Sci-fans looks at The Indiana Jones Movies, 1981-2008

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Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (5-22-08)

In 1957, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is thrust back in action, venturing into the jungles of South America in a race against Soviet agents to find the mystical Crystal Skull.
Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, and Karen Allen has been seen on the set. Executive Producer: George Lucas, Director: Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - Teaser

Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

movie poster Story by George Lucas, directed by Steven Spielberg.
Lucas & Spielberg were both fans of 1930s cliffhangers in film school and this, their only collaboration, made a superstar of Harrison Ford, already popular as a cast member of Star Wars. As Indiana Jones, Harrison fights Nazis, his fear of snakes, decodes hieroglyphics, and outruns a giant boulder in a cave while looking for ancient treasure. Now, he’s looking for the fabled Lost Ark of the Covenant, containing ancient relics of Israel and great power. Karen Allen plays his ex-flame, along for the ride despite being dumped by him years earlier. Every chase scene and stunt tops the last as the film builds to an ending in which the Nazis find and open the lost Ark, sealing their own doom.
Supporting cast includes John Rhys-Davies. Music by John Williams was nominated for an Academy Award for best original score.
Oscars for Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, nominated for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Cinematography.
115 minutes, rated PG

Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (1984)

Lucas was busy writing Star Wars movie “Return Of The Jedi” when this one was being made, though Spielberg still directed. Also gone are Karen Allen (who was doing Starman) and John Rhyes-Davies, replaced by Kate Capshaw of SpaceCamp as the whining love interest and KeHuy Quan as the annoying little kid. Not much plot, but everyone remembers the special effects including a hair-raising minecar ride. Jones is on the trail of something called the Ankara Stone and a ruthless cult that enslaves hundreds of children. A scene where a victim is lowered into a volcano and burned alive was so gruesome most of it had to be cut to avoid an R-rating. Plenty of action, but fans consider the pacing and story to be a little lacking. Actually set before the first movie.
Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. 118 minutes, rated PG
The following year, Spielberg’s movie The Goonies had many of the same elements, though it was set in the present.

Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989)

Much better film, more like the first one, has River Phoenix in the opening sequence as a teenage Indiana Jones up against snakes and acquiring his famous hat. This time around, Nazis are looking for the Holy Grail and Indy is helped (?) by his father (Sean Connery), who has the best line, “Indiana? We called the dog Indiana!”
Additional cast: Denholm Elliott, John Rhyes-Davies, Michael Byrne, Alex Hyde-White.
Music by John Williams, directed by Steven Spielberg, 126 minutes rated PG
The same year, Spielberg directed Always, starring Richard Dreyfuss as a fire-plane pilot’s ghost in a film remake they had been talking about since Jaws. Spielberg’s next movie as director was the flop “Hook” (1991) starring Robin Williams as grownup Peter Pan and Dustin Hoffman of MonsterVision’s Tootsie as Captain Hook. But two years after that, Spielberg directed “Schindler’s List” and Jurassic Park, both in 1993.
John Rhyes-Davies hit it big in America as the costar of the TV-miniseries “Shogun,” as the European who introduces Richard Chamberlain to ancient Japan. He’s been making movies here ever since and costarred in the Sliders tv-series 1995-98. He’s also appeared in “King Solomon’s Mines” (1985), 007 film “The Living Daylights,” the TV-miniseries “War & Remembrance,” The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989), “The Lost World” (1992), Return To The Lost World, “Cyborg Cop” (1993), and “Britannic” (1999)

When George Lucas & Steven Spielberg were in film school, their favorite movies were old cliffhanger serials, scifi/fantasy, and monster movies. Spielberg’s first job as director was Rod Serling’s Night Gallery tv-movie (1969), followed two years later by Duel starring Dennis Weaver (which had elements of Jaws and was later re-released in theaters). Lucas tried scifi with his Orwellian “THX-1138” (1971, starring Donald Pleasence of Halloween), followed by the big hit American Graffiti, which convinced the studio to take a chance on “Star Wars” (1977)

George Lucas did not direct another movie himself until “The Phantom Menace” (1999), preferring to produce and run Lucasfilm. But when Spielberg decided to direct a good old-fashioned cliffhanger, Lucas wrote the story and the result was “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” starring Harrison Ford. Though “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” came out the same year as “Star Wars,” Lucas & Spielberg have never been considered competitors, and by the 1980s, the top 15 movies of all time were virtually all Lucas or Spielberg films – the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones trilogy, and various Spielberg films (as of 1996)
1. Star Wars (1977) Lucas
2. E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Spielberg
3. Jurassic Park (1993), Spielberg directed all 3
4. Forrest Gump (1994) Zemeckis
5. The Lion King (1994) the last Disney film people really liked
6. Return Of The Jedi (1983) Lucas, writer only
7. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Lucas, producer only
8. Home Alone (1990) same director as Stepmom and Adventures in Babysitting
9. Jaws (1975) Spielberg
10. Tim Burton’s Batman (1989)
11. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) Spielberg & Lucas
12. Beverly Hill Cop (1984) Eddie Murphy’s best movie until Shrek, though it’s still better than Vampire In Brooklyn
13. Ghostbusters (1984 comedy) Dan Aykroyd of Dragnet (1987) and The Blues Brothers as co-star & co-writer
14. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) Robin Williams as a Tootsie rather than a Popeye
15. Ghost (1990) special effects by Lucasfilm ILM, starring Demi Moore of The Seventh Sign, Whoopie Goldberg of Theodore Rex and Patrick Swayze of Red Dawn (a MonsterVision trilogy of actors)
Also in the top 25 in 1996:
Back To The Future (1985) producer Spielberg, directed & co-written by Robert Zemeckis
Terminator 2 (1991) written/directed by James Cameron (whose 1997 hit “Titanic” knocked Star Wars off the top of the list the following year)

In addition to “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” Spielberg also directed the Indiana Jones sequels, and would go on to write the stories for Poltergeist and The Goonies (1985), but concentrated mostly on producing after “Raiders.”

Harrison Ford

When the Hollywood Walk of Fame was first created, one of the first batch of brass stars installed in the sidewalk was for silent film star Harrison Ford (1884-1957), who starred in half a dozen movies 1916-1926 (evidently he didn’t make the cut when sound came in). His old star suddenly became very popular due to the Star Wars & Indiana Jones movies with tourists who thought it was for the other Harrison Ford.
Harrison Ford (his real name) was born in 1942. He appeared in a few films before Lucas remembered him from film school and cast him in American Graffiti, and of course the first three Star Wars movies. But Ford is still most recognized for the three (so far) Indiana Jones films. In the 1990s he starred in two Tom Clancy films: “Patriot Games” and “Clear & Present Danger,” replacing Alec Baldwin (who played the character in “The Hunt for Red October” (1990), with Sean Connery as a Russian sub commander). In 1997 he took on terrorists who had hijacked “Air Force One” with him and the First Lady on board. Harrison Ford is a pilot in real life and has flown helicopter rescue missions to find lost hikers. He is currently preparing to film the fourth Indiana Jones movie (Spielberg is Exec. Producer, director has not been announced. Cate Blanchett is "in negotiations" to be Indy's leading lady). Filming in late 2007 (see above). Production company for the project Lucasfilm.
Harrison Ford movies are available on video and on DVD

In case you’re wondering, the Holy Grail is a silver chalice used by Jesus Christ for the Last Supper. It was made into a movie so bad, Paul Newman still doesn’t like to talk about it

High Road to China (1983)

Tom Selleck, in his first starring role in a movie (unless you count the low-budget MonsterVision movie Daughters Of Satan), plays a boozy WW1 ace hired by Bess Armstrong to find her missing father. One critic called this Indiana Jones copy a "low road to escapism ... with substandard action scenes, and the flattest dialogue this side of the Great Wall." The cast included Wilford Brimley of MonsterVision's Death Valley and Jack Weston of "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (a 100% Weird film last seen following Clash Of The Titans on MonsterVision)

Fun fact:
The Dana, Indiana, town seal has the words TOWN SEAL across the middle. So that's what it is...

Doc Hudson is the Hudson Hornet

If anyone asks, I was smashin' mailboxes with Lightning McQueen

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