Romancing the Stone (1984)

“You’re the best time I’ve ever had.”

Romancing the Stone Poster

Synopsis:
A romance novelist (Kathleen Turner) hoping to rescue her kidnapped sister (Mary Ellen Trainor) from jewel thieves falls in love with a rugged adventurer (Michael Douglas) she meets in the Amazonian jungle.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “very entertaining, very funny roller-coaster ride of a movie” — shot on location in Colombia — possesses “many clever touches”. He notes that the “film’s surprise treasure is Turner’s thoroughly dazzling and likable characterization” as Joan Wilder, a woman who switches “from being everybody’s easy touch in New York to a tough-as-nails (but still sweet and sentimental) heroine in the real jungle”; indeed, in his Alternate Oscars book, he names Turner Best Actress of the Year for her performance. In this book, he writes that “we root for Joan as we do for few heroines in adventure films”, in part because Turner “and screenwriter Diane Thomas created a woman” who is not only “alluring to men” but appealing to women. Turner’s character is “funny, smart, and pretty” — an “inspiration for every woman viewer who needs a nudge to pursue her exciting dreams”.

Interestingly, Peary’s review(s) focus almost exclusively on Turner rather than going into detail about the storyline itself. He does note that one of the film’s highlights involves “a horde of mean peasant-highwaymen [who] turn out to be… fanatics” of Wilder’s romance novels (this scene is gut-tickling), but the entire screenplay is surprisingly engaging, full of nicely played comedic touches and heart-racing plot twists. The on-location shooting — helmed by director Robert Zemeckis and DP Dean Cundey — effectively transports us to a world of exotic danger and excitement, and Douglas is well-cast as Turner’s reluctant (at first) compatriot and lover. It’s too bad that the film’s sequel — The Jewel of the Nile (1985), not scripted by Thomas or directed by Zemeckis — is purportedly a disappointment; it’s not listed in GFTFF.

Note: Thomas’s untimely death just before the release of The Jewel of the Nile was quite tragic; click here for more details.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder (named Best Actress of the Year in Peary’s Alternate Oscars)
    Romancing the Stone Turner
  • Michael Douglas as Jack Colton
    Romancing the Stone Douglas
  • Many rousing adventure scenes
    Romancing the Stone Adventure
  • Fine cinematography
    Romancing the Stone Cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as a fun romantic comedy-adventure with a likeable female lead.

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One Response to “Romancing the Stone (1984)”

  1. A once-must, simply as clever and satisfying comic entertainment.

    I hadn’t seen this in many years and, on a rewatch, it still feels fresh. Thomas’ screenplay is indeed refreshing for its female-focus angle, and the rapport between Turner and Douglas serves up infectious chemistry.

    The DVD extra has a ‘looking back’ on it, with those involved discussing just how (incredibly) difficult it was shooting the film on-location in a foreign environment that offered untold challenges. Still…the film appears (almost) as light as a feather.

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