“Romancing the Stone” is a teenager memory for me, and in my opinion, the score to this movie is still one of Alan Silvestri’s best works. I love the End Titles music and especially the music for the action scene when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are escaping in a jeep.
“Romancing the Stone” was Robert Zemeckis third movie and it started the frequent collaboration between the director and composer Silvestri. It is interesting to observe how many directors like to work with a special composer on their films.
Here is a trailer to the movie:
The production history of this movie is very interesting. I read that 20th Century Fox expected the movie to be a flop after viewing a rough cut of it. Therefore, the producers fired Zemeckis as director of “Cocoon”. But the film became a hit surprise, earned over $86 Mio., launched Kathleen Turner’s stardom and made Michael Douglas a star finally on the big screen. Danny DeVito had some great scenes in the movie and established himself as one of the leading comedians in Hollywood. The success of this movie allowed Zemeckis to create “Back to the Future”, a movie that was even more successful. Kathleen Turner and Zemeckis had a hard time working together, but the cast came back to a sequel that is unfortunately really bad.
A comparison between this movie and Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was obvious, but I think comparing these two movies is not fair. Even though “Raiders” is a far better movie and “Romancing the Stone” has sometimes the quality of a B-Movie, this film is still highly enjoyable and has some great funny scenes. Here is one of my favorite ones:
What I also want to mention is the story of the screenwriter: Diane Thomas was a waitress in Malibu who wrote the screenplay five years ago. She died in a car crash shortly after the film’s release, so it was her only screenplay. The novel based on the book was published under her name but written by Catherine Lanigan. I also read the book, and I have to say it is really crap. I remember the awful written sex scene in the first pages, and I was nearly in the mood to throw this book into the corner of my room. Last interesting fact to mention is that originally Sylvester Stallone was considered to play the male leading role.
I read that to combat the competition, the score should be more contemporary and reduce the orchestral action to a minimum. Silvestri impressed Zemeckis with his easy-going, jazzy and light rock ideas. In this way, the music is clearly a product of the 80s, but this is not a bad sign except the usage of the synthetic percussion that I still do not like very much. Some critics on film music sites do not like the score because of its composing style, and I also have to admit that the score just have a few highlights, but these are highly enjoyable.
Varese produced a Club CD with 21 tracks. Let’s go through this. The “Main Title” provides you with the theme and a nice sax arrangement. The next track “Elaine” shows the kidnapping of Joan’s sister, one of the typical 80s track on the score which I normally skip. I also skip the next track “Ransacked Apartment” and “I’m In Trouble”, I just like the percussion here.
With “Joan & Jack”, we hear the love theme in a nice but shorter arrangement. “The Gorge” is the first longer action track for one of the best scenes of the music. You can hear the typical way how Silvestri build up suspense, with drums and the brass section, and with a sudden erupt of the full orchestra. This track shows you perhaps the best difference between Silvestri and Williams in writing action pieces.
The best action track of the soundtrack is the next track “Escape in the Little Mule”, for a highly entertaining action scene, combined with some sightseeing in a very special way. The only problem with this track is that is too short but this is the result of the length of the scene in the movie.
“The Town” is some kind of source music for the carnival scene, I skip this track. “The Dance and They Kiss” is a funky arrangement of the main scene before it gets romantic. “Hotel Escape” is another action track, but not as much entertaining than the “Mule” track, so I skip this, too. “The Stone Revealed” is another track that I normally skip. “Mounties”, another action track, is similar to “Mule”, but nothing new, I still like it very much. “The Sqaure” is source music again, skip it. “Tregula”, skip it, too.
We have now the big action piece for the showdown. As a teenager, I was pretty shocked about this violent scene that it is totally unnecessary in my opinion. The track is pretty interesting in its composing style, so I highly recommend listening to it.
“So Long Jack” is a romantic track, but I also normally skip it. “The Sailboat” underscores the last scene of the movie with a very funny ending. My favorite track of the score is the already mentioned “End Titles” which combines the best parts of the score, and it is highly enjoyable because of the saxophone and the funky piano arrangement in the first minutes. This is a dancing piece, and you can have great fun when you suddenly start playing this piece of music on a party. Some people remember the movie, and a lively discussion starts, and the younger generation mostly immediately switches into dance move. My plan is still to play this piece on my own wedding…
Here is the music to it:
You have to decide if you want to buy the score for just four or five really good tracks, but in my opinion the soundtrack is worth it. Silvestri is great in composing this 80s style, and I like this score much more than “Back to the Future” because that score just has a good main theme.
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