst Film Festival. But
despair not. More goodies are still to
come at the Festival before it ends its
run at the Michigan Theater tomgrrow
night.
Tonight, Wood once again proves his
spectacular ability to consistently
misinterpret and misuse the language
of cinema in Plan Nine from Outer
Space, arguably his "best" film (using
the term loosely, granted).
Bela Lugosi appears in this seriously
warped little wonder, also ... but only
barely. Since. he died after only two
days of shooting, he had to be replaced
with a tallish gentleman who stoops
over and holds a cape in front of his face
in a ridiculous attempt to obscure the

already painfully obvious fact that he is
not Bela Lugosi.
OF COURSE, the rest of the film is
just as lovably misconceived and
poorly executed. The plot contends that'
'aliens from outer space are using the
"undead" to take over the Earth.
Perhaps a scary idea in someone else's
film, but it's hard to take seriously an
alien commander who overacts like
he's auditioning for Macbeth,
especially when his flying saucer con-
sists of two hubcaps with a salt shaker
on top.
To complete the chara~de, Morticia
Addams-prototype, Vampira and
behemoth Tor Johnson are employed to
walk around the set like the illegitimate
son and daughter of Frankenstein.
Despite their intentionally zombie-like
presence, they are difficult to
distinguish from the other actors, who
play supposedly "normal"characters
in an equally wooden manner.

Only one film in all the rest ofthe
Festival can hold a candle to the glories
of Edward Wood-Phil Tucker's Robot
Monster. In this delectable morsel of
schizophrenic filmmessing, the an-
tagonist (an advance scout for an alien
invasion party ...again) is played by
a fat man in a gorilla suit with a diving
helmet on his head. Of course, he com-
municates with his superiors via a
mirror set on top of a dresser and a
radio set which spews Lawrence Welk's
champagne bubbles. (Oh, of course.)
FOR SOME reason left to our active
imaginations, this furry extra-
See REALLY, Page 7

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nan n75MAPLE
nMAPLE VI AG -P T
*"* MON FRI S21,o 6'M SAT- SUN $2 tl 3 PM
; .::.1:30
... .x f4:20
NME 7:10
9:40
Panamun PicturCs PrEsEnts A FPANK YABLANS Producion'A Film byFPANK PEPPY
FAyE DUNAWAY MOMMIE DEAREST ExEcutiVE ProducErs DID KOONTZ and TEPENCE ONEILL
BasEd upon thE book by CHPtSTNA CPAWFOPD -ScrEEnplay by FRANK MMBLANLS FPANK PEPPY
and TRACY HOTCHIEP and ROBEPT.IGETCHELL ProducEd by FPANK MYBLANS
PG PAEMLMUNCE SUGSTEDby FRANK PEPPY A Paramount Piure
SONE MATERU MAY NOT SE SUITABLE FOR CIIDREN

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IHARRISON V1p$ OF THE
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DAILY
1:45
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