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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

During the travel to Nepal, "Thailand" is written on the map. The country has had this name only since 1939. This film takes place in 1936, when Thailand was called Siam.
The Afrika Korps didn't exist until 1941.
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There is a globe on the desk in the classroom. The globe depicts various countries of Africa that didn't exist in 1936.
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The Erma/Volmer machine pistol - the submachine gun used in several places in the film - is the MP-40 (Machine Pistol, model of 1940); the handguns used by the Germans are the P-38 (Pistol, model of 1938), neither of which was in use in 1936.
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When Indy's ship is boarded by the crew of the German U-boat, the U-boat's conning tower reads "26". U-26 was a type IA submarine, commissioned in 1936. The hull is incorrect for that submarine and that class. The hull is actually the Type VIIC model of U-96 from Das Boot; however the Type VIIC came into service in 1940 during the Second World War.
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Indy is traveling to Asia on board a Short Solent 3 flying boat, introduced in the mid 1940's. This aircraft was once owned by 'Howard Hughes' and is now in the Oakland Aviation Museum (CA)
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Map of Indy's plane route includes Jordan, which before 1949 was known as Transjordan.
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Captain Katanga's hat bears the insignia of the navy of the Yugoslav People's Army, which existed from 1945 until 1991. The emblem with red star is quite visible.
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The uniforms worn by the German soldiers are the tropical models, intended for use by the Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK), and not introduced until 1940. In 1936, they would have worn either the standard wool uniforms, or, more likely given the hot weather, model 33 cotton work uniforms.
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Although filmmakers supposedly removed all antennae from the buildings in the Cairo scenes, one is visible (although out of focus) over Indy's left shoulder as he has his first conversation with Sallah. They appear in the alleyways in Cairo as well.
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When Indy and Marion travel from Nepal to Egypt, super-imposed over the map showing their route, is a Douglas DC-3. The DC-3 first flew on 17 December, 1935. The first aircraft of this type were delivered to American Airline during 1936. KLM Royal Dutch Airline also received their first DC-3 in that year, and from August 1937 used it on their Amsterdam-Batavia (now Jakarta)-Sydney route, replacing earlier Fokker aircraft. The majority of all the 300 to 400 DC-3 airframes built before World War II were in fact flying for American, Eastern, United, and TWA airlines within the U.S., and it would have been very unlikely to find one flying between Nepal and Egypt in late 1936.
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The heavyset Army Intelligence agent that visits Indy at the university is wearing a late-'70s/early-'80s double-knit polyester suit which in no way resembles anything worn by men in the 1930s.
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When Indy ambushes Nazis in the mountain pass on the island, he is uses what it is a modified Chinese Type 56 copy of the RPG-2 - Soviet-made shoulder-fired rocket launcher. Anti-tank rocket launchers weren't even being developed at the story's time line of 1936.
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During the flight from Nepal, "Jordan" is written on the map. In 1936, the country was known as Transjordan; it did not become Jordan until 1949. Also, the shape is wrong. Transjordan in fact did not extend all the way south to the Red Sea coast but only to the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, as does modern-day Jordan.
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Indy's secondary pistol, a Browning Hi-Power, is a model made by Inglis of Canada. While the Hi-Power was designed in 1925 and began production in 1935, Inglis did not begin production of the Hi-Power until 1944.
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The Panzerfaust, with which Jones threatens to blow up the ark, was developed during WW2, and did not exist in 1936.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

In the car chase scene, when Indiana pushes a car off the road into the trees, the driver curses in German. However, his mouth forms the English form of the word.
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When Indiana hoists himself up the front of the truck, his leather whip makes a clanking noise like it is made of metal.
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After Indy and Sallah have discovered the Ark within the Well of the Souls, they pack it in a crate and it is hauled out by the workers. As it is being lifted up, Indy says, "Alright, take it up. Easy!" yet his lips don't move, and, anyway, he looks down, away from the crate and therefore can't critique the job of the workers.
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When the German officer tells Gobler that he wants "plenty of protection" for the Ark, we hear Gobler answer "Jawohl, Herr Oberst!" but his lips don't move.
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Character error 

Marcus Brody says, "The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions." There is no such claim in the Bible.
The trained German soldiers hold the MP40s incorrectly, holding the magazine instead of the forward stock. Surprisingly, the untrained street thug holds the weapon correctly.
If the idol is made of pure gold, and the bag (which is to be a substitute) contains sand, it is way too light. Gold is about 10 times heavier than sand, thus the bag had to have 10 times more volume than the idol. Thus, Indy's trick doesn't work and the boulder falls down.
While discussing the history of the Ark, Indy refers to Mount Horeb as "Herob."
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Before the airplane fight, Gobler addresses Dietrich in German as "Herr Major", indicating Dietrich's rank equivalent to Major. After the airplane fight, his voice has changed (see above unsynchronized goof), and he changes Dietrich's rank to "Oberst" (equivalent to Colonel).
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Continuity 

The staff is supposed to be 60 inches tall (6 kadams = 72 inches, minus 1 kadam). The pole that Indy inserts into the hole in the map room towers over his head, indicating (incorrectly) that Indy is less than five feet tall. The laserdisc edition disproves any claim that he's standing on a lower step.
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When Toht grabs the red-hot medallion, his fingers are burned. Later in the movie, the burns on are all squarely in the center of his palm, and upside down compared to the position in which he palmed the medallion.
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Blood on the truck windshield when Indy is shot in the shoulder.
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When the Flying Wing begins to turn in a circle, Marion shoots the Germans arriving by truck. Then the Flying Wing clips off the top of one of the gas truck's tanks spilling gasoline toward the aforementioned, eliminated Germans. We then cut to Indy struggling with the muscle-bound German, and then to Marion shooting at some other gas tanks causing them to explode. In the wide shot that immediately follows, the gas truck's tank has not yet been clipped by the Flying Wing.
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After Marion talks to Indy at the bar, she is seen drinking and looking at medallion. The chain goes from around her neck in one shot to dangling onto the table in the next shot without her removing it.
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In the Chachapoyan temple, as Indy is breaking through the wall of spider webs, tarantulas can be seen on his back. As he and Satipo move through the boulder chute, his back is clear. In the next shot, when Satipo finally notices the tarantulas, the men appear to be just inside the web wall again.
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During the gunfight in Marion's bar, when Indiana ducks behind a corner, it appears that the type of pistol he is shooting changes with every cut. This is because one shot of Indy shooting the semi-auto appears out of sequence. After his revolver is out of ammo and he reaches for his holster, the semi-auto reappears and Indy keeps it for the rest of the scene. Evidently the semi-auto is his backup weapon; it appears later on the Bantu Wind.
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Luggage rack detaches itself from the truck when Indy collides with the water trough, but it's fixed in subsequent shots.
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During the truck chase scene: After the German soldier shoots Indiana in the arm, he punches him several times, Indy's blood appears and then disappears from the German soldier's knuckles.
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When Indy first enters the Wells of Souls, the position of the rope Sallah is holding is at the lower part of hole but as he descends into the Well, it is positioned from the top.
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When the slab is removed from the roof of the Well of Souls, we can see that it fits into a network of supports. When the ceiling is shown from below we should see a cross pattern of supports as well as the slabs, however we only see the slabs. There is no interior support for the slabs.
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When Indy is climbing on the pontoon of the sea plane, his clothes appear completely dry, though he was just in the water and in the scene before the clothes appeared completely wet.
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In the scene on Mr. Katanga's ship, Indy points to his forehead, identifying it to Marion as a part of his body without pain and therefore kissable. Marion reaches for his hat with her left hand. After the cut, she is removing his hat with her right hand.
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When Indy is at home, preparing to leave to search for the Ark, he unrolls a handgun from a cloth. The handgun is poised to fall into one hand but the next second it's in the other.
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Marion's confrontation with the "bad guy" brandishing a knife in the market place. The knife stays in the same hand but curves up and down in alternating shots.
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During the "Desert Chase" when the chase moves out into the open desert, a shot of the front of the vehicles shows the reflection of trees in the windshield.
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When Indy speaks to the government men in the lecture hall, he places his large book on the table. One of the two straps holding it closed is undone. When he takes the book to show them a picture of the Ark, both straps are again closed.
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In the "basket" scene, Indy shoots someone coming towards him holding on to the outside of a truck. However, blood is visible on his white clothes (possibly from a previous take) before he is shot.
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When Indy is at home packing his suitcase, he is wearing a robe with a dark red collar and cuffs with some sort of stitched pattern. In the shot from above his shoulder where he pulls the gun out of the cloth, the collar and cuffs of the robe are quite different. They are a brighter red and they seem to be smooth with no stitched pattern. In the following shot where he throws the gun, he is back in the original robe.
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Indy drives the truck into Omar's, driving through a traffic circle clear of debris. The German car wheels in; the vendors crowd in to distract the Nazis; and a watermelon is grabbed, thrown, and smashed into the ground on the passenger side of the car. When the car pulls away, however, the remnants of the watermelon are on the ground on the driver's side of the car.
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During the classroom scene, the globe on the desk is centered on the Europe and Africa regions of the Earth regardless from which angle it is viewed from.
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When Indy attempts to commandeer the Ark at the mountain pass on the Island, before and after, the scenes switch between midday sun and overcast between shots.
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When Indiana is in the map room he takes out his journal when looking at the symbols on the ground. When he takes the journal out there is a pencil in the binding, but when he closes it, the pencil is gone.
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(at around 25 mins) When Indy speaks to the government men in the lecture hall, the chalkboard behind them tilts back, then forward, then back.
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During the "basket chase", Marion climbs into a basket and pulls the lid partially closed. However, the next cut shows the lid fully closed.
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In the classroom scene, Indy writes the word "NEOLITHIC" on the chalkboard. Later in that scene, it is apparent that the word has been rewritten (most likely due to multiple takes). The letter "H" has more curve, and the extraneous mark above it has been removed. The line under the word, once straight, now curves, and no longer intersects the bottom of some letters as before.
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After the Nazi U-Boat arrives in the Submarine pen, we see a Nazi flag hanging from overhead sliding rafters and the Swastika on that flag is at the dead center, yet in the very next shot of the sliding rafters from another angle, we see the flag hanging from the same rafters, but yet the Swastika on the flag is off center, slightly to the right.
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(at around 58 mins) At the beginning of the market/fight scene in Cairo, Indiana is clean-shaven. Toward the end of the scene, he has about two days' worth of stubble.
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Although Alfred Molina's character is listed in the credits and in the published screenplay as Satipo, when Indy finds his dead body in the temple passage, he says, "Adios, Sapito."
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During the classroom scene, the "MICHAELSON CHAPTER 4 and 5" written on the blackboard changes to "MICHAELSON CHAPTE 4 & 5" from shot to shot.
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Position of medallion's chain when Marion pulls it out of her blouse.
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When Indy is fighting the giant Sherpa by the airplane and gets a punch to the face, the impact of the punch makes him spin in the wrong direction.
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Indy and Marion board the ship bound for England during the night, but right after we shift to a shot of them in their quarters, daylight is coming in through the shutters.
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During the encounter with the massive, sword-wielding Arab in the market, Indy's shirt is untucked/tucked between shots and his holster disappears/reappears.
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During the basket sequence, the sweat marks on Indy's back shrink and grow from shot to shot.
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After trapping Indy in the Well of Souls, Belloq's hat jumps from his hand to the ground.
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The water on the driver's-side window during the truck chase scene comes and goes between shots.
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During the scene where Indy shoots the large swordsman, he arrives with his right shoulder facing the swordsman, but immediately in the next shot, his left side is facing the swordsman.
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The students in Indy's lecture hall change positions in various shots. The student with the apple, seen coming down the far aisle when the lecture ends, is clearly sitting in the middle of the front row earlier in the scene. The girl who has written on her eyelids is in the middle of the room when Indy first sees her but in the row by the windows later.
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Indiana's bag during the fight scene with the bald German at the flying wing. When he gets hit for the first time the bag is in front of him. When he falls on his back side, Indiana's bag is at his side. When he gets back up the bag has returned to his front.
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When Sallah and Indy are having the headpiece translated, the telescope on the balcony switches from pointing right to left between shots.
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In the classroom, the male student who gives Indy the apple is clearly seated in the front row. As class is dismissed, he is in the third row, by the windows, wearing a suit jacket. And when he gives the apple to Indy, the jacket is now draped over his arm.
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During the market scene in Cairo, Marion has her back to the camera when she hides in the basket. A few seconds later, when she's trying to shake the monkey off the lid of the basket, she is facing the camera.
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When Indy is pointing a bazooka at the ark, Belloq grabs a machine gun from one of the German soldiers, with his left hand on the trigger. In the next shot, it is his right hand on the trigger, before immediately switching back to the trigger being in his left hand again.
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When Indy and Marion exit the Well of Souls, an unidentified man is clearly seen lying against the rock face but is missing a few moments later during a medium shot that shows the same exit - the wheels of the "Flying Wing" are in the foreground. (A deleted fight scene shows Indy knocking out the man after escaping from the Well of Souls.)
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Indy chases the men carrying the basket through some narrow streets, and ends up at a truck near a T junction. The different camera angles from the ensuing gunfight make it clear that the truck cannot go straight, since there is a row of buildings directly in its path. However, after Indy shoots the driver, the buildings 'suddenly disappear', and the truck explodes in a wide open square that wasn't there before.
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The pole that Indy maneuvers into position to insert into the Ark's carrying-ring is much shorter than the one he later uses to actually lift out the Ark.
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When Indy and Marion are on Catanga's ship, she removes his hat. He swims to the German U-Boat without it, and proceeds to the Nazi island base without it. He never returns to Catanga's ship to retrieve it.
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Amount of hair in Marion's gag in the tent.
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The Flying Wing explodes in the gas fire. A few frames later, it is seen in the background unharmed.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When Indy is holding onto the front of the truck with the wheel between his legs after being thrown out of the window, a shot of his back reveals the small wooden seat he is sitting on.
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During the truck chase, you can see a camera on the windshield inside of the convertible.
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When Indy and the monkey are getting drunk after the truck carrying Marion has been blown up, a young man in a T-shirt and jeans walks past in the background on the left side of the screen (all the other people are wearing robes).
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During the shot in the plane cockpit where Marion shouts "Indy!", you can see on the right side of the window, the reflections of various crew members and their vehicles of which would not be in the year 1936.
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Errors in geography 

Several of the snakes used in the Well of the Souls scene are Burmese pythons and Reticulated pythons - neither of which are native to any part of Africa.
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The tarantulas at the beginning of the movie are Mexican Red-Knees that are native to Mexico only.
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During the opening sequence, several of the birds heard in the Peruvian jungle are not native to South America, most notably the Australian Kookaburra.
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Factual errors 

There are many flaws with the U-boat sequence. The class of boat is wrong - U-26 was a Type IA, but that shown is a Type VIIC (this is because the film reused the replica of U-96 from Das Boot). Neither the Type IA nor VIIC - nor any of the principal classes - would have been capable of carrying the Ark, due to limited storage space and access hatches that were too small. The Captain clearly orders the U-boat to dive ("Tauchen"); however, a lack of a constant air supply, much reduced speed and limited capacity for the electric motor batteries meant that U-boats only submerged for defense, attack or in heavy weather - none of these apply here. Nor did U-boats sound a 'diving' klaxon. A cut scene shows Indy hiding aboard the boat by clinging to the periscope. However, as explained the boat would not in reality have dived, and even when it did it would not have run at a sufficiently shallow 'periscope depth' the whole time. On the surface, at least four men would have been on watch at all times. Even if he could have remained hidden while the submarine remained above water he would have died from exposure. The trip would have taken many days to reach its target and he would have died of thirst long before then. Thus, however Indy tried to smuggle himself aboard the boat, he would have either been spotted or drowned.
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Marcus Brody mentions that "The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions. An army which carries the Ark before it... is invincible." Nowhere in the Bible does it say the Ark itself has any power whatsoever, let alone making a human army invincible. If anything, in 1 Samuel 4, it tells how the Hebrews brought the Ark into battle with them, thinking it would give them victory. Instead, they were soundly defeated and the Ark was captured by their enemies.
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In 1936, Egypt was not under British rule but there was a British military presence, primarily to guard the Suez Canal. It would've been impossible for German troops to operate there without the express permission of the Egyptian government or indeed the British government, e. g. to force Egyptians to work on the excavation site. For the same reason, there was no need for the US government to send Indy to stop the Nazis' search for the Ark. Simply asking their 'cousins' to end the excavation would've done the trick.
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In the beginning of the film, the city of Tanis in Egypt is described as having been destroyed in a sandstorm and recently discovered by the Nazis. In reality, the city was probably abandoned when its water supply was silted in. Archaeological digs had been conducted at the site beginning in the 1800s, so the location of Tanis was well-known within the archaeology community in 1936.
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Indy flies from Nepal to Cairo on-board a Douglas DC-3 which makes stopovers at Karachi (Pakistan - part of India in 1936), Baghdad (Iraq) and finally arriving in Cairo. With the exception of the Baghdad-Cairo stretch (about 800 miles), all of these flight stretches (which range from 1200-1500 miles) are way too long for the DC-3's maximum range of approximately 1000 miles.
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During the fight at Marion's bar in Nepal, Toht is seen to spill a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey on the bar and ignite it. The alcohol content in Jack Daniels is too low to ignite.
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Indy flies from San Francisco to Nepal on-board a Short Solent Mark III which makes stopovers at Honolulu (Hawaii), Wake Island, Manila (Philippines) and finally arriving at Nepal (possibly Kathmandu). All of these non-stop flight stretches (which range from 2300-3000 miles) are way too long for the Short Solent's maximum range of approximately 1800 miles.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

While tradition has it that only ritually pure members of Jewish priestly families were able to even touch the Ark, let alone carry it, nobody is seen touching it directly (except when it's opened); it's either carried on poles while covered with cloth or inside a packing crate.
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The flying wing aircraft is more akin to the Junkers G 38 that came out in the late 1920's till WWII. Especially look at the landing gear, general shape and appearance. It was a flying wing based on Prof. Junkers own patent that predate Jack Northrup's theories that the Horton Brothers used for their Ho 229.
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In the Cairo diner, Belloq refers to a watch as "worthless, $10 from a local vendor." However, while $10 in 1936 had the spending power of $164 in 2012, Belloq was comparing it to ancient artifacts worth millions.
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Toht would need more than the imprint in his hand to replicate an approximate of the amulet. He would need to know the dimensions and properties of the crystal, including the cuttings on the surface, otherwise it would not refract and focus a beam of sunlight on exactly the right place (assuming he had the correct length of the staff). Since they were digging in the wrong spot anyway, having an incorrect approximate of the amulet would further give them an incorrect location.
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The Golden Gate Bridge is shown; which was not completed until May, 1937, a year after the movie takes place. The Bridge itself began construction in 1933 (three years prior to the movie date), but not open to the driving public until April 1937, so it is easily feasible that the bridge could appear close to completion from a distance (as shown in the shot) even though it wasn't finished yet.
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During the truck chase, the heads of the approaching German soldiers are level with the top of the truck. Just as Indy looks into his side mirror, they crouch down, so their position in the mirrors is correct.
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The map sequence to the Island that the U-boat is traveling to shows that it is part of Greece, however the Germans did not invade Greece until 1941. The movie takes place five years before that. However, the movie references the classic "secret underground base" used in many stories in the 1930s, where the ownership of the territory occupied by the base was irrelevant.
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Revealing mistakes 

Glass wall between Indy & Marion and the snakes. Some, but not all examples have been erased in the 2003 DVD edition.
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When Indy is sliding underneath the truck, the trench that was made to prevent the stunt actor from striking the vehicle can be seen.
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When Marion is shooting at the German soldiers from the gunner's seat in the German plane, the bullets clearly hit the ground at the soldiers' feet, yet they react as if they have sustained hits above the waist.
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While Belloq and Marion are drinking in the tent, Belloq says the alcohol is "[his] family label". In the previous shot, the writing on the bottle is in Japanese.
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The plane that is circling on the ground is driven by a chain around its wheels.
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German soldiers fall from the truck (which is traveling forward at 40 mph) and roll backward - in violation of physics. When you jump from a moving vehicle you actually roll in the direction the vehicle was moving.
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During the fight in the marketplace, one Egyptian accidentally stabs another near a vendor's stall, and fruit is seen on the end of the sword after it runs through the Egyptian's back. You can see when the sword is withdrawn, that the fruit is actually held up by a stick which is dropped in the background.
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(at around 50 mins) When we see Indy's house, his fireplace is unnaturally lit from the flue, downward.
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Immediately after the truck chase, Indy pulls into a market square and the peasants help him thwart the Nazis. In this scene, the character of Toht, sitting in the passenger seat of a Mercedes, can be seen in the wide shot played by the actor, Ronald Lacey. But in close-up, it appears as if his hat is just propped up on top of his coat as though the actor was not available, and no stand-in could be found; so they just propped his costume up in the seat and hoped nobody would notice.
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When Indy is rocking the statue in the Well of Souls, a cable tying the statue to the roof becomes visible.
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When Indy jams the whip handle into the German truck's frame, the paint is worn off from previous takes.
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The exploding truck has a pole launched out of the bottom of it to make it flip over.
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As the entrance to the Well of Souls is being sealed, you can see Marion's lips count down before she screams.
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When Indy and Marion push the large heavy stone block away to escape from the pit, you can see the shadow of it bouncing weightlessly on the ground below.
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When Toht is menacing Marion with the hot poker from the fire, one of the Sherpa henchmen is clearly wearing prosthetic makeup around his eyes, presumably to make the Western actor's rounded eyes look more Asian in appearance.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Continuity 

When, at the airfield, the bald giant is killed by the propellers, his blood splatters the plane's tail, yet is gone when Indy rescues Marion from the doomed plane.
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Continuity 

As the Ark is being packed away as a government top secret, it is shown to have an iron bar and padlock on the outside of the crate. When the crate is being pushed to its storage area, no bars or locks can be seen.
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Continuity 

Satipo has visibly crooked teeth when he smiles as Indy retrieves the golden idol. But when Indy finds Satipo dead, Satipo has perfectly straight teeth.
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Continuity 

After discovering Marion in the tent tied up, Indy ties her up again. In this scene we can see some strands of Marion's hair get stuck between the tie. But in the next shot, her hair is free.
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Revealing mistakes 

Obvious rubber dummy of Belloq when he explodes after opening the Ark. Note especially the fingers of his left hand, as he explodes.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Toht's face is melting when the Ark is opened, his glasses fall to his collar too quickly. This is due to the shot being filmed via a time-lapse technique (see Trivia entry).
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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