Monday, November 18, 2013

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Jack Colton: One hell of a morning has turned into a bitch of a day!
A romance writer sets off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure.
On March 30, 1984, "Romancing the Stone" made it's US-wide premiere to over 800 screens.  Its competition that weekend at the Box Office was only one other film: "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan".  "Romancing the Stone" attained only a little over $5 million that opening weekend, about half the cost in making the film, but when it was eventually released to 1,110 screens in the US, the film grossed over $76.5 million, becoming the 8th highest grossing film that year, the best film that year for Twentieth Century Fox.
"Romancing the Stone" was the third feature film directed by Robert Zemeckis.  The screenplay was written by Diane Thomas.  It was her first.  Reportedly, she was working in a cafe to support herself while writing scripts.  One day a customer came in and she pitched a script idea to him.  The customer was Michael Douglas and the pitch was for "Romancing the Stone".  Following the film's success, Diane wrote the screenplay to its sequel called "Jewel of the Nile" which, of course, became a film.  Sadly, Diane died before almost two months before its release.  Michael Douglas produced both films.  "Jewel of the Nile" was dedicated to her memory.
"Romancing the Stone" was nominated for just one Academy Award for Best Film Editing.  It didn't win the Oscar, but the film was also nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Performance by and Actress (Kathleen Turner) and Best Picture (both in the Comedy/Musical Category).  The film won awards.
This fun, comedic adventure starred Michael Douglas as Jack, Kathleen Turner as Joan, and Danny DeVito as Ralph and co-starred Zack Norman as Ira, Alfonso Arau as Raul, and Manuel Ojeda as Zolo.
Filmed in New York City, Utah, and various places throughout Mexico such as Huasca de Ocampo in Hidalgo (where the little town was), Jalapa and Veracruz in Veracruz, and Mexico City, here are some more behind-the-scenes bits of info for your cranium...
1.  Both Sylvester Stallone and Christopher Reeve turned down the role of Jack T. Colton before Michael Douglas accepted the part.
2.  According to Kathleen Turner's memoirs Michael Douglas originally offered the role of Joan to Debra Winger.  They met at a Mexican restaurant to discuss it but, according to Douglas, she, for whatever reason, ended up biting him.  She didn't get the part.
3.  Alan Silvestri was hired to do a temporary score for the film, but director Robert Zemeckis liked his work so much that he kept him on as composer.
4.  Since the story takes place in Columbia, it was intended to be filmed there.  However, reports of kidnappings in Colombia forced the location shoots to be done in Mexico.
5.  The treasure map that is integral to the movie was designed by puzzle columnist Dr. Crypton.
6.  The white car driven by Ralph is a RENAULT 4L.  In Colombia at the time, it was the highest selling car in the country and was known as the "faithful friend" (El amigo fiel) in the TV commercials.
7.  The stunt double for Kathleen Turner who did the actual mud slide scene was Jeannie Epper who was also the stunt body double for actress Lynda Carter on the "Wonder Woman" television series.
8.  The Rolling Stone that Jack finds in the dead pilot's bag is the September 9, 1982 edition, featuring Elvis Costello on the cover.
9.  The name of the enormous precious emerald stone was El Corazon ("The Heart").
10.  Though described by some film critics as a "rip-off" of 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark", the original screenplay had actually been written around 1979.
11.  Actress Kathleen Turner once said of working with director Robert Zemeckis: "I remember terrible arguments (with 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!'".
12.  The Eddy Grant song "Romancing the Stone" did not feature prominently in the film (the guitar solo can be heard in the background of the scene where Joan and Jack enter the house of her "fan," Juan) and was not included on the soundtrack album.  Although he was commisioned to write the song for the movie, the filmmakers chose not to use it.  When the movie was released and proved to be a big hit, Eddy released the song on his own.  One of the video clips of the song, however, makes prominent use of footage from various scenes of the film.
13.  In the English version of the film, Gloria speaks of "Macy's" as the department store where Joan gets sick.  The German edition of this movie says "Bloomingdale's" instead of "Macy's".
14.  Director Robert Zemeckis asked Danny DeVito to shoot a special promo for the movie.  It was to be filmed on a Malibu beach, next to a tall cliff.  For the promo, DeVito was strapped into a harness and hoisted fifty feet in the air by a huge crane.  When he was in the air, DeVito discovered that there was a house on top of the cliff, with a swimming pool terrace outside.  A woman in a bikini was lying on a deck chair next to the pool.  She jumped up and began screaming at DeVito, yelling that he was a "peeping Tom", and that she was going to call the police.  In a panic, DeVito yelled for the film crew to bring him down at once.  The film crew told him that the crane had jammed, and DeVito was left hanging in the air with the screaming woman throwing things at him from the top of the cliff.  A few minutes later, the woman told DeVito that he was being filmed for a segment of the TV show, "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes".
15.  As mentioned earlier, the film spurred the sequel "Jewel of the Nile" which was not as successful and a second one.  A second sequel, "The Crimson Eagle", went into development but was never made.  In this unproduced third picture, Jack and Joan go with their two children to Thailand and are blackmailed into stealing a precious statue.
And now you know.
Studio executives were so sure this film would flop that Robert Zemeckis was pre-emptively fired from directing "Cocoon".  It turned out to be such a success that Zemeckis was able to go forward on his own project, "Back to the Future".  "Back to the Future" was the #1 Box Office hit of 1985.
For your enjoyment, the following are picture stills introducing the key characters of the film as well as picture stills of the film itself arranged in chronological order to that of the story line.  I didn't share pictures of every scene so as to leave a little to the imagination or to encourage you to see the film for yourself.  If you haven't seen "Romancing the Stone", I highly suggest it.  Now, almost 30 years after its release, it hasn't lost its touch and is still very entertaining to watch.
First the key characters... 


Now the story line...













(Jack shows off his new crocodile skin boots made from the crocodile he has killed.)
Joan Wilder: I like your boots.
Jack Colton: Yup, that poor old yellow-tailed guy... developed a fatal case of indigestion. He died right in my arms.
Joan Wilder: I can't blame him. If I were to die there's nowhere on earth I'd rather be.
Jack Colton: I couldn't stop thinking about you. I even read one of your books.
Joan Wilder: Then you know how they all end.
Jack Colton: Yeah. Hi.
Joan Wilder: Hi.
(They kiss passionately.)


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