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Divorce American Style

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Divorce American Style, starring Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Jason Robards
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Divorce American Style (1967), starring Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Jason Robards

Synopsis for Divorce American Style

 After 17 years, things have got too predictable and stale. They argue, they visit a marriage counselor, Richard (drunk) visits a prostitute. They split up. After meeting other people, they are re-united at a night club where they realize that their marriage was better than their divorce.

Editorial review of Divorce American Style

An unhappy couple discover breaking up really is hard to do in this satiric comedy. Richard Harmon (Dick Van Dyke) and his wife, Barbara (Debbie Reynolds), are a typical married couple in American Suburbia – which is to say they’re not very happy with each other. After 15 years together, Richard and Barbara decide they’ve reached the end of their collective rope, and after several rounds of marriage counseling proves fruitless, they file for divorce.

Between negotiating child custody, alimony, and finding new places to live, Richard and Barbara discover divorce isn’t appreciably easier than being married; meanwhile, Richard makes a new friend in Nelson Downes (Jason Robards), a fellow divorcé who would love nothing more than for Richard to marry his former wife, Nancy (Jean Simmons), and take away the burden of alimony. Also featuring Van Johnson, Lee Grant, Shelley Berman, and Eileen Brennan in her first film role, Divorce American Style earned an Oscar nomination for Norman Lear and Robert Kaufman‘s original screenplay.


David Grieff (Shelley Berman): Well now, to the property settlement. I’ve prepared a list here of major items of community property with some suggestions as to how they may be distributed amongst the parties.
Richard Harmon (Dick Van Dyke): [looking at the list] Seems to be fair. Split right down the middle. The house to Barbara; the mortgage payments to me. The furnishings, color TV and piano to Barbara; the monthly payments to me. The insurance benefits to Barbara; the premiums to me. The uranium in our uranium mine to Barbara…
David Grieff (Shelley Berman): Uranium mine?
Richard Harmon (Dick Van Dyke): And the shaft to me!

Dede Murphy (Lee Grant): So, since when do men grow up? They just grow old. You know what I call this apartment sometimes? Boys’ Town.

Nelson Downes (Jason Robards): I can imagine how anxious you must be to find the right woman. Your present wife a blonde maybe?
Richard Harmon (Dick Van Dyke): Ya, ya.
Nelson Downes (Jason Robards): Well sir, a nice cool brunette would be just what the doctor ordered.


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