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The Lost Scripts, Part I: Indiana Jones and the Monkey King

In 1977, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg agreed to make a film called Raiders of the Lost Ark, a tribute to the Saturday matinee adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s. Over the next 20 years, they would release three more films in what would become the beloved Indiana Jones franchise. Although it's not unusual for a film to have unused screenplays hiding in a filing cabinet somewhere, the lost scripts of Indiana Jones are an especially fascinating look at what might have been for everyone's favorite whip-wielding, fedora-wearing archaeologist.

The Story Behind the Story

When George Lucas first approached Steven Spielberg about making Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lucas said he had enough ideas to fill three movies. However, after Raiders brought in $384 million at the box office, making it the fourth highest-grossing film ever at the time, it was apparent that Lucas didn't have story ideas lined up for one, let alone two sequels. Lucas and screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz borrowed ideas that had been cut from or never implemented for Raiders, and wrote Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, released in 1984. Once again, Indy fans came out in droves to a $333 million box office take, which meant they were hungry for more of the whip-wielding archaeologist.

Since very early on, Lucas had wanted to use the legendary Holy Grail as an Indy movie “MacGuffin," a term used to describe an object that propels the plot forward, like the Maltese Falcon or the Lost Ark. To make it more mystical, Lucas imbued the Grail with the gift of eternal life, an aspect that Spielberg never liked, because he felt it took Indy into overly-supernatural territory. So instead, Lucas hired Chris Columbus to approach the same idea in a roundabout way, resulting in the 1985 script, Indiana Jones and the Monkey King.

The Plot

SCOTLAND 1937

While on a fishing vacation in Scotland, Indy gets roped into a murder investigation that leads to an allegedly haunted mansion. Inside, Indy faces off against empty animated suits of armor and matches wits with a long-dead nobleman who's responsible for the murders on the moor.

The story really kicks off when Indy gets back to Marshall University and is contacted by his old friend Marcus Brody. Brody tells him about zoologist Dr. Clare Clarke, who has come in contact with Tyki, an African pygmy, who claims to know the location of the lost city of Sun Wu-Kung, the Monkey King. As proof, Tyki says he is 200 years old thanks to an enchanted peach pit that he wears around his neck, apparently from the Monkey King's orchard, where the fruit can grant eternal life with a single bite.

Indy boards a ship to Mozambique along with a stowaway he's unaware of until he reaches port – his young teaching assistant, Betsy Tuffet, who has a schoolgirl crush on her professor. Indy and Betsy join Dr. Clarke, a no-BS kinda gal, Scraggy Brier, a superstitious native, and Tyki, the good-natured pygmy.

Unfortunately, before the expedition can begin, Tyki is kidnapped by Sgt. Helmut Gutterburg, a Nazi stooge with a machine gun arm, who is under the command of Lt. Werner Von Mephisto, a hulking Aryan monstrosity. The Nazis escape with Tyki inside their three-story tall, 100-foot long tank. Of course Indy rescues Tyki and the good guys make their way to the lost city with the Nazis on their tail.

They are stopped at the gates by a troop of guardian gorillas that have been trained to defend the city from intruders. Just as a gorilla is about to throw Indy off the mountain, Tyki shouts a command and the gorilla snaps to attention. We soon discover that Tyki isn't just any resident of the city – he is the future king.

Soon Indy, the natives, and the gorillas are battling it out with Mephisto and his men. In a surprising twist, Indy is shot and killed by Mephisto, but his body is carried into the enchanted peach orchard. There, Sun Wu-Kung, the half-man, half-monkey god, is reconstituted from ancient skeletal remains. The monkey-man heals Indy and then gives him a shape-shifting staff as a gift for his valiant defense of the Monkey King's chosen people.

The Action

Temple of Doom was frequently criticized for its dark tone and level of violence for a PG-rated film. In fact, as a response to Temple, the MPAA created the PG-13 rating, which was first applied to Red Dawn just a few months later. Perhaps as a way to avoid controversy again, Chris Columbus, who had written the screenplays for action movies aimed at kids, like Gremlins and The Goonies, was brought on to remove some of the edge from the Indiana Jones franchise. But Monkey King is more comedy than serious action-adventure, especially in the action sequences.

For example, as the massive, three-story tank rumbles across the African plain, it sends herds of animals – as well as Indy and his friends - on the run. In the chaos, Indy happens upon a rhinoceros that starts chasing him, but he decides to use the raging animal to his advantage. With the rhino closing in fast, Indy starts to run in smaller and smaller circles until he's nearly alongside the giant beast. He then grabs the animal's horn and swings on top of the rhino's back, riding it as it turns and charges the enormous tank. When the tank's big gun fires, it scares the animal, making it stop abruptly only a few feet away from the treads. Indy is thrown forward onto the tank and the rhino runs off unharmed.

Later, when a Nazi tank rolls into the lost city, Clare and Betsy stand on opposite sides of a ravine with two groups of the specially trained gorillas. The two women “talk” to the apes through a series of grunts and moans, telling them to swing down on vines and attack the tank. After the apes rip the hatch off, they jump inside, and knock the crew unconscious. The next time we see them, they’re driving the tank while wearing the tank crews’ Nazi uniforms. Not only do they drive the tank, they head straight at another German tank and take it out with a single shot. They celebrate by jumping up and down and hooting and grunting.

As with virtually all of the Indiana Jones scripts, some action set pieces were borrowed from cut scenes or abandoned ideas that were originally intended for the other movies. For example, the first scene in Scotland was originally written as the opening to Temple of Doom, but Spielberg had just come off production of Poltergeist, and didn't want to do a haunted house scene again so soon. In addition, Gutterburg's machine gun arm was borrowed from early drafts of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The original Raiders character was something of a pre-computer age cyborg, who not only had a machine gun arm, but also a mechanical eye, and a radio transmitter permanently attached to his ear. Monkey King also presented some ideas that were later adopted into The Last Crusade, such as a speedboat chase that includes a boat being crushed between two ocean liners, and a scene where a character must be rescued from inside a tank.

The Aftermath

If fans were unhappy with Temple of Doom's female lead, it’s doubtful they would have been satisfied with Betsy in The Monkey King, either. This annoying, wanna-be tough girl from Brooklyn is constantly trying to woo Indy, which is bad enough, but she’s also used as a prop for comic relief throughout the script.

Early on, after Indy says he’s traveling without her, she tries to commit suicide in “funny” ways, like hanging herself with Indy's whip, dousing her body with bourbon and lighting a match that Indy promptly blows out, and by trying to drop a 150-lb urn off the top of a bookshelf onto her head. Later, everyone chuckles as a chimpanzee named Bonzo straddles Betsy and holds her down while he kisses her face. On a related note, one scene has her getting passed around from person to person, as no one wants to deal with her after she gets drunk. In the end, she gets tossed into a fisherman’s net and accidentally locks lips with what she thinks is Indy, but is actually a dead fish. In later versions of the script, her character was cut out entirely.

These comedic bits and Betsy’s attempts to flirt with Indy are just some of the many superfluous scenes in Monkey King. This synopsis doesn’t even mention the river pirates, who tag along for much of the second half of the story, yet are inconsequential to the plot. In addition, there’s another character, an American ex-patriot named Dashiell — clearly inspired by Humphrey Bogart’s Rick in Casablanca — whose sole purpose seems to be as a deus ex machina that saves Indy during the speedboat chase. Many scenes and characters add nothing of value to the story and would have only served to make fans’ eyes roll.

In the end, Spielberg simply didn't like the supernatural elements in Monkey King. He felt they made the screenplay too far-fetched to be consistent with the other films in the franchise. So Lucas tried once again to make the Holy Grail a viable MacGuffin, this time with screenwriter Menno Meyjes, who had written The Color Purple and parts of Empire of the Sun for Spielberg. The Grail was reworked as less a MacGuffin and more of a metaphor; by finding the Grail, Indy also found something that had been missing in his life – a relationship with his father.

Although the Meyjes version was closer, the script went through another writer, Jeffrey Boam, whose previous credits included Innerspace and The Lost Boys. After two versions, Boam's script became the third, and presumably last film in the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. As for Indiana Jones and the Monkey King, it was thankfully lost like the City of Sun Wu-Kung.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode, Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars…

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

Row of hanging kitchen knives and utensils.
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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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