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15 Things You Might Not Know About Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

You already know that Harrison Ford improvised his gunshot in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but even if you’re an Indy fan, there are probably a few facts and stories you don’t know about the third installment of director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas’s collaborative adventure series.

1. SPIELBERG MADE LAST CRUSADE TO APOLOGIZE FOR TEMPLE OF DOOM.

After the masterpiece of spirited adventure that was Raiders of the Lost Ark, some critics and audience members felt betrayed by the grim and gruesome sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Director Steven Spielberg was hardly a defender of the movie—in 1989 he admitted, “I wasn't happy with the second film at all. It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out-poltered Poltergeist. There's not an ounce of my own personal feeling in Temple of Doom.

Spielberg’s involvement in a third Indiana Jones film sprang from his desire to apologize to viewers for the series’ disappointing second outing, and to revive the earnest spirit of the original. He rehired supporting stars Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies to double down on the Raiders ambiance.

2. EARLY DRAFTS OF THE SCREENPLAY FEATURED A SCOTTISH GHOST.

Before settling on its father-son mission to retrieve the Holy Grail, Spielberg and Indiana Jones creator George Lucas entertained a number of potential plots. Lucas proposed the idea of Indy facing off against a ghost in Scotland while bound for the discovery of the Fountain of Youth. He dubbed the story Indiana Jones and the Monkey King

3. THERE WERE ALSO MAGICAL PEACHES.

Spielberg brought in screenwriter Chris Columbus, with whom he had previously collaborated on The Goonies. In his first go at the script, Columbus fleshed out Lucas’s Scottish ghost idea (developing the character as the late Baron Seamus Seagrove III) but replaced the Fountain of Youth with the Peaches of Immortality, a construct of Chinese mythology. Also present in Columbus’ first draft were a 200-year-old pygmy, a cannibalistic African tribe, and a college student named Betsy whose love for Dr. Jones tests the limits of sanity. 

4. THERE WAS A DEADLY CHESS GAME, TOO.

Columbus took another crack at the script, this time including a major sequence in which the titular Monkey King challenges Indy to a game of chess, using real people as pieces who suffer quite the sour fate if captured. Additionally, this version sees Indy get hitched to archaeologist Dr. Clare Clarke, a “Katharine Hepburn type.” 

5. INDY ALMOST HAD A NUN AS A LOVE INTEREST.

Spielberg replaced Columbus with The Color Purple screenwriter Menno Meyjes, who introduced elements that would ultimately reach the screen in The Last Crusade, such as the Holy Grail and the character of Henry Jones Sr. Meyjes’s script concluded with Indy’s father rising to heaven upon discovery of the Grail and Indy himself marrying a former nun named Chantal. 

6. SPIELBERG WAS AFRAID THE MOVIE WOULD REMIND PEOPLE OF MONTY PYTHON.


Last Crusade’s eventual screenwriter Jeffrey Boam held onto the Holy Grail element despite Spielberg’s uncertainty about how it might be received. His apprehensions came from the association of the sacred cup with the 1975 comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Of course, I was worried that people would hear ‘Holy Grail,’ and they would immediately think about a white rabbit attacking Monty Python,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly. “My first reaction was to say, ‘Everybody run away! Run away!’” 

7. A RENOWNED PLAYWRIGHT SECRETLY PENNED THE INDY/HENRY MATERIAL. 

Since the relationship between Indy and his estranged father, played by Sean Connery, provided the emotional meat of the story, Spielberg and Lucas hired a ghostwriter to bolster the gravity of the characters’ interactions. Celebrated playwright Tom Stoppard contributed the bulk of the Jones boys’ material but didn’t receive a writing credit. 

8. FORD AND CONNERY TOOK OFF THEIR PANTS WHILE SHOOTING ONE SCENE. 

A little more than halfway through the film, Indy and Henry converse over a private table while hiding out on a German zeppelin. Unbeknownst to viewers, beneath the table neither Harrison Ford nor Sean Connery is wearing pants. Excessive heat on the set prompted Connery to remove his slacks while shooting the scene, and Ford followed suit. 

9. THE MOVIE HELPED TO PIONEER THE RAT INSURANCE GAME.

The rat-filled subterranean sequence early in the film proved to be a complex problem: the presence of the rodents cost the film its first choice of female lead, Amanda Redman, as she was too afraid to perform alongside the critters. Then, the production team had to breed its own grey rats for the scene—thousands of them—in order to have enough rodent firepower that was definitely disease-free. 

Finally, there was the unprecedented matter of taking out an insurance policy on the unpredictable creatures. After some negotiation, the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company did indeed grant Paramount Pictures the very first (and more than likely last) “thousand-rat insurance policy.” The policy would have paid off if the production had lost more than 1,000 of its rodents. 

10. THE SOUND DEPARTMENT USED HOUSEHOLD ITEMS TO MIMIC THE NOISES OF DESTRUCTION. 

To produce the sound of raging fire for the sequence in which Indy and Henry escape from the burning German castle, the sound team digitally modified the sound of friction against a Styrofoam cup. The rubbing of a balloon doubled as the sound of earthquake tremors in the film’s climax. 

11. THE DEATH OF WALTER DONOVAN WAS A BENCHMARK IN DIGITAL EFFECTS. 

The rapid degradation of Julian Glover’s villainous character Walter Donovan following a sip from a particularly unholy grail (“He chose poorly”) is considered the first complete digital composite shot in Hollywood history. Glover was filmed in several separate stages of the sped-up aging process, which were digitally melded together (along with shots of puppet heads for some of the later stages) and translated back to film as one cohesive take. 

12. SPIELBERG BEFRIENDED THE KING AND QUEEN OF JORDAN DURING PRODUCTION. 

Much of Last Crusade was shot in Petra, Jordan, during the reign of King Hussein bin Talal and Queen Noor. The royal family was invited to the set to observe production, and in turn developed a rapport with Spielberg. The king actually loaned Paramount the four horses seen in the final sequence of Last Crusade, and the queen occasionally gave Spielberg a ride to shooting locations. 

13. THE LAST CRUSADE DID WONDERS FOR PETRA’S TOURIST DRAW. 

After the release of the movie, international interest in Petra skyrocketed. Prior to the film, the city saw only a few thousand visitors every year. That number reached into the millions following Last Crusade’s release. 

14. HARRISON FORD ISN’T THE ONLY ACTOR TO APPEAR IN ALL THREE ORIGINAL INDY FILMS. 

The sequel brought back the familiar faces of Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davis, but it also welcomed a less recognizable returning player to the action: Pat Roach, who doubled as a Sherpa and a mechanic in Raiders of the Lost Ark, played a guard in Temple of Doom, and made his final Indy appearance as a Gestapo officer in Last Crusade. Other than Ford, Roach is the only actor to appear in all three movies. He passed away in 2004 before shooting on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had begun. 

15. THE FILM’S OPENING NEARLY BROKE A RECORD.


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade grossed $5.6 million on the Wednesday it opened, the second-largest box office draw ever for a midweek opening before Memorial Day. The only thing that topped it was the 1984 opening of Return of the Jedi, which pulled in $6.2 million. The film went on to gross over $197 million against a production budget of $48 million.

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The Princess Ride: Here's What a Princess Bride Theme Park Attraction Might Look Like
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MGM

Do you fight the urge to say “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya” when introducing yourself? Have you spent the past 30 years mispronouncing the word “marriage”? If so, you may be a diehard fan of The Princess Bride. The cult film (and the book on which it’s based) has inspired board games, merchandise, and countless pop culture references. Now, two theme park designers from Universal have conceived the inconceivable. As Nerdist reports, Jon Plsek and Olivia West have designed the plans for a hypothetical attraction called “The Princess Ride.

Their idea follows the classic river boat ride structure and adds highlights from the movie around each corner. After watching Buttercup and Wesley’s love story unfold, riders are taken past the Cliffs of Insanity, through the Fire Swamp, and into the Pit of Despair. The climax unfolds at Prince Humperdinck’s castle and leads up to the two protagonists riding off into the sunset. The last thing the passengers see is Miracle Max and Valerie waving goodbye saying, “Hope ya had fun stormin’ the castle!”

The ride’s designers make a living turning stories into thrilling attractions. Plsek works as a concept artist for Universal Creative, the group behind Universal’s theme parks, and West works there as a concept writer. While The Princess Ride was just a fun side project for the pair, it isn’t hard to imagine their ride bringing Princess Bride fans to the parks in real life.

For more of Jon Plesk’s concept rides inspired by classics like Dr. Strangelove (1964) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), check out his website.

[h/t Nerdist]

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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter." She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: No team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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