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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Commentary: Top Ten Indiana Jones Moments

Not sure what gave me the urge to do this. I haven't even seen any of these movies in a while. But inspiration never really has a schedule anyway, right?

The Indiana Jones franchise has so many exciting moments that I love to revisit again and again. This entry compiles what I believe to be the absolute best moments over the course of all four films. I hope you enjoy this slice of nostalgia. (Be aware that this post contains spoilers.)

Did your favorite make the list? If not, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what it is.

# 10: "Don't Call Me Junior!" (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

Upon locating his captive father Henry Jones Sr. in Castle Brunwald, Indy is ambushed by a group of Nazi soldiers. They demand him to surrender his father's diary that contains vital information on the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. Henry had originally hid the item back at home and is dismayed to learn that his son had brought it back within German territory. The two of them have a loud overdramatic argument. Indy uses the diversion to his advantage. When Henry addresses his son as "Junior", Indy suddenly snatches away one of the soldier's guns. He shoots and kills all the surprised enemies in the room before reminding his father that he hates the name "Junior."

# 9: Saved By The Fridge (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)

After escaping execution at a Nevada military base, Indy unknowingly stumbles onto a nuclear testing ground with a life-size model of a typical suburban community. His worst nightmares are realized when the sirens wail. A bomb is about to destroy everything in the area! Panicked, Indy looks around for something...anything...that will save him from the blast. At the last possible moment, he shoves himself inside a refrigerator. The last-ditch effort works. The bomb destroys the house but the fridge remains intact and is knocked far enough away from the detonation site for Indy to live another day.

This is probably the most controversial scene in the series for reasons I don't quite understand. Is it ridiculous? Of course. But is it any more far-fetched than moments 2, 4 or 8? Bashing something for implausibility is fine as long as it's consistent. This scene was gutsy to be sure but it did not contradict its own rules. I love movies that are not afraid to embrace their own wild universe.

# 8: The Curse (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)

In an interesting twist, Indy is captured by a savage cult and is subjected to a voodoo curse that corrupts his mind. He joins forces with his captors and nearly assists in the execution of one of his allies.

# 7: Indy Almost Passes the Torch (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)

In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull's final scene, we are treated to a little tease. Indy and Marion finally tie the knot. Right when the ceremony ends, a gust of wind blows Indy's trademark Fedora inside the church and lands at the feet of Indy's son Mutt. He picks up the hat and examines it with wonder. Just before he tries it on for himself, Indy steps over and snatches the hat away. The scene is possible foreshadowing of a Mutt Williams adventure series. But it also reminds the audience that there will never be another icon quite like Indiana Jones.

# 6: "He's your son." (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)

Indy and his friends are on the run from Irina Spalko's Soviet team. He and Marion fall into quicksand. Mutt searches for something to help them out of the situation.  Indy uses the waiting time to congratulate Marion on raising a good child and also advises her not to fret too much over Mutt dropping out of school. Marion then reveals that Indy is the other parent. His reaction is priceless. A moment of awkward silence followed by a complete contradiction of his own advice. "WHY DIDN'T YOU MAKE HIM FINISH SCHOOL!?"

# 5: The Leap of Faith (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

The third and final trial of the Holy Grail quest leads Indy into a rather unusual predicament. His prize is waiting for him at the other side of a large chasm. There is no bridge and it's impossible to jump far enough to reach it, at least not by traditional human physics. His father's grail diary implies the requirement to suspend all logic and make a leap of faith. Against all reason, he goes forth with it and makes an astounding discovery. The bottomless pit is an illusion. The bridge was cleverly disguised to be invisible to the naked eye. A thrilling moment to say the least.

# 4: The Heart Rip (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)

Arguably the scariest moment in the series. Thugee cult leader Mola Ram conducts a ceremonial ritual for all victims that are sacrificed to his gods. He chants ominous words and then thrusts his hand inside the victim's chest to pull out their still-beating heart. The prisoner does not yet die until seconds later when he is lowered and disintegrated into a molten lava pit while his heart catches fire at the same time.



(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

# 3: Indy Encounters Adolf Hitler. (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

Vanquishing evil is part of daily life for Indiana Jones. In this scene, he comes face-to-face with evil personified. Under the request of his father, Indy makes a stop in Berlin Germany to reacquire the Grail diary that had been stolen from him. This event takes place at a book burning overseen by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. Indy literally bumps into the man himself while trying to make his way out of the building. Hitler notices the Grail diary in Indy's hand but mistakes it for an autograph book. He signs his John Hancock, returns the diary to him and resumes his business. The audience breathes a sigh of relief.

# 2: The Ark is Unleashed (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

The most epic game of hot potato reaches its conclusion when the Nazis open the Ark of the Covenant to examine its contents. What they find remains unclear. Some theorize that it's God's stored-up anger. Others say it's the spirit of the devil. Whatever it is, it wipes out everyone in sight (except for Indy and Marion) and brings us one of the most gruesome death scenes in movie history.

# 1: Indy Shoots the Swordsman (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

On a day scheduled for shooting a complex fight scene, Harrison Ford fell ill due to the harsh weather conditions. To avoid a filming delay, director Steven Spielberg improvised. He asked Ford to show up on set just long enough to shoot a ten second scene where Indy opts to gun down a swordsman instead of engaging in hand-to-hand combat. The rest is history.


  1. Thanks for the nudge Ian.
    I actually watched most of all four of these films on tv over a Bank Holiday weekend last month and I was surprised how much I remembered and enjoyed them.
    My favourite moment of the franchise would have to be the boulder being released when Indy picks up the idol in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

  2. .....uhmmm: "YOU CALL HIM DR. JONES, LADY!"

    There's my two cents.