Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Film Night - Romancing The Stone

This Friday Michelle Styles joins us with a true favourite of many romantics - ROMANCING THE STONE!

There are movies you watch once or twice and then there are movies you can quote from. For any romantic novelist, Romancing the Stone is a movie to quote from or indeed to experience Joan Wilder moments. Originally released in 1984 when the western historical romance novel was at its height, Romancing the Stone follows the adventures of introverted romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) as she seeks to rescue her sister in Columbia. If you have ever read Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, you know that the script almost exactly conforms to the hero’s journey.

The movie opens with Joan narrating the final scene from her latest novel. As the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset, we cut to Joan typing away, head phones on with tears streaming down her face. Unfortunately, being enthralled in her novel, she has forgotten to buy tissues. There is a save the cat moment, when she prepares her cat’s celebration meal, taking time to put sprig of parsley on the tuna. Despite the adventures in her vivid imagination, Joan is stuck in an introverted world with her hair tightly drawn back, cringing from street vendors and generally running from life. However, everything changes when she receives a treasure map from her now dead brother in law and her kidnapped sister begs her to bring it to Columbia.

Despite her publisher’s opposition – among other things, Joan gets sick in the lift in Bloomingdales and the publisher knows about these macho countries as Joan’s books do well - Joan is determined. Have a look at the trailer:

After arriving in Columbia and getting on the wrong bus, Joan encounters mercenary bird hunter, Jack T Colton ( Michael Douglas). He is willing to take her to a phone for a price -- $375 in American Express traveller cheques and appears to be the antithesis of everything she has thought a romantic hero should be. Before reaching the phone, they must survive tropical downpours, rogue secret police, a ravine and romance reading drug barons. While they are in fuselage of a wrecked plane sheltering from a storm, Jack confesses to his dream – a yacht to sail around the world on. And Joan begins to see a different side to Jack.

One of the great moments of the film is when Jack and Joan are surrounded by angry drug runners, and Jack turns to Joan and asks her to write us out of this one Joan Wilder. To which the drug baron Juan replies – Joan Wilder? You are THE Joan Wilder? At which point all the drug baron’s assets are put at their disposal, including Pepe the little mule and his escape route.
When they reach the town with the phone, it is clear that sparks have developed between the pair and Jack takes her out to dinner. After which, Joan decides to go after the treasure with Jack. They discover the emerald –El Corazon but the bad guys are hot on their trail. After going over a waterfall, the pair become separated and Joan is forced to acknowledge that Ralph (Danny De Vito) may have been right when he said that all Jack was after was the treasure. Has Jack really conned her?

Joan brings the now worthless map to her sister’s abductors, and just as things are looking up jack appears in the company of the secret police colonel. He has kept the stone safe and attempts to bargain for Joan’s life. A fight ensues in which Joan is attempts to put some of her romance novelist skills to good effect by throwing a knife. Unfortunately, it might work in her books, but not in Columbia. Joan and Jack eventually prevail. Due to previous misunderstandings with the Columbian police, Jack abandons her and the scene cuts back to Joan’s New York publisher.
Joan has just finished her latest novel and is standing in the office wearing Jack’s necklace as the editor reads it. (There are several points including this one that demonstrate the screenwriter had NO idea about romance writing or indeed novelists). As the editor extols the virtues of the book and says how Joan is now a world class hopeless romantic, Joan replies – hopeful romantic. She leaves the office with a spring in her step and the viewer is left in no doubt that Joan has been transformed by her experience.

The movie ends with a boat, a pair of alligator boots and Jack. He has read Joan’s books and know how they all end. Some of the highlights of the film can be found on this youtube clip:

Romancing the Stone is one of my favourite romantic comedy adventures. And if you want to understand the hero’s journey, you could do far worse than to watch this film. I give the movie 9 out of 10 and would say that the film stands the test of time.

Right – so does anyone else have Joan Wilder moments? Or wish for Joan Wilder moments?

Michelle Styles’s latest Mills & Boon Historical -- A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY is published in November. And just like Joan Wilder, she did cry at the end. She is still waiting for her name to be recognised by a drug baron though...


  1. Hi Michelle

    I absolutely love this movie, guilty pleasure galore basically. And the first time I watched it I really did believe you could write a romance novel through in one go and then just type The End at the end, and that would be that.... Which I now realise is even less likely than finding the man of your dreams disguised as a cynical adventurer while trekking through the Columbian jungle!!

  2. Great movie! My favorite. Thanks for the pick...watched it last I want to see it again!
    Carol Hutchens

  3. I love this movie!!! My hubby and I quote it from time to time, especially the "Joan Wilder? THE Joan Wilder" part.

    Oh, and "You're a mondo dismo!" LOL!

  4. I love this movie, too. And one of the dh's friends calls me Joan Wilder. :)