The Jewel of the Nile

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For the 1994 Nice & Smooth album, see Jewel of the Nile.
The Jewel of the Nile
The Jewel of the Nile (1985) film poster.jpg
Promotional film poster
Directed by Lewis Teague
Produced by Michael Douglas
Written by
Based on Characters 
by Diane Thomas
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography Jan De Bont
Edited by
  • Peter Boita
  • Michael Ellis
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 11, 1985 (1985-12-11)
Running time
107 mins
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $96.7 million[2]

The Jewel of the Nile is a 1985 action-adventure romantic comedy and a sequel to the 1984 film Romancing the Stone, directed by Lewis Teague and produced by one of its stars, Michael Douglas. The film reunites Douglas with Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito in reprising their roles. Like Romancing the Stone, the opening scene takes place in one of Joan's novels. This time, instead of Jesse and Angelina in Joan's wild-west scenario, Joan and Jack are about to be married when pirates attack their ship. The Jewel of the Nile sends its characters off on a new adventure in a fictional African desert, in an effort to find the fabled "Jewel of the Nile."

The Jewel of the Nile is notable for its top 40 theme song performed by Billy Ocean, "When the Going gets Tough, The Tough Get Going."[3]


At a port in the South of France, six months after they met, the romance between Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) and Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) has become rocky. While Joan is suffering from a case of writer's block and cannot finish her next romantic novel, Jack only wants to wander the seas aimlessly on his boat, the Angelina. Later that afternoon at a book signing engagement held by her publisher, Gloria (Holland Taylor), Joan meets a charming Arab ruler named Omar (Spiros Focás). Omar confesses to be a fan and offers Joan the opportunity to write his biography. Joan leaves with Omar, despite Jack's disapproval. Jack runs into Ralph (Danny DeVito), the swindler from Jack's past in Colombia. Recently out of prison, Ralph tracks down Jack, wanting to retrieve the stone Jack had stolen. An Arab named Tarak (Paul David Magid), tells Jack of Omar's true intentions and that he has the "Jewel of the Nile". Suddenly, the Angelina explodes, having been sabotaged under Omar's orders. Ralph and Jack team up to find not only Joan but also the fabled jewel.

Omar wanted Joan to come with him so she will write a flattering account of his rule in Kadir. During her stay at his palace, she discovers that Omar is a brutal dictator, not the enlightened ruler who will unite the Arab world. In the palace jail, Joan meets Al-Julhara (Avner Eisenberg), a holy man who Omar fears. [Note 1] Learning that the prisoner is really the "Jewel of the Nile", Joan offers to take Al-Julhara to Kadir. The pair escape the palace, and with the help of Jack who hijacks Omar's F-16 fighter aircraft, are able to flee Omar's army into the desert. Ralph is left to fend for himself in the desert, captured by the rebel Sufi tribe led by Tarak, who has sworn to protect the Jewel so he can fulfill his people's destiny.

Encountering a Nubian mountain African tribe, Jack is forced to battle for Joan's hand, with the son of the chief. Joan tells Jack, that the Jewel is Al-Julhara. At an upcoming festival in Kadir, Omar uses a smoke and mirror special effect created by an English rock & roll technician (Daniel Peacock). Omar tries to convince onlookers that he is a prophet who will unite the Arab world. Jack, Joan and Al-Julhara arrive to unmask Omar as a fraud, but they are all captured. Omar sets up an elaborate and fiendish trap from The Savage Secret, Joan's most popular novel. Jack and Joan are suspended over a deep pit; the ropes holding up Jack are soaked with goat's blood and being rapidly chewed away by rats, while those supporting Joan are slowly being dissolved by drops of acid. Al-Julhara, however, is simply locked up in stocks. Ralph, along with Tarak and his Sufi followers who have come to rescue Al-Julhara, stumbles onto them and inadvertently saves them.

As Omar takes center stage to address the Arab people, Jack and Joan disrupt the ceremony while Tarak and his Sufi followers battle Omar's guards below. A fire breaks out when part of Omar's platform apparatus crashes into the stage, engulfing it in flames. Jack and Joan are separated in the chaos and Omar corners her at the top of the burning scaffolding surrounding the stage. With help from Ralph, Jack rides a crane to the top of the scaffolding and knocks Omar over the side and down into the flames below. Once Omar dies, Al-Julhara rises as the real spiritual leader (fulfilling the prophecy by walking through fire unharmed).

The following day, Jack and Joan are finally married by Al-Julhara. While he is genuinely happy for Jack and Joan, Ralph laments sadly that once again, he has nothing to show for his efforts. He is then acknowledged as being a true Sufi by Tarak, signified by being presented with a priceless jeweled dagger. Ralph is genuinely touched and happily accepts the gift. As Al-Julhara and his people, along with Ralph, Tarak, the Sufi and Gloria wave goodbye from the river's dock. Jack and Joan sail down the Nile.


  • Paul David Magid as Tarak
  • Howard Jay Patterson as Barak
  • Randall Edwin Nelson as Karak
  • Samuel Ross Williams as Arak
  • Timothy Daniel Furst as Sarak


With a $21 million budget, principal photography began April 22, 1985 with filming wrapped on July 25, 1985.[4] Location shooting took place at Villefranche-sur-Mer and the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, Cannes, France and Meknes, Morocco, among other locations, including Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah.[5][6]

[3] At the time, both Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas only made the sequel because they were contractually obligated to do so, although Douglas was much more invested in the film as its producer.[7] At one point during pre-production, Turner who had negotiated script approval, tried to back out of the project, until 20th Century Fox threatened her with a $25 million lawsuit. Douglas intervened on her behalf and insured that a rewrite was made.[8] Turner, Douglas and DeVito would later reunite in the unrelated film The War of the Roses.

Filming in North Africa was dogged with problems from unbearable 120 degree F heat to problems with the local crew but the most troubling concern was that the director showed that he was not up to the task of helming an action film. After one massive night scene that was hours in setup, and cast and crew in place, it was only then that someone noticed that there was no film in the cameras. As producer, Michael Douglas exploded; the whole debacle had to be re-filmed another day, only after the raw film stock was finally located.[9] More problems with local customs cropped up, with film and equipment mysteriously held up by customs until the requisite bribes were paid. In the end, being only three weeks behind schedule was a minor triumph for Douglas.[10]

Approximately two weeks before principal photography began, an aircraft carrying Richard Dawking (production designer) and Brian Coates (production manager) crashed during location scouting over the countryside of Morocco, killing all on board. The film is dedicated to the memory of Dawking and Coates, as well as screenwriter Diane Thomas, who had died in an automobile accident.[11] During filming in Morocco, Douglas and Turner flying in an executive jet aircraft, had a near-accident when their aircraft wing struck the runway in a heavy landing.[10]

Film model of a F-16B two-seat fighter aircraft used Used in the films Jewel of the Nile and The Living Daylights (1987) on display at Atlas Film Studios, Ouarzazate in Morocco.

The use of a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon mock-up was a key element of the main characters escaping from a fortified town. The wooden and styrofoam mockup was built on an automobile chassis and powered by a 350ci Chevrolet engine.[12]

As with the first film, the novelization of the sequel was credited to Joan Wilder, the character played by Kathleen Turner; both books were actually ghost written by Catherine Lanigan.[13]

The Jewel of the Nile was the final film released on the RCA SelectaVision CED video format. It was also released in other media formats.[14]


"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going", performed by Billy Ocean, plays during the film's end credits. Douglas, Turner, and DeVito also co-starred with Ocean in the MTV music video of the same name. The soundtrack features 1980s rap group Whodini and their single "Freaks Come Out at Night" as Michael Douglas and company make their way through the desert on camel back[15] as well as "Party (No Sheep Is Safe Tonight)" by The Willesden Dodgers during the campfire party scene.

Arista released a soundtrack album on record, cassette and compact disc.

  1. When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going - Billy Ocean (5:43)
  2. I'm In Love - Ruby Turner (3:30)
  3. African Breeze - Hugh Masekela and Jonathan Butler (6:00)
  4. Party (No Sheep Is Safe Tonight) - The Willesden Dodgers (5:10)
  5. Freaks Come Out At Night - Whodini (4:45)
  6. The Jewel Of The Nile - Precious Wilson (4:18)
  7. Legion (Here I Come) - Mark Shreeve (4:49)
  8. Nubian Dance - The Nubians (3:35)
  9. Love Theme - Jack Nitzsche (2:26)
  10. The Plot Thickens - Jack Nitzsche (4:15)


While The Jewel of the Nile grossed more than its predecessor, the film was much less successful critically and helped to effectively kill the franchise.[2] [7]

Critics felt the film was loaded with numerous plot holes and that it lacked the first film's original charm. The New York Times opened its review by writing, "There's nothing in The Jewel of the Nile that wasn't funnier or more fanciful in Romancing the Stone."[16] Roger Ebert agreed that "... it is not quite the equal of Romancing the Stone," but praised the interplay between Douglas and Turner. "It seems clear," he wrote, "that they like each other and are having fun during the parade of ludicrous situations in the movie, and their chemistry is sometimes more entertaining than the contrivances of the plot."[7]


Talk of another film in the romance/adventure series again featuring Douglas, Turner and De Vito reprising their roles never got beyond a draft. In The Crimson Eagle Jack Colton and Joan Wilder take their two teenage kids to Thailand where they are blackmailed into stealing a priceless statue.[17] The project languished until 1997, when Douglas as the tentative producer of the film, announced he was no longer interested.[18]



  1. ^ Al-Julhara in Arabic is "The Jewel".


  1. ^ Solomon 1989, p. 260.
  2. ^ a b "Receipts: 'Jewel of the Nile'." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Feaster, Felicia. "Articles: 'The Jewel of the Nile'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "Notes: 'The Jewel of the Nile'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "Jewel Of The Nile filming locations (1985)." Riviera On Film, 2014. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  6. ^ Eliot 2013, p. 142.
  7. ^ a b c Ebert, Roger."Review: 'The Jewel of the Nile'." The Chicago Sun-Times, December 11, 1985. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  8. ^ Appelo, Tim and Greg Kilday. "Kathleen Turner: The last movie star." Entertainment Weekly, August 2, 1991. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  9. ^ Eliot 2013, p. 143.
  10. ^ a b Turner 2008, unpaginated.
  11. ^ Eliot 2013, p. 142.
  12. ^ "The Jewel of the Nile". The Internet Movie Plane Database. Retrieved: March 28, 2016.
  13. ^ Wilder, Joan (pseudonym), Catherine Lanigan (ghostwriter). The Jewel of the Nile (novelization). Good Reads. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  14. ^ "RCA SelectaVision VideoDisc FAQ - Why did RCA abandon further development of the CED system in April 1984?" Retrieved: March 28, 2016.
  15. ^ Cabbbage, Jack. "The freaks come out at night." 80s Music Channel, October 4, 2008. Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  16. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Film: 'Jewel of the Nile'." The New York Times, December 11, 1985.Retrieved: March 27, 2016.
  17. ^ Eliot 2013, p. 146.
  18. ^ Morris, Clint. "Exclusive : Romancing the Stone remake still on?" Moviehole, August 23, 2011. Retrieved: March 28, 2016.


  • Eliot, Marc. Michael Douglas: A Biography. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-3079-5237-0.
  • Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  • Turner, Kathleen. Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles. New York: Springboard Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-4465-8112-7.

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