John Belushi's character "Ernie Souchak" is loosely based on popular, now deceased Chicago columnist Mike Royko, whose writings on political corruption in the Windy City, first for the Chicago Daily News, briefly for the Chicago Sun-Times and then to the end of his life for the Chicago Tribune, were legendary.
According to Dan Aykroyd, most of the production crew on Neighbors (1981) was on cocaine throughout filming, with the inevitable result that John Belushi was sucked back into an addiction he had been trying to quit. Belushi had been completely clean and sober during the making of Continental Divide (1981) which he shot just before Neighbors (1981).
Actress Blair Brown was cast in the co-starring lead role of Dr. Nell Porter because she resembled a young Katharine Hepburn.
Penultimate film of actor John Belushi, first released in the same years as Belushi's last movie Neighbors (1981). A line of dialogue is chillingly prophetic when Belushi's character Ernie Souchak says to Nell Porter (Blair Brown: "All you do is kiss me and look at me like I am gonna die".
First cinema movie to be made by his Steven Spielberg's production company Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg being an executive producer on the film.
The Colorado mountain cabin, built with an exterior and an interior, was originally located at a higher elevation on the mountain. Production Designer Peter Jamison, in selecting the cabin's original site with director Michael Apted, did not consider the site's elevation until shooting began. The elevation's thin air caused major problems for both cast and crew, especially John Belushi in his overweight condition. Belushi had to be constantly revived with oxygen by the medic. The production made the decision to move the cabin site to a 1000 foot lower elevation. The entire cabin, and all the bushes and trees, were moved lock, stock, and barrel to the new site. In town, a duplicate interior cabin had been constructed in a warehouse for interior filming, without the exterior log frame. During this logistic cabin move, Belushi put himself on a diet, realizing his weight prevented him from performing his character at mountain elevations. Watching scenes filmed at the exterior Colorado cabin, you see the weight change on his body frame. With the drop in his weight, moving with the film company to film the Chicago scenes, Belushi actually began to visualize himself as a romantic leading man, and kept at his diet to lose more of his body fat. Filming in Colorado was canceled after early snowfalls, preventing completion of the cabin scenes. The company moved to Chicago earlier than scheduled. Construction foreman-supervisor Doug Vlaming and his crew dismantled the mountain cabin, loading the entire set on flatbed trucks. The set and set dressing returned to Universal City Studios and were reassembled on stage over an enormous scaffold frame duplicating the Colorado terrain's scaled hillside. Universal Studios' green department duplicated every tree, grass and dirt ground cover, shrub, bush, and rock from location reference photos. Linda Spheeris' set decorating crew duplicated the Colorado interior. When the company moved back to Universal Studios, the mountain scenes were the first to resume the daily schedule, including the exterior mountain lion shots. Filming in the controlled stage environment was much easier than filming this scene in the Colorado mountain wilderness. The paint department utilized the floor space beneath the high end of the scaled scaffold mountain hilltop for their paint work area. It was notoriously nicknamed the Pharmacy, because of the drug exchanges which occurred in the area, and also became a favorite hideout for Belushi during his stage work.
Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg as a favor to writer Lawrence Kasdan, who had previously written Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) for Spielberg. This same year, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) producer George Lucas served as Executive Producer for Body Heat (1981), which Kasdan directed.
The name of Nell Porter (Blair Brown)'s favorite eagle was Bruno. The number of bald-headed eagles (aka bald eagles; Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the USA which the film's story said remained was two thousand. At the time that this film was made and released, the species in the USA was threatened and endangered, but since this time, populations of the species have increased and are no longer at dangerously low levels.
The day that Lawrence Kasdan's agent put the script on the market, at least four studios instantly starting lobbying for it.
Actress Blair Brown was Golden Globe Award nominated in 1982 for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical for her performance in this picture but lost out to Bernadette Peters for Pennies from Heaven (1981).
According to the American Film Institute, John Belushi and Blair Brown "arrived in [Colorado] before the start of principal photography to study mountain climbing with uncredited technical advisors Bob Culp and Duncan Ferguson, allowing the actors to participate in many of their climbing scenes."
James Caan and Christopher Walken were considered for the male lead of Ernie Souchak which in the end was cast with actor-comedian John Belushi.
First produced screenplay of a cinema movie of writer-producer-director Lawrence Kasdan.
The picture's cinematographer John Bailey would go on to lense many of screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan's movies when Kasdan became a film director.
An early example of filmmakers putting "1138" in their films as an in-joke with George Lucas, referring to his first film THX-1138. The number can be seen on a taxi (with the camera lingering on the car a bit longer than necessary) as John Belushi leaves the train station in Chicago.
According to the American Film Institute: "A train stop scene, supposedly set in Cedar Rapids, IA, was filmed in Kalamazoo, MI, but neither ID nor MI receive an onscreen acknowledgment as a film location."
Second of two collaborations of actor John Belushi and Steven Spielberg who had previously collaborated on 1941 (1979) which Spielberg had directed. On Continental Divide (1981), Spielberg was an executive producer.
Actress Blair Brown was cast in the co-starring lead role of Dr. Nell Porter as she resembled a young Katharine Hepburn.
John Belushi prepared for his role by working out every day under the guidance of martial artist Bill Wallace
The film's title is a geographical term for a drainage divide on a continent. Also known as a divide or water divide, it is a topographical line that divides adjacent drainage catchment basins. In the Colorado mountains where this film is set, it is a dividing range which lies along high ridges and peaks. The specific divide seen in this movie is 'The Continental Divide of the Americas' which is also known as 'The Continental Gulf of Division' or 'The Great Divide'. This divide is the most distinguished one in the USA as is tracks a line of high peaks along the chief Rocky Mountains ranges at a much higher altitude than other of the American divides
The nick-name that Ernie Souchak (John Belushi) called the "Continental Divide" was the "Intercontinental Crack".
The movie's closing credits declare that this picture was: "Filmed on location in Colorado, Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles."
The film is dedicated to Andy Goodman. The picture's closing credits dedication title card reads: " "For Andy Goodman".
The female lead of Nell Porter was originally offered to Jill Clayburgh but in the end was cast with actress Blair Brown.
The title of the column immediately following "Room Wanted - Quiet Tenant" is "Yablonowitz Finger Holds The Trigger". It is briefly shown while Nell Porter (Blair Brown) browses Ernie Souchak (John Belushi)'s collection of columns.
The picture features landscape environment as a key setting which has been the trademark of writer-director Lawrence Kasdan written and directed pictures Silverado (1985), Wyatt Earp (1994), Darling Companion (2012), and Grand Canyon (1991), with Kasdan also writing the screenplays for Continental Divide (1981) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
The name of the newspaper that John Belushi's character Ernie Souchak worked for was the 'Chicago Sun-Times' which is a real-life American paper. The billboard advertisement slogan that publicized the newspaper column read: "Ernie Souchak - One reason people turn to the Bright One!".
Halliwell's described this film as "an old fashioned comedy, a cross between Bringing Up Baby (1938) and Woman of the Year (1942).
Final film as just a screenwriter for Lawrence Kasdan before he became a director as well with the same year's Body Heat (1981).
Because of the Chicago filming logistics and the planned filming at the Universal Studio stages, as well as the Los Angeles location work, Hub Braden, was assigned by William D. DeCinces, Universal Studios' Art Department & Studio Services Manager, to work with Peter Jamison as his art director. Braden had been the art director to resume and finish Peter Jamison's Barbra Streisand-Gene Hackman film All Night Long (1981) directed by Jean-Claude Tramont. The film had been interrupted by an actor's strike. Jamison was now working on Continental Divide (1981). He was required to fly to Chicago with the cinematographer who would direct second unit for process plates outside the train at the tracks and platform area in the Chicago train station. Braden consulted with Jamison and both directors, regarding building a duplicate train car exterior and interior compartment and corridors, on stage, for the process plate filming of the train's interior scenes. Braden's resume had included designing-art directing the 1979-80 NBC-TV Supertrain (1979) series which had required extensive process plate filming. Together, discussions between Jamison and Braden included designing the train, designing stage sets to build back at the studio, and locations in Los Angeles. A major penthouse interior set focused their attention because this set required immediate attention related to the film schedule at the studio. Back on the West Coast, plans, elevations and models were prepared and sent to Jamison, in Chicago, for his meetings with director Michael Apted. A dining room featured a mirrored wall at a restaurant the two had dinner in Chicago; this became a focal novel point in the stage set design. When Linda Spheeris returned to the studio to begin dressing the stage sets, arriving a week earlier than Jamison, walking the stage set with Braden, Spheeris commented why the room looks exactly like the Architectural Digest photograph of the Chicago penthouse that Peter copied! Good job! Braden's reaction was why didn't he just tell us to get the issue. They wouldn't of had the design grief putting this set on paper! The set's dining room mirror wall were vertical twelve inch wide, floor to ceiling high, beveled mirrors centered on pivot rods. The cinematographer just had to slightly angle each panel avoiding seeing a camera and floor lighting equipment. Tricky, but the mirror wall reflected the room, the actors, and the Chicago city buildings' rear flood-light-Chroma-trans-backings surrounding the penthouse glass window walls.