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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Adventure > Romancing the Stone/Jewel Of The Nile - Special Edition DVDs

Romancing the Stone/Jewel Of The Nile - Special Edition DVDs

 

 

 

Romancing the Stone (Special Edition)

 

Picture: B   Sound: B-   Extras: B+   Film: B+

 

 

Romancing the Stone became the sleeper hit of the spring of 1984, and even though it's one of those hit films that never finished No. 1 for a weekend (No. 2 was the highest it ever got), it was nevertheless an amazingly steady grosser throughout that spring.  In an example of what the industry calls "legs," it finished among the top five films for nine straight weeks.

 

It's also the movie that established Michael Douglas as a bankable leading man, rejuvenated the career of director Robert Zemeckis (he went on to direct the blockbuster Back to the Future the next year) and proved Kathleen Turner could do a lot more than act sexy.

 

Produced by Douglas, Romancing the Stone is a high-spirited cocktail of action, comedy and romance that's one of those rare movies with something for almost everyone.

 

Turner plays Joan Wilder, a romance novelist whose recurring main character is a tall, dark and handsome stranger named Jesse, who always arrives just in the nick of time to save the damsel in distress.  But Joan herself is somewhat distressed.  She leads a lonely life writing in her New York City apartment with only her cat to care keep her company.

 

However, things quickly go from humdrum to downright scary for Joan when she receives a phone call from her sister in Colombia, who informs Joan that she's been kidnapped, and Joan must come to Colombia immediately and bring along a treasure map that's been mailed to her which the kidnappers will accept as the ransom.

 

Joan gets to Colombia as soon as possible, but gets waylaid after boarding the wrong bus, which leaves her stranded in the middle of the rain forest.  But just as she's being threatened by a murderous Colombian general, who also wants the map, she's rescued by one Jack T. Colton (Douglas), an American expatriate looking to strike it rich.  Could this be her Jesse?  If so, he's a lot rougher around the edges than the stalwart hero of her novels.

 

As bickering turns to bonding then romance, Joan and Jack are thrust into a series of adventures involving deep mountain gorges, raging rapids, waterfalls and deadly crocodiles as they constantly must elude the Colombian general.  The comically inept henchman (Danny De Vito as Ralph) of the sister's kidnapper (Zack Norman as Ira) also joins the chase.

 

More than 22 years after it initial release, Romancing the Stone is great fun to revisit.  It holds up extremely well as a fast-paced, energetic and smartly-written action/comedy/romance with never a dull moment.  An essential ingredient to the movie's winning formula is the genuinely great chemistry between the charming Douglas and a radiant Turner.  The combination of Douglas, Turner and De Vito proved so effective, and they got along so well, that they went on to make two more successful films together before the end of the '80s.

 

Fox's new special edition of Romancing the Stone presents the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround sound.  This edition offers brand new extras that include retrospective interviews with Douglas, Turner and De Vito, a tribute to screenwriter Diane Thomas, who died in an automobile accident in 1985, and several deleted scenes.  For some odd reason, the original theatrical trailer is absent from this edition, and there's no audio commentary even though the sequel, Jewel of the Nile, does offer a trailer and a commentary.

 

 

 

Jewel of the Nile (Special Edition)

 

Picture: B   Sound: B-   Extras: B+   Film: B

 

 

If Romancing the Stone was released by Fox in late March of 1984 without much fanfare and modest expectations, its sequel, Jewel of the Nile, was Fox's big Christmas release of 1985.  It did nearly identical business, finishing in the top five for seven consecutive weeks, but like its predecessor, it never got higher than the weekend's No. 2 movie.

 

Jewel of the Nile doesn't quite reach the heights of Romancing the Stone -- the script isn't as sharp -- but it's still a lot of fun and better than most sequels.

 

This time Joan, Jack and Ralph find themselves in a North African desert country where the "jewel" turns out to be a benign holy man who's supposed to be the savior of a people currently ruled by a ruthless dictator.  Much derring-do ensues.

 

The sunny desert setting contrasts nicely to the rainy jungle setting of the first one, and De Vito's role is expanded here in a subplot that's quite amusing in its political incorrectness 21 years later.

 

Fox's Special Edition of Jewel of the Nile is another solid 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer.  The sound is 4.0 Dolby Digital Surround.  Like Romancing, this features recently-recorded retrospective interviews with the stars, director Lewis Teague (Cujo, Cat's Eye) and screenwriter Mark Rosenthal.  There's also deleted scenes and an audio commentary by Teague.

 

 

Chuck O'Leary


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