The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

 

Highlights

The Jewel of the Nile is a 1985 American action-adventure romantic comedy and a sequel to the 1984 film Romancing the Stone, directed by Lewis Teague and produced by one of its stars, Michael Douglas. The film reunites Douglas with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, all reprising their roles. Like Romancing the Stone, the opening scene takes place in one of Joan’s novels. This time, instead of Jesse and Angelina in Joan’s wild-west scenario, Joan and Jack are about to be married when pirates attack their ship. The Jewel of the Nile sends its characters off on a new adventure in a fictional African desert, in an effort to find the fabled “Jewel of the Nile”.

Taking place six months after the events in Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder’s (Kathleen Turner) and Jack Colton’s (Michael Douglas) romance has grown stale. While moored at a port in the South of France, Joan, suffering writer’s block, wants to return to New York, while Jack prefers aimlessly sailing the world on his boat, the Angelina. At a book signing engagement, Joan meets Omar Khalifa (Spiros Focás), a charming Arab ruler who wants Joan to write his biography. Joan accepts and leaves with Omar over Jack’s protests. Jack later runs into Ralph (Danny DeVito), the swindler from Jack and Joan’s previous adventure in Colombia, who demands Jack turn over The Stone Jack and Joan found. Shortly after, an Arab, Tarak (Paul David Magid), informs Jack about Omar’s true intentions and claims that Omar has the “Jewel of the Nile”; just as Tarak finishes his explanations, the Angelina explodes from a bomb set by one of Omar’s men. Ralph and Jack team up to find Joan and the fabled jewel.

Joan soon discovers that Omar is a brutal dictator rather than the enlightened ruler he claimed will unite the Arab world. In the palace jail, Joan encounters Al-Julhara (Avner Eisenberg), a holy man who is the “Jewel of the Nile” and whom Omar fears. The pair escape and find Jack, and they flee into the desert in Omar’s hi-jacked F-16 fighter jet. Ralph is captured by Tarak’s rebel Sufi tribe who are sworn to protect the Jewel so he can fulfill his people’s destiny.

After encountering a Nubian mountain African tribe, Joan and Jack’s romance is rekindled. Joan tells Jack that the jewel is not a gem stone but Al-Julhara. In Kadir, Omar intends to use a smoke-and-mirror special effect provided by a British rock promoter to convince onlookers that he is the prophet who will unite the Arab world. Jack, Joan, and Al-Julhara arrive to expose Omar but are captured. Omar suspends Jack and Joan with ropes over a deep pit (a scenario taken from Joan’s biggest-selling novel, The Savage Secret) while Al-Julhara is in a stockade; Ralph, along with the Sufi tribe, arrives in time to rescue the three prisoners.

As Omar takes center stage to address the Arab people, Jack and Joan disrupt the ceremony while the Sufi battle Omar’s guards. A fire breaks out, engulfing Omar’s stage. Jack and Joan are separated, and Omar corners Joan atop the burning scaffolding. Aided by Ralph using a giant crane, Jack reaches Joan in the nick of time and kicks Omar over the side and down into the flames, killing him. Al-Julhara rises and safely walks through the blazing inferno, fulfilling the prophecy that he is the true spiritual leader.

The following day, Jack and Joan are married by Al-Julhara. While Ralph is genuinely happy for Jack and Joan, he laments once again having gained nothing for his efforts, but Tarak acknowledges that he is a true Sufi friend and presents him with a jeweled dagger as Jack and Joan happily sail away down the Nile.

Cast

  • Michael Douglas as Jack Colton
  • Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder
  • Danny DeVito as Ralph
  • Spiros Focás as Omar Khalifa
  • Avner Eisenberg as Jewel
  • Hamid Fillali as Rachid
  • Daniel Peacock as Rock Promoter
  • Holland Taylor as Gloria
  • Guy Cuevas as Le Vasseur
  • Peter DePalma as Missionary (as Peter De Palma)
  • Mark Daly Richards as Pirate
  • The Flying Karamazov Brothers-
    • Paul David Magid as Tarak
    • Howard Jay Patterson as Barak
    • Randall Edwin Nelson as Karak
    • Samuel Ross Williams as Arak
    • Timothy Daniel Furst as Sarak

With a $21 million budget, principal photography began April 22, 1985 with filming wrapped on July 25, 1985. Location shooting took place at Villefranche-sur-Mer and the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, Cannes, France and Meknes, Morocco, among other locations, including Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah.

At the time, both Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas only made the sequel because they were contractually obligated to do so, although Douglas was much more invested in the film as its producer. At one point during pre-production, Turner tried to back out of the project because she found the script “terrible, formulaic, sentimental”, until 20th Century Fox threatened her with a $25 million lawsuit for breach of contract. Douglas intervened on her behalf and ensured that a rewrite was made.

Turner, Douglas and DeVito would later reunite in the unrelated film The War of the Roses.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going“, performed by Billy Ocean, plays during the film’s end credits. Douglas, Turner, and DeVito also co-starred with Ocean in the MTV music video of the same name. The soundtrack features 1980s rap group Whodini and their single “Freaks Come Out at Night” as Michael Douglas and company make their way through the desert on camel back as well as “Party (No Sheep Is Safe Tonight)” by The Willesden Dodgers during the campfire party scene.

While The Jewel of the Nile grossed more than its predecessor, the film was much less successful critically and effectively killed the franchise.

Talk of another film in the romance/adventure series again featuring Douglas, Turner and DeVito reprising their roles never got beyond a draft. In The Crimson Eagle, Jack Colton and Joan Wilder take their two teenage kids to Thailand where they are blackmailed into stealing a priceless statue. The project languished until 1997, when Douglas as the tentative producer of the film, announced he was no longer interested.

In 2005 and again in 2008, Michael Douglas was working on a second sequel to Romancing the Stone entitled Racing the Monsoon, although there have been no further developments in recent years. Since 2007, 20th Century Fox considered a remake of Romancing the Stone with the possibility of a “reboot” of a series. The roles of Jack Colton and Joan Wilder would be filled by Taylor Kitsch (or Gerard Butler) and Katherine Heigl. By 2011, the remake was re-worked as a television series.

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