CLOSE
Original image

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

Original image

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…

Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
Lists
11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author, who was born on this day in 1896. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

Original image
davi_deste via eBay
arrow
Pop Culture
Fumbled: The Story of the United States Football League
Original image
davi_deste via eBay

There were supposed to be 44 players marching to the field when the visiting Los Angeles Express played their final regular season game against the Orlando Renegades in June 1985.

Thirty-six of them showed up. The team couldn’t afford more.

“We didn’t even have money for tape,” Express quarterback Steve Young said in 1986. “Or ice.” The squad was so poor that Young played fullback during the game. They only had one, and he was injured.

Other teams had ridden school buses to practice, driven three hours for “home games,” or shared dressing room space with the local rodeo. In August 1986, the cash-strapped United States Football League called off the coming season. The league itself would soon vaporize entirely after gambling its future on an antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League. The USFL argued the NFL was monopolizing television time; the NFL countered that the USFL—once seen as a promising upstart—was being victimized by its own reckless expansion and the wild spending of team owners like Donald Trump.

They were both right.

Getty Images

Spring football. That was David Dixon’s pitch. The New Orleans businessman and football advocate—he helped get the Saints in his state—was a fan of college ball and noticed that spring scrimmages at Tulane University led to a little more excitement in the air. With a fiscally responsible salary cap in place and a 12-team roster, he figured his idea could be profitable. Market research agreed: a hired broadcast research firm asserted 76 percent of fans would watch what Dixon had planned.

He had no intention of grappling with the NFL for viewers. That league’s season aired from September through January, leaving a football drought March through July. And in 1982, a players’ strike led to a shortened NFL season, making the idea of an alternative even more appealing to networks. Along with investors for each team region, Dixon got ABC and the recently-formed ESPN signed to broadcast deals worth a combined $35 million over two years.

When the Chicago Blitz faced the Washington Federals on the USFL’s opening day March 6, 1983, over 39,000 fans braved rain at RFK Stadium in Washington to see it. The Federals lost 28-7, foreshadowing their overall performance as one of the league’s worst. Owner Berl Bernhard would later complain the team played like “untrained gerbils.”

Anything more coordinated might have been too expensive. The USFL had instituted a strict $1.8 million salary cap that first year to avoid franchise overspending, but there were allowances made so each team could grab one or two standout rookies. In 1983, the big acquisition was Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, who opted out of his senior year at Georgia to turn pro. Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in a three-year, $5 million deal.

Jim Kelly and Steve Young followed. Stan White left the Detroit Lions. Marcus Dupree left college. The rosters were built up from scratch using NFL cast-offs or prospects from nearby colleges, where teams had rights to “territorial” drafts.

To draw a line in the sand, the USFL had advertising play up the differences between the NFL’s product and their own. Their slogan, “When Football Was Fun,” was a swipe at the NFL’s increasingly draconian rules regarding players having any personality. They also advised teams to run a series of marketable halftime attractions. The Denver Gold once offered a money-back guarantee for attendees who weren’t satisfied. During one Houston Gamblers game, boxer George Foreman officiated a wedding. Cars were given away at Tampa Bay Bandits games. The NFL, the upstart argued, stood for the No Fun League.

For a while, it appeared to be working. The Panthers, which had invaded the city occupied by the Detroit Lions, averaged 60,000 fans per game, higher than their NFL counterparts. ABC was pleased with steady ratings. The league was still conservative in their spending.

That would change—many would argue for the worse—with the arrival of Donald Trump.

Despite Walker’s abilities on the field, his New Jersey Generals ended the inaugural 1983 season at 6-12, one of the worst records in the league. The excitement having worn off, owner J. Walter Duncan decided to sell the team to real estate investor Trump for a reported $5-9 million.

A fixture of New York media who was putting the finishing touches on Trump Tower, Trump introduced two extremes to the USFL. His presence gave the league far more press attention than it had ever received, but his bombastic approach to business guaranteed he wouldn’t be satisfied with an informal salary cap. Trump spent and spent some more, recruiting players to improve the Generals. Another Heisman winner, quarterback Doug Flutie, was signed to a five-year, $7 million contract, the largest in pro football at the time. Trump even pursued Lawrence Taylor, then a player for the New York Giants, who signed a contract saying that, after his Giants contract expired, he’d join Trump’s team. The Giants wound up buying out the Taylor/Trump contract for $750,000 and quadrupled Taylor’s salary, and Trump wound up with pages of publicity.

Trump’s approach was effective: the Generals improved to 14-4 in their sophomore season. But it also had a domino effect. In order to compete with the elevated bar of talent, other team owners began spending more, too. In a race to defray costs, the USFL approved six expansion teams that paid a buy-in of $6 million each to the league.

It did little to patch the seams. Teams were so cash-strapped that simple amenities became luxuries. The Michigan Panthers dined on burnt spaghetti and took yellow school buses to training camp; players would race to cash checks knowing the last in line stood a chance of having one bounce. When losses became too great, teams began to merge with one another: The Washington Federals became the Orlando Renegades. By the 1985 season, the USFL was down to 14 teams. And because the ABC contract required the league to have teams in certain top TV markets, ABC started withholding checks.

Trump was unmoved. Since taking over the Generals, he had been petitioning behind the scenes for the other owners to pursue a shift to a fall season, where they would compete with the NFL head on. A few owners countered that fans had already voiced their preference for a spring schedule. Some thought it would be tantamount to league suicide.

Trump continued to push. By the end of the 1984 season, he had swayed opinion enough for the USFL to plan on one final spring block in 1985 before making the move to fall in 1986.

In order to make that transition, they would have to win a massive lawsuit against the NFL.

In the mid-1980s, three major networks meant that three major broadcast contracts would be up for grabs—and the NFL owned all three. To Trump and the USFL, this constituted a monopoly. They filed suit in October 1984. By the time it went to trial in May 1986, the league had shrunk from 18 teams to 14, hadn’t hosted a game since July 1985, kept only threadbare rosters, and was losing what existing television deals it had by migrating to smaller markets (a major part of the NFL’s case was that the real reason for the lawsuit, and the moves to smaller markets, was to make the league an attractive takeover prospect for the NFL). The ruling—which could have forced the NFL to drop one of the three network deals—would effectively become the deciding factor of whether the USFL would continue operations.

They came close. A New York jury deliberated for 31 hours over five days. After the verdict, jurors told press that half believed the NFL was guilty of being a monopoly and were prepared to offer the USFL up to $300 million in damages; the other half thought the USFL had been crippled by its own irresponsible expansion efforts. Neither side would budge.

To avoid a hung jury, it was decided they would find in favor of the USFL but only award damages in the amount of $1. One juror told the Los Angeles Times that she thought it would be an indication for the judge to calculate proper damages.

He didn’t. The USFL was awarded treble damages for $3 in total, an amount that grew slightly with interest after time for appeal. The NFL sent them a payment of $3.76. (Less famously, the NFL was also ordered to pay $5.5 million in legal fees.)

Rudy Shiffer, vice-president of the Memphis Showboats, summed up the USFL's fate shortly after the ruling was handed down. “We’re dead,” he said.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios