Romancing the Stone
|Romancing the Stone|
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Produced by||Michael Douglas|
|Written by||Diane Thomas|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Editing by||Donn Cambern
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Romancing the Stone is a 1984 American action-adventure romantic comedy. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it stars Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. The film was followed by a 1985 sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.
The film earned over $86,572,238 worldwide in box-office receipts. It also helped launch Turner to stardom, reintroduced Douglas to the public as a capable leading man, and gave Zemeckis his first box-office success. Decades later, it retains critical acclaim, with an 86% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is a lonely romance novelist in New York City who receives a treasure map mailed to her by her recently murdered brother-in-law. Her widowed sister, Elaine (Mary Ellen Trainor), calls Joan and begs her to come to Cartagena, Colombia, because Elaine has been kidnapped by bumbling antiquities smugglers Ira (Zack Norman) and Ralph (Danny DeVito), and the map is to be the ransom.
Hastily flying to Colombia, Joan is detoured from the rendezvous with Ralph by Colonel Zolo (Manuel Ojeda), the man who killed Elaine's husband. Joan ends up in the jungle and is almost killed by Zolo, but is saved by the swashbuckling American exotic bird smuggler Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas). For getting her out of the jungle and to a telephone, Joan promises to pay Jack $375.
Jack and Joan elude Zolo, who wants the treasure for himself and who chases them with military police, which he commands as a "private army". After spending a night hiding in a crashed marijuana smuggler's C-47 airplane, they encounter a drug lord named Juan (Alfonso Arau), who is a big fan of Joan's novels and who helps them escape from Zolo.
After a night of dancing and passion, Jack suggests to Joan that they find the treasure before handing over the map. They follow the clues and find the treasure: an enormous emerald called El Corazon ("The Heart"). Unknown to Jack and Joan, their trail has been picked up by Ralph, who tries to take the emerald and taunts Joan that Jack would have done the same.
But Ralph flees without the treasure when Zolo appears, and Jack and Joan are chased into a river and go over a waterfall. Jack and Joan end up on opposite sides of the raging river; Joan has the map, but Jack has the emerald. Jack directs Joan to Cartagena, promising that he will meet her there with the emerald, but she is skeptical, owing to Ralph's taunts.
In Cartagena, Joan contacts Ira, but cannot find Jack. She meets with Ira and Ralph at their base (an old fortress) and makes the exchange. As Joan and Elaine attempt to leave, they are stopped by Zolo and his men, who have captured Jack. Zolo demands the emerald and threatens Joan with the crocodiles that Ira keeps as pets. To save Joan, Jack surrenders the hidden emerald to Zolo, but a crocodile bites off Zolo's hand and swallows it along with the emerald.
As a furious gun battle takes place between Zolo's soldiers and Ira's gang, Joan and Elaine dash for safety, but they are pursued by the enraged Zolo, who eventually catches up to them, attacking Joan with the knife that she initially tossed at him. They engage in a desperate and fierce struggle with the knife. Jack tries to stop the crocodile from escaping but lets it go when he sees that Joan is in grave danger. After out-fighting and out-witting Zolo during the protracted death struggle, Zolo gets up, entirely furious, and charges Joan, who eventually dodges his wild knife slashes, knocking Zolo into the crocodile pit. Ira and his men escape, but Ralph is left behind as the authorities arrive. After a kiss, Jack dives into the water after the crocodile, leaving Joan behind with her sister.
Some time later, Joan is back in New York City, delivering a new manuscript based on her adventure, and her publisher, Gloria (Holland Taylor), loves it. Returning home, she finds Jack waiting for her in a sailboat. He caught the crocodile (which he says died from a "fatal case of indigestion") and had it made into a pair of boots, sold the emerald, and bought the boat he had told Joan was his dream. They go off together, planning to sail around the world.
- Michael Douglas as Jack T. Colton
- Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder
- Danny DeVito as Ralph
- Zack Norman as Ira
- Alfonso Arau as Juan
- Manuel Ojeda as Colonel Zolo
- Holland Taylor as Gloria
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Elaine Wilder
- Eve Smith as Mrs. Irwin
- Joe Nesnow as Super
- José Chávez as Santos
- Evita Muñoz "Chachita" as Hefty Woman
- Camillo García as Bus Driver
- Rodrigo Puebla as Bad Hombre
- Paco Morayta as Hotel Clerk
- Kymberly Herrin as Angelina
- Bill Burton as Jesse
- Ted White as Grogan
Production and release
Filming locations included Veracruz, Mexico (Fort of San Juan de Ulúa); Mazatlán, Mexico; and Manila, Philippines. The scene where Turner and Douglas get separated on opposite banks on a whitewater river, about two-thirds into the movie, was filmed on the Rio Antigua near the town of Jalcomulco, Veracruz.
Although, upon its release, comparisons to Raiders of the Lost Ark were inevitable (Time magazine called the movie "a distaff Raiders rip-off"), the screenplay for Romancing had actually been written five years earlier. It was written by a Malibu waitress named Diane Thomas in what would end up being her only screenplay; she died in a car crash shortly after the film's release. Though Thomas received solo writing credit, several uncredited script doctors helped to refine the film's screenplay.
Turner later said of the film's production, "I remember terrible arguments [with Robert Zemeckis] doing Romancing. He's a film-school grad, fascinated by cameras and effects. I never felt that he knew what I was having to do to adjust my acting to some of his damn cameras – sometimes he puts you in ridiculous postures. I'd say, 'This is not helping me! This is not the way I like to work, thank you!'" Despite their difficulties on the film, Zemeckis would go on to work with Turner again, casting her as the voice of Jessica Rabbit in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Studio insiders expected Romancing the Stone to flop (to the point that, after viewing a rough cut of the film, the producers of the then under development Cocoon fired Zemeckis as director of that film), but the film became a surprise hit. It became 20th Century Fox's "only big hit" of 1984. Zemeckis later stated that the success of Romancing the Stone allowed him to make Back to the Future, which was an even larger success. The film's success also led to an equally successful sequel, 1985's The Jewel of the Nile, without Zemeckis at the helm but with Douglas, Turner, and DeVito all returning. Another sequel, called The Crimson Eagle, never made it past the development stage. This planned yet unproduced sequel would have seen Jack Colton and his partner Joan Wilder take their two teenage children to Thailand where they would find themselves blackmailed into stealing a priceless statue. DeVito reunited himself, Douglas and Turner in his 1989 film The War of the Roses. In 2005 and again in 2008, Michael Douglas was working on a second sequel entitled Racing the Monsoon, although there have been no further developments in recent years.
The film was well received by critics and is considered by some as one of the best films of 1984. It holds an 86% approval rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 43 reviews.
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Musical or Comedy – Kathleen Turner
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress – Kathleen Turner
- Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing – ADR
- Stuntman Award for Most Spectacular Stunt – Vince Deadrick Jr., Terry Leonard
- Academy Award for Best Film Editing – Donn Cambern, Frank Morriss
- American Cinema Editors Award for Best Edited Feature Film – Donn Cambern, Frank Morriss
- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay – Diane Thomas
- Romancing the Stone (1984) - Box office / business
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p. 260.
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- "Biography for Diane Thomas". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
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- Horowitz, Mark. "Back with a Future," American Film July/Aug. 1988. pp. 32–35.
- "Musical Chairs in Hollywood". Time. September 24, 1984. Retrieved February 9, 2007.
- Supplements for the Back to the Future DVD.
- The Amazon.com page of the Romancing the Stone novelization, mentioning Catherine Lanigan's ghost authorship of the book. http://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Stone-Joan-Wilder/dp/0380872625/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355203745&sr=1-1&keywords=romancing+the+stone
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- "The 42nd Annual Golden Globe Awards (1985)". Golden Globe Award. Retrieved July 27, 2012.