FILMS… A Life Lesson in Love from Romancing the Stone (1984)



A Wilder Way To Find True Love…


A novelist meets true love unexpectedly during her travels to help her kidnapped sister.


Romancing the Stone | #TBT Trailer | 20th Century FOX, 20th Century Fox and photos © 20th Century Fox


As a kid, I was a hopeless romantic. I remember having a record (ask your mum) with Disney songs on it including Snow White’s “Some Day my Prince will come” and hoping one day he would materialise. When I thought about him, I believed he’d be from somewhere in the world, going to school and other more mundane things.

This led to inevitable school girl crushes on TV presenters, Dallas stars and characters – such as J. R. Ewing – and other random TV and film actors. Obviously, this love wouldn’t be reciprocated no matter how much I wanted it to or dreamed about and it didn’t in real life too as I was painfully awkward with boys.

So escaping to the movies and TV, I learned often as not that you could meet the love of your life usually in an unusual way and when you least expected it.  In the movies of this time, the mid-1980s, true love often appeared unexpectedly. Be it with a mermaid – the romance between Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah’s characters in Splash (1984) – or tied up naked to him as in Surrender (1987) as with Sally Field and Michael Caine, true love found a way.

However, this lesson was reinforced to me largely due to the to be reviewed film, Romancing the Stone (1984). On rewatching it, the film reminded me of how I changed from being a hopeless romantic to a hopeful romantic as the lead character Joan Wilder did (and said) in the film.

Romancing the Stone begins with a Wild West bodice ripper story where a young hapless, woman is saved from the bad guys by her true love, the mysterious hero, Jesse. As they ride off into the sunset, this story is revealed to be the ending of the romance novel. Much to my relief, as I detest these films with a passion.

The book is shown to be written by the true heroine of this film, Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner). Joan is dowdy, single, with a cat and living alone in 1980s New York. She appears unconfident and a dreamer. It seems she pours her romantic feelings and sexual desires into her novels erstwhile fervently believing somewhere out there is the man of her dreams.

A mysterious man is then seen calling her apartment. On her way to the publishers, Joan is given a parcel from Columbia by a neighbour. After this it is revealed her recently widowed sister, Elaine lives there, and that her husband, Joan’s brother-in-law was murdered there. The mysterious man kills a neighbour who asks about his identity. He is later revealed as Zolo. Zolo breaks into her apartment and leaves it in disarray apparently searching for something.

Meanwhile, in Cartagena, Joan’s sister Elaine (Mary Ellen Trainor) is then kidnapped and taken to a boat, where is taken hostage by her kidnappers Ira and Ralph (Danny DeVito). After allowing Elaine to speak with Joan, Joan fears for her sister’s life and legs it to Columbia.

Joan’s good friend (and publisher) has concerns that she is not strong enough to cope with this situation. But Joan believes can help her sister by taking the map which her brother-in-law sent her (as found in her package from Columbia) as ransom. Unbeknownst to her, this map leads to an emerald that both Zolo and Ira and Ralph are searching for.

On arrival in Cartagena, Joan is directed by the sinister Zolo to board the wrong bus, and she misses being met by Ralph. After the bus has an accident with a Jeep the passengers and driver disperse.  Joan is confronted by Zolo for her bag which contains the map.

A mysterious silhouette of a man appears and appears to fight for her honour.. with Zolo escaping. This man is revealed to be Jack (Michael Douglas) and the owner of the Jeep with his bird selling business in ruins. After some payment negotiations with Joan, agrees to take her to Cartagena… with Zolo and Elaine’s kidnapper Ralph in their pursuit…

This film is a romantic delight, and from this point the Joan we knew initially transforms.. the film started with her appearing unconfident, mousey and hopelessly romantic into a character who is more outwardly sexual, confident, liberated and assertive.

This is seen as her character changes from an apparently uptight Joan with her hair in a strict bun and business-like look to a more sexy look as her hair is let loose and her clothes becoming more revealing. For a more modern-day version of this character transformation, think Dallas Bryce’s Howard’s Claire in the recent Jurassic World (2015) film. With that rather nice Chris Pratt.

Although romance is inevitable between Joan and Jack, it develops at a nice, slow – and more believable – pace although their chemistry is evident throughout.  From their formal almost business-like agreement made at their initial meeting through to the development of her true character, there are many moments where Douglas shows how much Jack is becoming attracted to her.

In turn, Jack shows her he is the hero she’s been looking for. All of which of course led to sobs from me. However, the cynics may question his true motives once he finds out about the sought after emerald. There is continuing doubt of Jack’s true intentions and trustfulness with these related to her by Ralph, once he seizes the stone from them. After fighting him Jack gets the stone back and he and Joan are separated she begins not to trust Jack.

However, she and Jack confront the bad guys in turn, and after their demise and Elaine safely back with her sister, Joan appears sassy, confident and assertive, her transformation evident. However, these scenes end on a sad note as Jack disappears in pursuit of the emerald eaten by a crocodile.

We then cut to New York, the transformed Joan is handing in her latest books transcript, this time her publisher is weeping. Joan says she is now a hopeful romantic, as was I at this point in the movie. It is then the new Joan walks home to find a yacht, a pair of crocodile boots and the man of her dreams. It’s Jack. And it is there that you hope fervently that you’ll be like Joan, and meet that person that meets your desires of true love and as in the words of Karen Carpenter that “there’s someone in this crazy world for me.”

Weeper Rating😦 😦 😦😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 /10

Handsqueeze Rating:   🙂 🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂 🙂  🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎ mrgreen mrgreen  ‎/10


bannersThings I Learned from the Movies Blogathon 2016 No 21

This film was added to the For the Things I Learned from the Movies Blogathon run by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings HERE. Michael Douglas features in 80s Crushes and Oscar Winning Actors in Superhero Movies. Kathleen Turner stars in my posts on Peggy Sue Got Married, Californication and Prizzi’s Honor. Danny DeVito starred in Goin South, One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, Terms of Endearment and Mars Attacks! reviews. Mary Ellen Trainor starred in Die Hard, The Goonies, Scrooged and Tales from the Crypt (TV Series).




8 thoughts on “FILMS… A Life Lesson in Love from Romancing the Stone (1984)

  1. This is such a fun movie! Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas have fa-bu-lous onscreen chemistry. I saw it for the first time a couple of months ago, and I wondered what took me so long!

    I liked that this movie helped you transform from a hopeless romantic to a hopeFUL romantic. It’s a good movie for that.

    Thanks for joining the blogathon, and for bringing Romancing the Stone with you! 🙂

  2. I somehow recall reading this one when it went live with the Blogathon. As always, great post. By the way…why are only your “answers” visible in the comments above???

  3. This truly is a “romantic delight”, Gill! Great review, makes me want to go back and revisit the film, which I haven’t watched again since, oh, maybe the early 1990s.

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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