Monday, March 22, 2010

Romancing the Stone: For Hopeless Romantics Everywhere

The lead character in "Romancing the Stone"...that's totally me in a nutshell (well, minus the awesomeness of Kathleen Turner, of course).  I am the ultimate hopeless romantic.  Though I never got into reading the sappy romance novels like Joan Wilder writes in the film, I did get into the sappy romance movies as a young girl.  And I'm sure that has screwed my perception up for life.  But in the meantime, a movie like "Romancing the Stone," which makes fun of and revels in the hopelessly-romantic-storybook world, that's a movie that was meant to be one of my favorites.

Released in 1984, the film teams up director Robert Zemeckis with Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, and Danny DeVito.  Turner plays Joan Wilder, a romance novelist who has to travel to Columbia to save her kidnapped sister.  Along the way, she gets help from Jack T. Colton (Douglas).  And of course, romance and adventure follow, just like in one of Wilder's novels.  It's a comedy every woman in the world can identify with, from her dreams. 

The film was a big success, considered one of the best of 1984, and the only hit for studio 20th Century Fox for that year.  It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, as well as Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Turner.  This is the film that launched Turner into true stardom, and helped bring Douglas back into the public eye.  And this was also the first major success for Zemeckis.  However, ironically enough, after viewing a rough edit early on, the studio decided "Romancing the Stone" would be a huge flop, and preemptively fired Zemeckis from the upcoming production "Cocoon."  Thanks to that firing though, and the success of "Stone," Zemeckis was able to work on his own production - "Back to the Future."

This was also the first of three films Turner, Douglas, and DeVito would star in together (those being "Jewel of the Nile," the sequel to "Stone," and "War of the Roses").  Though it was the first time Turner and Douglas worked together, it was not the first for Douglas and DeVito.  Back when the two men were both struggling actors in New York, they met while working on a play Douglas was directing.  After that, they became roommates for awhile.  Later on, when Douglas was producing his Oscar winner "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," he hired DeVito to play one of the inmates, who did a brilliant job. 

While promoting "Romancing the Stone," DeVito was asked to do a special promo for the film.  Zemeckis and his crew took DeVito out to a beach in Malibu, next to a large cliff.  The promo required DeVito to be raised by a crane first about 50 feet.  However, when he was raised up, DeVito noticed a house on top of the cliff, where a woman in a bikini was sunbathing.  When she noticed him hanging there, she started screaming and throwing things at DeVito, saying he was a pervert and a peeping Tom.  He yelled down to the crew to lower him, but they said the crane had jammed and he was stuck.  After a few minutes trying to calm the woman down, she finally told him he was being filmed for "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes."

Though most of the music score for "Romancing the Stone" is instrumental stuff written by Alan Silvestri, the producers did hire singer Eddy Grant to write a song for the film.  However, the producers ultimately decided not to use it, not even on the film's soundtrack album.  (Some of the song's guitar solo can be heard in the bell-maker's house though.)  After the success of the film, though, Grant decided to release it himself, even using some movie footage for his video.  So for your Monday treat, please enjoy Mr. Eddy Grant singing "Romancing the Stone" below:

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and I'll be back with more movie trivia Friday!

(Post-tidbit:  "Romancing the Stone" was the first script by a Malibu waitress named Diane Thomas.  Unfortunately, she didn't get to enjoy any future success.  She was killed in a car accident shortly after the release of the film.)

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