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Help Support Features Articles Raiders of the Lost Drafts: Chapter 4a
Raiders of the Lost Drafts
by Bellosh - posted in 2000

Chapter 4a

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was a considerable success, but not on Lucas and Spielberg's terms. Commercially, it was outpaced by that year's big hit, Ghostbusters. Artistically, it was mauled by film critics, moral guardians, and even the fans, many of whom preferred Romancing The Stone - a fun Indy rip-off - with some even calling it 'the real sequel' to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although plans for the third Indiana Jones film got underway almost immediately, it took five years to reach the screen, and went through at least three screenplays and as many writers before even approaching the final form of The Last Crusade. Part of the delay was due to the necessity of dealing with the criticisms of the Temple of Doom, the accusations of cultural stereotyping and imperialism; the third film had to avoid these entirely, while remaining true to the formula of exotic adventure. But there was another, more important reason. Indiana Jones had encountered an adversary deadlier and more powerful than Belloq and Mola Ram combined - Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg never actually declared wanting to finish the series, but he certainly felt he had outgrown it. Stung by the criticisms of Temple of Doom, but stung more by the suggestion that he was an immature director incapable of 'serious' (read 'Oscar-winning') films, Spielberg embarked on a cycle of big worthy films, whose scripts were usually delivered to his desk via award-winning books with big important themes. Films like The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun, tackled their subject matter in an epic sub-David Lean/Richard Attenborough style, and minus aliens, dinosaurs or fedoras. Or indeed, audiences. Their pedestrian worthiness cramped Spielberg's astonishing visual imagination and flair for narrative drive, as he searched for 'significance' by developing a style that was merely ponderous and tear-jerking. At some point around 1987 he realized this, and realized also that growing-up didn't mean he had to stop having fun, and so finally committed himself to a new Indy film. But before this, several Indy 3 scripts had already bitten the dust.

Far from looking for the Holy Grail, Indy's next adventure was originally supposed to be a horror movie, 1930's style, set in a haunted house. This odd idea came from Lucas, who commissioned Diane Thomas, the writer of Romancing The Stone, to produce a screenplay. Thomas completed her first draft shortly before her untimely death in a car crash, but the script and the horror-movie idea were both scrapped. However, elements of it found their way into the opening sequence of the next shot at Indy 3 - Chris Columbus's failed (and fabled) Monkey King script.
Like Diane Thomas, Columbus had made it big in 1984 as the writer of Gremlins, for Spielberg's production company Amblin Entertainment. His Indy screenplay was based on one of Lucas's three original Indy plots, the search for the legendary Chinese Monkey King, Sun Wu-Kung and set in a location that had been rumored for the second film before Temple of Doom went into production, the jungles of Africa. We can't know whether Columbus's script (dated May 1985) would have made a good Indy movie, but even in the form in which we have it now - an overlong first draft - it's a terrific read, and fun to imagine it on the screen. The script is original, exciting, and certainly very different from the previous two films. Okay, and it also has some of the worst 'comedy' sequences this side of Jar Jar Binks. Fans who have read it tend to be divided on its merits, but one thing's for sure, if it had been made then it would have taken the series in a new direction, unlike Last Crusade - or as I prefer to call it, "Raiders of the Lost Dad".

The script's opening sequence was probably borrowed from the Diane Thomas screenplay, and is a fine piece of work, although it has absolutely nothing to do with the remainder of the story. It is 1937, and we find Indy in Scotland on a fishing trip, when he is called upon by the local police to help investigate a series of mysterious and brutal deaths. These seem to have a connection with an ancient castle, which Indy and some villagers decide to break into. In a thrilling and atmospheric series of supernatural set-pieces, involving bell-towers, trap doors, and underground rivers, Indy finally reaches the source of all the trouble, the castle's laird, Baron Seamus Seagrove III, who has supposedly been dead for years. After fighting off more assailants - a couple of spectral dogs, and some suits of armor - Indy finally captures the Baron, who says, as Indy turns him over to the police, "I would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for those pesky kids." No, sorry, just my little joke. What he actually says is 'No prison can hold me', and as he is taken away, we see him light a cigarette and the match flame shines through the Baron's body, confirmation that he is indeed a ghost. This well written sequence may have provided the inspiration for the use of Grunwald Castle in Last Crusade.

The scene shifts to Indy's university, where we see the usual lovelorn students/harassed Dr. Jones. We also meet Betsy Tuffet, Indy's student assistant, with whom he has been having a relationship. She, of course, is completely in love with him. Betsy is possibly one of the most annoying characters ever created, so it might be an idea to discuss her now and get it over with. Later in the film she attempts to kill herself while Indy is packing to go to Africa (this is a comic sequence). She follows him to Africa by stowing away in a crate of bananas and eating her way to the bottom. She follows him to the end of the screenplay, making his life difficult. She is completely unfunny, but present in almost every scene. Her primary importance is that Indy's other potential love interest, an archaeologist called Dr. Clare Clarke, thinks Indy is leading Betsy on and tells him he's disgusting, so Indy can't get anywhere with her. That's it. Betsy Tuffet is Columbus's homage to screwball comedy of the Thirties and Forties (she even has a scene with a chimpanzee called Bonzo), but she's also insufferable, and need not be mentioned again. 

Early concept sketch
for the character Toht.

Indy goes to meet Marcus Brody, who shows him a film made by Dr. Clarke which suggests that there may be some truth in the ancient Chinese tales of the lost civilization of Sun Wu-Kung, the Monkey King, who confers immortality on his followers through his magical Garden of Immortal Peaches. We learn that ten years earlier Indy had searched for Sun Wu-Kung through India and China in a doomed expedition which had resulted in the deaths of nine men, and whose failure still haunts him. But Dr. Clarke has found evidence to suggest that they might have been looking in the wrong place, and that the true home of Sun Wu-Kung is in the middle of Africa. She wants to mount an expedition to find Sun Wu-Kung's lost city. Indy is skeptical, but his curiosity gets the better of him and he agrees to go.
Indy arrives in Mozambique via cruise ship where he meets the first of the script's sidekicks, an elderly but childlike African called Scraggy, Indy's friend and guide, and the beautiful but prim Dr. Clarke. We also meet the bad guys - Nazis, led by Sgt. Helmut Gutterbuhg, who has a mechanical arm that at various times during the story turns into a machine gun, or fires deadly bolts of electrical energy. This interesting idea was first developed for Raiders, but rejected as being too futuristic for the 1930's. The Nazis plant a tiny transmitter on Indy, so they can keep tabs on him and company. They are not so much competing with Indy, as keeping an eye on him; as Gutterbuhg's superior officer, the grotesque "Nazi nightmare" Lieutenant Werner Von Mephisto says:

(German, English subtitles)
Ever since our battle for the Lost Ark...
the Fuhrer has been very interested in the
adventures of Indiana Jones.
Very interested.

Meanwhile Indy (overhead all the time by Mephisto) meets a sweet-natured pygmy at the Zoological Compound called Tyki who is the subject of Dr. Clare's research. Tyki is over two hundred years old, and supposedly from the 'Land of City on Clouds', the city of Sun Wu-Kung. Indy is charmed by him, but skeptical, until Clare shows him a peach stone usually worn by Tyki around his neck. It has been kept in a sterile room and, incredibly, sustained the life of a fruit-fly for three weeks, where their normal life-span is 24 hours. They talk of the legend of Sun Wu Kung's Garden of Immortal Peaches:

A bite from the fruit of that peach tree
would give a person eternal life...
make them forever young.

And Tyki gives them an ancient scroll, which provides clues to the location of the 'Cloud City'. Of course, the Nazis hear all of this as well, and kidnap Tyki while our heroes are discussing matters at 'Dashiell's Jazz Bar' that evening. Indy and Co. arrive back in the middle of the kidnap, and a chase begins, which leads to the waterfront, and a thrilling speedboat chase. The chase in Last Crusade was obviously based on this one, but whereas that was a fairly dull jaunt around some London dock locations standing in for Venice this chase would have been far more exciting. Just read Columbus's description of what he had in mind, and then compare it to what was in the Last Crusade (the capital letters and exclamation marks are characteristic of his style):

A FRENZIED, HIGH SPEED CHASE BEGINS! Through the DARKNESS. Beneath the ROWS OF DOCKS. The speedboats face countless OBSTACLES. They SWERVE around a virtual forest of wooden poles, which FLY BY AT BREAKNECK SPEED! The men DUCK and DODGE dangling FISH HOOKS and NETS. Many paths are BLOCKED by the wooden RAFTS and ROWBOATS. (NOTE: Because of the darkness, these obstacles APPEAR only when they are a FEW FEET AHEAD of the speedboats. This makes the chase completely SURPRISING and SCARY, causing a FUNHOUSE effect.)

If it had ever been filmed this would have been a terrific sequence. Too many of the action sequences in Last Crusade look like Spielberg couldn't be bothered to pace and plot them properly. The fight in Last Crusade by a giant scything ship's propeller is also here, but better. Like the fights in Raiders and Temple of Doom where Indy's opponent gets chopped up/crushed, this fight ends with the Nazi villain (who like the Nazi mechanic and Giant Thugee would no doubt have been played by Pat Roach) being turned into a bloody mush. The scene in Last Crusade where a speedboat is crushed between two larger vessels and explodes also originates here, and provides the climax to the chase.

Despite Indy's efforts, Gutterbuhg gets away with Tyki. Indy and friends still have the ancient scroll, but they know that the Nazis will be after them 'every step of the way'. They begin their search for the 'cloud city' next day, traveling up the Zambezi river in a wooden river boat, the 'Adobo'. When helping to create the character of Indiana Jones, Spielberg borrowed much from the Humphrey Bogart character Fred Dobbs in The Treasure of Sierra Madre (see part 1 of this series!). In the Monkey King script the journey up river is obviously influenced by the classic The African Queen (1951), where a grizzled Bogart helps Katherine Hepburn fight Nazis in the heart of Africa, on an old river boat which lends its name to the title of the film. The antagonistic relationship between Bogart and Hepburn (who eventually fall in love) is echoed in the Monkey King script by the difficult relationship between Indy and Dr. Clare (only they never resolve their differences).

On the first night of the journey Indy tells the story of the stone Monkey King, born out of a lightning flash in China 'long ago... in a place known as the Flower Fruit Mountain'. The story Indy tells deserves to be quoted in full, for its lyricism as much as it's importance to the plot:

(motions to crew members)
My friends [also] curious about where
we journey to, Indy.

The crew members NOD. STARING at Indiana. Indiana
turns to Clare. She SMILES.

Tell us all a bedtime story, Doctor

Indiana SIGHS. The crew member's GUITAR PLAYING
COMBINES with the SOUND TRACK, backing up
Indiana's story with an EERIE TUNE.

Long ago...a place known as the
Flower Fruit Mountain, in the
Chinese province of Ao-Lai...was
struck by lightning. A Stone Monkey,
"Sun Wu-Kung", was born.

This monkey?... He could walk?...
Talk?... Like human?...

More than human. He was blessed with
countless heavenly powers... But it
wasn't enough. Sun Wu-Kung wanted to
learn the secret of Eternal Life...
of Immortality...
Equipped with his Golden Hooped Rod
to protect him, Sun Wu Kung
travelled the world for many years
...learning the secret philosophies
and teachings of Eternal Youth.
Eventually, he was granted entrance
to heaven...where the Jade Emperor
gave Sun Wu Kung the title of "Great
Sage of the Heavens"...and permitted
him to oversee the Garden of
Immortal Peaches.
After several years, the stone
monkey returned to somewhere on
earth. Here, he ruled an empire...a
Civilization of Monkeys and humans
who had life spans of many hundred
The exact whereabouts of that Lost
City has been a mystery for hundreds
of years...until Doctor Clarke
discovered the pygmy.

The crew members, Scraggy, Betsy and Clare, listen with FASCINATION.

It's uncertain just how much of this
legend is based in reality...
Nevertheless, we're hoping to find
some sign of the Lost Civilization.

What about Sun Wu Kung?...

Whatever he was...a stone
actual monkey...a human
unknown. But he is one of the most
influential religious figures in
History, and his remains are most
likely somewhere in the Lost City.

Tin Tin strip cover for
Prisoners of the Sun.

Last Crusade had nothing to match this! The action continues in the morning when the river boat is suddenly, and bloodily, attacked by river pirates, and a thrilling hand-to-hand battle begins between the Adobo's crew and the pirates, led by their 'King', Kezure. Here, Columbus gleefully borrows from another silver screen action classic, The Crimson Pirate with Burt Lancaster, as Indy climbs up and down the ship's masts and rigging, sword fighting Kezure and his men, who eventually get the upper hand. Meanwhile the two ships head towards a waterfall, but instead of being smashed by the rock wall behind it, they disappear behind the 'thrashing curtain of water', and our heroes find themselves... not dead, but in a vast underground cavern behind the water, the pirates 'hidden fortress'. This device of a secret chamber behind a waterfall is borrowed (like other elements of the story) from a Tin Tin adventure, Prisoners of the Sun (interestingly a Tin Tin film was being developed for Amblin at this time, to be scripted by E.T. writer, and wife of Harrison Ford, Melissa Mathieson). Had the film been made, the cavern would have been an amazing Elstree set.

The two bands agree on a temporary truce behind the waterfall, Indy to survive and the pirates because they want to raid the fabled wealth of the Lost City. Indy spots a series of cracks on a wall that look like more than just cracks; they are in fact a map, to the Lost City. Unknown to them one member of the pirate crew is a Nazi agent, who radios their plans back to his bosses. Next day, the pirates and Indy set off in search of the Lost City, but are pursued by natives across a plain, until they reach the jungle again. Ominously, the natives refuse to follow them into the jungle, and we soon see why; it is full of booby traps, man traps, scorpion pits, and lions, which wipe out many of the pirates. Our heroes run into a hostile tribe, who attempt to cook them for dinner, but they back off when Indy's sidekick Scraggy, who speaks their language, tells them they are messengers of Sun Wu-Kung, and if they are interfered with, then their village will be destroyed.

That night, after some horse-play between Indy and the two dames, the village is disturbed by a deep, continuous rumbling, and increasingly severe tremors... a herd of wildebeest is stampeding towards them, crushing everything in their path. The villagers panic, but Indy and crew dig a large hole in the middle of the village's graveyard, described graphically in the script ('Pieces of DECAYED BODIES and SKELETONS protrude from the wall of the hole'). They get in just as the wildebeest arrive, destroying the village, but avoiding the hole. 

By this time the reader and Indy fan is experiencing one of two responses to this script. You either hate it for being ridiculously far-fetched, or you love it for its insane logic, insane length, epic scale, and gloriously over-the-top characters/locations/action sequences. I belong in the latter category, and I hope you do, because the script is about to get EVEN more far-fetched... and then some. Find out just how wild Indy 3 could have been in the shattering conclusion to this special two-part chapter of Raiders of the Lost Drafts!! It'll blow your min!!

Continue to Chapter 4b >>


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