With the fallout (no â€œnuke the fridgeâ€ comments please) of Indy IV still thick in the air, I figured I would devote a column to discussing, in detail, the scripts that could have been. A fourth Indy film was in development since the 1989 release of â€œIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade.â€ Screenwriters Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, Frank Darabont and Jeff Nathanson wrote drafts, but Lucas, Spielberg and Ford eventually decided on David Koeppâ€™s script, which in reality is more of a amalgam of the previous scripts.
Aside from my script reviews, this edition of The Cynical Optimist will also have your standard â€œDid You Know?â€ trivia as well as the weekâ€™s recommendations. O.K, enough talking, lets do this thingâ€¦
Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars
Screenwriter Jeb Stuart, best known for his screenplays of â€œThe Fugitiveâ€ and â€œDie Hard,â€ penned a script for a fourth Indiana Jones film back in 1995. Titled â€œIndiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars,â€ the script contains several elements and sequences that ended up in â€œKingdom of the Crystal Skull.â€
Borneo. 1949. Indiana Jones and a â€œwild-eyed native manâ€ named Kabul make their way down a dark river on a small steamer boat. In this, the opening sequence of â€œIndiana Jones and the Saucer Men,â€ Indy and his sidekick are in between a rock and a hard place.
The river is filled with crocodiles, and the last shovel-full of coal was just chucked into the engine. Not to mention the cannon-strapped PT boat filled with river pirates, waving their guns about like madmen.
The leader of these pirates is one Mr. Frederick Baldassare, who eventually captures Indy and demands to know the location of some maps our hero has in his possession. Indy refuses, and in return Baldassare plants dynamite on the steamer before putting away in his PT boat.
Before the ship blows to pieces, Indy and Kabul dispose of the explosives â€“ and though Indy and Kabul have lost everything theyâ€™ve worked for, without pay even, there is hope. Indiana Jones removes a familiar looking artifact â€“ itâ€™s the golden idol from the beginning of â€œRaiders of the Lost Ark.â€ Heâ€™s finally tracked it down!
Our heroes eventually dock at their destination where Indy meets Dr. Elaine McGregor, a beautiful linguist who is a colleague of Macrus Brody. Dr. McGregor can speak 49 languages, and while she can communicate with the natives just fine, she needs Indyâ€™s help to track down a the Iban temple, an ancient ruin in the deepest jungles of Borneo.
Indy is smitten with Dr. McGregor, and after six weeks on an excavation together, and another run-in with those river pirates, the two are engaged to be married. At the wedding we get to see some great cameos by all our favorite Indy characters. Short Round, Marion, Willie, Sallah and Henry Jones Sr. all make appearances at the church â€“ and no one can actually believe what theyâ€™re seeing.
It must be too good to be true, and it is â€“ A strange man shows up moments before the wedding only to usher Elaine McGregor into a waiting car, leaving Indiana at the altar alone. Indy grabs a car and decides to pursue Elaineâ€™s captor.
The following chase is very similar to the Mutt Williams motorcycle chase that ends up in â€œKingdom of the Crystal Skull.â€ After weaving through campus quads and side streets, Indy eventually loses Elaineâ€™s car and heads back to the chapel where her father reveals to Indy that the â€˜strange manâ€™ was none other than Elaineâ€™s actually fiancÃ©.
Indy is crushed after realizing Elaine wasnâ€™t kidnapped â€“ that she actually just kind of dumped him. He drowns his sorrows at a bar with Willie and Marion, who console him. Indy digs up some info on her supposed fiancÃ©, Bob Bolander, and ends up in New Mexico.
The Atomic Diner, seen briefly in â€œCrystal Skull,â€ shows up in the script â€“ and Indy stops in to have an atomic burger, while asking the waitress if sheâ€™s seen Bolander. Two other men in the bar, cowboys, react to the name.
Indy gets up and goes back out to his â€™49 Ford. He ends up following a convoy of army trucks to a base in the New Mexico desert. The description is very similar to the opening of â€œCrystal Skull.â€ Indiana Jones tries to get into the base by offering his OSS rank â€“ Colonel.
Heâ€™s turned away and is forced to sneak in. As he comes to the edge of a hill overlooking the military compound, he sees that the ground is blackened and scarred â€“ a streak that extends for over a mile until it disappears over the next hill. Thereâ€™re your typical amount of troops, wooden crates and tents sent up around the site.
Men in white coats can be seen moving in and out of the massive tents. Indy is eventually caught and brought to Bob Bolander. Indy suspects a high altitude left the skid marks â€“ probably Russian, and thatâ€™s why Bolander needs Elaineâ€™s linguistic skills.
Little does Indy know, an alien spacecraft left the marks. Indy balks at the idea when he hears it first, until he sees the evidence â€“ pieces of wreckage and actual alien bodies. Itâ€™s during this reveal in the tent that we are introduced to the artifact of the film â€“ a stone cylinder covered with rows and rows of tiny pictographs, cuneiforms and glyphs.
The markings appear to be Egyptian, Mayan, Sanskrit, and Chinese â€“ thus, Elaineâ€™s involvement with the top-secret project. This is no ordinary stone, however, as it seems to react to radio and light waves. It appears to be the aliensâ€™ power supply for their craft.
It seems that Lucas and Spielberg went along these drafts and plucked the best parts from each to make â€œKingdom of the Crystal Skull.â€ Jeb Stuartâ€™s script features army ants, a rocket sled fight, Indiana surviving an atomic explosion by sealing himself in a fridge, and a climactic battle between the US military and flying saucers.
My guess is this is where Jeb Stuartâ€™s script crossed the line for Harrison Ford â€“ being as the climactic battle involved Indianaâ€™s wife-to-be, Elaine McGregor, falling out of an airplane and Indy (in a scene straight out of â€œShoot â€˜Em Upâ€) jumps out of the plane after her, catches up to her, and rescues her from certain death.
As Indy and Elaine float safely to the ground via parachute, flying saucers are dog fighting with military aircraft â€“ vaporizing them with a powerful blast of their advanced weaponry.
We see the aliens, which are described as â€œenormous spidery creaturesâ€ with seven-foot long arms and bony fingers. They have pale wet â€œskin,â€ which seems translucent. The description of these aliens seems very similar to the life forms weâ€™ve seen in Spielbergâ€™s 2005 â€œWar of the Worlds.â€
In the end, after beating the Russians and dealing with the alien artifact, Indy and Elaine finally tie the knot for real this time, and the final scene has the wedding car driving down a dusty road, cans banging behind it.
Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods
â€œAdventure Still has a Nameâ€¦â€
Frank Darabont, who wrote various â€œYoung Indiana Jonesâ€ episodes, was hired to write a script for the fourth Indy in May of 2002. His screenplay, entitled â€œIndiana Jones and the City of Gods,â€ was set in the 1950s, with ex-Nazis pursuing Dr. Jones.
Darabontâ€™s script opens in much the same way of â€œKingdom of the Crystal Skull,â€ with two hot-rods roaring into view. Instead of Elvis Presleyâ€™s â€œHound Dog,â€ Bill Haley and the Cometsâ€™ â€œShake, Rattle, and Rollâ€ pays off the â€œAmerican Graffitiâ€ homage.
We first see Indiana Jones at the Atomic CafÃ© in Nevada â€“ which showed up in â€œSaucer Menâ€ and â€œCrystal Skull.â€ His comrade, Yuri Makovsky, who speaks with a Russian accent but seemingly loves America, joins him. Our introduction to this character consists of Yuri constantly commenting on hamburgers, French fries, ketchup and his love of American culture.
While sitting at the diner, Indy pulls out a handkerchief filled with fragments of Native American pottery. If you recall to the opening of â€œCrystal Skull,â€ when the Russians pull Indy out of the trunk, they throw some clay pots on the ground â€“ I can only assume these are one and the same.
Darabontâ€™s script is largely the same as Keoppâ€™s final draft. The story focuses on the discovery of the crystal skull, as well as a lost city in Peru where the Gods were thought to live. And yes, just like â€œCrystal Skull,â€ we discover these “gods” were aliens with an advanced culture, capable of creating technology thousands of years beyond our own.
It should also be noted that one of Darabontâ€™s contributions was the inclusion of Marion Ravenwood. Sheâ€™s featured a bit more prominently in this script, and while Ray Winstoneâ€™s character is no where to be found, there is a double-crossing friend. Would you have guessed Indyâ€™s Russian comrade Yuri?
A lot of people would like to believe George Lucas is single-handedly responsible for ruining â€œIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skullâ€ by insisting on outlandish action sequences that donâ€™t mesh with the old films, but you might be interested to know that the â€œnuclear townâ€ sequence from the film is lifted completely from Darabontâ€™s script. Everything from the â€œHowdy Doodyâ€ to the refrigerator blasting past soviet vehicles is in his draft.
Jeb Stuartâ€™s â€œnuke the fridgeâ€ scene was quite different, involving Indy sliding into a crawl space and holding an opened refrigerator on top of him as the nuclear bomb blasted the house away from its foundation â€“ but here, everything feels the same â€“ even the post-bomb debriefing where Indy is questioned by Military officers.
Much like Stuartâ€™s script, Dr. Henry Jones Sr. and Sallah make cameos, and Harold Oxley is still a big part of the story. Thereâ€™s even a â€œbig damn ants!â€ sequence. Thereâ€™s also the obligatory snake scene as well as vine swinging bit not too dissimilar from Muttâ€™s in â€œCrystal Skull.â€
Speaking of Mutt Williams, Shia LaBoeuf’s character is nowhere to be found. I personally enjoyed Muttâ€™s inclusion in â€œCrystal Skull,â€ as well as his obvious link to Marlon Brandoâ€™s character in â€œThe Wild One.â€ Also absent is Cate Blanchettâ€™s Spalko character. In Darabontâ€™s script there are numerous villains, and even combined they still canâ€™t compare to Spalkoâ€™s presence.
I think a lot of people want to believe that Frank Darabont wrote a perfect script, and that Lucas was an idiot for turning it down, but thatâ€™s just not the case. A lot of the scenes people hated about â€œCrystal Skull,â€ were present in this script â€“ and, I think, much worse.
Take for example, the snake scene. Here Marion comes upon â€œthe biggest damn snake anyoneâ€™s ever seen.â€ As it rears up, itâ€™s taller than Indiana, and its head is comparable to a horseâ€™s. Indy hears Marion scream and spouts off some line like, â€œGeez, you act like youâ€™ve never seen a snake before.â€
A moment later, the snake springs up and chomps down on Indy, swallowing him to the waist. The snake thrashes back and forth, trying to swallow our hero, who is kicking his legs violently trying to escape. Now, in most cases, you would think Indy would survive this â€“ but here, the snake actually swallows him whole.
To add insult to injury, the snake even swallows up Indyâ€™s fedora. Marion is in shock as this gigantic snake slithers its way up a rubber tree, where Indy eventually cuts his way out of it â€“ pretty over-the-top, and felt a lot like â€œAnaconda.â€ And yes, after slashing his way out of the snake, he reaches back in to grab his intestine-covered hat.
People complain about the monkeys in â€œCrystal Skull,â€ but what if they knew there was an even more atrocious scene in Darabontâ€™s script. Indy is hanging on to the landing gear of a plane Marion is flying. Heâ€™s getting dragged through the canopies of trees when he runs right into a bunch of monkeys. They start screaming and flailing about of course, and this leads to a monkey clutching onto Indyâ€™s chest.
Indy screams right back at the monkey, scaring it away. He climbs back into the plane and delivers probably the worst line ever. â€œThe monkey pooped on my chest.â€
Yeah, thatâ€™s right. Say what you will about Mutt Williams swinging through the jungle like Tarzan, at least â€œCrystal Skullâ€ didnâ€™t have a monkey droppinâ€™ a deuce on Indyâ€™s chest.
The script ends in much the same way as the film we saw did. Instead of Spalko becoming â€œthe woman who knew too much,â€ the numerous villains are each granted a wish by the aliens, and each is consumed by the greed and power they each want. A flying saucer, buried deep beneath the templeâ€™s foundations, rises out of the ground and disappears into the sky.
Indy and Marion get married, and Oxley picks up an interesting trait from the aliens â€“ he is now apparently telekinetic, as he makes the silverware dance and twirl about his table at the wedding reception.
Did You Know?
M. Night Shyamalan was hired to write a screenplay for Indy IV, intended for a 2002 shoot, but he was overwhelmed writing a sequel to a film he loved like â€œRaiders of the Lost Ark,â€ and claimed it was difficult to get Ford, Spielberg, and Lucas to focus.
Frank Darabontâ€™s first job in movies was as a production assistant on the 1981 low-budget film, â€œHell Nightâ€ (1981), starring Linda Blair. He spent the next six years working in the art department as a set dresser and in set construction while struggling to establish himself as a writer. His first produced writing credit was on the 1987 film, â€œNightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.â€
After the credits of 1987â€™s â€œMasters of the Universe,â€ Skeletor’s head pops up from the lake and says, “I’ll be back!” which sets the stage for a sequel that was never made. However, a script for a “Masters of the Universe” sequel was written, only to be re-written and become the script for the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Cyborg (1989).
â€œBatman: Gotham Knightâ€ is an anthology film of six animated short films set in-between â€œBatman Beginsâ€ and â€œThe Dark Knight.â€ The two-disc collectorâ€™s edition DVD, which hits stores July 8 stateside, can be found at Amazon.
Less Than Jakeâ€™s latest album, GNV FLA, hit stores on June 24th. Head on over to their official website to check out their first single, â€œDoes the Lion City Still Roar?â€
Soul Calibur IV hits Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles on July 29th here in the states, and features some pretty interesting bonus characters â€“ namely Yoda and Darth Vader, as well as Vaderâ€™s apprentice from the upcoming â€œStar Wars: The Force Unleashedâ€ video game.
Okay guys, thatâ€™s it for this week â€“ thanks for reading and as usual send any comments, questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org