It’s 1935 and Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is in China for a deal with Lao Che (Roy Chiao) who double-crosses him at a night club. Indy manages to escape but not without a tagalong, singer/entertainer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). These two, along with Indy’s sidekick, a 12 year old Chinese boy, Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) make to a cargo plane to escape only to find out as they’re flying over India, the pilots have bailed out and they have to get out before the plane crashes. Luckily, there’s a inflatable life boat (made of EXTREMELY strong plastic with a presumably cushioned bottom) which they use to float through the air as they fall to the snowy mountainside which it serves as a sled until they land into the river when it serves as a boat navigating the rapids. I’m surprised they made it through all of that without a scratch! They make it to a small village in India at which time, the leaders tell Indy of the magical Sankara stone which was stolen and taken to Bangkok palace as well as all the children from the village. The leaders tell Indy he must travel there to rescue the children and bring back the stone. He says yes, of course, he’s Indiana Jones. So off they go! Once all three of them are there, they uncover sinister rituals, the shackled children, and an evil plot to rule the land. Lots of near deaths experiences, a couple of love/hate scenes, and some weird banquet food later, Indiana and his cohorts save the children and the stone and are off for another adventure. Yay!
This film starts with a flashy night club show number with all the glitz and glam and ends with all the humanity of village people being reunited with their lost children. (A message about what’s important?) A lot of unbelievable and over the top moments of “will they escape or survive?” (see the inflatable boat sequence I mentioned earlier) as well as witty banter between Indiana and Willie. They’re only attracted to each other because of the adrenaline of surviving a harrowing experience and, of course, Indy’s incredible sex appeal. I mean, he’s the hero, hello!? This film also explains the folklore surrounding the stones in a clever way, around the dinner table of course where all good and meaningful conversations are had. Except this dinner table has foods like live snakes, beetles, chilled monkey brains, and eye ball soup. No matter how many times I see this scene…blech. My favorite scene is when Indiana and Short Round get caught in the room with the spikes and the ceiling coming down and they have to rely on Willie to pull the lever to reverse the action. The point of view through the hole in the wall and Indy’s face with his expression = PRICELESS. (“We are GOING TO DIE!”) Of course, Willie has to navigate through a SEA of crawling bugs and stick her hand inside a bug and goo filled hole to reach the lever…this scene is the most anxiety inducing scene in the whole movie because of the way the shots are set up with the bugs cut back and forth with shots of the ceiling coming down. It’s so good.
I know there has to be a damsel in distress but Willie Scott is my least favorite in the franchise. Indy says it best during the card game with Short Round at the campfire. Willie is running around screaming about all the animals and Indy says to Short Round something about her being okay except for “all the noise”. It’s true. Willie spends the WHOLE movie talking about herself, complaining, whining, and screaming. She probably had a sore throat by the time filming was over everyday. [Marion from Raiders of the Lost Ark was a gal who could take of herself and still needed to be rescued from time to time which created a strong balance and partner for Indiana. In later Indiana films, they would return to this “type” of stronger female leads with less whiny personalities. I am most grateful for that.]
A super fun adventure! One of our local theaters hosted it on the Netflix Party extension. We hooked up my laptop to our TV with an HDMI cable and group watched this classic. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:
Which is your favorite Indiana Jones story?