and Steven are going to release the first "Indiana Jones" feature film in 19
years on May 22, 2008. What better time than to re-release the original
three films that started Indiana Jones?
The first three "Indiana Jones" films from the 1980s are again available on DVD.
You can either purchase the movies individually, or in a new three pack.
Each film now contains new bonus material.
It seems like Indiana Jones has been with us forever. And in a sense, he's
been around now for a long time. Back in the early summer of 1981, I picked
up the 5th anniversary issue of Starlog magazine while on a trip to visit my
grandparents in Ohio. On the cover was an "exclusive" interview with George
Lucas, along with new features on that summer's big science fiction and
fantasy films. Despite only having a little bit of spending money for my
trip, I had to pick up the issue. It was damn good reading.
There was an interview with Harrison Ford in that same issue, who had just
made a new movie with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg called "Raiders of
the Lost Ark." The first thing that came to my mind was, "What a stupid
title for a movie!" Being almost thirteen and knowing all there was to know
in the world, I also blurted out, "Why is Harrison Ford raiding Noah's Ark?"
Little did I know, or remembered, that there was the Ark of the Covenant in
the Bible. No matter. How could George Lucas come up with such a story? Come
on! This was the man who brought me "Star Wars." Spielberg brought me "Close
Encounters of the Third Kind." What were they thinking about doing a movie
called "Raiders of the Lost Ark?"
After coming home from Ohio, I found out that a great-grandfather I only met
once had passed away. My parents took me to the funeral and my Aunt Denise
was there. Being both fairly immature, and really not knowing my
great-grandmother's second husband, my aunt suggested we go to the movies
after the funeral. I told her I heard of a new movie from George Lucas and
Steven Spielberg called "Raiders of the Lost Ark" that just opened up. "What
a stupid title for a movie," she said. I nodded, but I said it actually
looked good. We hopped into her old VW Bug and headed over to the tiny and
cramped AMC Puente Hills Mall Theaters.
With my aunt, we never, ever, made it to a movie on time. Nonetheless, we
made it there just as we see Dr. Jones teaching class. The theater was
typical of AMC in those days, with an aisle running down the center of two
rows of seating areas. Of course, the screen was small and the sound was
dreadful. But for the rest of the movie, my eyes didn't leave that screen
until the end credits. My oh my. Talk about a movie experience. I rooted for
Indy and Marion to put it to those Nazi villains. I thought Belloq was a
jerk, but a charming excellent foe to Indy. Sallah was the best friend
anyone could have. Marion was spunky, feisty, cute and so entertaining to
watch. The scenes of danger and mayhem kept me glued to my seat. I didn't
think that a movie could be better than "Star Wars" or "The Empire Strikes
Back." But here it was.
I did catch "Raiders" a few weeks later. My best buddy and I rode our bikes
some 15-miles to the now-demolished Orange Cinedome. We got there in plenty
of time and sat in one of the big 800+ seat domes. The print was in 70mm
Six-Track Dolby Stereo. This time, I caught the beginning of the film. WOW!
I missed that?
The Cinedome had huge surround speakers in the back of the auditorium.
I ducked when the birds flew out of the ancient temple head in
the beginning. I jumped from my seat when the snakes in the Well of Souls
lurched at Indy. The experience was even better than before. Yes, Virginia,
movie presentation can and will make a spectacular film even better! My
buddy coaxed me into seeing "The Cannonball Run" next door. Heaven forbid,
we snuck in! Two great movies in one day. Of course, we got back to my house
pretty late, much to my parent's worry. I got busted for sneaking into a
movie. The horrors of being thirteen.
Still, the memory of seeing "Raiders" on that big screen stayed
with me forever. And once the movie was available on VHS tape for
$39.99, I begged my dad to buy it. And I watched it again and again in its
pan-and-scan glory. On the beginning of that VHS tape was a preview for
"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." As simplistic and sparse as that
trailer seems today, I was totally excited at the prospect of seeing a new
Indiana Jones movie. That booming narrator voice and the music from
"Raiders" was too much. I couldn't wait for 1984.
When "Temple of Doom" opened, my girlfriend and I stood in the parking lot
of the Orange Cinedome on a very hot day, waiting to get in. The line
stretched from the theater box office back into the parking lot. As much as
I hated waiting there, and dreading the thought of not getting a decent seat
once inside the theater, I miss those bygone days. The modern megaplex
theaters don't have that charm of making lines snake out into the parking
We did get decent seats and the movie began. The opening was totally
different from "Raiders." A musical number? It wasn't bad, but it threw me
off. Then the action began. From the moment of the first gun shot in "Temple
of Doom," there seemed to be a dark aura about the film. There was a mean
streak of violence running through this film, and Indiana Jones was a big
part of it. Now let me explain. Indy, in "Raiders," used violence to thwart
bad guys. Good enough. But in "Doom," his violence is mean spirited. This
wasn't the same flawed Indy we loved in "Raiders." This Indy was much
darker. Monkey brains? That didn't faze Indy a bit. Striking Short Round (Ke
Huy Quan) while under the influence? They fit into the supposed plot of this
sequel, but it made me squirm. This is one uncomfortable movie to watch. And
Indy falls in love with a screaming, screechy, screwy Willie Scott (Kate
Capshaw)? Come on, Indy! I know even super heroes need some lovin' while
globe trotting, but man! You should've let her stay in the nightclub. (No
offense, Steven, but obviously there's a reason why you brought back Marion
to the new Indy movie, and not Willie Scott.)
Some of "Temple of Doom" is redeemable. The mine car chase is still tons of
fun to watch. And Short Round offers Indy some good banter. But as a whole,
the movie was a big disappointment.
So when "Last Crusade" rolled around in the summer of 1989, I was excited
and scared to see what Lucas and Spielberg would unleash upon fedora wearing
wannabes. "Temple of Doom" was no "Raiders," and in fairness, that was
difficult to top anyway.
There was a brand-new movie theater in my humble section of Anaheim Hills,
CA that was opening. Cinemapolis was the first theater in Anaheim Hills. And
it's big attraction? "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" in 70mm! I was
among the first 10 people in line that Memorial Day weekend. I recall there
was a guy wearing a leather Indy jacket and fedora, despite it being about
90-degrees out. No matter. We made it into the new theater. There was a
mannequin dressed as Indy just outside the main theater. The new theater was
nice and they were showing a new "Indiana Jones" movie. Perfect combo.
The experience was sublime. The preview for "Star Trek V: The Final
Frontier" made it seem like it was going to be great (it would turn out to
be one of the worst "Star Trek" movies ever made) and the audience that
afternoon was pumped. "Last Crusade" more than made up for the flaws in
"Temple of Doom." Certainly, the action was lightened up with the prologue
of Young Indy (River Phoenix). The bad guys weren't all that bad. Dr. Elsa
Schneider (Alison Doody) was no Marion or Willie Scott (thankfully). She was
simply there and pretty stiff to boot. I don't know why they made the
late-great Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody) a bumbling fool, or gave Sallah
little to work with. But the film is still quite fun. What made it for me,
and a lot of people I'm sure, is the father-son relationship between Indy
(Ford) and Henry (Sean Connery). What an inspired pairing. I know that there
was a very small age difference in the two actors, making it impossible for
Connery to be Ford's dad, but you never notice it. These two breathe life
into the thin villains and occasional shortcomings of the film overall.
Though not as great as "Raiders," "Crusade" is still enjoyable after all
I think one of the great aspects of Ford as Indiana Jones is that he's a
confident hero with flaws. Even though "Temple of Doom" nearly ruined the
franchise (at least for me), Ford's command of his Indiana Jones persona
rings true through the series of the 1980s films. He's a hero that you root
for and laugh at when things go the wrong way.
The direction, the visual effects, the editing, the cinematography by
Douglas Slocombe, the often snappy dialogue and fantastic score by John
Williams make the "Indiana Jones" movies so much fun. Yes, they're often
flawed (though I think "Raiders" is as near-perfect as any movie can get).
The "Young Indiana Jones" TV series is very well made, but doesn't capture
the goofy and fun spirit of most of the original three films have.
The original films from 1981-1989 were true popcorn movies of their era. A
lot has changed, as the cliché goes, since then. The Puente Hills Mall and
Orange Cinedome theaters went under the wrecking ball. I won't miss the
Puente Hills, but the Cinedome, as long time readers of this site will know,
has a place in my heart. VHS has given way to DVD and now Blu-ray discs (and
here's hoping that Lucasfilm/Paramount will release the Indy films on
Blu-ray disc with uncompressed audio to finally give us the fullness of the
original magnetic stereo soundtracks). Anybody with an Internet connection
or cell phone can spread the news about seeing a sneak preview of the new
"Indiana Jones" movie to the world in a heartbeat.
We're on the verge of seeing another adventure in the "Indiana Jones" series
here in 2008. As the previews have pointed out, Indy's a little older than
he used to be. As a kid, I always thought Harrison Ford was older (he was)
and more mature than most actors of his day (he was). It's hard to believe
that Ford was only in his late-30s when he made "Raiders." I'm turning 40
this year! I guess we've all aged with Indy, even us "kids."
So go ahead. Get the newest collection of "Indiana Jones" DVDs, even if you
already have the movies on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD. You know you want to see
the new material about Indy. It's enough to keep you occupied until May 22,
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © Lucasfilm/Paramount. All rights reserved.
More Indy to get you ready for "Indy IV!"
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen,
John Rhys Davies, Sean Connery
PG ("Raiders") and PG-13 ("Doom" and
Picture: Very Good
How many more times will you watch
Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD RELEASE DATE
May 13, 2008