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Scarecrow on Seattle: DIVORCE WARS: A LOVE STORY

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.






Divorce Wars: A Love Story (1982)

These days when a made-for-TV project is "set" in Seattle, it usually means they shot an afternoon's worth of B-roll footage and then did the rest of the filming elsewhere (yeah, I'm looking at you Grey's Anatomy and The Killing). Believe it or not there was an era when all sorts of filmed television entertainment was actually done here in town and, as evidence, I present to you Divorce Wars: A Love Story. Following in the footsteps of Kramer vs. Kramer and Ordinary People this ABC Movie of the Week was produced when divorce was a hot topic in movies (including the also made-in-Seattle Twice in a Lifetime). The plot follows Jack Sturgess (Tom Selleck, between Magnum P.I. seasons), a busy local divorce lawyer who is up to his briefcase in numerous heated cases while, ironically, his relationship with his wife (Jane Curtain, fresh from Saturday Night Live) is falling apart. It's a story that, really, could have been shot just about anywhere but the producers came to their senses and picked our wonderful city.

Divorce Wars is jam packed with local scenery and was shot entirely on location all over town-much to the delight of local Selleck stalkers. Sturgess takes his morning jog past Kerry Park and then heads to his office, located downtown with a swell view of Elliott Bay. He spends a lot of time in the hallways and courtrooms of the King County Courthouse (mistakenly thanked in the credits as the Kings [sic] County Courthouse). One of his lawyer buddies is portrayed by Ted (G Sale) D'Arms and in one scene Sturgess and his pals get together for drinks at Vito's. Sturgess buys a Senegalese flag at the old Ballard flag store, and also finds time to teach law at the University of Washington. He is shown strolling through Red Square and lecturing in an anonymous classroom. It is here he meets a young female lawyer (Mimi Rogers) with whom he begins having an affair. At one point Tom and Mimi take a leisurely sailboat ride through the Ship Canal and enjoy Seattle's blue skies and fresh air.

Throughout the film, Sturgess' cases are juxtaposed with his personal life. His situation is treated relatively seriously and sensitively as the estranged couple looks deep into their hearts to decide if they can remain friends in the face of divorce. On the other hand, Sturgess' clients-including Joan Bennett (in her final performance), Viveca Lindfors, and Charles Haid-and their cases are played for comedy and feature vengeful spouses doing things like shoving Basset Hounds in each other's faces or pushing the husband's car off a ferry into Elliott Bay.

-Spenser Hoyt


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