Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part One

This is my final article celebrating Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old this month. For my grand finale, I’m going to delve into the making of the film and I’ve been digging up as much behind the scenes info as I can. I’ve trawled through five different Raiders/Indiana Jones documentaries, a couple of dozen or so written articles/interviews and two Indy fansites to gather as much info as I could, and crammed it all into this one massive write up. So here we go, the story behind just how Raiders of the Lost Ark was made… In three parts.

It has been said that George Lucas came up with the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark while on a beach in Hawaii. The well-known story goes that he pitched the idea to Steven Spielberg when they were both taking a break from making films. That’s a half-truth to be honest, as the idea of the film came before that beach meeting ever took place.

In 1973, George Lucas enjoying the success of his flick, American Graffiti. A coming-of-age teen comedy set in 1962, which went on to become a huge hit. American Graffiti even got itself a few Oscar nominations, including best picture and best director. Lucas suddenly became a big name in Hollywood and people waited for his next flick with great interest. Oh yeah, American Graffiti also featured a lot of then-unknown actors. Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard got parts. Some kid called Mark Hamill also tried for a role, but never got it. Another young fella did manage to land a part in the film though…

AMERIAN GRAFITI FORD

While American Graffiti was impressing audiences and the Oscar committee, Lucas was already outlining his next flick. George Lucas was a big fan of the old matinee serials of the 1930s, serials like Zorro’s Fighting Legion and Flash Gordon. That was when Lucas began to wonder why they don’t make films like that anymore? High-adventure, swashbuckling, globe-trotting hero pictures. He made his mind up, that would be the genesis of his next film, a 1930s style matinee serial, but on a much grander scale and with a more modern action slant. He even already had a very clear vision in mind, to revive the Flash Gordon character.

A huge adventure-type film crammed full of action, all set in space. However, Lucas could not secure the rights to the Flash Gordon character, not wanting to waste that action flick in space idea, he began to write a new story. Still set in space, still with that action-adventure theme, but with his own ideas for characters instead of using Flash Gordon. Something called Star Wars or whatever it was. It was 1975 when Lucas was finalising his script for this Star Wars flick and when he met film director, Philip Kaufman. Lucas and Kaufman got to talking about those classic matinee serials and that was when Lucas said he’d love to bring those back. Once he was done with this Star Wars flick, he would make his big-screen version of a high-adventure serial, he even already had the main character in mind too. Lucas began to tell Kaufman about this archaeologist character who would be a teacher by day, but an adventure-seeking hero by night. A character that would wear a leather jacket, fedora hat and use a bullwhip, who would travel the globe seeking out lost relics and ancient civilizations.

The two continued their chat, and George Lucas revealed that while he had a very clear idea of the type of character he wanted as his hero, he didn’t have any ideas of what he should be going after or a clear direction for the story to head in. That was when Philip Kaufman regaled Lucas with an old story he was once told about the Ark of the Covenant. A 1930s stylised heroic archaeologist character going in search of the Ark of the Covenant? It could work. Anyway, Lucas was still working on this Star Wars thing, so he put his whole archaeologist movie concept on ice, but not before offering Philip Kaufman the job of writing and directing the film once Lucas was done with Star Wars.

On the 25th of May 1977, Star Wars was released in cinemas across America… But George Lucas wanted to get away from it all, he was unsure if the film would do well, he didn’t want to sit around and have critics destroy his new movie. So he went off to the Mauna Kea Hotel in Hawaii to get away from it all and recharge his batteries after working on Star Wars for the last few years. He was joined by a friend and fellow bearded film director, some guy called Steven Spielberg. Spielberg had just finished work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (set to be released a few months later in 1977) and just like Lucas, he wanted to get away from Hollywood for a while too.

STAR WARS

After dinner, one night, a very nervous Lucas received a phone call from Star Wars‘ distributor Twentieth Century Fox’s marketing chief, Ashley Boone. Boone told Lucas how huge Star Wars was, it was packing out cinemas across the country and getting rave reviews. A very relieved George Lucas’ mood changed overnight and on the beach in Hawaii the next day (apparently while building sandcastles), he began to talk to Steven Spielberg about possible future film projects. Spielberg said how he always wanted to direct a James Bond flick, but at the time, the Bond franchise was very much a British thing and they wouldn’t allow an American director anywhere near the franchise (true as all Bond film directors had been British at that point). That was when Lucas told Spielberg that he had an idea that was better than Bond.

George Lucas then began to pitch his 1930s styled, archaeologist character/Ark of the Covenant idea to Steven Spielberg. Just like Lucas, Spielberg was also a big fan of those matinee serials and said how he’d love to be involved, even direct the picture. Of course, Lucas had already offered the job to Philip Kaufman a few years prior, but Lucas promised that he’d get Spielberg involved in some way. Several months after that sandcastle building holiday in Hawaii and Steven Spielberg received a phone call from George Lucas. While Philip Kaufman was still on board to write the story of this Ark of the Covenant flick, he couldn’t direct it due to other work commitments. Lucas offered Spielberg the directing job… Which he snapped up.

The two friends met regularly and began to develop the film, while they were both working on other projects. George Lucas was busy as executive producer on Akira Kurosawa’s The Shadow Warrior (1980) as well as deep in work on a sequel to that Star Wars space film thing called, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) or something. Then, Steven Spielberg was directing a comedy flick starring John Belushi called 1941 (1979). Philip Kaufman finished the story, but it needed to be turned into a screenplay and Lucas told Spielberg, as the film’s director, to find someone he was happy with. Spielberg handpicked Lawrence Kasdan. The trio of Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan all met up in early 1978 to work on the finer details of Kaufman’s story and began to flesh the whole thing out.

LUCAS AND SPIELBERG

The hero was to be called Indiana Smith, the name Indiana coming from George Lucas’ dog (yes, he really was named after the dog), an Alaskan Malamute. Not the first time his dog has influenced a character as Chewbacca from Star Wars was inspired from Indiana too. Anyway, Steven Spielberg didn’t much like the name Smith, he thought the unassuming last name idea was good, but just felt that Indiana Smith might remind people of Nevada Smith, the 1966 Steve McQueen flick. So Lucas then suggested the last name of Jones instead. The Smith last name wasn’t the only thing that was changed early on either.

Indy was originally conceived as being a bit of a playboy, who used his expeditions to fund his hedonistic lifestyle. It was decided that Indy being a professor and an intrepid archaeologist was enough for his character. Also, Steven Spielberg envisioned Indy as being an alcoholic. George Lucas quickly quashed that idea as he felt he wanted the hero to be a role model for kids… And that perhaps a rampant party animal with a drinking problem was not the best springboard on which to base hero for a younger audience.

“He has to be a person we can look up to. We’re doing a role model for little kids, so we have to be careful. We need someone who’s honest and true and trusting.”

– George Lucas

It was the summer of 1978 when Lawrence Kasdan finished his first draft of the screenplay and handed it over to George Lucas. Lucas put it to one side and offered to take Kasdan out for lunch so they could talk, refusing the read the script. At that lunch, Lucas asked Kasdan if he would also write the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back. The original writer, Leigh Brackett, unfortunately passed away after he wrote the first draft and Lucas needed someone to tidy it up. That was when Lawrence Kasdan suggested that perhaps George Lucas should read his Raiders screenplay first, just in case he didn’t like it. That was when Lucas said that if he hated the Raiders screenplay, then he would have no problem in taking the Empire writing offer back… But he had a good feeling about the whole thing. After that lunch, the two went their separate ways. George Lucas read that Raiders screenplay that night. The following morning, he called Kasdan to tell him how much he loved it and insisted that Kasdan worked on Empire.

Both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg adored Lawrence Kasdan’s treatment of Raiders and couldn’t wait to get to work on it proper. But of course, it had to be put on the back burner as both Lucas and Spielberg were busy with other projects, and now so was Kasdan as he cracked on with that The Empire Strikes Back thing.

EMPIRE

There were more meetings as Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan continued to work their archaeologist flick through 1979. They needed a producer and Steven Spielberg suggested some young guy called Frank Marshall, who had only produced a handful of small-budget films previously. Lucas, Spielberg, Kasdan and Marshall met for the first time all together and an hour later, they were all shaking hands, welcoming the producer of their next flick. The production team were added too. Close friend and collaborator, Howard Kazanjian, joined George Lucas as executive producer. Douglas Slocombe was hired by Spielberg as the director of photography, after they had worked together on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Michael Kahn was hired as the editor, again, after working with Spielberg. The backbone of the production team was in place and by the end of 1979, location scouting began with the aim to start shooting the film in the spring of 1980.

But, they needed a studio to actually pay for the production costs and distribute the film. Now, George Lucas was riding high at the time thanks to the staggering success of Star Wars, and the soon to be released sequel that would no doubt make some serious scratch too. Apparently, Lucas wanted to bankroll the entire film himself. However, according to Lucas’ biographer, Dale Pollock, in his book, Skywalking: The Life And Films of George Lucas, the bearded one was facing some ‘cash-flow problems’ and just could not afford to pay for a film to be made. The flick was offered to every major movie studio in America, and every one of them turned it down. This was due to something called the Lucas ‘killer deal’. The deal was that the studio put up all of the money, take all of the risks (if the film flops) and yet, still give George Lucas complete control over the movie with zero interference. Well okay, not every studio turned it down. President of Paramount Pictures, Michael Eisner, said it was an ‘unmakable deal’… But he also said that he had never read a better script and the chance to have a film made by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg was something that you just don’t turn down. Still, Eisner had a few stipulations. First, he wanted the sequel rights to Raiders and second, Eisner wanted to impose strict penalties against Lucas and Spielberg if the film went over budget and schedule. He got the penalties and Paramount would even be allowed to distribute the film forever (even with the later Disney buyout, Paramount still own distribution rights to Raiders and all the Indy films pre-2013), but any sequels would only be made with the full agreement and involvement of Lucas.

PARAMOUNT

Anyway, the deal was made and it was not exactly a ‘normal’ deal at all. George Lucas just didn’t trust Hollywood at all, he prefered indie (no pun) filmmaking. You also have to bear in mind that Steven Spielberg’s then-latest flick, 1941, was not liked by critics at all. It certainly was not as well-loved as his previous movies, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And while 1941 made a profit ($65 million made over a $35 million budget), Paramount were very wary about Steven Spielberg’s longevity as a director. Bearing in mind that Spielberg was not the huge name back then that he is now, and he was seen as very much being a flash in the pan director who got lucky with his Jaws and Close Encounters flicks . So for Paramount to put up all of the money, give full creative control to Lucas and trust a director whose most recent film was rather ‘poor’, it was certainly an unusual deal.

“All he said was, ‘Trust me’. So we had Spielberg who had spent a lot of money to make 1941, George saying trust me and us having to guarantee completion money for a film that might cost $50 million. It was not a standard deal, to say the least.”

– Michael Eisner

Still, Lucas loved the deal because of how he was treated by 20th Century Fox when making Star Wars. The studio was continually interfering and putting pressure on Lucas. They even threatened to take the film from him and put it into cinemas without his input before it was fully finished. George Lucas almost ended up having a nervous breakdown, that was why he disappeared off to Hawaii when Star Wars was released, to get away from it all. But now? Now Lucas had full control over the film and with Paramount paying for everything… He had nothing to lose.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was given a budget of $20 million and an eighty-five-day shooting schedule. Steven Spielberg was pretty well known in Hollywood for going over budget and over schedule. See the making of Jaws… The making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind… The making of 1941. Every major flick Spielberg had made up to this point had gone over budget, gone over schedule, or both. So, in order to keep things under control, some written scenes and ideas were removed from the shooting script or simplified. A scene where Indy infiltrates a Nazi base and discovers several super-weapons and an experimental Flying Wing was removed. Then there was the idea that Gestapo agent Thot would have a mechanical arm that was also removed to save time. As this early concept art shows.

THOT MACHINE GUN

In fact, Thot originally was even going to be partly cybernetic. He was going to have a radio/communication device built into his head and that mechanical arm was going to work as a machine gun that would fire bullets through his finger… Seriously…

THOT MACHINE GUN 2

Also to keep things running smoothly, George Lucas wanted the production to be based at the legendary Elstree Studios in London. Big flicks such as Superman: The Movie and of course, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were made there. Lucas knew the place well and was 100% confident that they had the right people to work behind the scenes to get the film made, and most importantly made on time and within the budget. Around 80% of the film was storyboarded with over six thousand images sketched out. Steven Spielberg also had the art department at Elstree studios make scale models of each set and location, which Spielberg used to pre-plan out each and every shot in advance. There’s this great behind the scenes photo of Spielberg planning a shot over a model of the iconic dig site from the film.

SPIELBERG PLANNING SHOT

Everything was planned and gone over with a fine-tooth comb in order to keep the shoot tight, within budget and to ensure it was all filmed in that agreed eighty-five-day shooting schedule. Then after all of the planning had been done, budget worked out, locations scouted, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg turn their attention to the cast.

For the lead role, Lucas wanted an unknown, or at least, a very little known actor. An actor who wouldn’t be too busy with other projects if the option of sequels came about. Seeing as Lucas had already written two other story outlines, in case Raiders was successful, he needed an actor who could commit to (at least) three films. Auditions were held, but none of the actors were given a copy of the script. Steven Spielberg would meet any interested actors and just talk to them, give them the general gist of the character they would be playing and ask them to act as that character. If they were liked, they were asked to come back for another audition, but this second audition was a bit more specific and a scene would be written especially for them to act out. Nothing from the Raiders script itself (as to keep things top secret), but a scene that would hopefully show what these actors could do. As the production team whittled down to their final choices for all the roles, their auditions were filmed.

The casting director, Mike Fenton, championed for Jeff Bridges to play Indiana Jones. While George Lucas’ wife, Marcia, eyed up Tom Selleck. After a meeting, Lucas and Spielberg agreed that Selleck was the man for the job and he was invited in for a final audition where he was filmed in a screentest with Sean Young as Marion (YouTube it).

SELLECK AND YOUNG SCREENTEST

Tom Selleck was offered the Indiana Jones role there and then as both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg felt he was perfect. However, Selleck had just finished shooting a pilot for a TV show called Magnum P.I. for CBS. The pilot was a success and was to be turned into a full TV show. CBS refused to let Selleck out of his contract to film Raiders, Lucas asked CBS if they would delay the shooting of Magnum P.I. by a few weeks so that Tom Selleck could do both, they refused again. So Lucas and Spielberg were back at square one, looking for a new leading man. As an aside, while Tom Selleck was in Hawaii preparing for his Magnum P.I. role, there was a writers strike, which delayed the production of the show. Selleck could’ve done both roles, only he was stuck in Hawaii wanting to shoot Magnum P.I. while the production of Raiders was based in England. I quite honestly think that Tom Selleck would’ve made a fantastic Indiana Jones too.

It was now just a few weeks before shooting began and the film had no lead. One afternoon and George Lucas had Steven Spielberg watch and advance screening of The Empire Strikes Back. It was while watching that screening when Spielberg found his leading man. Spielberg told Lucas he felt that Harrison Ford was the right man for the job. However, Lucas was not so sure. He didn’t want it to be seen as a Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro type thing, what with Lucas already working with Ford on not only the two Star Wars flicks, but also the previously mentioned American Graffiti. It took some convincing, but Spielberg managed to talk Lucas round. Harrison Ford met Steven Spielberg in his home. They just hung out, playing pinball and video games, while talking about the film. It was during that informal chat when Ford really understood Spielberg’s vision for the flick. Harrison Ford signed up to play Indiana Jones there and then.

Both Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford shared a flight from LA to London to begin shooting Raiders. On that flight, they went through the script line by line and refined some of the rougher aspects. Around ten hours later when they landed in London, Spielberg and Ford and polished the shooting script as much as they could. Even though Ford was only hired as an actor, he had no obligations to help out with the script, he just wanted to.

“Harrison is a very original leading man. There’s not been anyone like him for thirty or forty years, and he does carry the movie wonderfully. Harrison was more than just an actor playing a role, he was a collaborator and really was involved in a lot of decision making about the movie. And this wasn’t by contract, it was because I sensed a very good story mind and a real smart person and called on him time and again.”

– Steven Spielberg

FORD AND SPIELBERG

Going right back to George Lucas’ original vision for the character, a ten-foot bullwhip was always the weapon of choice. Harrison Ford had to master it in a short space of time too, given the fact he was only hired a few weeks before the film began shooting. Before becoming an actor, Ford worked as a carpenter. During a job, he had an accident and broke his right wrist when he fell off a ladder. The wrist never fully recovered and so using a bullwhip became a lot more difficult than it already was. Raiders of the Lost Ark’s stunt coordinator Glenn Randall was the man who had to train Ford and train him fast. Ford picked it up really quickly though.

“I lashed myself about the head and shoulders for at least a couple of weeks before I really figured the thing out.”

– Harrison Ford

In fact, Harrison Ford got so damn good with the whip that he not only impressed the stunt team, he also convinced Spielberg to use the whip a lot more times than it was used in the script, as well as to let Ford do (pretty much) all his own stunt work too. So with Indiana Jones cast, and cast well too, they needed their leading woman.

Originally, Steven Spielberg wanted Amy Irving to play Marion Ravenwood (Spielberg was dating Irving at the time). However, Irving was not available… Or her and Spielberg split up and he pulled the offer of the role, depending on what story you want to believe. So the role was then offered to Debra Winger, who turned it down flat. That was when Sean Young was screen-tested with Tom Selleck and obviously, that didn’t work out for either of them. New York stage actress, Karen Allen was next on the list who had previously auditioned for the role. There used to be an image of Steven Spielberg doing a screen test with Karen Allen, with Spielberg playing Indy (as this was when they had no leading man cast) complete with the hat. But I can’t seem to find that picture anymore. Anyway, after a lot of dead ends, Marion Ravenwood was found and Karen Allen was given the part.

WRITING

As for Indy’s main rival and antagonist of the flick, Rene Belloq. Italian actor, Giancarlo Giannini was almost cast. Steven Spielberg really wanted him for the role too. But before a contract could be signed, Spielberg watched the controversial drama-documentary Death of a Princess starring Paul Freeman. After which, Spielberg offered Freeman the part of Belloq. The rest of the cast also included (mostly) English actors, what with the production based in London, that made a lot of sense. Ronald Lacey famously played sadistic Gestapo agent, Major Arnold Toht. Denholm Elliott was cast as Indy’s close friend and colleague, Marcus Brody. And the part of Dr Jones’ guide when in Egypt, Sallah, was originally written specifically for and offered to Danny DeVito. However, DeVito’s agent demanded more money than the production could afford… Or were willing to pay. So the five-foot and twenty-two inches tall character was given to the six-foot tall John Rhys-Davies. When Davies learned the role was written for a much shorter actor, he spoke to Steven Spielberg and asked:

“What do you expect me to do, have surgery at the knees?”

– John Rhys-Davies

With the script done, the cast in place and everyone at Elstree Studios ready, Raiders of the Lost Ark began shooting on the 23rd of June 1980. And I’m going to end this lengthy part of the making of Raiders here as both you and I could do with a break. Part two will look at the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders At 40: Is Indiana Jones A Paedophile?

Well, there’s a headline I never thought I’d ever write. The truth is that I never actually planned on writing this one. When I originally came up with the idea to do this multi-article celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old, I sat down and thought about the subjects I wanted to cover. I knew I wanted to a retrospective of Indy video games, I’ve always wanted to cover the famed plot hole, I most definitely wanted to look at the making of the film (coming later) and more. I sat down and pencilled in subjects, then began to research those subjects before turning them into full-blown articles. When researching those articles, I kept finding fans questioning whether Indiana Jones was a paedophile.

I need to insert a little edit here as I’ve had people suggest that I’ve made this whole theory up myself just so I could write this ‘clickbait’ article. Well, I’ve not. Here’s a link to a YouTube video looking at this very subject. Here’s a discussion on Reddit about it. There are even more sites covering the same subject too if you look. I honestly have not made this up.

Now, I’ve watched Raiders a great many times over the decades, dozens upon dozens of times. Yes, I have had my own personal questions and theories about the flick as many others have too… But none of them have ever had anything to do with questioning Dr Jones’ sexual activity/attraction to minors. Still, when I did see this very subject pop up several times during my research, I really felt that I had to delve deeper into the subject. Okay, so this is going to require a little explanation before I continue.

Okay, so the whole question of Indy being a paedo or not seems to stem from one particular scene in the first film, and one very specific line of dialogue. It comes when Indy arrives at The Raven, the bar Abner Ravenwood opened in Nepal, and just after Marion clouts Dr Jones with a right hook:

Marion: “I’ve learned to hate you in the last ten years!”

Indiana: “I never meant to hurt you.”

Marion: “I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it!”

Indiana: “You knew what you were doing.”

Marion: “Now I do. This is my place. Get out!”

See, it is Marion’s line of ‘I was a child. I was in love. It was wrong and you knew it’ where these fan theories of Indy being a paedophile come from. For this, I really need to explore the history of the characters.

According to the official bios, Indiana Jones was born in 1899 and Marion was born in 1909, so there’s a ten year age gap between them. Also according to the bio, Indy and Marion had a thing in the mid 1920s. The relationship lasted less than a year, and it was that very same Indy and Marion coupling that caused Abner and Indy’s relationship fall apart too. It turns out that Abner was not too happy that a student that he thought of as his son was ‘involved’ with his own daughter. For those not in the know, Abner Ravenwood was basically Indy’s adoptive father who taught him everything he knew, as his real father showed very little interest in him. Anyway, Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936 and Marion says how she had learned to hate Indy the last ten years. So we can assume their relationship ended in 1926, ten years before Raiders’ 1936 setting.

MARION DRESS

If Indy was born in 1899 and Raiders is set in 1936, that would make Indy 37 during the film, minus the decade since the relationship ended. So he was 26-27-years-old when he and Marion ‘got it on’, so to speak. That would also make Marion 27 during Raiders and 16-17 when her and Indy were ‘knocking boots’. So there is a 10-year age gap between them… But that is not exactly paedophilia, is it? I’m sure there are plenty of relationships with a decade or more gap between them. Of course, it really comes down to the age of consent and this is where I’ve really had to dig into the histories of all the characters.

So according to the bios, Abner sent Indy his journal in 1925 asking for help to find the Ark of the Covenant. Indy joined Abner in his search and that was when the relationship with Marion began. So Marion would’ve been 16-years-old at the youngest in 1925 and she was 17 when the relationship ended less than a year later. There was a (fictional) book published in 2008 called The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones, which detailed a lot of Indy’s history… Only some pages had been (stylistically) ripped out and exactly what happened between him and Marion is not detailed. Nor is where the couple were when they first got together. I don’t know if they were in the US or on an expedition with Abner at the time. But, if we assume they were in the US, the age of consent ranges from state to state and in 1920, the age of consent in the US ranged from 14 to 18. Marshall College, where Abner taught Indy (and where Indy would go on to teach at himself) is in Bedford, Connecticut and in Connecticut in the 1920s when they had their relationship, the age of consent was 16 (yes, I’ve really looked into this). So, if Indy and Marion had sex in 1925 in Connecticut, then she would’ve legally been of age as she was 16 in 1925. Still a ‘child’ as Marion claimed? I guess, but still legal and of age. So then, Indy wouldn’t have been a paedophile.

INDY AND MARION 2

However, as I previously said, I don’t know where they were when Indy and Marion were together. I assume the US, but they could’ve been on an expedition with Abner, quite possibly in Nepal at the time. The age of consent in Nepal now is 18-years-old. What was it in the 1920? I have no idea, I couldn’t find a truly reliable source. I did find a source that claimed it has been as low as 14 in the past. So if we assume they were in Nepal at the time, Marion still would (very possibly) have been legal in 1925.

But I have more. See, I’ve been writing a making of Raiders as my grand finale for this whole celebration (coming up next). I’ve researched a hell of a lot and I found a quote from George Lucas regarding Indy as a character. There were some characteristics of Indy that were originally suggested to be included or written in the first draft of the screenplay, but ultimately left out for a good reason. You’ll find out more when it comes to that making of article I have written (actually three articles as it is so big). Anyway, this is the quote:

“He has to be a person we can look up to. We’re doing a role model for little kids, so we have to be careful. We need someone who’s honest and true and trusting.”

– George Lucas

So then, if Lucas wanted Indiana Jones to be (in his words) ‘honest and true and trusting’, as well as being ‘a role model for little kids’… Why would he then be written as a paedophile? So even from a background and writing perspective, Indy was carefully crafted to not be a paedophile. If you dig around more, you will find that originally, Marion was supposed to have been around 12 or 13-years-old in early drafts of the script. So then, when Marion was originally written as being younger? Yeah, that would be a bit of a difficult one to explain. However, in the early drafts of the script, no mention of a relationship between them ever existed, Marion ws just Abner’s daughter. But the fact remains that Marion was made older and Indy was specifically written to be a role model to kids, etc. Yes, she was young, she was a ‘child’ as she called herself, but Marion was still of legal age.

INDY AND MARION 3

But I have more. See, it is never explicitly stated what Indy and Marion got up to. Those who question Indy being a paedophile are actually just making up that they had sex themselves. Even Karen Allen herself has weighed in on this very subject:

“So we don’t even know what it is. I mean, they could have kissed a few times, and she was just completely bowled over, and he could have just not wanted to get involved with someone so young. And maybe my father would have been furious at him. I mean, what’s great about it is we don’t know what the circumstances are.

So she obviously cared deeply for him. He may have cared for her, too. But, in the end, decided it was a dangerous situation and he didn’t want to be involved. I mean, I guess, when something is as vague as that, you can color it any way you want to color it. I’ve tended to color it, sort of, that it was quite innocent. When she says, ‘It was wrong and you knew it’. I mean, I think maybe he led her on in some way. But when she says she was a child, I think she meant she was 16. Something like that.”

– Karen Allen

INDY AND MARION 4

So there actually isn’t anything to suggest that Indy and Marion did anything other than a bit of kissing and cuddling, and it is suggested that Indy put an end to the relationship before it got too serious too. Yes, a 26-year-old man (as Indy was in 1925) getting involved with a 16-year-old girl would most definitely raise more than a few eyebrows today…  But Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn’t set in 2021, it was set in 1936. Even then, the relationship (according to the character bios) began in 1925 and ended less than a year later in 1926. They were very different times, 16-year-old girls were getting married and having kids back then. So there is zero evidence to suggest that Indiana Jones was a paedophile. Questionable that he was involved with a girl 10-years younger than him yes, but she was of age… If they did have sex, of which there is nothing to suggest they did, then nothing illegal was going on. Dr Jones was definitely not a paedo.


Well, with that out of the way, it is onto the grand finale of this whole Raiders at 40 celebration. It’s quite a big one too. I’m going to look at just how and why the legend that is Indiana Jones came about and what went into making the film from its original conception, right up to its release.

Raiders At 40: Behind The Boulder

Aside from nazi face-melting, shooting an overly confident swordsman, an awesome truck chase and a hidden room full of snakes. Raiders had one of the most iconic scenes in any film ever. Of course, I’m talking about the boulder chase scene from the opening. Right here, I’m going to take a look at some of the behind the scenes info on that very classic scene and the whole opening part of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as explore just where the idea came from. Just in case you need a reminder…

I love the entire opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The mysterious (and cool) way that Indy is introduced for the first time, the many traps the hidden Peruvian temple, the spiders and that golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, Alfred Molina doing that nervous finger rubbing thing as Indy attempts to swap his bag of sand for the idol. Those opening few minutes are brilliantly crafted and set up the character of Indiana Jones perfectly. Then, of course, it all leads up to that awesome boulder chase. I still remember watching that for the first time as a kid, holding my breath, excited and worried that Indy wouldn’t make it. Yeah I know it’s obvious that the main character of the film wouldn’t die in the opening 10 minutes, but 7-year-old me didn’t understand that back then.

ALFRED MOLINA

I think that the entire opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark could be one of the finest movie introductions ever made. The way it creates a mystery and introduces Indiana Jones is perfect. You know exactly the kind of character he is and you understand him instantly, all from that mini-movie opening. Re-watching the film (several times) for this whole multi-part celebration, I got to thinking just how the whole scene came about. Digging through interviews and making of documentaries, I unearthed some really interesting titbits that I’d like to share with you guys.

PARAMOUNT

That iconic, and now, Indy franchise staple opening shot where the Paramount logo turns into a mountain was a last-minute idea. Steven Spielberg sent producer, Frank Marshall all over the island of Kauai, Hawaii where they were filming at the time, in search of the perfect mountain peak. Marshall had to not only find the right mountain, but also photo it from every possible angle, so Spielberg could pick his favourite and match it to the Paramount logo. Something that would be done with CGI these days. Also, those opening few moments of Indy and his men walking through the jungle and up to finding the hidden temple were shot in ten different locations around Hawaii. Ten locations just for the opening 2-3 minutes of the film. The temple itself was filmed in Elstree Studios, London… Only 7,280 miles away from Hawaii.

You know Barranca, the guy who pulls a gun on Indy, for Indy to then whip the gun out of his hand, before making his brilliant (out of the shadows) first appearance? Well originally, that was written to be much more violent and graphic. Instead of just whipping the gun away, Barranca was supposed to become entangled in the whip, with his own gun pointing at his head. Indy then jerked the whip, for the gun to go off, making Barranca shoot himself in the head. Pretty brutal stuff and it kind of made Indy look like a bit of a ruthless murderer. The scene was changed for the better I feel. But, what is it with Harrison Ford being made to look like a cold-blooded killer in George Lucas flicks, for the scene to be changed later? 

HAN SHOT FIRST

The part when Indy and Satipo (Alfred Molina) are in the temple and Satipo gets covered in spiders was originally a bit dull. The spider wrangler used all male spiders and they just sat on Molina, motionless. Spielberg became increasingly annoyed as the real spiders looked very fake on film. So, Spielberg spoke to the wrangler and asked if there was anything that could be done to entice the spiders to move. There was, the wrangler added a female spider to the mix and well…

“Suddenly all hell breaks loose. They’re running onto my face and Steven is going, ‘Shoot! Shoot! … Alfred, look scared!’ and I’m all, ‘I’m scared! I’m scared!’”

– Alfred Molina

On his way to the famed golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, Indy was supposed to take other treasures from the temple. I don’t know if the scene was shot and then cut or not, but it’s not in the film, yet it was in the script. Also, when Indy gets back to America and Marshall College, Indy does give those other treasures he stole to Marcus Brody, as shown in the film. So he did take them then.

Speaking of the golden idol, it features a very hard to see effect in the film. The idol has eyes that actually watch and follow Indy as he approaches the plinth and takes it. The eyes worked via an internal mechanism which were moved using a radio control. The following images show the internal workings of the idol and Spielberg himself operating the radio control to move the eyes. If you go back and re-watch that scene, you can just about see the eyes move…. very, very slightly. Easier to spot in the 4K remaster.

GOLD IDOL EYESGOLD IDOL REMOTE

 

The famed boulder itself was originally much bigger. Envisioned to being sixty-five feet wide, it was downscaled to twenty-two feet and made of fibreglass. Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much that he extend the scene too. Originally, it was just going to roll down the ramp, Indy ran away and the boulder gets stuck immediately after. Spielberg not only extend the scene so Indy had to run further, but also made the ramp that the boulder rolls down about fifty feet longer, just to give it more screen time. Plus, that really is Harrison Ford outrunning the boulder too, he did most of his own stunts in the flick… And he had to do that particular running away from the boulder scene ten times. The scene was not only shot twice, but it was shot twice from five different camera angles. With each camera angle shot done separately, equalling ten different times Ford had to run away. 

“He won ten times and beat the odds. He was lucky and I was an idiot for letting him try.”

– Steven Spielberg

Also, the boulder was originally going to crush Indy’s iconic hat. In the original script, the hat comes off as Indy is running away for the boulder, with no time to get it back, Indy keeps running and the boulder rolls over his hat, then Indy was going to be in the rest of the film hatless. Spielberg disliked Indy losing his hat, especially in the opening few minutes, so he suggested that they let Indy keep his now trademark fedora. Just think, if it had not been for Spielberg, then Indy would never have been known as ‘the man with the hat’ and he would’ve lost one of his most famous pieces of apparel before it became so iconic.

INDY BOULDER

And finally, for perhaps, the most surprising things about the opening scene of Raiders and even Indy himself. It/he was inspired by a cartoon duck. Now, Indy was born from many different inspirations when George Lucas came up with the idea for the character. 1930s matinée serials and and pulp magazines. Real archaeologists such as Hiram Bingham, Roy Chapman Andrews, and Sir Leonard Woolley… And a little bit of James Bond too. However, one of the biggest inspirations was Scrooge McDuck, uncle of Donald Duck. See, when Carl Barks created Scrooge in 1947, he was seen as a bit of an adventurer himself. One such adventure, from The Seven Cities of Cibola story, published in 1954, shows just where George Lucas got the idea from.

SCROOGE 1

There’s the idol itself. Not gold, but made of emerald in the Scrooge McDuck story. Oh, and it is also noted that it is booby-trapped and that moving the idol will trigger the trap… Which would unleash a giant boulder. Thankfully, Scrooge releases the danger and the idol is left in place, so the giant boulder trap isn’t triggered. Saving everyone involved. Then…

SCROOGE 2

The Beagle Boys (Scrooge McDuck’s nemesis) turn up and take the idol for themselves. Of course, the booby trap is triggered and the giant boulder is unleashed, rolling through the temple as The Beagle Boys make a run for it. So there you go, one of the greatest scenes in a film was inspired by a Disney character… Kind of strange now that Disney owns the Indiana Jones IP and is now (technically) a Disney character himself. There are other Scrooge McDuck adventures that also inspired George Lucas. The 1959 comic, The Prize of Pizarro, for instance. In this one, Scrooge, Donald and those annoying kids have to get through a booby-trapped hall that shoots arrows/spears at them, before they are chased away by natives…

TEMPLE TRAP 1NATIVES

In fact, if you go and look at some of those old Scrooge McDuck adventure comics, there are loads of scenes that have clearly been ‘borrowed’ for Indy. I don’t just mean Raiders of the Lost Ark either. All of the Indy films have clearly been using Scrooge McDuck and his adventures as an inspiration for decades now.


Phew, this has been a pretty big celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark reaching its 40th anniversary, but there’s still more to come. Next, I tackle a rather ‘risqué’ question that seems to crop up about Indy as a character every now and then… Is Indiana Jones a paedophile?

Raiders At 40: The Future Of Indiana Jones?

As I write this right now, a new Indiana Jones film is in production and currently filming. I’m a massive Indy fan, so much so that I’m one of the few that, despite its problems, I actually enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yet, even I just can’t get excited or even slightly interested in this new film. I guess I could break out plenty of jokes about Harrison Ford being too old, etc. But when the 78-year-old (as of writing) actor is fitter and more active than the 44-year-old me writing this article, I’m really not in a position to suggest he’s too old to play the character.

OLD INDY

Yes, that is old Indiana Jones. No, it is not Harrison Ford. That is George Hall playing a 93-year-old Indy from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show. That’s the key thing about Dr Jones, he’s not like James Bond who magically regenerates every few years and keeps going for decades. Indy grows old and eventually dies. You can’t have someone else step in and play the character, it has to be Harrison Ford… Or a stand-in and CGI technology to make it look like Ford.

Anyway, even though I liked the film, I can still admit that Crystal Skull had numerous problems. But an aged Ford playing Dr Jones wasn’t one of them as he was still fantastic in the role. What was a problem for me was the year the film was set, that being 1957. There’s just something about Indy that feels like it should be set no later than the 1940s. Despite my enjoying Crystal Skull, I really had a problem with it being in the fifties, and the late fifties too. I mean, given the over a decade gap between flicks (fourteen years from Crystal Skull to Indy 5’s suggested 2022 release), this means the new one would have to be set in the early seventies… and that’s way too late for an Indiana Jones film. Maybe they could get away with a late sixties setting (there have been rumours it’ll use the 1969 moon landing as a backdrop)? Either way, that just doesn’t sit right with me for an Indiana Jones adventure. So, I thought I’d pitch an idea of how to keep the Indy film franchise going, all while keeping well away from a more modern setting.

INDY BACK

De-ageing. Everyone is going crazy for de-ageing technology these days. From an older Robert Downey Jr. appearing younger as Tony Stark in the Marvel flicks, to (a then) late fifties Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem being back in 1988 in Coming 2 America. But let’s not mention the terrible de-ageing of Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy. De-ageing tech is really quite impressive these days and any actor/character can now become any age they want. So why not a younger Indiana Jones back in his prime? In fact, I’m going to call it now that Indy 5 will use de-ageing. Perhaps not for the whole flick, but I’m willing to bet that a younger, prime-aged, circa Last Crusade era Dr Jones will be in the film, a flashback, the traditional mini-movie opening or something. I bet we will see a younger Indy in the film.

Anyway, using a de-aged Harrison Ford, there’s plenty to work with. Indy has an existence outside of the films you know. He has an entire history of adventures that he’s been on in his life. They could even make a movie about Indy’s relationship with Abner Ravenwood, and his lack of relationship with his own father. The long rumoured and very vague romantic involvement with Marion. It could work as a direct prequel to Raiders and show just how Indy helped Abner to find the headpiece to the Staff of Ra. 

Take a look at Indiana Jones in video games too, there are several games that are considered canon with the character. Adventures that have never been on the big screen. There are novels and comic books that could be used as a source. There’s even Indiana Jones theme park rides and attractions with stories not based on the films that could be explored. They could de-age Harrison Ford and put him in several ‘unseen’ Indy adventures, all keeping within the timeframe of when the character was in his prime too. Take a look at my previous article where I explored Indy sequels that never got made. Those are just some of the scripts and story ideas, there could be more unused scripts that are not known about. Seriously, there’s loads of ideas that could last years. Just as an example, the adventure game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is often considered one of Indy’s greatest adventures. Yet it has never been made into a film. It could though. A big-screen version of Fate of Atlantis could be amazing and Indy could still be age-appropriate too. I’d personally love to see Indiana Jones and Sophia Hapgood on the big screen.

FATE OF ATLANTIS

Speaking of games, It’s quite surprising there haven’t been more. I know that there’s a new Indy game coming from Bethesda and Machine games… Coming when is anyone’s guess. It could be years away yet. But why haven’t there been more Indy games? Before this new title was announced, the last ‘proper’ Indiana Jones game was Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues from 2009. As I write this, it is the summer of 2021. That’s twelve years without a real Indy game. Again, there’s a rich history of the character that could be explored in video games and yet, that’s just not happening. Indiana Jones really could have a deep and long-lasting history, even after Indy 5 is released next year. It’s a shame that the character is not being used as much as it could be.


There’s still more to come with my Raiders at 40 celebrations. Next up, I take a look at perhaps, the most famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene. I’m talking giant boulder action.

Raiders At 40: Movie Sequels We Never Got: The ‘Other’ Third Indiana Jones Film… And More

Today, the 12th of June 2021 marks exactly forty years to the day that Raiders of the Lost Ark was first released in cinemas. Four decades of Indiana Jones is exactly why I started this very lengthy, multi-article celebration (I’m not even halfway through yet). Now, I have looked at a few movie sequels that we never got already this year, with more coming too. As I continue my celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old, I thought I’d look into possible Indy sequels we never got.

There had been a few false starts in relation to the fourth Indy film before it eventually happened. Indy 5 is now in production and filming as I write this very sentence, which too suffered a few false starts over the years. But they did eventually come about, or will soon exist. Yet, there was one Indiana Jones film that we will never see, the third film in the franchise. Now I know what you’re thinking, Indy III does exist with 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yes, Last Crusade was the third film… Eventually. But there was another third and very different film that was in early development before Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was made. After Temple of Doom was a hit, another sequel was put into production. While in pre-production around 1985, the film was simply titled Indy III. George Lucas came up with a bare basic story premise.

HARRISON, STEVEN AND GEORGE

Anyway, George Lucas then gave his plot synopsis to Chris Columbus. Columbus being the man who wrote Gremlins and The Goonies in the eighties, before becoming a director in his own right. Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, a couple of the Harry Potter flicks and more all had Chris Columbus as a director. Columbus set about writing a script based on Lucas’ story premise for the third Indy flick. The following plot summary is taken from indianajones.fandom.com:

“It opened in a castle in Scotland in 1937, where Indiana Jones, while on a fishing trip, investigates murders by a ghost, the Baron Seamus Seagrove III. Indiana returns home, where Marcus Brody tells him to aid the zoologist Clare Clarke in Africa, who has discovered a 200-year-old pygmy named Tyki. Indiana meets up with her and his old friend Scraggy Brier in Mozambique, and discovers a suicidally lovestruck student of his named Betsy has stowed along. The Nazis, led by Lieutenant Mephisto and Sergeant Gutterbuhg (who has a mechanical arm), attack, and despite Indy’s best efforts in the ensuing boat chase, Tyki is captured.

Still, Tyki gave Indy a scroll which guides him to a Lost City via the Zambesi River. There, Indy, Clare, Scraggy and Betsy enter an uneasy alliance with pirates, led by Kezure. The Nazis attack in a giant tank, which Indy manages to rescue Tyki from by using a rhino as his steed. Tyki takes them to the city of Sun Wu King, where it is revealed Tyki is a prince. His father is then killed by the Nazis, and a battle ensues where Indiana is killed by Lieutenant Mephisto. The Nazis are defeated though, and Tyki takes Indy into a garden of immortal peaches, where Sun Wu King comes to revive Indy. Kezure eats a peach, but dies because he isn’t pure of heart. Sun Wu gives Indy his transforming Golden Rod, while Betsy decides to stay with Clare.”

CASTLE

The title was changed to Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Sun Wu King. Lucas made a few other edits to the story, like making the lost city in his story to house the Fountain of Youth, which would be used to kill off the Nazis. If you read that brief story outline up there, there are already a few ideas that carried over to Last Crusade. A boat chase, Nazi attack in a tank, a Jones ‘dying’ and being revived, the bad guy dying from the very thing that was meant to grant immortality, etc.

As Chris Columbus worked on a second draft of his script, things were changed. The Betsy character was removed completely and one of Indy’s ‘friends’ was changed to a bar owner called Dashiell who sides with the Nazis. Columbus even turned Sun Wu King into a bad guy, one that made Indy and Dashiell play chess against each other, using real people. When a piece (person) was lost, Sun Wu King disintegrated them… And I bet you thought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had a batshit crazy plot. Then, after defeating Sun Wu King and his army, Indy and Clare Clark escape and get married. Chris Columbus also changed the title to two possibilities Indiana Jones and the Monkey King and Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life. I’ve managed to dig up a few more details on Chris Columbus’ story idea for the film, and some of them are really quite WTF?

From what I can gather, there was some upset over how dark Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was. So much so that this proposed third flick would be far more light-hearted. The opening set in a haunted castle, where Indy is looking into ghost murders (seriously) would see Dr Jones fighting off empty suits of armour, like something out of Scooby-Doo. When facing off against the Nazi tank mentioned in the above synopsis, it would scare off the animals of the African plain that the scene took place in. A rhino would charge at Indy, for him to grab the animal’s horn and flip himself onto the beast’s back. Then, Indy would use the wild rhino to charge at the tank, the rhino stops abruptly when the tank fires its gun. This sudden stop would launch Indy from the back of the rhino and the onto tank.

RHINO

Oh, it gets worse. Indy doesn’t actually stop the tank and it rolls closer and closer to the lost city. This is when Indy’s two female companions, Betsy and Clare, ‘talk’ to a group of trained gorillas and get them to attack the tank (I wish I was making this up, I really do). The apes pull the hatch off the tank, get inside and knock the Nazis out. The gorillas then take control of the tanks… Get dressed the Nazi uniforms and everything (again, I’m not making this up). The now Nazi uniform wearing apes steer their tank towards another Nazi tank and destroy it with a single shot, the Nazi-apes then celebrate their victory. Quick reminder… This was written by an actual, well-paid and respected Hollywood writer. You thought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had some stupid scenes… It did, but seriously… Indy fighting haunted suits of armour and Nazi gorillas?

NAZI GORILLAS

Oh, and before I forget, the main Nazi bad guy, Sergeant Gutterbuhg’s ‘mechanical arm’, as it was described in the synopsis, was going to be a fucking machine gun arm. Further research reveals this was a left over idea from Raiders of the Lost Ark (see my making of article coming later for more details).

As for Betsy, Indy’s companion in this flick? Well, she was so infatuated with Indy that she tries to commit suicide because she couldn’t have him. She tries to hang herself with Indy’s whip. Douses herself in bourbon and tries to set herself on fire with a match. She purposely tries to knock a hundred and fifty-pound urn onto her head and more. There was even a scene written where Betsy is sexually harassed by a chimp. As previously mentioned, in later drafts, the Betsy character was removed completely… I can see why. I know you probably don’t believe a lot of that crap I just wrote, but do an interwebs search for Indiana Jones and the Monkey King and you’ll find several sites all reporting on the same thing with links to back up the claims. I mean, there’s even a read-through of the script right here.

SCRIPT BIT

Now, I have actually found the script online. However, it says it was for Indy IV and not Indy III. Plus it is dated 1995 and Last Crusade came out in 1989. So, was all this madness what may have happened instead of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? To be honest, I’ve found conflicting stories over whether this proposed sequel was going to be Indy III or Indy IV. I think it is very possible that it was originally written as an Indy III, but when they decided to go ahead with Last Crusade, it was re-worked as a possible Indy IV? Either way, here’s the script. Or there is another possible theory, the script is a fake/fan-made one. There most definitely was a Indiana Jones and the Monkey King story being developed as a possible Indy III in the mid eighties, but I honestly can’t find any concrete proof that the linked script is genuine. 

Anyway, the story goes that neither George Lucas nor Steven Spielberg liked the direction that the film was going in. They felt it was unrealistic (no shit!). Lucas came up with the idea to make the MacGuffin of the flick be the Holy Grail. He also gave the job of writing the story to Menno Meyjes who came up with the idea of turning the Grail into a metaphor, and that by fining the Grail, Indy also finds his relationship with his father. Meyjes’s story was then given to Jeffrey Boam to do some tying up and he penned the screenplay that would (thankfully) become Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

HARRISON, STEVEN AND SEAN

And that was just one of the proposed sequels… One of. Oh yes, there were other Indy sequels that never came about. I’m not going to go into as much great detail on these ones because firstly, details on these are much more scarce and mostly seem to be rumour-based over fact-based. Secondly, this article is getting on a bit and I have more Indy topics to cover. So anyway, these are the ideas for other Indy sequels that never happened.

Indiana Jones and the Haunted Mansion was said to be a genuine idea on the table for a while. But Steven Spielberg was reported to be unsure about making another film focusing on ghosts after his flick Poltergeist. Ideas were stripped back and it became the intro to the Indiana Jones and the Monkey King film that I just covered. The screenplay for this more supernatural focused Indy film was by Diane Thomas, who also wrote the Raiders rip off, Romancing The Stone.

Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars was one of the ideas being thrown around for a proposed Indy IV for a while. It also has quite a bit more detail surrounding it. George Lucas wrote the story around 1993-94, before handing it off to Jeb Stuart to do the screenplay. Reportedly, Stuart was struggling to make any kind of sense of Lucas’ ideas, so it was then passed on to Jeffrey Boam, who had done such a great job with Last Crusade. At the start, Indy almost marries a linguist called Dr Elaine McGregor. Guests at the wedding included Marion, Willie, Sallah and Henry Snr. But it seemed that Elaine suddenly disappears. Indy goes in search of his betrothed and he learns that she had been investigating the arrival of aliens on Earth. Long story short and Indy finds Elaine, they both crack a code on a stone cylinder, which leads them to a mountain. All while Russians are in pursuit, wanting to learn the secrets of the aliens for themselves. There’s action, Indy beats the Russians and discovers that aliens are real. He and Elaine finally get married and Short Round makes a cameo appearance at the end.

INDY MARRIED

As you can see, this was pretty much where the idea for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was born. Aliens, Russians, Indy gets married, etc. As for why it didn’t happen? Well, George Lucas was developing the idea in the mid-nineties, then Independence Day became a huge hit in 1996 and Lucas didn’t want it to seem like he was copying the whole alien film idea. So he sat on it for a few a while with the intention to get Jeffrey Boam to do rewrites and work on the plot more, to then make the film a few years later when everyone had forgotten about Independence Day. Sadly, Boam died aged 53 from a rare form of lung disease in January 2000. After that, George Lucas just lost all interest in the Indy vs aliens idea… For a few years, until 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Indiana Jones and the Lost Continent was one film that was heavily rumoured to be worked on in the early nineties. After the success of the brilliant Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis adventure game from 1992, stories began to appear in the press that the next Indy film would be based on the game. From what I’ve managed to dig up, that’s a half-truth. It seems there was some early work on a flick where Indy goes in search of Atlantis, but it wasn’t going to be an adoption of the game. It was going to be a whole new story, but with Indy still in search of Atlantis. In the film version, it was going to be revealed that Indy had a long lost half-brother, who tags along for the adventure. A few names of who would play Indy’s brother were thrown about with Kevin Costner being one. Another actor’s possible involvement was much more interesting though. At one point, Tom Selleck was rumoured to be playing Indy’s brother. That would’ve made a nice little reference, what with Selleck being the original actor hired to play Indy before his contract with CBS over the Magnum P.I. TV show put an end to that casting.

TOM SELLECK INDY

As for why it never went much further than very early development? Well, it seems that while Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg really wanted to move forward with the idea, George Lucas was not so happy and wanted to push another idea for a fourth flick (aliens?). So as no agreement could be made, the film just never came about.

Indiana Jones and the City of Gods is the last unmade Indy sequel that I managed to find some decent info on. Written by Frank Darabont around 2003, this is the closest any film ever got to actually being made as the fourth Indy flick before Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008 came about. Indy was going to have a 13-year-old daughter with Marion, which, according to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show, is accurate. Yup, Indy originally had a daughter before Mutt Williams was ham-fisted into the canon. Anyway, the film was going to be set in the 1950s, Indy was well past his prime and had retired from his adventurous ways. With thanks to a Russian colleague called Yuri, Indy comes into possession of one of the infamous thirteen crystal skulls… Yup, just as with George Lucas’ Indy vs aliens idea, the crystal skulls were previously explored too.

Marion is brought back and she’s a bit of an adventurer herself, just like her dad. It was Marion who had hired Yuri to get the skulls in the first place as she wanted to try and find the Lost City of the Gods, with the skulls being the keys to open the city’s secrets. Marion convinces Indy to come out of retirement and help her find the Lost City of the Gods. With the crystal skulls returned to their rightful place, aliens grant Indy and those with him a wish. A spaceship tries to take off, but it crashes into the City of the Gods destroying it and any evidence it ever existed. Indy and Marion go back to the US and get married. The bad guys were to be former Nazis and Mutt Williams never existed. 

NO MUTT

As you can see, Frank Darabont’s idea eventually became Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Those who read Darabont’s script have said it was actually pretty good. Yes it still involved aliens (something I’ve never had a problem with), but Darabont’s script reportedly had better action scenes, better dialogue, it stayed true to Indy’s history and more. Apparently, both Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg loved  the script, but George Lucas, not so much. Lucas took over the script and hired more writers to work on it. Frank Darabont became pretty pissed off with that and left the project, which, of course, (d)evolved into Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It has been said that at least one version of Darabont’s script is floating around on the interwebs. Quite honestly, I’ve not looked into it. But I did find this interview that Frank Darabont did with MTV back in 2007, just before Crystal Skull began filming, where he talks about his wasted time on the project. Here’s the main bit of the interview for you to read:

MTV: “Would you say one of those bad experiences is the time you spent writing the aborted ‘Indiana Jones 4’ script?”

Darabont: “Indy is definitely in that category, topping the list. It showed me how badly things can go. I spent a year of very determined effort on something I was very excited about, working very closely with Steven Spielberg and coming up with a result that I and he felt was terrific. He wanted to direct it as his next movie, and then suddenly the whole thing goes down in flames because George Lucas doesn’t like the script.”

MTV: “Did you ever speak to George Lucas directly?”

Darabont: “Yes! I told him he was crazy. I said, ‘You have a fantastic script. I think you’re insane, George’. You can say things like that to George, and he doesn’t even blink. He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.”

MTV: “Do you know if any remnant of that story lives in the one they’re about to start filming?”

Darabont: “I have no idea if there’s a shred of it left. It was a tremendous disappointment and a waste of a year.”

MTV: “I would think part of you still wants to share that script with the world.”

Darabont: “I would love it, but it’s not my material to disseminate. At this point, I don’t give much of a damn what George thinks, but I wouldn’t want to harm my friendship with Steven.”

Wow, Frank Darabont was pretty pissed off with George Lucas eh? It really makes me wonder just how much better of a script Darabont’s was over what was actually filmed with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? But with both Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg returning for that flick, they must’ve been pretty happy with whatever changes were made.


Anyway, that’s it. That’s about all the info I could find on Indiana Jones sequels that never quite made it. Some pretty interesting stuff, about five different films that were all lost for various reasons. Some of their ideas made it into both Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull eventually though. With Indy V currently filming as I write this (due to be released next year), I wonder if we will see any more previously abandoned ideas make it into the film? Quick addition: sites are reporting that Indy 5 is being filmed at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, England. This is said to be the opening of the film… Just like the opening of the unused Indiana Jones and the Lost City of Sun Wu King script?

I still have more to come in my Raiders at 40 celebrations, as I ponder what the future of Indiana Jones holds.