In the late ’70s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg teamed up to create one of the greatest film franchises of all time. The first film was Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. That was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984 and The Last Crusade in 1989. These three films are the often celebrated films in the franchise, while Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth in the series, which was released in 2008, is usually ridiculed. We’re not massive fans of the last film, but we also don’t think it’s nearly as bad as people like to think it is. Sure, it’s a much weaker movie than its three predecessors, but many fans act like it’s a disgrace to the art of filmmaking. While it certainly uses the franchise as a crutch, we wonder, what fourth films in a franchise are ever amazing? The longer a franchise is drawn out, the more critical fans become and the more difficult making a smash hit becomes.
Yet, despite all the bellyaching on the internet, there are countless fans who enjoy the franchise just the way it is. Over the years, fans like us have watched these films a wild number of times and have a hell of a lot of fun. Incredibly, the Indiana Jones films are so jam-packed with references and cameos, trivia, and Easter eggs, that even the most die-hard fans are still finding new things embedded within the frames. So, we thought it would be fun and helpful to go through the films and point out all the little details and hidden things that people continue to overlook. You might be surprised at how much you’ve missed in these films in your many viewings. Here are 15 Details from Indiana Jones That Fans Still Miss After All These Years.
15. Fly Eater
The fly eater in Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest film legends of all time. Some say that Belloq, the Frenchman, is still eating the fly to this day. In case you haven’t heard this one, let’s set the stage for you. Indy has a rocket launcher and is threatening to blow up the Ark of the Covenant. Belloq, played by Paul Freeman, starts talking to Indy. Suddenly, a fly lands on his face. The camera stays in closeup. Slowly, the fly inches closer to Belloq’s mouth. Then, it appears as if he eats it. Now, legend has it that Spielberg and the editors removed the frame or frames that showed the bug fly off, but we’re not buying it. That guy totally ate that fly.
14. The Butcher
Everyone always talks about Indy shooting that sword guy, but no one ever mentions the butcher in the background. Yes, Indiana Jones shoots a guy who thinks he’s tough with a sword, but there’s something more important happening. Look at the butcher behind Jones. Look at how terrible this guy is at his job. Now, some say that he was asked to swing the butcher blade lightly so as not to make noise and distract from the main action, but Jesus Christ, man, you’re not going to break through any bone with those lazy strikes. Of all the extras in all the films, this butcher is one of our favorites. He’s just got no clue what’s going on. Oh, if we could spend five minutes with this man to pick his brain.
13. A Spielbergian Right Hook
Remember in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when the suits are taking Mutt and Indy out of the bar? Indy tells Mutt to punch the random guy in order to start a bar fight and allow the father and son to escape. Well, after Mutt punches the random guy, the girl at the table stands up and says, “That’s my boyfriend” and gives Mutt a heck of a right hook. Well, that girl was played by Sasha Spielberg, one of Steven’s daughters. Sasha has been in several other movies, although this role is probably her coolest, at least in terms of trivia value. Sasha was credited as “the Slugger,” a name befitting the role.
12. Club Obi Wan
This is one of the best-known references to Star Wars from the Indiana Jones films, but we felt we needed to include it. It comes in the opening scene for Temple of Doom. The club we begin in is called Club Obi Wan, a not-so-subtle nod to Obi Wan Kenobi. Interestingly, the suit that Indiana Jones wears in this scene, the white tux with the red flower, is nearly identical to the suit worn by James Bond at the beginning of Goldfinger. This is neat, considering that the actor who wore that suit in Goldfinger, Sean Connery, would go on to play Indy’s father in The Last Crusade. The connections between these two franchises doesn’t stop there. There are countless other references and connections that would be another list all to itself.
11. The German Message
Many of us wonder whenever we hear a foreign language left untranslated, what are they actually saying? Well, in The Last Crusade, those thoughts bear beautiful fruit. When Indy is fighting with a Nazi aboard a tank in the film, another German looks through the periscope at the fight and says to his comrades, “Die Amerikaner! Die kämpfen wie weiber!” Incredibly, this translates to “The Americans! They fight like girls!” This is a pretty harsh chirp, considering that just seconds earlier, Indy had shot and killed three Germans with a single bullet and dispatched a couple of other foes with his bare hands.
10. Dan Aykroyd Cameo
Most of the cameos by major stars are expected to be noticeable. In our minds, why else would they do it? Well, Dan Aykroyd‘s cameo in The Temple of Doom is not obvious at all. In fact, if you didn’t know it was him, it would be very difficult to spot because we never get a great closeup of his face, and he’s using an English accent. Prior to making this film, Aykroyd worked with Spielberg on 1941, so this was just two friends working together again for a laugh. Aykroyd was a fan of the first film as well, so it was a chance to get his name on the credits in a booming franchise. In Temple of Doom, Aykroyd plays Weber, the man who nabbed the protagonists three seats on a plane out of Shanghai. Allegedly, Spielberg and Lucas have cameos in the background of this scene as well, but they are too difficult to spot.
9. The Indy Lookalike
In Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Mutt and Indy get involved in a high-speed chase on Mutt’s motorcycle. After some slick driving by the greaser, the two evade their chasers. The chase officially ends when Mutt drives his motorcycle into the library. However, right before they enter the building on the bike, we see something interesting. There on the left-hand side of the walkway, is a man dressed just like Indiana Jones. Perhaps, he idolizes the professor and war hero. There’s another neat detail here as well. Before leaving the library again, Indy tells a student, “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out of the library.” This, fans will notice, is a big shift from younger Indiana Jones, who said in The Last Crusade, “Seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library.”
8. Returning Actors
There were a couple of actors who played multiple characters throughout the Indiana Jones franchise, including Pat Roach. Roach started off in Raiders of the Lost Ark playing “Giant Sherpa” who Indy encountered in the Nepalese bar as well as the big guy who dies in the plane rotor later on the film. Amazingly, Indy killed him twice in this movie. Roach would also play a guard for Chief Thugee in Temple of Doom and a member of the Gestapo in The Last Crusade. Sadly, Roach died before Crystal Skull was made. Other actors played multiple roles as well, such as Vic Tablian, who played Barranca and the Monkey guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
7. Locations From Star Wars
When watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, many film fans noticed a similarity in the desert landscape in the film to that of Tatooine in Star Wars. In Raiders, the most recognizable setting comes when Indy threatens to destroy the Ark of the Covenant with a grenade launcher. This was filmed in the Sidi Bouhlel, Tunisia Desert canyon, the very same location that was used in A New Hope, specifically in the scene that R2D2 is captured by Jawas. While many famous movies shoot in the same location, this connection was interesting because you would never expect to recognize a desert-like setting in a movie.
6. All Them References
As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty of references to Star Wars scattered throughout the Indiana Jones franchise. In fact, every film has multiple references to Star Wars. We all likely know about the R2D2 and C-3PO hieroglyphs on the column in Raiders, but many missed the other hieroglyph that depicts Leia giving her message to R2D2. There’s also the float plane at the beginning of Raiders with OB-3PO on the side. In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Akator throne room has several tiles with images from other Spielberg and Lucas films, including R2D2, C-3PO, and even E.T.
5. The Raiders Of The Lost Ark Prequel
Now, if you happen to pay attention to dates, this one will not shock you in the least. Still, we find that many, including us, found out this piece of information much later than we should have. Since Temple of Doom came out after Raiders of the Lost Ark, it is blindly accepted that Temple takes place after the events in Raiders. If you believe this, it might shock you to learn that you’ve been living a lie. Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders. Aside from the date stamps on both films, this isn’t really discussed. It does make sense, though. It explains why Indiana Jones was all about fame, fortune, and money in Temple of Doom but in Raiders, he was more honorable and all about preserving the artifacts and history. He learned. So did we. This also puts one of the more famous scenes from both movies in question. In Raiders, we saw Indy shoot that guy who was swinging the sword around. In Temple of Doom, Indy is besieged by two swordsmen. He gives a little smirk that says, This again, heh! He then reaches for his gun only to find it missing. But wait. If this happened before Raiders, what’s with the look?
In The Last Crusade, Indy and his pops find themselves on a beach with an incoming fighter plane flying directly at them. After Indiana Jones notices that he’s out of bullets, his father steps up to the plate. He passes off his bag to his son and grabs his umbrella. He then opens it and runs toward a group of seagulls, scattering them into the air and making the plane crash. There’s some funny business in this clip, though. First, the birds are super fake, like cardboard cutout fake. They don’t fly when ran at. That’s a big indication of fakeness. Then, when the shot flips to show the birds flying, it’s painfully obvious that they aren’t seagulls at all. These are doves and pigeons. What kind of idiots do you take us for?
3. The Staff Of Moses
The Staff of Moses is best known in the film world as the staff used in the film The Ten Commandments. The role that this staff has in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one that is hotly debated. Some say it never made the final cut while others say it did, but it’s tough to see. We’re of the mindset that it probably didn’t make it in. But if it did, it’s in one fleeting moment. We know that a replica staff was made by the prop department on the film. We know that it was meant to be seen in the Area 51 hangar in the film, somewhere close to the Ark of the Covenant. Well, the Ark is there. It’s easy to see. The staff is not. After Indy busts through a wall of crates in rather ridiculous fashion, however, there is a staff-like object seen flying through the air. It’s possible, since it disappears a frame or two later, that it is just a piece of wood. Who can say for sure?
2. Learning From Mistakes
In the original three films, Raiders, Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade, Indy’s outfit was the same. Part of that outfit, the gas mask bag he wore under his coat, almost led to his demise in The Last Crusade when the bag strap got wrapped around a tank turret. Now, one of the reasons this was so dangerous was because the bag strap was underneath his coat. While this allowed him to take his coat off and keep the bag around his shoulder, a look he has for much of Temple of Doom, the coat being over top the strap ended up trapping him in The Last Crusade because he couldn’t get the strap off without removing the coat first. Well, Indy is a learner. In Crystal Skull, we see a very small change to his wardrobe. Ever since the encounter with the tank turret, he now wears the bag strap over the coat. This way, if he ever found himself in the same situation, he could just drop the strap.
One of the funniest lines in all of the Indiana Jones franchise is also one that so many people are unaware of. It comes in a very loud scene among a lot of commotion when Marcus Brody arrives at the train station in Iskenderun in The Last Crusade. As Brody is walking through the crowds, a man hands him a cup of water and asks, “Water?” Brody, without missing a beat and totally deadpan, says, “No thank you sir. Fish make love in it.” Half of the hilarity of this line comes in the fact that it is so easily missed. It’s such a loud scene that it’s almost as if we weren’t supposed to hear it. Of course, we almost certainly were, but it feels like it’s a hidden treasure all on its own.
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