#ScreenTime: Romancing the Stone vs The Jewel of the Nile
Regular PHS columnist, Kristina Knight, talks to us about a romance couple who were perfect...until a sequel ruined them on the big screen...
There is a romantic pairing in the movies that I absolutely adore. Okay, there are several (Westley & Buttercup, Maverick & Charley, Rhett & Scarlett, to name a few), but there is one that makes me come back time and time again.
Jack T. Colton and Joan Wilder.
Romancing the Stone was my first real introduction to romance and adventure in the movies – and by real I mean not-cartoon. Sure, there were the fairytale movies, but mostly Cinderella and Snow White were waiting around to be rescued. Even that animal-version of Robin Hood had Maid Marian waiting to be rescued rather than standing up to Prince John and demanding that he back off.
No, for me, Joan Wilder’s slightly naïve and neurotic writer paired with Jack Colton’s brash bird smuggler was a thing of beauty. He knew she was in trouble and wanted none of it. She was fairly certain he was a criminal but didn’t hold that against him.
What I loved about Joan was that she was me, albeit in New York City and not small town Missouri. Joan could get lost for days in her books (hence, blowing her nose on a post-it because she was out of tissues), and she is lonely but, again, the books keep her company. Through the books, she experiences not only love but adventure. Not only camaraderie, but true friendship. Through her books, Joan can stand up for the things she believes in when in real life she’s pushed at by street vendors and ignored by taxi drivers and, generally, alone.
For a small town girl, those are heady things. When I was a kid, I adventured with Pippi Longstocking in her hot air balloon, and I was the Maid Marian who rescued Robin Hood, and, yes, got rescued right back again. So when I saw me on that big, movie screen, crying over the characters in a book. . .of course, I was hooked. And when Joan stands up in real life? I was right there with her, catching that plane to Colombia to rescue my sister!
Like Joan, I had butterflies in my stomach when the man in cowboy boots began shooting at the villain in the movie. Like Joan, I wasn’t sure she should trust Jack T. Colton with the whole treasure map. And like Joan, when Jack jumped over the side of the fort, a little bit of me died, too.
Jack made Joan not so alone, and Joan gave Jack something to believe in that was bigger than money (although, through her he did become a multi-millionaire…).
At the end of “Romancing the Stone”, Joan has found herself. She’s alone, but she isn’t lonely. In her own words, she is now ‘a hopeful romantic’ – a woman who knows what it is to love someone, to believe in someone.
It’s a confident Joan who pushes through the crush of street vendors with her little bag of groceries, and it is a confident Joan who calls up to the man on the big yacht in the middle of her street, and who climbs the rope ladder to the man whom she doesn’t need to rescue her. . .she only needs to love her.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwfcbjd7U7I (Do not remove until publishing day, due to embedding issues)
And then the movie producers went and ruined Jack and Joan, at least for me, with a whole new movie.
The Jewel of the Nile follows much the same premise as Romancing the Stone – shrinking violet Joan Wilder and her brash hero Jack get sucked in to another adventure, this time with a Middle Eastern despot trying to take over a country, and Jack and Joan are the only ones who can save the day.
Sounds like the perfect sequel plot, doesn’t it? It even has a “Romancing” type beginning – with Joan voicing over one of her books. Only, in this case, the book isn’t working so Joan throws her typewriter over the side of Jack’s yacht. I’ve done a lot of things with my books over the years – thrown a few at a wall, cut entire swaths of characterization and setting with the tap-tap-tap of the delete key, and even put a few into folders marked Never Open Again.
Never, though, not once, have I been tempted to toss my computer over the side of a boat. Or off a cliff. I was tempted once to run my computer over with my car, but the sounds of my characters’ slow deaths by computer squishing stopped me.
With this opening scene, we’re supposed to see that Joan’s new jet-set life isn’t working for her. That she and Jack jumped too far and too fast into their relationship. Okay, I can go with that. What I have never been able to wrap my head around is that Joan isn’t the meek little writer we meet at the beginning of “Romancing” and she isn’t the strong heroine we see riding off into the sunset with Jack. She’s bored and frustrated and instead of trying to figure out why, she’s chucking everything to run off into the desert with a some dude who exudes every creepy, greedy, snake-like characteristic of Zolo, the villain from “Romancing”.
Sure, she realizes quickly what she’s done. Yes, Jack goes after her because a good romance hero is a good romance hero, and he isn’t going to leave his love in the clutches of a wanna-be despot. And she throws Jack under the bus in the process in this scene:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMd-61P_KeM (Do not remove until publishing day, due to embedding issues)
And refuses to even attempt to explain to him what’s going on with her, like in this scene:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDSz_hyzWCE (Do not remove until publishing day, due to embedding issues)
That is how the producers killed Jack and Joan – by forgetting who these characters were, and why we fell in love with them in the first place: the banter, the heat, and the fun.
What did you think of the changes made to Joan and Jack in The Jewel of the Nile? Fifty Shades Darker? Share your #ScreenTime reviews with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.