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The Lost Scripts, Part II: Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars

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While it’s not unusual for a film to have unused screenplays hiding in a filing cabinet somewhere, the lost scripts of Indiana Jones are a fascinating look at what might have been for everyone’s favorite whip-wielding, fedora-wearing archaeologist. Today let's discuss Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars.

The Story Behind the Story

After the success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford were ready to do a fourth film. However, executive producer and writer George Lucas felt that he'd explored the character in the movies as much as he could. So everyone moved on to other projects, though Lucas stuck with Indy as executive producer of the television show, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

While filming a two-part episode that featured a cameo by Harrison Ford as a 50-year old Indiana Jones, Lucas got an idea to bring Indy back. This time, he wouldn't be the same daring young archaeologist that he was in the first three movies. Instead, he would be an older man that couldn't go on the same adventures anymore; he might even decide to finally settle down and get married. And if the first three movies were a tribute to the serials of the 1930s and 40s, this one would take place in the 1950s and homage the sci-fi flying saucer B-movies of that era.

To that end, Lucas wrote a basic story outline with some key action set pieces as he had for all the previous Indiana Jones movies, and handed it off to screenwriter Jeb Stuart, writer of Die Hard and co-author of The Fugitive. The result was a 1995 screenplay titled, Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars.

The Plot

BORNEO 1949

After battling river pirates and a rival archaeologist, Indy and his friend Kabul stop at a local fishing port to pick up Dr. Elaine McGregor, a linguist, whom Indy has been hired to escort to a jungle temple. Indy is instantly smitten with the confident brunette, and through various adventures, the two rough-edged academics fall in love.

Back stateside, Indy and Elaine are about to tie the knot, despite barely knowing one another. Indy's former flames, Marion and Willie, his old friend Sallah, and Henry Jones, Sr. are there to witness an event they thought they'd never see. As Indy and his father stand at the altar waiting for Elaine to walk down the aisle, she leaves — still dressed in her gown — and hops in a car with a mysterious man.

A heartbroken Indy searches Elaine's office and finds clues that point to her going to the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico, the military base where the Trinity nuclear bomb tests were held. Indy gets caught snooping around the base and is interrogated by Bob Bolander, the same man that took Elaine away from the wedding.

When Elaine is called to verify Indy’s story, she realizes she could actually use his help. Despite Bolander’s resistance, Indy is allowed to join a top secret project researching debris found at the crash site of a flying saucer. Indy is skeptical, but his interest is piqued when he's shown the charred remains of alien bodies, as well as a strange stone cylinder. The cylinder is covered in a series of rings and complex code written in ancient languages including early Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sanskrit. In addition, the cylinder is a great source of power, able to turn on a radio or illuminate a light bulb by proximity alone.

Thanks to a room-sized computer, Indy and Elaine crack the coded symbols on the cylinder. One section is latitude and longitude coordinates for nearby Mt. Keebo. Indy surmises that perhaps the aliens were trying to take the cylinder to the mountain when they crashed. The rest of the code seems to be descending numbers, like the countdown for a bomb. That can't be good.

Soon after, Elaine and the cylinder are taken and placed aboard a plane full of Russian spies. Indy tries to rescue her, but is about to be tossed out the bomb bay doors when a flying saucer appears and tries to take control of the plane. Its plan is foiled, though, when Air Force jets are scrambled, leading to a high-speed dogfight.

Later, our heroes have a close encounter of the third kind after their truck is lifted off the ground by a beam coming from the bottom of the saucer. When Indy approaches the aliens to return the cylinder, whose rings are now glowing because the countdown has begun, the aliens back away and keep saying, “Mukara. Mukara.” Being a linguist, Elaine realizes that Mukara is Sanskrit for “dangerous.”

Suddenly, explosions rock the area as Army tanks and missiles under the command of Bolander destroy the UFO. Bolander takes the cylinder and he and his convoy head towards Mt. Keebo. Indy and Elaine – as well as a Russian spy and a new flying saucer – give chase.

Just before going up the mountain, the Army attacks the flying saucer with everything they’ve got. But this time, when the shooting stops, the ship is unharmed. It begins to rise above the ridgeline and we see that it’s a gigantic mothership that fills the sky. Bolander hightails it in his Jeep, but the rest of the convoy is frozen in horror. The saucer is able to conjure up a great wind that sweeps through the valley, flipping trucks and tanks like a child’s toys, and burying men in the desert sand.

On Mt. Keebo, just before dawn, three saucers appear in the sky, each emitting a green light focused on the summit. Bolander takes the cylinder into the green lights and holds it above his head as his body surges with power. Suddenly, a bright white light shoots out of the cylinder. Bolander points it at the Russian, who melts before our eyes.

But then, the sun breaks the horizon, and it seems to invigorate the saucers, which glow brighter and brighter. Bolander holds the cylinder above his head again, hoping that its power will have some effect on the spacecraft. Instead, a beam fires out of the bottom of the cylinder, splitting Bolander in two. The cylinder’s white light becomes blinding, the hum of the saucers becomes deafening, and then, in a flash...the saucers and the cylinder are gone.

Back at home, Elaine and Indy finally get married with the same old friends in attendance. When they get in the car, a now grown-up Short Round drives the happy couple off into the sunset.

The Action

Coming from the guy who brought us Die Hard, you would have high expectations for the action sequences in Saucermen. You would be sorely disappointed. Sure, Indy has a fistfight on a rocket engine test sled, but that scene shows up so often in other Indy IV scripts that it’s clearly something Lucas insisted upon. Other than that, the set pieces just aren’t all that exciting. Perhaps most telling is that Indy punches a lot of bad guys, but he only uses his whip once in the very beginning. The whip isn’t even mentioned again for the rest of the script. What's an Indy movie without a few scenes of the bullwhip? Without some script punch-ups, it would have been the least-Indy Indy movie of the series.

Aside from the rocket sled, we see other echoes of Saucermen in future Indy IV scripts. For example, flesh-stripping army ants play an important role in the opening scenes in Borneo. These tiny red menaces are a constant presence in other Indy IV scripts, clear through to the final release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Even the much-maligned “nuke the fridge” scene is here, though it plays out a little differently. Instead of crawling inside the fridge, Indy throws himself into a very shallow crawlspace and pulls the fridge down over the hole “like a lead-lined turtle shell.” Whether or not he’d survive a nuclear blast even in this scenario is still up for debate, though.

The Aftermath

Oxymoronic, boring action sequences aside, perhaps the worst offense of the script is that the cylinder is a poorly-defined plot device. We know it's a power source, but we're never quite sure how it works, what will happen if the countdown reaches zero, why the cylinder needed to go to Mt. Keebo, why the aliens were carrying it in the first place, or, if the aliens don't want it when Indy tries to give it back, why they follow it all over the New Mexico desert throughout the rest of the story. Ultimately, it’s not very exciting because we don’t really know what’s at stake.

Regardless of its shortcomings, Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars was what Lucas wanted to see. It wasn't, however, what Spielberg wanted to direct. Spielberg had already done his fair share of alien movies with 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1982's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial; it simply wasn't a genre he was interested in revisiting at the time. Ford wasn't a fan, either. He felt that the paranormal element was too blatant. Although the Indy films had always had a hint of the supernatural, it had always been in the background, which made it easier for fans to accept.

Lucas continued working on the idea with screenwriter Jeffrey Boam, who had written Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In December 1995, Boam came up with a script that finally convinced Spielberg and Ford that the alien idea could work...and then Independence Day came out that summer. To avoid looking like a copycat of a wildly successful film, Spielberg killed Indy vs. Aliens almost immediately. But Lucas held his ground and refused to do an Indy IV unless it involved little green men. At an impasse, everyone went their separate ways and it appeared that the franchise would conclude with The Last Crusade.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode, Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods

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11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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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.

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Fumbled: The Story of the United States Football League
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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.

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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.

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