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.
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
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...
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
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 idol...an
actual monkey...a human being...is
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.
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
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!!
to Chapter 4b >>