Friday, July 06, 2007

Indy and me

If you live in New Haven, Connecticut, then you might have seen this guy hanging around some of the restaurants at lunchtime. After several years of waiting, the “stars” are in alignment: Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are filming the next Indiana Jones movie, set for release next year. There’s not a whole lot of information available yet, but the best place for data comes from the official site, which is also where this photo (taken by Steven Spielberg) comes from:

Even though we have almost a year to go before the movie comes out, this might be a good time to look back on Indiana Jones and the highlights (and lowlights) of his adventures - from the point of view of a fan who lived through the first Indy trilogy.

EVER GO TO SUNDAY SCHOOL? When I first heard of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, I thought they were talking about Noah’s ark. That’s the only “lost ark” I knew of at the time. It’s kind of sad that I first began to really learn about the ark of the covenant from a movie instead of from church. (The ark is briefly mentioned in “The Ten Commandments” as well, and makes a “cameo” as a cave painting in “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade.” )

TOO SCARY, PART ONE: Like “Star Wars” before it, “Raiders” was deemed too scary for kids by many of the grown-ups I knew. Indeed, it did look frightening from the images in the Marvel comic book of the story. As my family watched the movie, my Dad told us that whenever he would watch a scary movie as a boy, he used to duck his head behind the two seats in front of him to “peek” at whatever was on the screen. We followed suit when we watched “Raiders.” Admittedly, the film is very scary for very young kids, and for anybody who doesn‘t like snakes.

GOSH, SHE’S CUTE: Marion Ravenwood, played by Karen Allen. Sigh! One of the many brief crushes from my youth who still can set my heart aflutter. I sometimes still like to imagine myself rushing into the tent and finding Marion tied up. . .maybe I’d better stop right here. I like all the Indy girls, but Marion is my favorite. She’s rumored to be in the next film. I hope so!

MISSING SCENES, PART ONE: Speaking of Marion tied up, there was apparently a brief extra scene planned with Marion tied just before she was thrown into the Well of Souls. The scene appears in the Marvel comics version, but it’s not in the movie & I’ve never seen it in any “bonus clips” from Raiders. Anybody know anything else about this missing scene?

REALLY BRIEF REVIEW: RAIDERS: The first Indiana Jones movie is still the best. It’s incredibly entertaining and quite memorable. See “Raiders,” if nothing else.

THE POSTER: Somehow, my brother was able to get an “Indiana Jones” poster from a school book fair. The poster hung in our room for quite a while (nope, don’t have it anymore, sorry!) What makes this interesting is that this was before “Temple of Doom,” so the name of “Indiana Jones” was beginning to be presented on its own, separate from “Raiders.”

THE OSCARS: Raiders won several Oscars, but not Best Picture. That one went to “Chariots of Fire.” When it won, my Dad and brother said in unison, “Chariots of Fire?!”

MY HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND: A friend in High School once casually said to me something like “Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best movie ever made.” This was in 1984, and it is a testament to how much this movie effected the youth of that time. I’m not sure if my friend still feels this way, but the quote is something I will remember.

MOVIE OF THE YEAR: “Temple of Doom” came out in 1984. As far as my family’s movie going habits were concerned, it was meant to carry on a tradition that started with “Empire Strikes Back.” We were not a family that went to the movies very often. We usually would only go once or twice a year, and so each year we would plan to see the “one” big movie of that year. In 1980, it was “Empire,” “Raiders” and “Superman II” in 81, “E.T.” in 82, “Jedi” in 83. “Temple of Doom” was the obvious choice for the 84 movie.

LOUDER, PLEASE: My family first saw “Temple of Doom” in a drive-in theater! It was fun, but at the beginning of the movie, the sound wasn’t playing on the speakers. Car horns began to honk all over the place for the first few minutes of the film! We missed most of “Anything goes.”

TOO SCARY, PART TWO: This film was so scary that they created a new rating for it. The PG-13 rating came to light due in part to this movie (and “Gremlins”, which came out a bit later). Just as “Empire” had a darker tone than the original “Star Wars,” “Temple of Doom” was darker in tone than “Raiders.” And that is its flaw. Although there are certainly light-hearted moments in the film, they are too little, too late. It’s hard to chuckle at cute jokes after you’ve seen graphic scenes of torture and sacrifice. It’s hard to watch “Temple of Doom” and feel good afterward. So Temple of Doom was, I’m sorry to say, a bit of a disappointment for me. Thankfully, another film came out that year that also satisfied the fantasy-lovers for a time: “Ghostbusters.”

MISSING SCENES, PART TWO: A scene was planned with Kate Capshaw and a very large snake. According to the Marvel Comics version, the large snake was to attack Kate as she was bathing in the river, and wrap around her - gasp - nude body. Indy, notoriously afraid of snakes, finds himself unable to rescue her. The snake apparently decides it would rather go to sleep, and falls off of Kate. Nothing nasty is shown. At least, I THINK nothing nasty was meant to be shown. The scene was never filmed - Kate was very frightened by the snake (no computer effects yet, they were going to use a real one!) and Spielberg decided not to torture her, and the scene was cut. (Hey, they got married, too!) But I’m curious - does anybody have a draft of the script for this missing scene? Did it go exactly as presented in the comics version, or was it totally different?

THE HAT: Yep. I had an Indy hat. I had the jacket, too. (No whip. That came later.)

So let’s see, the films for 1984 would be “Temple of Doom” and “Ghostbusters.” Then Back to the Future” and “Return to Oz” in 1985, “Top Gun” in 1986, and then my memory fails me. I do remember seeing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (re-release) in late 1987. Obviously, things had changed by this time. Home video recording & watching movies at home had become a way of life for us. But I DO know what we wanted to see in 1989!

LAST CRUSADE: “Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” made up for any mistakes made in “Temple of Doom.” The movie is not perfect, but it is Indiana Jones the way we like to see him. He’s fighting the bad guys without turning into one. The movie is humorous - some might even say corny in parts. But it’s certainly no more corny than any of the other unbelievable adventures Indy has had. It’s a movie with a message. Both Indy and his father begin to realize that there’s more to life than hunting for buried treasure. A worthy conclusion to the series. . .for now! (Other family favorites for 89 included “Field of Dreams” and “Dead Poets Society.” 1990 had the re-release of "Fantasia")

TOO SCARY, PART THREE? For all the complaints about scariness from the first two movies, we heard really nothing like that for “Last Crusade.” That’s kind of surprising, since the movie obviously has a few scary scenes in it. But obviously things had changed since 1981. We were growing up, and such scary scenes were not nearly as “scary” as they would be for younger kids. We didn’t peek behind the seats to watch this movie. It was actually much more fun that frightening for us. It was great to see actors from the original “Raiders.”

THE FAN FILM: I love this story. A young fan of the original “Raiders” movie got his friends together and made a scene-by-scene remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The movie was so well-received that it got its own theatrical showing in the fan’s hometown, and Steven Spielberg wrote a letter to the fan sharing his admiration of the movie! During a TV interview, the fan showed clips from his film. When it came to the scene where Indy and Marion kiss, the fan turned around and said something like. “That’s my first kiss. I have my first kiss on videotape.” I would love to actually see this whole movie. Does anybody have a copy? I will trade for it!

THE TV SERIES: Hey, did you know that Indiana Jones had a TV series? And it was actually a pretty good show. But it wasn’t like the movies, and that created kind of an issue. The fans who enjoyed the fast pace of the movies may have been disappointed at the (often) more thoughtful pace of “Young Indiana Jones.” Like many shows, it was very well done, but kind of under-appreciated.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: It’s too early to pass judgment on a film that hasn’t been made yet! But if they can keep it fun, it should be worth the wait. I’m guessing that we’ll get to see Indy and his son going through some of the same trials that Indy went through with his dad. I plan to be in line in 08 waiting for this movie. Until then, I share the mantra, “please bring Marion back, please bring Marion back. . .”

EPILOGUE: BELT FACTORY INCIDENT: One evening, a friend and I were making fun of the “Oscar Mayer” theme song by making up new words to the lyrics. We were quite young at the time, so there was nothing nasty. It was just good corny kid fun. I only remember one of the songs that I made up. It goes (sort of) to the tune of “My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R,” etc. It made my friend laugh, so I made note of it, and I still enjoy this little ditty to this day. Here it goes:

Once I went to the belt factory
To look at all the belts
And then somebody came along
And hit me with one of the belts!

Well it really hurt, hurt down to my toes,
It really hurt, it went up my nose.
I said, “Who’s the man who broke my bones?”
And it was Indiana Jones!

Well, you kind of had to be there, I guess. . .