Harlequin Romance Movies
By the mid-1970s, the romance genre was hot, from historical romances to family sagas to Gothics to category romances.
It was no surprise when Hollywood would come knocking at their door. However, despite the number of romance novels written and sold, surprisingly few of them were adapted to the screen.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, there would be a smattering of romance novels made into movies, some from Harlequin, Pocket Books, and other publishers.
Leopard in the Snow by Anne Mather, 1974
Mildred Grieves, better known to romance readers as Anne Mather, was Harlequin’s best-selling author in the 1970s. Her Harlequin Presents novels were fresh, exciting, and sensual.
Her 1974 romance, Leopard In the Snow, was a hit with readers. It has been republished several times and was –at one point–available on Kindle, although it doesn’t appear to be so now. The original edition of this book is highly prized, hard to find, and expensive if you do.
Helen simply couldn’t believe her eyes when, stranded in the snow in the wilds of Cumberland, she found herself confronted by a leopard! But luckily it was a tame one, and its owner, the mysterious Dominic Lyall, was able to offer Helen shelter in his house.
Soon, however, the situation turned into a nightmare as she realized that he intended to keep her there, virtually a prisoner – and no one had any idea where to start searching for her! How could she get away? And, as time went by, did she want to get away?
Yet she was only too well aware that if Dominic did decide to let her go, it would only be because he wanted to get rid of her for good…Leopard In the Snow by Anne Mather
This Harlequin Presents was made into a 1978 romance movie starring Keir Dullea, star of 2001, A Space Odyssey, and Susan Penhaligon.
The film wasn’t very profitable and garnered mixed reviews.
Janet Dailey Romances Turned Into Movies
While English-born Anne Mather sold millions of books worldwide, she had an American counterpart in Janet Dailey. By the end of the 1970s, Dailey was Harlequin’s only American writer and a super successful one.
After producing more than 50 books with Harlequin, Dailey signed a massive deal with Simon & Schuster to write category and full-length romances for their Pocket Books Division and new Silhouette imprint.
She and her husband Bill developed a movie studio of their own, Ramblin’ Films, to produce their own films.
Foxfire Light by Janet Dailey, 1983
Janet Dailey’s Silhouette Special Edition #36, Foxfire Light, was from 1982 and was the Daileys’ first foray into filmmaking.
In the wooded Ozark hills Joanna met proud-hearted Linc Wilder. His gold-flecked eyes mocked her, his country-born spirit clashed with her city-wise ways. His lean body challenged her, sparking her senses till Joanna was as sweetly glowing as the foxfire that lit their nights.
This was no will-o’-the-wisp, to slip away in the dark, but a bright and shining love to show the way into tomorrow.FOXFIRE LIGHT by JANET DAILEY
The original Special Edition version is hard to find, but the book is available on Kindle.
This was the Daileys production company’s only romantic adaptation to film. The movie came out in 1983 and was neither a commercial nor critical success.
It starred Leslie Morgan and Tippi Hedren as the heroine’s parents and Faye Grant and Barry van Dyke as the young lovers.
When a Spider Bites by Janet Dailey, 1980
A decade after the release of Foxfire Light, the Daileys would have another of Janet’s books transferred to the big screen. This time, it was one of her full-length novels, Pocket Books’ Ride the Thunder. Bill Dailey acted as an Executive Producer.
The title was changed from Ride the Thunder to When a Spider Bites to make the film sound
less pornographic, more suspenseful.
Ride the Thunder, Janet Dailey, Pocket Books, 1980, George H. Jones cover art
This is the blurb of the book:
From the Driving Power of Manhattan’s Penthouses to the High, Wild Beauty of Idaho’s Mountains, a Love Story That Rides the Thunder!
Jordanna Smith was the wild and willowy daughter of a prominent banker and a glamorous socialite, a globe-trotting huntress who sought the world’s big game at her father’s side. No man was her father’s equal in her eyes–until the night she met the rugged stranger who, in one frenzied and exalted moment, tapped the roots of a desire she had never known.
Fleeing to Idaho to join her father’s hunting party, she hoped to forget the bronzed stranger’s fiery touch. But there he was — her stranger, their guide, Brig McCord.
Their days were filled with the wild beauty of the hunt, their nights with the primitive fire of their passion. But soon their idyll was shattered by jealousy, betrayal and murder.
Now Jordanna would have to face the hidden truths about her father and her brother, and a secret that already had claimed one life and threatened to destroy her newfound love.Ride the Thunder by Janet Dailey
When A Spider Bites had a small budget of $350,000. The film starred Andrew Lamond as Brig McCord and Sharon Young as Jordanna ‘Dannie’ Smith. It was released in 1993.
The film is described as:
When Jordanna Smith accepts an invitation to accompany her father & three others on a hunting trip into the Idaho mountains, she doesn’t know the trip will lead to both romance & murder – & that the motive for each will be revenge.WHEN A SPIDER BITES, IMDB
Another Popular Romance To Make It To the Big Screen
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer, 1989
LaVyrle Spencer’s 1989 romance novel, Morning Glory, is a romance about:
LOVE IN A STRANGER’S EYES…Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
In town, they called her “Crazy Widow Dinsmore.” But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule–she had been an outsider all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys to raise, and a third child on the way.
He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he’d never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.
Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED–A husband. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore’s cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last …
Morning Glory, LaVyrle Spencer, Jove, 1989, James Griffin cover art
The book is available on Kindle, but the original Jove edition with the James Griffin stepback is also a collector’s copy.
Morning Glory was made into a film in 1993, starring Christopher Reeve as Will Parker and Deborah Raffin as Elly Dinsmore. Although it was not a box office hit by any means, it received some critical acclaim.
The movie has gone on to be an appreciated romance classic.
You can watch Morning Glory on Youtube:
Have you seen any of these romantic films? Have you read the books they’re based upon? Let us know!
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