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Soundtrack review: The Jewel of the Nile (expanded) (Jack Nitzsche – 1985, 2018)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The Jewel of the Nile (expanded) (Jack Nitzsche – 1985, 2018)

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“The Jewel of the Nile” is a 1985 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”. Jack Nitzsche wrote the score.

Who doesn’t remember this charming franchise? For me both “Romancing the stone” and “The jewel of the Nile” were, alongside the Goldie Hawn comedies “Overboard” and “Protocol” the first comedies I got hooked on and I’ve seen all of them countless times. There’s also the Billy Ocean song “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” with the video that featured the three main actors. Now LLL records releases the score again and I couldn’t wait to hear it especially since Nitzsche has a few impressive scores in the 80s.

The album opens with “Main title / The wedding” and I like the early melodic synth sound; I am an 80s kid and synths are my favorite instruments to listen to. This first cue is harmless but nostalgic. The next one tough, “Pirate fight” brings a different kind of nostalgia as it makes me think of the computer games I used to play some 30 years ago; it has that unmistakable electronic arcade sound that I just love. It’s wonderfully simple and adventurous. I am more than surprised to actually recall “Parting” in context; I had forgotten the cue but I instantly remembered the scene and how it was played. There’s something else as well for meas this is how 90% of the Romanian teenager movies from the 80s sounded so there is a special place in my heart for music like this.

I must admit I didn’t remember the score being so retro electronic, I was expecting something light orchestral. Every cue is a delight to listen to no matter how short the dose. “Love theme on a motorcycle” is under a minute long but one of my favorites. The Arabian inserts make me think of the “Prince of Persia” games so this score hits me with nostalgia from different streams.

Ultimately this is what “The jewel of the Nile” represents for me: an unexpectedly rich nostalgia trip to a time when simple and melodic synth music was thriving; the more dramatic moments reminded me of “Terminator” as well so for a fan of 80s music this release is a must have as it represents all that was beautiful about electronic music back then. I am curious now to watch the movie again and hear the score in context.

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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