Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Romancing the Stone (1984)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Romancing the Stone (1984)

In Robert Zemeckis' ultimate cliff-hanger and tongue-in-cheek romantic action-adventure film - a rousing, Indiana Jones-type treasure hunt for a valuable "stone" (a giant emerald) named "El Corazon" (The Heart) in South America - it was followed by the similar sequel, the romantic adventure comedy The Jewel of the Nile (1985):

  • the film's funny opening prologue - a Western storybook tale featuring sexy blonde Angelina (Kymberly Herrin, Playboy Playmate March 1981), who was being assaulted by evil villain Grogan (Ted White) who threatened her life and demanded sex: ("So, you can die two ways, Angel: quick like the tongue of a snake, or slower than the molasses in January"), but as she undressed, she threw her hidden knife on her upper thigh at him and killed him; she departed (to the theme music from How The West Was Won), but when Grogan's three brothers appeared on horseback, she was saved by sexy cowboy hero Jesse (Bill Burton); she thankfully kissed him and rode off with him: ("...But suddenly, there he was, my beloved Jesse. He was the one man I trusted - the only man. My heart leapt as I watched him ride near. I could barely wait to feel the warmth of his touch. At the moment his lips met mine. I knew that we would never again be apart. I knew then that we would spend the rest of our lives together. Forever")
Western Storybook Prologue
Angelina (Kymberly Herrin)
Angelina With Jesse
(Bill Burton)
Joan's Typewritten Story Manuscript
  • the character was the heroine of one of the books written by romance-starved, lonely, best-selling romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) in her New York (on West End Ave.) apartment (with her cat named Romeo); the writer was at her IBM Selectric typewriter finishing up her latest fictional book (with headphones) - crying and fantasizing that she was the strong-minded Angelina - living vicariously through her own stories - and looking for her own "Jesse": ("Here's looking at you, Jesse. Whoever you are")
  • on her way to a business meeting, Joan was handed a newly-arrived, oversized envelope from an elderly neighbor Mrs. Irwin (Eve Smith) - it had been mailed from her brother-in-law Eduardo Quinones in Colombia (South America) to himself - using her address [Note: He was murdered just after mailing the envelope]
  • while Joan was away, a dark stranger (later identified as Colonel Zolo) confronted her building's janitor-supervisor in her 3rd floor hallway and knifed him to death - and then ransacked Joan's apartment (off-screen)
  • during the meeting in a bar, Joan presented the draft of her latest manuscript to her editor-publisher Gloria Horne (Holland Taylor), who was distracted by proposing male match-making for the writer (but Joan preferred someone more like her literary hero Jesse: "I know that there is somebody out there for me"); Joan mentioned that her grieving sister Elaine (Mary Ellen Trainor) was still in Colombia searching for the body of her recently-murdered husband Eduardo
  • in the next scene set in Cartagena, Colombia, Elaine was knocked unconscious in the head in her villa's alleyway with a bola and her red sports-car convertible was stolen; she was driven to kidnappers led by two villainous, wisecracking, greedy, illegal American treasure hunters: Ralph (Danny DeVito in a star-making role) and his crocodile-loving, almost-bald cousin Ira (Zack Norman), an importer
  • upon arriving in her damaged apartment, Joan received a frantic, unexpected phone call from her abducted sister Elaine in South America - who was threatened at knifepoint by Ralph and Ira; the kidnappers demanded that she travel to the coastal city of Cartagena (Colombia), and at the Hotel Cartagena turn over the just-delivered treasure map (known as "El Corazón" (translated 'The Heart')) as ransom - to free Elaine and save her from torture
Joan's Treasure Map: "El Corazon"
Elaine Abducted by Ralph and Ira
Joan Ordered to Travel to Cartagena
  • at the chaotic airport in Colombia, the ill-prepared Joan was deliberately given faulty directions by menacing, shady, corrupt and despicable Colonel Zolo (Manuel Ojeda) who was trailing her; Ralph (who was there to also follow her) saw that Joan boarded the wrong bus; on a remote road, she distracted the Spanish-speaking driver (Camilo García) of the coach and caused a major crash; the bus plowed into a parked Land Rover
  • in the aftermath of the accident, she was saved from a gun-wielding Zolo who demanded the map, by the owner of the Rover - a soldier of fortune, exotic bird-collector, swashbuckling daredevil and drifter-mercenary named Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas); after several blasts from Colton's gun, Zolo fled for his life, and soon after commandered Ralph in his white Renault 4L on a jungle road to take him to his private military police forces; Zolo was the head of Colombia's secret police
  • Colton angrily rummaged through his destroyed vehicle and threw out a couple of things, including a Playboy Magazine (July 1983 issue) and a picture of his dream sailboat; Joan claimed her destination was Cartegena and needed a payphone; he bargained ("Now I ain't cheap, but I can be had") and she agreed to pay him $375 dollars worth of traveler's checks - American Express - to assist her to get out of the jungle and seek help, but he refused to carry her luggage
  • the film's main plot line was the action-filled, joke-rich repartee between Jack and Joan while experiencing dangers from all sides in South American Colombia
  • during a torrential downpour, the two slid down into a ravine on a river of mud, and Jack ended up face-first between Joan's legs and howled with delight: "Oh, God damn it! What a ride, huh? Whoo! Ha ha! I'm tellin' ya, this is turnin' out to be one hell of a morning!"
  • on a phone call to Ira from Colonel Zolo's police HQ, Ralph explained how he and Ira were being blamed for the death of Elaine's husband by Zolo - who was the actual murderer
  • during Jack and Joan's flight through the jungle, they were shot at and pursued by the corrupt Colonel and his private military forces (and later also by Ralph and Ira); Jack exclaimed: "Lady, you are bad news! What did you do? Wake up this morning and say, 'Today, I'm gonna ruin a man's life'?"; he muttered to himself about his terrible luck: "God-damn it, I knew I should've listened to my mother. I could've been a cosmetic surgeon, five hundred thou a year, up to my neck in tits and ass"; she transversed a deep ravine by crossing a rickety bridge and swinging on a vine, leaving Jack behind to defend them and eventually catch up
  • the two discovered a wrecked cargo plane's fuselage (with the corpse of the pilot hanging out of the cockpit), filled with bundles of contraband marijuana;Joan again tried to explain that she was in Colombia to help her widowed sister, but Jack was disbelieving; when he looked in Joan's satchel for matches, he saw her treasure map and realized the real danger they were in; as he burned kilos of marijuana to keep warm, they sought shelter in the plane throughout the night from more rain; he suggested that they find the El Corazon treasure for themselves (and use it as collateral bargaining power) rather than give up the map as ransom for her sister, since they were in Cordoba Province where the loot was located
  • while conversing, Jack was distracted and looked away - and she politely reprimanded him: ("Would you please do me the courtesy of looking at me when I'm speaking to you?"); he saved her from a poisonous bushmaster snake crawling near her by slashing it with his machete - and she became nauseated; later while eating the "very tasty" snake as his evening meal, Jack explained how he had lost $15,000 dollars worth of birds in the crash
  • as he told her his name for the first time (Jack T. Colton), he delivered a funny line of dialogue while reading a recent Rolling Stone magazine dated September 9, 1982; he blurted out: ("Aw, dammit man, the Doobie Brothers broke up! S--t! When did that happen?"); he told her a short history of his life, and how the crash had shattered his ocean-loving dream of sailing around the world by himself; he also told her that his middle initial stood for "trustworthy"; he delivered a follow-up line to his earlier quote: "Oh, man, I'll tell ya. One hell of a morning has turned into a bitch of a day!"
  • the next day in a local outlaw village, Joan and Jack were intimidated by drug-running thugs and their drug-lord Juan (Alfonso Arau), an unfriendly bell-maker, who suddenly became more welcoming in his hacienda-mansion when he recognized Joan as his favorite book author 'Juanita Wilder'; trailed by Zolo and his men, Joan convinced Juan to borrow his black, rugged and armored 1982 4x4 Ford Bronco XLT (nicknamed "Pepe" or "Little Mule"), to speed away in muddy streets from Zolo and his men amidst gunfire; the three escaped across a river via Juan's remote-controlled ramp
  • in a meadow as they celebrated their escape, Jack recognized one of the map's markers - a pitch-forked tree: (known as "El Tenedor del Diablo", the Devil's Fork); after being dropped off in a different town (where Ralph immediately recognized them), Jack rented a room in Hotel Blanquita for them and they celebrated in the town's festival with dinner and dancing (with kisses); while in bed with Joan that evening after making love, Jack expressed his hope-dream to take Joan around the world with him on a luxury sailboat he hadn't yet purchased; they both agreed to work together to find the treasure (to use it as leverage to get her sister) and possibly - in the future - split the treasure 50/50 to fulfill their dreams
The Beginnings of a Romance
  • the next day, they barely escaped from Zolo when they unknowingly stole Ralph's car (he was asleep in the back seat) to search for more treasure map landmarks (including a roadside shrine); Joan realized a hidden clue in the map -- a folded corner that revealed the location of a nearby waterfall and cave where the treasure was marked with an X; a final clue in the cave ("Leche de la Madre" or "Mother's Milk") referred to a pool where white stalactites were dripping whitish, milky water; in the pool, they found a straw-wrapped cloth and uncovered a cheap, ceramic bunny statue - inside the cracked-open porcelain figurine was "El Corazon" - the fabled large heart-shaped green emerald
Joan's Discovery of the Map's Hidden Waterfall Clue
The Bunny Figurine
The Emerald Stone
  • suddenly, Ralph held them at gunpoint, seized the emerald for himself, and ordered: ("Now move it, before Batman comes home!"); outside, he accused Jack of deceptively 'romancing the stone' away from Joan: ("Oh, I'm the creep, huh? At least I'm honest. I'm stealing this stone. I'm not tryin' to romance it out from under her")
  • but then Colonel Zolo and his men also arrived in vehicles and on horseback; there was a back-and forth struggle for possession of the jewel-stone, ending up with Jack reacquiring the jewel (from Ralph) and Joan already with the map in her possession; both Joan and Jack floated down a river in the Renault, tumbled over a waterfall, and jumped to safety - but they were separated and unable to swim to each other; they split up and agreed to reach Hotel Cartagena separately
  • in the city of Cartagena, Joan took a night-time water taxi (the 'Orca') to meet with Ira and his men at an abandoned seaside fort; she went through with the earlier deal to trade the treasure map, and was reunited with her sister Elaine; however, Colonel Zolo appeared (with both Jack and Ralph as his captive hostages) and took Ira prisoner; Zolo knew that the map was now worthless, grabbed it, and burned it; Zolo then threatened to throw Joan into a swampy marsh of crocodiles if she didn't reveal the location of the emerald stone; Jack interjected that he had the stone in a "safe place" (in the groin area of his pants); he shook the stone from his pant leg onto his boot, and kicked it in the air over to Zolo
Zolo Threatening to Throw Joan into Crocodile Pit
The Stone on Jack's Boot
Zolo's Hand with Stone Chomped Off
  • in a startling scene, as the Colonel reached out to clutch onto the much-sought-after gigantic emerald in mid-air, the jaws of a man-eating crocodile burst out of the water and chomped off his left hand; Jack took the opportunity to grab a machine gun to initiate a gunfight between Zolo's men, Ira's gang, and himself; Elaine fainted; ultimately during the subsequent struggles, Ira escaped on his boat (leaving Ralph stranded), and Jack (who had pursued the crocodile with the emerald in its belly and had ahold of its tail), was forced to let go of the creature and grab his gun in order to save Joan from Zolo who approached her, and threatened with a knife: ("How will you die? Slow like a snail? Or fast like a shooting star?")
  • Joan was able to save herself - she burned Zolo with his cigar, hit him with a piece of wood, and pushed him backwards onto a gas lamp; as he charged toward Joan with his back aflame, he crashed through a wooden grating into the crocodile pit and was eaten alive (off-screen); Jack embraced Joan, but when he heard police-boat sirens, he kissed Joan goodbye as he assured her: "You're gonna be alright, Joan Wilder - you always were," dove into the water, and again went after the crocodile to fetch the stone; after they last parted, Jack was presumed dead
  • in the film's conclusion set back in New York sometime later, newly-confident novelist Joan turned in her latest "inspired" work to her editor-publisher; it was the story of her adventures with Jack; Gloria looked upon it with very high regard: (Gloria: "You are now a WORLD-CLASS hopeless romantic" Joan: (correcting her) "No, hopeful. Hopeful romantic")
Joan to Her Publisher:
"No, hopeful. Hopeful romantic"
Returning to Apt. to See Sailboat Parked On Street
  • later as she was returning to her Manhattan apartment building, Jack completely surprised her when he reappeared with his new large sailboat on a trailer parked on the street; they were reunited when he lowered a ladder down the side and she climbed onboard - she admired his crocodile boots that were shown in close-up; the two exchanged lines about how the crocodile that had swallowed the emerald died of "indigestion" - Jack cut out the gem, then sold it and purchased a sailboat to voyage around the world; he was wearing crocodile shoes, made from the dead reptile -

    Joan: "I like your boots."
    Jack: "Yup, that poor old yellow-tailed guy. Developed a fatal case of indigestion. He died right in my arms."
    Joan: (dreamily, and in his arms) "I can't blame him. If I were to die, there's nowhere else on Earth I'd rather be."
    Jack: "I couldn't stop thinking about you. I even read one of your books."
    Joan: (smiling) "Then you know how they all end."
    Jack: "Yeah. Hi."
    Joan: "Hi."
Joan and Jack Reunited Back in NYC
  • they romantically embraced and hugged and shared a passionate closing kiss on the boat as it was towed down the city boulevard -- she had found her "Jesse" (the hero of her romance novels); the final revelation was that the name on the stern of his boat was 'Angelina'

Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) at Her Typewriter in Manhattan

The Treasure Map Package from Eduardo

Stranger (Colonel Zolo) in Joan's Apartment Hallway

Joan with Her Editor Gloria

Ralph (Danny DeVito)

Crocodile-Enthusiast Ira (Zack Norman)

Joan on the Wrong Bus in Colombia

Bus Crash into Land Rover

The Entrance of Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas)

Mudslide: "This is turnin' out to be one hell of a morning!!"

Jack and Joan Shot At and Pursued by Colonel Zolo's Police Forces

Shocking Discovery of Crashed Plane in Jungle

Distracting Bushmaster Snake Incident

Jack's Dream: To Sail Around the World Solo

Drug Lord Juan - Happy to Meet Author Joan Wilder

The Meadow with a Pitch-Forked Tree

Stealing Ralph's Car

In the Cave, Ralph Held Them at Gunpoint: "Now move it, before Batman comes home!"

Ralph to Jack: "I'm not tryin' to romance it out from under her"

Over the Waterfall in the Renault

Joan Reunited with Sister Elaine in Exchange for Worthless Map

Jack Holding onto Crocodile's Tail

Zolo's 2nd Attack on Joan

Jack's Reassuring Kiss to Joan: "You're gonna be alright, Joan Wilder"


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