DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Michael Douglas as JACK T. COLTON
    Kathleen Turner as JOAN WILDER
    Danny DeVito as RALPH
    Zack Normal as IRA
    Alfonso Arau as JUAN
    Manuel Ojeda as ZOLO
    Holland Taylor as GLORIA
    Mary Ellen Trainor as ELAINE

    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
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“Romancing the Stone” was a monumental film in the mid-1980s. Not only did it help develop a new genre of romance and action, but it was a breakthrough film for many of the people involved. A then-unknown director named Robert Zemeckis, who went on to win the Oscar ten years later, was in charge. Michael Douglas, who was a respected producer and TV star, had his first big starring break with this movie.

It was also a big break for screenwriter Diane Thomas, and she probably would have gone on to be a big name in the industry if she weren’t killed in a car crash shortly after the film was released.

I remember when “Romancing the Stone” came out in 1984. It was released in the spring prior to the highly-anticipated Indiana Jones sequel, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” For fans of adventure, “Romancing the Stone” was seen as a great lead-in to the other film, and it’s not surprising that the poster art had a distinct Indiana Jones feel to it.

However, in retrospect, “Romancing the Stone” was the winner that year. The Indiana Jones sequel was lackluster compared to the original, and it was more of a disappointment and critical flop. “Romancing the Stone,” however, lived down in history.

The story is about a romance novelist named Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) who travels to Colombia to save her kidnapped sister. After running into the insane General Zolo (Manuel Ojeda), who is in search of a treasure map she has, Joan is saved by a mysterious American bushwhacker named Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas). Together, they travel through the jungles of Colombia to save Joan sister and possibly get their hands on the treasure.

The cast of this film is where the real spark came together. Not only did Douglas and Turner have impeccable chemistry, it also gave Danny DeVito a chance to shine on the big screen. “Romancing the Stone” did for DeVito’s career what it did for Douglas, making him a bankable name on the silver screen. Additionally, the movie paved the way for several more films pairing Douglas and Turner.

When it comes to the story, “Romancing the Stone” could do no wrong. It provided action and adventure for the men (not to mention some scantily clad women safely within the PG rating) as well as romance and love interests for the women. It’s been often copied, but never quite duplicated. The closest you’ll get today is something like “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

More than twenty years after its initial theatrical release, Fox is releasing a new version tied to its sequel “The Jewel of the Nile.” The new DVD comes with several featurettes that look back at the classic film. There’s also a spotlight on Diane Thomas, the ill-fated screenwriter of the movie, as well as new interviews with the cast about their favorite scenes.

Quite a few deleted and alternate scenes are presented. These additional scenes give an interesting insight into the making of the film. More things were changed than you would expect, including Joan Wilder’s agent and several key scenes with her interacting with Jack. It goes to show what a collaborative process filmmaking is and how important reshoots are.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Widescreen (2.35:1). Spanish and French language tracks. Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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