Monday, 12 January 2015

Torches and Tombs - The Adventure Movie Returns

How do you measure a successful film?. Lets start with the bottom line – the Box Office. In 1981 only On Golden Pond came within a mile; Raiders was the top grossing movie ($384,000,000). Oscars? - yes, the ever-unreliable Oscar (Take a look at Taxi Driver, Doctor Strangelove, Singin' in the Rain, Rear Window and A ClockWork Orange if you want proof of that unreliability). Raiders won four (From nine nominations). Polls! - those '100 Greatest...' ones that you see in the Movie magazines. Always near the top. The thing with Raiders is that along with surprisingly few others it is a complete film. Complete? - well, if these films never had a sequel, they would still remain practically perfect and oustanding in their own right. (The Blues Brothers and Casablanca are two I could name. And just did) This 'completeness' is something I look for in a film and rarely find – it is hard to explain. Films that have everything, you could say.
Steven Spielberg saw George Lucas' idea as a 'B-Movie' in the classic sense of Adventure films.
The old movie serials of the thirties and forties; The Lost City, Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Jungle Raiders... these adventures captivated the young George Lucas and his unimprovable epic Star Wars (1977) was a homage to these cheaply-made thrillers (Han Solo's striped trousers/Flash Gordon's). Wanting to recreate the atmosphere of the old serials, Lucas met Steven Spielberg on vacation in Hawaii and the two of them agreed to work together. Harrison Ford was chosen after Tom Selleck had to drop out due to contractual difficulties (See his 1983 outing High Road to China to see how he would have played Indy).
 George Lucas with Harrison Ford
Not the best-kept secret, my love of adventure films; this meant I would always love Raiders of the Lost Ark. Perhaps more so; this was the first film I saw at the flicks alone (In the Picturedrome at Bognor Regis – there's no plaque yet) So why Torches and Tombs? - well, for some reason the best films of this genre do tend to feature both...


A Paramount Picture... the painting of the familiar mountain fades away to a real one; we are deep in the South American jungles (Of Hawaii). It is the year 1936. A small party, led by a man in a wide-brimmed hat and battered leather coat moves forward, a bullwhip coiled at his side, followed by local porters leading mules piled high with provisions. Proper adventure stuff... Suddenly, the lead scout hacks away some vegetation to reveal an ancient carved idol – a warning not to proceed!. Screaming, the superstitious local runs from the idol, but the leader is not so easily dissuaded, moving on along a stream bed. He spots a poison arrow, embedded in a tree. Two of his men, Satipo and Barranca, confer briefly – Satipo reckons the poison is fresh, from the feared Hovitos tribe.
The leader signals and is given a fragment of map, which he puts together with his piece to complete it. Seeing this, Barranca draws and cocks his pistol... lightning fast, the man in the hat whirls round and draws his whip, knocking the pistol from the treacherous local's hand. The cowardly Barranca runs into the jungle. Turning, Indiana Jones spots an entranceway, stone slabs half covered by vegetation. Grabbing a cloth bag, he fills it with sand and mentions this is where Forrestal cashed in... a competitor, he was 'Good, he was very, very good.' A frightened Satipo urges caution, but they go in regardless...

A dark tunnel, festooned (I love that word) with cobwebs, Satipo's flaming torch providing scant light. At his warning, Satipo's boss turns to reveal several huge tarantula spiders on his back, which he casually sweeps away. Satipo himself is covered with the creepy-crawlies. Onwards, deeper into the hillside into a man-made passagway, timeless stone flags placed by long-forgotten craftsmen. A shaft of light; ducking beneath the beam, Jones waves his hand and an array of spears is thrust from the walls, bearing the grisly remains of a previous victim; Forrestal. Casting his whip to wrap it over and around a wooden beam, Jones swings across a deep chasm. Satipo follows, but the beam shifts and he is only saved by Jones' quick reactions. It is only then, turning a corner that they see it; the idol of the Chachapoyas.
Sitting on a circular altar, the idol is pure gold, surrounded by stone thrones. Satipo carelessly starts forward, but Jones restrains him, cautious as ever. He has every reason to be; the floor is booby-trapped – step on the wrong tile and 'whoosh-doing!' a vicious metal-barbed arrow is fired from the mouth of one of the gargoyles that line the walls leading to the idol. Carefully, Indiana Jones tip-toes along the pathway of death and manages to reach the prize. A fertility idol, it depicts a mother giving birth – the oldest symbol of life. Rather than just snatch it, he pulls the bag of sand from his satchel, pouring some out to approximate the idol's weight.

Carefully, Jones prepares himself and snatches the idol away, placing the sandbag on the plinth in a heartbeat. Both he and the nervous spectator Satipo breathe big sighs of relief. Until, with a grinding sound, the plinth lowers itself into the altar. The ground shakes and the temple begins to fall apart. At full pelt, Jones charges back along the tunnel, arrows firing from left and right to miss him by inches. Satipo has swung himself back across the chasm and has the whip, refusing to throw it back to Indy unless he throws him the idol. A stone slab is slowly lowering – no ancient temple being complete without one. Jones throws the idol and Satipo drops the whip to duck beneath the slab.

Indiana goes for it, hurling himself at the chasm and doing the hero's fall, landing at chest height to desperately pull himself up, and just makes it under the slab, grabbing his whip at the last second. Turning, he comes face to face with Satipo, who is sporting a new look; a line of spears through his corpse. Jones retrieves the idol, but there's another surprise; a huge boulder that will roll down the tunnel to seal the entrance – forever!. Racing the gigantic stone sphere, he dives from the mouth of the tunnel in the very nick, only to find himself surrounded by hostile native tribesmen, spears and bows held in readiness for any stupidity on his part. There too stands Barranca, the odd look of calm on his face explained as his stiff body falls face downwards, his back riddled with poison arrows.
Stepping forward is a Frenchman, Belloq. Indy knows him of old and as his rival relieves him of his pistol and the idol, Jones knows the wily Belloq will rob the Hovitos. The Frenchman does, however, speak their language and as the adventurer Jones makes a dash for it he sends the tribesmen after the American to kill him. Pursued by Belloq's mocking laughter Indy runs down the hill towards a river at full pelt. A floatplane sits idly, its pilot standing on one pontoon fishing the murky waters. Jones screams at Jock – the pilot, to start the engines. As the plane begins to move, Jones swings out over the river on a convenient vine and drops into the water, swimming for it as the spears and arrows fly. As Indy scrambles up into the front seat he is alarmed by the large snake he finds. Its just Reggie, Jock's pet snake – Indiana Jones is terrified of one thing; snakes...

Marshall College. A lecture is taking place on Neolithic barrows. Taking the lecture is none other than Indiana Jones – Doctor Jones the Professor of Archaeology, no less. The female students all seem enamoured of the dashing young professor, not least the girl with 'love' and 'you' written on her eyelids in eyeliner. Class dismissed, Indy's friend and museum curator, Dr.Marcus Brody listens to Jones' tale of the one that got away with detached amusement. He's brought some people to see Jones, people from Army Intelligence. (There's only one joke and it wore out years ago). In a large lecture hall, the two Intelligence men question Jones about a Professor Ravenwood. He studied under Ravenwood at the University of Chicago. After a falling-out they haven't spoken in ten years, but Jones believes his old teacher is in Asia somewhere. Yesterday, it emerges, a German signal from Cairo to Berlin was intercepted. Obsessed with the occult, Hitler has had teams of Archeologists searching all over for religious artefacts and now they have discovered a place called Tanis and are after a headpiece for something called the Staff of Ra. From Professor Ravenwood.

Indy and Marcus are fired up; this is fantastic news. The lost city of Tanis is one of the possible resting places for the Ark of the Covenant – the chest used to carry the original tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. It is believed to lie in a secret chamber called the Well of Souls. Tanis itself was consumed by a sandstorm that lasted a whole year and was hidden until now. Marcus looks on proudly as Dr.Jones enthusiastically relates the purpose of the staff – sorry, the Staff of Ra. Placed correctly in the map room at Tanis, (a model of the city) a beam of sunlight would hit the crystal in the headpiece and light the way to the Well of Souls. Indy shows the Intelligence men an engraving of the Ark – a lance of holy fire smiting the infidels. An Army that carries the Ark before it is invincible...
 Above-Ralph McQuarrie's illustration featured in the film. McQuarrie provided conceptual art for Raiders and Star Wars
Evening draws in and Marcus visits Indy at his modest campus bungalow. The Intel-men have gone for it; they will fund Jones' expedition and the museum gets to keep the Ark into the bargain. Packing his expedition gear – and pistol, Indy laughs off Marcus' worries about the danger he faces in going after the Ark.

A Pan-American Clipper seaplane starts engines as the passengers embark. Indiana Jones takes his seat, unaware eyes are watching him. As Jones settles in for the flight, we see one of those wonderful moving maps – the red line tracing the plane's progress to the Hawaiian islands and onwards to the Phillipines and then up to remote and mysterious Nepal.

A ramshackle tavern in a primitive village high in the Nepalese Himalayas. Inside the packed bar, the locals are betting on a drinking contest between a hulking local and a slim, western woman. She has matched him drink for drink until now. He picks up the last shot glass and slowly keels over. Its closing time and as the locals leave her place, Marion Ravenwood sees a familiar shadow – a man in a hat. What's Indiana Jones doing here? - before he can answer her, he gets a punch to the chops. We learn they were lovers and she was badly hurt by him. Her Father, Abner Ravenwood is dead, but Marion knows the piece Jones is after. He is offering five thousand Dollars and she tells him to come back tomorrow. A flicker of guilt crosses his face then he's gone into the night. 

Alone, Marion pulls the chain from around her neck to reveal the headpiece. Thoughtful, she drapes it over a yak-skull candleholder and stashes the money Indy gave her in a cigar box. The door opens to admit a group of stooges led by Gestapo thug Toht. The sort to be found in any repressive regime, Toht has a face from the devil and a mind from the sewer. He is after the medallion and is prepared to use a red-hot poker to find out where it is.
The crack of a whip and the poker is sent across the tavern, setting a curtain on fire. Indiana Jones stands, revolver in hand. A Nazi rears up with a MP-40 sub-machine Gun (Some four years before they were produced) and Indy shoots him. It all goes – literally – ballistic, with shots flying back and forth, the table with the all-important headpiece going over into the flames in the meleé. Outgunned, Indy reaches for his backup pistol, an automatic Browning Hi-Power. The logs from the fire are knocked onto the floor and one of the stooges goes up in flames, Indy despatching him with a shot to the head. The door opens and a GIGANTIC sherpa grabs Indy as Marion k.o.s a thug with a log. The massive brute carries Indy, throwing him over the bar as the flames spread, the broken bottles of spirit fuelling the fire. Smashing a bottle of whisky over the giant's head does nothing, the sherpa strangling the life out of Indy and wrestling for control of his gun hand. Toht orders a Nazi to shoot them both and for a second the two become allies, Indy's gun barking twice to silence the Nazi. Running for cover, the cowardly Toht spots the medallion and reaches for it, unaware that it has been in the flames. As he grabs it, it sears into his flesh and, screaming he drops it to run outside as Indy fights the giant sherpa, now swinging his burning arm like a club at our hero. Toht pushes his sizzling hand into the snow and Indy finally knocks out the oversized bad-guy with a table. He turns to see the last stooge about to shoot him. Bang! - Indy tenses – and the sherpa starts dribbling blood as he drops, revealing Marion clutching a pistol behind him. Her bar burning to the ground, Marion has news for Indy; she's his new partner!.

Another plane, another moving map. This time our red line heads from Nepal West across India, to Baghdad, across Jordan (Surely Transjordan then?) and Palestine to Cairo. Here, Marion and Indy are welcomed by his old friend Sallah, who shows them to his rooftop terrace where his children are being entertained by another new arrival, a small monkey. Sallah's wife pours the drinks and the men get to business. Sallah is the best digger in Egypt, but the Germans have hired them all; the excavation is enormous. The Tanis dig is led by a Frenchman... Belloq. They have already uncovered the map room, but Indy has the headpiece. Perhaps a man Sallah knows can interpret the arcane glyphs around the disc, but Sallah is uneasy. As with Marcus before him, he is worried; the Ark is not of this Earth and not meant to be unearthed.
Karen Allen plays Marion Ravenwood
With their new pet monkey, Indy and Marion walk through the soukh. The monkey jumps free, however and runs to find its owner, a one-eyed Arab who bears more than a passing resemblance to Barranca. (The actor Vic Tablian plays both). The monkey man rushes to find his employers, two linen-suited Nazis. He gives an enthusiastic Sieg Heil!, getting one back and amusingly, the monkey does one, getting an automatic one back from the Nazi dolt. The Nazis, tropical have brought a lot of goons with them. Unaware of the danger, Marion tells Indy how much he meant to her Father, who thought of him as a son. This reverie is rudely interrupted by the arrival of a bunch of sword-wielding Arab-types. One leaps at Indy, who pushes him back into the sword behind him and starts swinging punches, Marion doing her best to clobber one of their attackers. Yelling at her to get out of there, Indy dodges a sword which goes through a stooge for an amusing fruit gag. Throwing Marion onto a hay cart, Indy draws his whip and it's crack sends the mule off, taking her with it. Cut off from Indy, she grabs a frying pan only to find herself facing a nasty curved dagger. She is chased into a doorway and KLONG! - dagger-man is out for the count. Hiding in a wicker basket, Marion evades the Nazis and their men as they charge past, but the monkey screeches its treachery and they are onto her.

Meanwhile, back at the, erm, market, the crowd parts to reveal a menacing figure brandishing his sword. He whirls the blade from one hand to another and it's clear that – oh, Indy just shot him. (This scene was an improvisation; the stuntman Terry Richards was scheduled to have a sword v whip duel with Ford, but due to the dysentery he was stricken with, Ford suggested it would be better to just 'shoot the sucker'.) Marion is now tied in the basket and carried off by two goons, Indy giving chase through a labyrinth of narrow alleyways to a larger area filled with people carrying identical baskets. Tipping and pulling at the baskets (Look closely to see more than a few delighted smiles from the locals hired for these crowd-scenes), he spots the right one and rushes out into a long burst of sub-machine gun fire, ducking back into cover as the basket is loaded onto a German truck, ominously loaded with weapons and explosives. The truck roars forward, a bad-guy unloading his MP-40 in Indy's direction. Stepping out, Jones fires, killing the gunman and the driver. Catastrophically, the driver's dead foot jams the accelerator and the truck hits a ramp and flips over before exploding. Turning to face the massive fireball, Indy is convinced Marion is dead.

Not surprisingly, Indy drowns his sorrows at a table outside the Marhala cafe-bar, petting the monkey, unaware of its treachery. The Tropi-Nazis show up and 'invite' him to a chat inside. The place is rammed, but amongst the locals sits René Belloq. 

Ever the civilised Frenchman, Indy's rival invites him to share his table. Where else could he find such an adversary?, Belloq sees Jones as an equal, merely less corrupt. The merest nudge would push Jones from the light into the shadows where such as Belloq are to be found. He shows a cheap watch; $10 from a street vendor. Yet bury that same watch for a millenium and it becomes priceless. What about the Fuhrer? - won't he be waiting to claim his prize?. All in good time. The Ark is a radio for speaking to God!. Indy's heard enough and offers to bring the Frenchman closer to God, going for his revolver. Everyone in the place pulls a rifle, but Sallah's children bustle in and surround Indy, to the amusement of the Arabs who appreciate the joke. Sallah is waiting to take them all home in his truck, the monkey too, one-eye keeping watch from a discrete distance on his motorbike.
John Rhys Davies as Sallah enjoys a joke on-set with Harrison Ford
At the home of an Arab scholar, dinner is laid out by a serving boy, a simple meal with dates, bread and wine. Sneaking in, the one-eyed monkey man pours an ominous liquid over the dates. In the aged wizard's chamber, Indiana Jones cannot understand how Belloq got hold of a copy of the headpiece. Sallah describes what he saw, a copy with raised markings on one side, exactly as with the Headpiece the old man is examining. The monkey fancies a date as the wizened old scholar calls them over. (For a lesson in set design and use of props this takes some beating. The place is wondrous.)The Headpiece for the Staff of Ra has a warning not to disturb the ark and instructions for the height of the staff on which it will sit, 6 kadams – roughly 72 inches. But wait! - on the other side is more – take back one kadam to honour the Hebrew God whose Ark it is...
A weird wind scuds and flurries through the chamber as the realisation hits home. Belloq's headpiece only had markings one the one side, his staff is too long – he's digging in the wrong place!. Oddly, Sallah breaks out into a number from HMS Pinafore as Indy tosses a date into the air. Before he can catch it, Sallah snatches it from the air. Bemused, Indy follows his gaze to where the monkey lies dead, surrounded by poisoned dates.

The dawn sun rises down on a vast archaeologomological dig. What the hell's wrong with my spellchecker?. The scene is vast, clouds of dust rising from the frenzied activity, uniformed Nazis standing guard as an army of locals works the dig, wooden scaffolding, rails and catwalks stretching across ancient ruins. Tanis. Belloq leads the way, two high ranking Nazi soldiers follow. Colonel Dietrich is in charge of the operation and is unimpressed with the lack of progress; ze Fuhrer is not a patient man. With him; his number two, Major Gobler. Yes, really. Unnoticed in their arab garb, Sallah and Indy walk through the dig to the map room, the sun will hit the aperture in the roof at nine. The room itself is buried, so the only way in is through the roof. Indy has brought a 5 kadam stick, dropping it down he follows by rope into a large chamber dominated by the model of the city laid along the floor, Egyptian Heiroglyphs and paintings covering the walls of the ancient room. At the front of the model a ramp with hundreds of holes waits for the staff. But which hole?. Above, Sallah is collared by two Germans, who seem to see the Egyptians as some sort of slave. He has no choice, but to leave Indy alone down there. Consulting his notebook, Indy sees the hole in the ramp where Belloq has placed his staff – coming back he sweeps the sand from another of the many holes, one right by a symbol for water. As Sallah waits anxiously above, Indiana Jones reventially places the headpiece onto the staff and slots it into the hole. He stands and waits as the sun rises behind him, its light shining down to move across the floor of the map room.
Suddenly the sun hits the crystal and a beam of pure, fire-brilliant light strikes a piece of the model. The Well of Souls. Jones ensures the Nazis can never find the Well by breaking the stick (go with it) and calls to Sallah for the rope, getting one of knotted nazi flags and sheets instead. Needs must... the two walk back through the encampment, a group of German soldiers hassling them for water. Obsequious, Sallah plays the part of the local yokel while Indy ducks into a tent – lo and behold, there's Marion, both alive and tied to a post!. The goons switched baskets, but time is short and Marion pleads to be freed. Indy is about to oblige, when he realises she'll be missed. To curses, he replaces her gag, promising to come back for her.

Using a theodolite, Indy carefully checks his measurements and soon sights in on a mound of dirt away from any digging. Belloq, however has problems of his own; Colonel Dietrich and his colleague believe the girl may know something about the headpiece – and the Colonel has brought the perfect man to find out. Toht. As the loathsome toad approaches, he offers a Heil Hitler and clear to see on his palm is the exact reverse of the medallion, burnt into his flesh in Tibet. Across the site, a party of arabs is led by Sallah and Indy. On the mound of dirt, they begin digging, singing and digging.

Night sees the skies filled with eerie scudding clouds, the scene made uncanny by the forks of lightning that spear across the heavens. Fighting down his unease, Indiana watches as the men hit stone. Finding the edges of the block, they lever it up and drag it across to reveal the Well of Souls. Four mammoth statues stand guard over a floor that seems to be moving. Dropping a torch, Indy sees why; snakes, the floor is packed with snakes. Hundreds of them. Sallah notes the asps; very dangerous. Perhaps Indy should go first...
Belloq unties Marion, warning her against escape – the desert takes three weeks to cross by foot. Apologising for her treatment, he gives her food and a peace offering, a fairly incongruous evening dress and shoes which he asks to see her in. Obliging him, she assures him she has no loyalty to Jones and knows nothing that could help him placate the impatient Nazis. In the dress, she is beautiful, a vision. Indy's vision is not so lovely; snakes, everywhere he looks. Hanging from a rope with only a few lit torches to keep them at bay he drops the last few feet to find a cobra rearing up inches from his face. 
A glass sheet separated Harrison Ford from the snake
Calling for Sallah to join him, he sprays gasoline over them and buys some time by lighting the unfortunate creatures. Speaking of hazardous liquids, Belloq is trying to get Marion drunk with some dodgy liquor. The cad!. Little does he know what we know; this gal can hold her drink. Indiana Jones and Sallah approach a stone catafalque and Indy runs his hands over its surface. (If you are really sharp-eyed, check the column post to the right for R2D2 and C-3PO in a heiroglyphic cameo) Straining mightily, the two adventurers heave at the heavy stone lid and with all their strength they manage to throw it clear, where it smashes on the steps. Also smashed, Marion flops onto the ground. What is this stuff they've been drinking? - Belloq's family label, he grew up with it. The firewater has given them both the giggles, even when Marion pulls a table knife. She makes her excuses and backs into Toht. The Gestapo torturer has brought some friends including Colonel Dietrich. Suddenly Belloq seems like the lesser of two evils and as Marion cowers behind him Toht opens his case to reveal a wicked contraption, thin rods connected by thin chains. Petrified, Marion and Beelloq can only guess at its purp... and its a folding coat hanger. Exhale. Seating himself, the repulsive Toht asks 'What shall we talk about?'
Fitting poles into the rings fitted either side of the Ark – it must never be touched – Indiana and Sallah lift the sacred container free of the catafalque and its supernatural golden radiance suffuses the air and casts its light on its new bearers. Gently crating up the priceless Ark, it is then raised up by rope. Belloq walks despondently with his Nazi overseers, when suddenly he spots Indy's dig. Immediately he guesses what's happening and calls on the Colonel to summon his men. As the torches are running out, its time to leave. Sallah climbs up the rope from the Well of Souls, but the rope then drops down. Waving a cheery Hello! is none other than Belloq, with half the German army. Unable to resist, he taunts Jones – its not the first time he's taken something from him. He plans to seal Indy in, joking maybe in 1,000 years he might be worth something. Dietrich however, has company in mind for Jones, specifically Marion who is thrown down into the Well. She hangs briefly from one of the giant statues before pieces of it crumble and she lands on Indy. Her anger at the 'traitor' Jones is short-lived as she prefers him to the snakes. Belloq is furious, but Dietrich is unrepentent, insisting only the mission for the Fuhrer matters. The Nazis force the locals to seal the Well, Marion's scream cut off as the stone slides shut. Sallah is overcome with grief for his friends down there in the
Filming the Well of Souls scene
Well, well, well... with the torches starting to falter, time is running out for Indy and Marion. Handing her a torch he tells her to wave it at anything slithering – getting a painful surprise as she mistakes his coiled whip for a snake. A few funny lines about her dress and Indy spots a possible way out – snakes coming through holes in the wall equals hollow wall. Clambering up one of the giant statues he manages to get some leverage and start it rocking. Just as the last torch dies, the statue – and rider – go crashing into the wall. Grateful, a dazed Marion staggers through into a chamber full of sarcophagi and manages to scare herself (and us) with some of Tanis' original citizens. After a nasty few moments, Indy leads her to a chunk of daylight and heaving a stone clear, they step outside into brilliant sunlight. (Keep a lookout for the unconscious arab below their escape hole – a remnant from a cut scene involving a brief fist-fight).

A runway has been laid out with a taxi circle and refuelling truck for a most unusual plane. A Nazi flying wing design, the craft has two propellors pushing from behind. Obviously, this plane has been sent for the Ark. Indy plans to be aboard when it takes off. Dietrich is already toasting their success as Indiana Jones climbs aboard the wing, but before he can jump the pilot, a German mechanic spots him and orders him off. He gets an American boot to the face and a fight breaks out, just as the World's biggest – and baldest German comes out of a hut and spots the fracas. Indy's punch sends the mechanic bouncing off the plane and he's out. Baldy calls to the pilot (Played by Producer Frank Marshall – the stunt team had come down with dysentery) and its fight time, Marion going un-noticed as she starts stealing the wooden chocks (holding the plane in position). 

                                       Pat 'Bomber' Roach, the wrestler and actor fights Indy

Indy tries the old 'look down there' gag and kicks Baldy in ze-knockenklockens and tries a punch, getting one back that made his grand-children dizzy. Possibly boss-eyed. By now Indy's really playing dirty, with a savage bite to the arm and a faceful of sand. The pilot is shooting at him too until he gets the chocks away treatment from Marion, right round the head. Ouch. Slumping forward, the pilot's lifeless frame knocks the throttles open and as Marion jumps down into the cockpit, the canopy flops down and locks. The plane starts to turn slowly. Add the truckful of Nazis that have just shown up and its getting hairy...
Ducking into the rear gunner's cupola (I know all the words, me) she grabs the twin machine guns and gives the Nazis the bad news, but the wing-tip catches the fuel bowser and sends aviation fuel flooding out onto the sand. Marion opens fire again and sends a fuel dump skywards, alerting the distant camp. Suddenly, Indy realises Marion's in danger of being blown to pieces and leaps up onto the plane, but so does Baldy who punches Indy clean off the wing and proceeds to beat the kerrap out of him. Indy throws his best, but they do little, he's on the deck again when the turning plane catches up with Baldy, the propellor shredding him and sending his blood splattering up one of the tail-fins. As the spreading lake of fuel reaches the burning dump – the inevitable. Indy has retrieved his revolver and shoots the lock, flinging the canopy open to rescue Marion just as the bowser and the plane erupt into fireballs. Furious, Colonel Dietrich and co. arrive, Dietrich ordering Major Gobler (Yes, really) to put the Ark on a truck for Cairo.

Confusion reigns, the locals charging around like confused locals tend to in these sort of things. A low whistle alerts Sallah to his very much alive friends and he is overjoyed, telling them about the truck. The Nazis have put the Ark in a crate stamped with the Wehrmacht Eagle. To the anger of the locals, their Nazi paymasters are leaving, with the Ark in a heavily armed convoy, Dietrich, Toht and Belloq leading the way in a shiny black staff car, Major Gobler (Its still funny) in the gelandewagen jeep to the rear. Leaving instructions to find transport to England and meet him at 'Omar's', Indy heads off after the convoy... on a horse.
The chase in Raiders is an epic in itself; the whole film is a series of these moments, lurching from one thrill to the next with a few carefully placed scenes to stop the audience being too dazed to take any more in. Back to the action, then;

Indy gallops through the dig site past crowds of stunned arabs and out into the hills above the road. Spurring his horse on, he rides down a steep incline and cuts in behind the truck, the back filled with Nazis guarding the Ark. Dodging machine gun fire, Indy leaps from horse to truck, clinging perilously to the canvas-covered rear before yanking the cab door open and pulling the unfortunate passenger out before grabbing the driver in a headlock. 

Desperately, the driver hits the brakes, causing a shunt with the rear jeep and a man is thrown out as the precious crate slides back and then forward as Indy stamps on the gas. The careering truck goes through a building site with some comic relief before Indy punches the driver out of the truck and rams the staff car out of the way. As rounds start coming in from the rear jeep, Indy sideswipes it from the track. A motorcycle sidecar combo gets the same treatment into a stream. Next up, Gobler gets another shunt and the gelandewagen goes off of a BIG cliff. The Feldwebel (Sergeant) in charge of the truck guards snaps out an order; get him!. They climb out and inch their way towards the cab, but Indy is using his mirrors and spots them, swiping a few off with some handy palm trees. Bang! - Indy gets a bullet across the arm from the last of them, kicking the door as the German desperately clings to it, the hinge failing to send him sprawling. Now, its up to the Feldwebel, who clambers onto the canopy and then launches himself down from the roof of the cab feet first into Indy. This guy is tough and vicious with it, punching Jones' wounded arm several times then ramming him through the windscreen out onto the bonnet. Or the hood. (Its a geographical thing)
Frantically, Indy grabs at the Mercedes ornament, but it breaks, leaving him hanging on for dear life from the grille mounted at the front, which also breaks, forcing him to grab for the fender. Waved on by Dietrich, the Feldwebel gets the message: crush Jones. The truck surges forward, and Indy realises the danger he's in. He climbs under the truck, his boots dragging in the dirt as he struggles for a handhold. Hand over hand, he pulls himself beneath the truck until, at the back he wedges his whip handle between the truck frame and suspension leaves, drops back to be dragged by the truck and then pulls himself hand over hand forward to haul himself up over the tailgate. (Absolutely breathtaking – no words can express how good this scene really is.) 

Now the boot's on the other face as Indy jumps back in and batters the stunned German, sending him out over the bonnet to clutch hopelessly at the very same grille Indy himself was hanging from so recently. Falling, the tough Feldwebel is run over and killed by the truck. Jones guns it and closes on the staff car with the hated Belloq and his Nazi friend. He rams them off the road and disappears in a cloud of dust.

Cairo. Rolling into a square the truck drives into Omar's Garage, the locals acting quickly to cover the entrance with a fruit cart and trinket stall. Bustling around, they are the perfect cover – you would never know a truck had just gone through there. One of them even tries, cheekily to sell some fruit to the dishevelled Nazis who come roaring in in their dusty staff car. Clearly Sallah has many friends. A sad moment comes next; at the docks sits the Bantu Wind , a tramp freighter. Sallah has got it all arranged and has come to say goodbye to his friends. The ship's captain, Mister Katanga (George Harris) assures an anxious Sallah his passengers will be well cared for. A painful hug for the wounded Indy and kisses from Marion and we take our leave of the Best Digger in Egypt, singing another verse of Gilbert & Sullivan as he goes.
At sea, where Mister Katanga is as good as his word. As promised he has given Indy and Marion his own cabin, to say nothing of the silk dress he has given her – she's not the first woman he's had aboard, so to speak. There's even a full-length swivel mirror. I'm starting to wonder about El Capitano... spinning this, Marion manages to smash Indy in the mouth and suddenly she notices he's torn and tattered from all the action. Thoughts turn to romance, but worn out, Indy falls asleep. In the ships hold, the crate seems to vibrate, to hum with some uncanny energy, the Wehrmacht Eagle somehow incongruous, blasphemous even, for a holy artefact. The swastika beneath the Eagle begins to smoke and the wood chars, as if a terrible wrath was waiting to be freed.

Indy cocks his pistol, waking Marion. The engines have stopped and with good reason; there's a Nazi U-Boat to Port and they are being boarded. Luckily, in true Millenium Falcon style, the Bantu Wind has a secret compartment in the hold. Marion is taken and the Ark found; the entire Nazi Eagle now seared off. On deck, Colonel Dietrich, Belloq and the rest of the boarding party. Dietrich wants Jones, who is at this moment peering from a ship's ventilator. Katanga claims he killed Jones and threw his body overboard, asking the Colonel if he can keep the girl to sell. Dietrich refuses and
Belloq puts in a bid, claiming her as part of his 'compensation'. They board the submarine and back on the ship a mate informs Katanga there's no sign of Jones. Told to look again, he spots him; climbing from the sea onto the casing of the U-Boat!.

The crew sets sail for an island in the Aegean. Although not made clear, Indy has lashed himself to the periscope for the long, exhausting journey. 
Above: filming the periscope sequence that was cut from the final movie

The U-Boat approaches the island, little more than a craggy rock at first sight. Closer, an entrance is visible; a submarine pen. (The pen is a real WWII German U-Boat installation at La Rochelle, France – it also features in Das Boot) Inside the bunker, soldiers march hee and jog there, supplies stacked against the massive concrete walls. A soaked Indy hides behind a tarpaulin and is pondering his next move when a German pauses for a moment. Grabbing his chance – and the German, Indy yanks him over the tarp for a quiet word. He spots Marion being escorted on deck and finds the uniform he has just acquired is too small. An NCO collars him and upbraids him for his shabby appearance, getting a kick to the Goebbels and one to the chin as thanks. A subordinate informs Colonel Dietrich ze altar has been prepared in accordance with his radio instructions. Dietrich is uncomfortable at a Jewish ritual, but Belloq mollifies him; better than opening the Ark in Berlin and finding out if the sacred pieces are inside in front of Hitler. The oily conman is bumped into by a rather unshaven soldier as he leaves. Indy watches the Ark being moved overhead by gantry crane.

A Nazi procession, complete with banners (Odd as the procession are soldiers, not SS), Belloq and Marion marches along a rocky ravine. Following the Ark is Toht, sweating badly in his leather coat. Love the hair. Indy stands on top of the ravine, aiming a rocket launcher at the Ark he calls down; he'll send the Ark sky-high unless he gets the girl. Belloq calls him; blow it up. He knows his man; Indy lowers the weapon as the Nazis appear behind him.

Night. The Ark is brought to an outdoors altar in a blind valley (or box canyon; one with a dead-end), generator-powered lights illuminate the scene. Belloq, clad in fancy Jewish ceremonial get-up speaks some ancient hebrew ritual. At the opposite end of the valley, Indy and Marion have been tied back to back to a lighting post. The German soldiery looks on, newsreel camera rolling as Belloq orders the Ark is opened. As the lid lifts faces strain to see and Dietrich reaches into the Ark... to bring out a handful of sand. Just sand. Toht's laughter rings along the canyon and Indy smiles ruefully. Arcs of electricity race around the generator and the lights blow one after the other. An unearthly noise; a low thrumming pulses from the Ark. Belloq looks inside to see roiling clouds as the dust billows from the ancient container. Wisps of smoke – no, light... wisps of something rise from the Ark and float into the air around the altar. 

Perhaps remembering the warnings from Marcus and Sallah, Indy instructs Marion to close her eyes – whatever happens. The wisps resolve into wraiths, angels. Angels. Beauteous, they writhe and swirl around the Nazis. Belloq, enraptured, exclaims 'It's beautiful!'.
An Angel floats up to Toht, raising her face she is become death, beauty dissolving into something hideous. Toht's scream matches the fear frozen on Dietrich's face and a pillar of flame rises to envelop Belloq, sending lightning-like bolts of orange fire out to each of the Nazis, transfixing them with the wrath of God itself. Consumed by the flame, Belloq can only scream, first Dietrich and then Toht literally melt away before our very eyes and Belloq explodes. 

                                                              Relax... they're wax...

A blast of fire roars through the canyon, enveloping everything within – including Indy and Marion, who, eyes firmly shut can only scream in terror. The fiery blast now folds back on itself and projects skyward from the island, parting the heavy clouds overhead and sucking the bodies up into the sky, the lid of the ark spinning high above the island atop the spear of flame. Finally, the lid falls and lands to seal the Ark of the Covenant once more. Indy and Marion are freed, their bonds burned away by the fire that did not touch them. Embracing, they can only gaze at the Ark in wonder.

Washington, District of Columbia. At the table of a conference room, sit Marcus Brody, the two Army Intelligence men and Indiana Jones. Having rendered great service to his country, they feel Jones should be proud and the settlement he received satisfactory. The money is, indeed fine, but the situation is not. Where is the Ark?. 'Somewhere very safe.' Marcus warns them of the danger and insists the Ark needs to be carefully researched. The porcine one blandy states they have top men working on it right now. Indy asks who. Top Men. On the steps to the street, Marion catches up with Indy, bitter at the fob off. The fools don't know what they have, but she does, offering to buy him a drink.

The lid is nailed down on the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant, a padlock firmly locked and a stencil pulled back to reveal the freshly-painted words 'TOP SECRET ARMY INTEL 9906753 DO NOT OPEN!'.A workman pushes the crate along a long wall of identical crates, all marked Top Secret etc. We see that this is just a tiny part of a collossal building – a vast warehouse stretching as far as the eye can see, a city of crates. The tiny figure of the workman turns and is lost to view; the Ark nothing more than another box in a countless multitude.

I told you I love films – well, one of my character 'quirks' (Ask my Wife how annoying this can be in real-life) is examining films closely, looking to see how they did it, the wires holding the UFO, the skid marks where they did a previous take... these things fascinate and captivate me. If you are a like-mind; this bit's for you.

There's nothing new:
Among the inspirations for Indy's character (lets use the word 'inspiration' and not shout 'rip-off!') was Chuck Heston in forgotten-flick Secret of the Incas...
...and the old Scrooge McDuck comic The Seven Cities of Cibola;

Goofs. Goofy-Goof-Goofs. And trivia. Some trivial goofs.
The idol would weigh far more than the large bag of sand Indy uses to replace it.
As the Boulder rolls after Indy, watch very closely – you might notice the arm, or rod on the boulder. With this, the crew could stop the boulder if Indy fell.
The Seaplane Jock rescues Indy in has the registration; OB-CPO – a jokey reference to Obi Wan/C-3PO
Tanis was actually discovered earlier than the story suggests – over a hundred years earlier.
The Pan-Am Clipper was actually a Short Sunderland flying boat with only one engine working and filmed on dry land.
The tavern scene – listen carefully for the locals shouting encouragement – one of them has a distinctive Lahndan accent. A Cockney tourist?.
In the tavern shoot-out, watch closely; Indy fires his six-shot S&W revolver at least seven times.
Elstree Studios
The Giant sherpa and the (also giant) bald-headed German mechanic are both played by ex-wrestler Pat 'Bomber' Roach.
Look closely when the German ammunition truck overturns – the section of telegraph pole fired down into the ground to flip the truck is clearly visible.
The flying wing aircraft was loosely based on various German designs discovered at the end of the war, though in at least one shot, the chain used to drive the wheels is visible. In reality, aircraft wheels are not powered. The pilot was played by Producer Frank Marshall, due to the illness rife at the time. The stunt team and actors all suffered stomach problems including dysentery on the Tunisia shoot. (Only Spielberg remained completely unaffected; he ate nothing, but tinned food he had brought from England and drank nothing he hadn't broken the seal on. Not bad advice for travellers.)
The weapons seen in the film include MP-40 sub-machine guns; the clue there is the '40' – they were only issued after 1940. The rocket launcher Indy has is a Chinese Type-56 copy of an RPG-2, altered for the film. No army had rocket launchers in 1936.
Indy shoots the sword fighter in the market - originally a fight scene, this abrupt - and hilarious - move was suggested by Harrison Ford, who was ill with dysentery at the time. The shot below is from the deleted scene.
 For comedy, watch the idiot who tries to shoot a burst into the air with his MP-40 just after the Ark goes into the truck – not only does he forget to cock it before firing – he grips it by the magazine, a practice notorious for causing misfires in this weapon. All the Germans seem to do this in the film – unlike the 'untrained' thug who holds the weapon by the fore-grip.
Virtually every vehicle in the film – from the Monkey Man's BSA to the Trucks and even the U-Boat*were either made after the film's 1936 setting, or made for the film. This doesn't detract from the film, though, as they all look authentic and add to the film's feeling of such.
*At the same time as Raiders was in production, the seminal war film Das Boot (The Boat) was being made. The submarine models and full-size sub from the latter appear as the U-Boat in Raiders.
As Indy hangs off the truck grille during the chase, you can clearly see the seat he's sitting on fixed to the front of the truck. (Cheaper than a new Star, though!) Later in the chase, it appears that the truck – viewed from beneath, has both leaf springs as well as modern shocks. The truck was custom-built for the movie and the shocks may have been necessary for the stunts.
The ravine on the island seems familiar? - it should; it was the same one R2-D2 went through in Star Wars.
The scene where the bad-guys melt and explode was achieved with wax models, heat lamps and time-lapse photography. Belloq's exploding head got the film an R-Certificate, so the producers got round this with added fire effects to cover the goriest frames.
The Army Intelligence men, Colonel Musgrove and Major Eaton are played by, respectively, veteran actors Don Fellows and William Hootkins. If Hootkins seems familiar, it's because you've seen him before; 
  John Williams has provided the music for some of the greatest adventure flicks ever; do the Jaws theme. Go on, now; hum it. Thats him. Star Wars too. The Raiders March was originally two pieces of music Williams wrote for the film. Spielberg loved them both (and they became so iconic that the only time a British Army band ever played for me – well, not me alone – they played it. That is the meaning of ubiquity.) 
Below: the Idol originally had remote control eyes/Spielberg poses with a model used to plan the Tanis sequences and the model of Satipo.  

The stunt team on Raiders has passed into movie lore. If you want an example of nuts-to-the-wall bravery and action from before the days of CGI and green-screen, this film is it.
Bond veteran (the late) Martin Grace doubled for Indy in the Well of Souls, Glenn Randall drove the truck for parts of the chase. The Horse to Truck transfer was done by Terry Leonard – he cites it as the hardest stunt in the film to achieve. Confusingly, he also drove the truck for part of the sequence.
Leonard also performed the most iconic of the film's stunts, the truck drag – a tribute to Yakima Canutt's pioneering work on Stagecoach (1939).

He also did fight scenes and the vine swing at the start. Famously, Vic Armstrong – pick a movie at random and chances are he's falling off something or riding something in it – was mistaken for Harrison Ford by none other than Steven Spielberg. Doubling for Indy, this legend amongst stuntmen is in the first three Indiana Jones movies, his wife Wendy Leach also worked on Raiders. Italian stuntman Sergio Mioni deserves credit as the tough Feldwebel who takes Indy on at the climax of the truck chase.

Well, thats Raiders, an incredible thrill-ride. Of course, no such hero as Indiana Jones existed in real life?. Or... did he?

No comments:

Post a Comment