The famous scene in which Indy shoots a marauding and flamboyant swordsman was not in the original script. Harrison Ford was supposed to use his whip to get the sword out of his attacker's hands, but the food poisoning he and the rest of the crew had gotten made him too sick to perform the stunt. After several unsuccessful tries, Ford suggested "shooting the sucker". Steven Spielberg immediately took him up on the idea, and the scene was successfully filmed.
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Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene, you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO from the Star Wars saga. They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.
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When Brody first goes to Indy's house to discuss the mission, Jones is dressed the way he is because he is entertaining a young woman in his bedroom. The script originally planned to show her before moving to the next scene, to give Indy a more worldly persona (like James Bond). However, her appearance was cut, as Steven Spielberg thought that being a playboy did not fit Indy's character.
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Most of the "body blow" sounds were created by hitting a pile of leather jackets with a baseball bat.
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Indy's line to Marion when they are on the ship ("It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage") was ad-libbed by Harrison Ford.
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During filming in Tunisia, nearly everyone in the cast and crew got sick except director Steven Spielberg. It is thought that he avoided illness by eating only the food he'd brought with him: a lot of cans of Spaghetti-O's.
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Traditionally when one of his films is about to open, George Lucas goes on vacation to get away from all the hoopla. As Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) was just about to open, Lucas went to Hawaii where he was joined by Steven Spielberg. When the grosses for Lucas's film came in and it was clear it was going to be a hit, Lucas relaxed and was able to discuss other topics with his friend. It was at this point that Spielberg confessed he always wanted to direct a James Bond film, to which Lucas replied he had a much better idea, an adventure movie called "Raiders of the Lost Ark". The conversation happened while the two were making a sand castle. After their trip, they got together and developed the script with Lawrence Kasdan.
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While filming the snakes scenes inside the Well of the Souls, a python bit first assistant director David Tomblin's hand and wouldn't let go. Tomblin calmly asked someone to grab the python (still attached to Tomblin's hand) by the tail and whip it, so that the snap would send a wave up the snake's body and force it to let go. A stage hand did just that, the python released its bite from Tomblin's hand, and Tomblin got medical attention. The python itself was not injured.
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During the scene where Indiana threatens the Nazis with a Panzerfaust, you can clearly see a fly creeping into the mouth of Paul Freeman. Contrary to popular belief, he did not swallow it. Freeman explained in an interview years later that the fly flew off at about the instant he uttered the word "bad," but Steven Spielberg noticed it and decided it would be funny to cut out a few frames so the fly would not be seen flying away. This made it look as though Freeman ate it, and he found the edit highly amusing. Empire Magazine chose this scene as one of the most common scenes for which people press the "Pause" button on their VCRs.
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Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison wrote a script during shooting breaks on the location of this film. Mathison was there to visit her husband, Harrison Ford, and Spielberg dictated to her a story idea he had. That script was eventually called E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
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The out-of-control airplane actually ran over Harrison Ford's knee, tearing a ligament in his left leg. Lucky for him, the heat had turned the rubber tire's soft, so it did not crush the bone. Rather than submit to Tunisian health care, Ford had his knee wrapped in ice and carried on.
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The monkey raising his paw and saying (in his own language) "Heil Hitler" was thought up by George Lucas, and is one of Steven Spielberg's two favorite scenes (in the video box set, he says his other favorite is the "where doesn't it hurt" love scene on the ship). In Empire magazine, Frank Marshall said that they got the monkey to do the Nazi salute by putting a grape on a fishing pole, and getting the monkey to reach for the grape, which was dangling just out of camera range. This took about fifty takes before it actually looked like a Nazi salute. Voice-artist Frank Welker provided the chattering sounds for the monkey, including the "Sieg Heil"-like chirp that the monkey gives when it raises its paw in salute. (Welker later provided similar monkey chatter for Abu, the spider monkey in Disney's Aladdin (1992).)
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Harrison Ford actually outran the boulder in the opening sequence. Because the scene was shot twice from five different angles, he had to outrun it ten times. Ford's stumble in the scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.
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The film was originally given an R-rating because of the exploding head at the end. They didn't want the picture to be rated R, so they added layers of fire in front of his face to make it appear less graphic.
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The last line to be added to the script was Dietrich's "I am uncomfortable with this Jewish ritual" because after reading through the script, the Screenwriters realized that there was no mention of Jews or the Nazis' hatred of them.
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Despite having the dream team of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg behind the film, it was initially turned down by every studio in Hollywood. Only after much persuasion did Paramount agree to do it.
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Indiana Jones's kangaroo-hide bullwhip was sold in December, 1999 at Christie's auction house in London for $43,000. His jacket and hat are on display at the Smithsonian.
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Indiana Jones's hat came from the famous Herbert Johnson hat shop in Saville Row, London. The hat was the shop's "Poet" model. On the Bonus Features DVD, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman said that in order to properly age the hat, she grabbed and twisted the hat, then she and Harrison Ford both sat on it, and it eventually looked like "a very lived-in, and well-loved" hat.
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The giant boulder that chases after Indiana Jones at the start of the film was made of fiberglass. On the Bonus Features DVD, sound designer Ben Burtt said that in order to get the proper sound effects for the giant boulder, he and the sound crew tried pushing boulders down a hill, but the sounds they were getting weren't what they were looking for. Later that day, as they were leaving in a Honda Civic and coasting down a gravel embankment, Burtt noticed that the sound was just what they were looking for, so he grabbed a microphone and held it near one of the Civic's rear tires to record the effect.
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Only Indiana Jones film in the franchise to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
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Alfred Molina's first credited screen role. His first scene on his first day of filming involved being covered with tarantulas.
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The Well of Souls sequence was filmed on the set previously used as the Overlook Hotel for The Shining (1980).
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The opening sequence featured live tarantulas on Alfred Molina, but they did not move until a female tarantula was introduced.
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George Lucas first dreamed up the idea of an adventurous archeologist about the same time he came up with the idea for the Flash Gordon-type space story that became Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
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To create the sound of the heavy lid of the Ark being slid open, sound designer Ben Burtt simply recorded him moving the lid of his toilet cistern at home.
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The sacred idol of the Hovitos, of which Dr. Jones takes possession at the beginning of the film, is apparently a fertility goddess. It is a molten image of a woman squatting down and giving birth.
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Although the Nazis speak German in many scenes, most of the lines were dubbed for the German versions of the film, because the actors spoke very bad German, with a very strong American accent. Some lines were simply wrong. On the recent DVD release, no German lines are wrong. The majority of the German lines seems to be spoken by native German speakers, with a slight south German accent.
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George Lucas made what was at the time an unusual deal for this film. The studio financed the film's entire $18 million budget. In exchange, Lucas would own over forty percent of the film, and collect almost half of the profits after the studio grossed a certain amount. It turned out to be a very lucrative deal for Lucas. Paramount executive Michael Eisner said that he felt the script for this film was the best he had ever read.
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John Williams had actually written two themes for the film. He played them both for Steven Spielberg on the piano and Spielberg loved them so much, he suggested that Williams use both of them. He did and the result was the famous "Raiders March", performed by the London Symphony Orchestra (who did not perform in any more Indiana Jones films). The March has become one of the most popular movie themes of all time.
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The models used for the German U-boat were rented from the production company that was making Das Boot (1981) in the same area at the time. The company, however, had forgotten to tell this to the crew of Das Boot, who were surprised to find the model suddenly missing.
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Indy being dragged under and then out behind a moving truck is a tribute to Yakima Canutt's famous stunt in John Ford's Stagecoach (1939). In fact, it was a stunt that stuntman Terry Leonard had failed to pull off the year before in The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981). He was thrilled at the chance of having another shot at it, but only agreed to do it if his friend and colleague Glenn Randall, Jr., was driving. The truck was specially constructed to be farther off the ground than normal to allow clearance for Indiana Jones to pass underneath safely, and the center of the road was also dug out. In Great Movie Stunts: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), we see on the camera slate that the camera was set at twenty frames per second instead of the traditional twenty-four. In other words, the shots were done in "fast motion", so the truck was not really moving as fast as depicted on-screen. Harrison Ford was actually dragged behind the truck for some of the shots, badly bruising his ribs. When asked if he was worried, Ford quipped: "No. If it really was dangerous, they would have filmed more of the movie first." During the chase, Harrison Ford dispatches all three of his stunt doubles, all of whom are playing German soldiers. Terry Leonard plays the driver of the truck, who gets punched out of the cab by Ford. Vic Armstrong and Martin Grace play soldiers hanging onto the side of the truck before being knocked off.
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Steven Spielberg was quoted as saying: "I made it as a B-movie. I didn't see the film as anything more than a better made version of the Republic serials."
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There is a longstanding myth that Jeff Bridges turned down the role of Indy. It was never even offered to him, which was confirmed in an article by Jake Perlman for Entertainment Weekly in 2014.
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Actors considered for the role of Indiana Jones included Paul Le Mat, Christopher Guest, Bruce Boxleitner, Barry Bostwick, Sam Elliott, Mark Harmon, Nick Mancuso, Peter Coyote, John Calvin, Michael Biehn, Sam Shepard, David Hasselhoff and Tom Selleck. Harrison Ford was cast less than three weeks before principal photography began.
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The instructions for the construction of the Ark are found in Exodus 25:10. The clothing that Belloq wears while acting as a high priest during the ceremony at the end is found beginning in Exodus chapter 28.
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In filming the Well of Souls sequence, the producers scoured every pet shop in London and the south of England for every snake they could lay their hands on. Hence, there are snakes that are identifiable from many different geographical areas. However, once all the snakes were on set, it became clear that there were not nearly enough of them, so Steven Spielberg had several hoses cut into lengths, and these were used as well. Looking closely, you can tell which are the real snakes and which are not. Some of the weeds in the scene were lifted by Lawrence Kasdan from the Dagobah set of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). A sheet of glass separates Harrison Ford and the arched (and highly dangerous) cobra when he falls in. The snake actually did spray venom onto the glass.
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To achieve the sound of thousands of snakes slithering, Ben Burtt stuck his fingers into a cheese casserole. This was augmented by applying wet sponges to the grip tape on a skateboard.
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In 1999, Raiders of the Lost Ark was added to the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. It is the only film from the Indiana Jones franchise to have been inducted. Films are chosen for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
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During filming of the Well of Souls sequence, a pythons died after being bitten by a cobra.
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Many of the snakes in the Well of Souls are not snakes, but legless lizards (look for the earholes, which snakes lack).
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The name of the sadistic Nazi interrogator is never mentioned in the film (although Marion calls him Herr Mach), but it is Toht, pronounced like Tod, the German word for Death. The role was offered to Klaus Kinski, who writes in his book "Kinski Uncut" that Steven Spielberg offered him a part in this movie, but he turned it down. "As much as I'd like to do a movie with Spielberg, the script is as moronically shitty, as so many other flicks of this ilk." Kinski chose to appear in Venom (1981), because the salary was better. Michael Sheard also auditioned for the role. Ronald Lacey, who had given up acting to become an agent, was chosen because he reminded Steven Spielberg of Peter Lorre. Toht only speaks a total of fourteen lines in English. The rest of his dialogue is in German.
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When Indy's hat was made, the brim was shaped to cover his eyes for protection, and to help hide faces when stunt doubles were being used.
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Shooting in Tunisia was unbearable for the cast and crew. The only thing that got Steven Spielberg and George Lucas through the shoot was knowing that at the age of 54, David Lean endured 14 months of blistering heat while shooting Lawrence of Arabia (1962) on-location.
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The Well of Souls scene required 7,000 snakes. The only venomous snakes were the cobras, but one crew member was bitten on-set by a python.
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Early concept art for the character, who ultimately became Toht, depicted him as a uniformed Nazi officer with a mechanical arm that doubled as a machine gun, and a radio antenna built into his head. George Lucas dismissed this as being too far-fetched.
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Indiana Jones' name comes from the name of Marcia Lucas' dog, and is a play on Steve McQueen's eponymous character name in Nevada Smith (1966). Indiana the dog, who was a Malamute, also served as the inspiration for Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga.
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In the submarine pen, the German who comes upon Indiana says, in German, "Good day. Tired? Why do you sleep? Where's your shirt? Wash yourself, so that you don't look like a pig at your court martial." He is about to say "Stand upright", but he is cut off when Indiana kicks him repeatedly.
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This was 1981's biggest grossing film by a wide margin.
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The musical theme for the Ark of the Covenant is heard several times throughout the film. Each time, it either trails off, segues into a different theme, or modulates into a different key. Only at the climax of the film is the entire theme heard and resolved in its original key.
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Shooting in Tunisia proved to be so stressful, and so hot, that Steven Spielberg managed to compress a six-week shoot into four and a half weeks. This helped the production complete principal photography twelve days ahead of schedule.
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Jock's floatplane, in the opening sequence, has the registration prefix "OB-". This prefix indicates that the action is taking place in Peru, where the plane is registered.
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During the Well of Souls scene, snake handler Steven Edge served as the double for Marion's legs. According to Edge, Karen Allen's stunt double refused to stand in amongst the snakes. Steven Spielberg offered him the chance by asking if he was willing to shave his legs and put on a dress. For the scene in which Indy is face to face with a hooded cobra, Edge says snake handlers induced the cobra to hood with a toy rabbit held just out of frame. Edge noted that unlike Indiana, Harrison Ford is not afraid of snakes.
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Steven Spielberg originally wanted Danny DeVito to play Sallah, and DeVito was set for the role, but he had to drop out, due to conflicts with Taxi (1978). DeVito later appeared as a second banana to Michael Douglas in the Raiders tribute and derivative, Romancing the Stone (1984).
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The opening scene in the lost South American temple was partly based on a classic Disney Ducks adventure, written by legendary artist Carl Barks, many of whose comic books have inspired George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Exploring a lost temple, Donald Duck, his nephews and Scrooge McDuck must evade a succession of booby traps like flying darts, a decapitating blade, a huge boulder, a tunnel flooded with a torrent of gushing water, etc., in the story "The Prize of Pizarro" ("Uncle $crooge" no. 26, June-August 1959), which hit the newsstands when Lucas and Spielberg, both avowed fans of that comic book, were respectively fifteen and twelve years old. Another Barks story, "The Seven Cities of Cibola" ("Uncle $crooge" no. 7, September 1954), has a native American lost city, and a valuable idol that triggers a giant round rock to smash everything in its way.
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Philip Kaufman shares story credit with George Lucas, because they originally worked on the film together in the late 1970s. Kaufman was Lucas's first choice to direct and came up with the idea to pursue the Lost Ark of the Covenant.
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The words that Belloq slowly recites before opening the ark are (badly pronounced) Aramaic, and are part of a paragraph recited in many Synagogues today when the Ark that holds the Sefer Torahs (the Old Testament handwritten on Parchment) is opened as part of the Sabbath service.
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Part of the reason that George Lucas was originally against using Harrison Ford was that he had noted how his film colleague and close friend Martin Scorsese had earned a reputation for casting Robert De Niro in most of his movies, and didn't want Ford to become known as what he called "My (Lucas') Bobby".
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Sam Neill was considered for the role of Indiana Jones. He would eventually play a character with an iconic hat in a Spielberg-directed movie: Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993).
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Though the film was originally intended as a small low-budget adventure, the scope of the film quickly increased as soon as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas got involved. Still, Spielberg told Lucas that he would only do the film if they could do it really fast, since he was desperate to avoid the experiences of his previous three movies, Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979), which had all ran wildly over schedule and over budget. Even though production costs of Raiders would triple to $18 million during its conception, the film was delivered within its finally intended budget, and ahead of schedule.
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An early draft of the script had Indiana Jones traveling to Shanghai to recover a piece of the Staff of Ra. During his escape from the museum where it was housed, he was to be sheltered from machine gun fire behind a giant rolling gong. Also in the same script, Indy and Marion flee the chaos caused by the opening of the Ark in a wild mine-cart chase sequence. These scenes were cut from the script but ended up in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
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Tom Selleck was Steven Spielberg's second choice for the role of Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford was his first, but George Lucas objected, since Ford had been in his previous hits American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), so he wanted to use someone different. Selleck was not able to take the role, because he was committed to Magnum, P.I. (1980). However, that series did not go into production until Raiders' filming had already wrapped. Selleck was, in fact, in Hawaii waiting for the series to start, as the final scenes to be filmed (the opening sequence) were being shot in Hawaii. Magnum, P.I. (1980) did an episode called Magnum, P.I.: Legend of the Lost Art (1988), which parodied Raiders of the Lost Ark, complete with hat, whip and booby traps.
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The call letters on the plane flown by Jock at the beginning of the movie are a subtle callback to characters from Star Wars: OB-CPO for Obi-wan Kenobi and C-3PO.
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A visit to the Elstree set by Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian Kubrick led to an investigation by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). She had complained that the snakes in the tomb scenes were being unfairly treated, and this led to filming being delayed by one day.
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With four illustrators, this was Steven Spielberg's most storyboarded film of his career to date.
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Over thirty bullwhips were supplied for the Indiana Jones franchise, ranging from six feet to sixteen feet in length.
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Steven Spielberg asked producer Frank Marshall to find a mountain that looked like the Paramount logo. Marshall had to drive around the whole island until he found one, and with a suitable location to shoot.
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Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman based Indy's outfit, flying jacket and fedora, on Charlton Heston's in Secret of the Incas (1954). In that film, Heston played a treasure-hunting adventurer who, after studying an ancient model "map room", uses a beam of sunlight reflected off of a crystal to pinpoint the location of the treasure. In that film, Heston also flies a hijacked airplane and goes down a river in an inflatable yellow raft, reminiscent of events in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
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In order to make it match the follow-up movies in the DVD collections, 2008 DVD cover artwork changes the film's title to read "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" instead of just "Raiders of the Lost Ark".
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George Lucas initially created Indy with the name of Indiana Smith. Steven Spielberg didn't like using the name Smith, and convinced Lucas to make the surname Jones instead.
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The original "Raiders" treatment by George Lucas was handwritten.
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Though not mentioned in the film, the final location and destination of the German submarine ports, as shown by map, indicates the final segment of film where the Ark is opened by the Nazis is located on a Greek island north of Crete. However, since the map used for the film is geographically inaccurate (it does not include several of the other islands found in this location), it is believed that the island location used is fictitious. However, its size and shape as shown in wide and overhead shots (a better overhead image of the island's shape is seen as the lid of the Ark flies into the heavens) could mean the island is the small Greek rock island of "Pachia".
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The boots Harrison Ford wears are model 405 Work Boots made by the Alden Shoe Company of Middleborough, Massachusetts. They are advertised and sold to this day as "Indy" boots.
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Production designer Norman Reynolds had found a rusty-looking ship that was perfect for the Bantu Wind. However, when the time came for this sequence to be filmed, he was horrified to discover that the ship had been repainted, and now looked pristine. It had to be swiftly repainted to achieve its distressed look.
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The scene where Jones fires at the truck was a botched stunt. The truck was supposed to flip over by means of a telegraph pole being fired by explosives through the floor. The explosive wasn't powerful enough and it simply forced the truck to tip over at an angle as can be seen in the finished movie. Time did not permit any further attempts at getting it right.
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In 2014, Steven Soderbergh published an experimental black-and-white version of the film, with the original soundtrack and dialogue replaced by an electronic soundtrack. Soderbergh said his intention was to encourage viewers to focus on Steven Spielberg's extraordinary staging and editing: "This filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day."
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Harrison Ford did most of the stunt work himself, including the scene in which he is getting dragged behind the truck. He sustained several bruised ribs from the stunt and later said "if the stunt was dangerous, we wouldn't have done it."
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The script describes Marion as being 25 years old. George Lucas originally wanted her to be younger, but Steven Spielberg objected to her age at the script conference. Lucas said, "Once she's sixteen or seventeen it's not as interesting anymore. But ... she was 15 and he [Indiana] was 25 and they actually had an affair the last time they met." Lawrence Kasdan left her age out of the dialog, with Marion telling Indiana only that, "I've learned to hate you in the last ten years ... I was a child!"
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Instead of the standard Paramount logo used between 1975-87, the opening logo was a version of the studio logo used in the 1940s or 1950s which read: "A Paramount Picture". The only difference is that it also read "A Gulf+Western Company". This logo was also used in the sequels, instead of then-current logos to parallel the franchise's set time period.
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Voted #2 on Empire magazine's 500 Greatest Movies of All Time (September 2008).
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On the Bonus Features DVD, John Rhys-Davies talks about how when he auditioned for the role of Sallah, he was concerned, since the script originally described Sallah as a "five-foot-two, skinny, Egyptian digger". Steven Spielberg mentioned that when he first heard Rhys-Davies speak, he reminded him of the Shakespearean character Falstaff. Spielberg then told Rhys-Davies that for his performance as Sallah, to combine his earlier role as "Vasco Rodrigues" from the miniseries Shogun (1980) with the character of Falstaff.
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The scene where Marion puts on her dress and attempts to leave Belloq's tent was improvised as was the entire plane fight. The script called for Marion to shed her conservative Egyptian garb and don a revealing dress to heighten the tension when she and Indy are fending off snakes as they're sealed in the Well of Souls, but the script didn't include why she ended up in the dress. In order to get her into the dress, Karen Allen and Paul Freeman improvised the scene where she hides a knife with the older clothes she takes off to try to seduce Belloq and escape, and thus giving her character a plausible reason to be in the dress. Allen thought it would also be a good idea to callback to the drinking game scene that introduces her character in the beginning of the movie.
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Indy's battered leather jacket was actually brand new, and had to be artificially aged by the costume department. There were ten jackets for general wear and tear and stunt purposes.
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Steven Spielberg admitted in the "Making of" DVD that watching the stage hands preparing the Well of Souls set by laying out the thousands of snakes nauseated him, even to the point where he nearly wanted to puke a few times.
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Steven Spielberg had originally offered the role of Major Arnold Toht to Roman Polanski, who was intrigued at the opportunity to work with Spielberg, but decided to turn down the role because he wouldn't be able to make the trip to Tunisia.
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Producers limited the onscreen blood from gunshots during the truck chase by using fine red dust instead of liquid fake blood. Unfortunately, the only red dust available for the squibs was cayenne pepper, which caused a lot of suffering for the stunt crew.
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In a deleted scene where Sallah is confronted by a Nazi soldier, John Rhys-Davies, who was suffering from cholera at the time, was required to bend down. Unfortunately, this prompted the very sick Rhys-Davies to soil himself.
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Indiana's primary weapon is a Smith & Wesson model 1917 .45 ACP revolver, with the barrel cut down from six inches to four inches. He also carries, as a backup weapon, a Browning Hi Power 9mm automatic, used during the shoot-out in Marion's tavern in Nepal.
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Steven Spielberg said that he loved the melting head effect, calling it the most impressive effect he'd ever seen at the time. The effect proved to be so popular that special effects/make-up artist Chris Walas was flooded with calls, mostly from people that appreciated his work. He also got several calls from fellow special effects artists that were working on different films, asking him what was needed for the effect so they could incorporate a similar scene.
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The Flying Wing in the fighting scene in Egypt is not a real plane. It was designed for the movie by production designer Norman Reynolds, and built by Vickers. It was inspired by several German flying wing designs of the time period.
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George Lucas came up with Marion punching Indiana in Nepal.
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The island where the Ark is opened, based on the map used during the sub's transit, appears to be the island of Christiana in the Aegean Sea.
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According to the documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007), Harrison Ford's performance as Indiana Jones in this film was so good that mere excerpts from before it was actually released in the cinemas persuaded the makers of Blade Runner (1982) that he was ideal to play Rick Deckard in the film. Dustin Hoffman had previously been the front-runner for several months.
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This was Lawrence Kasdan's first script for George Lucas. He was actually recommended for the job by Steven Spielberg. Upon their first meeting, he warned Kasdan that Lucas would try to hire him for the sequel to American Graffiti, and told him not to take it. The story at that point was little more than a description of the character (the fedora, jacket, and whip), and the "McGuffin" of going after the Ark of the Covenant. The rest of the details were developed during a long weekend spent together by Spielberg, Lucas, and Kasdan. Upon receiving the first draft, but before even reading it, Lucas asked him to write The Empire Strikes Back as well.
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The bar fight sequence took nearly two weeks to film.
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Each Indiana Jones film is set primarily on one continent: Africa (this film), Asia (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)), Europe (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)), and South America (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)).
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The tune that Sallah keeps singing, "A British tar (is a soaring soul)," is from Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore". He also sings the words "I am the Monarch of the Sea, The Ruler of the Queen's Navee" from the song "Give Three Cheers", which is from the same musical.
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According to the script, Abner Ravenwood was killed in an avalanche.
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Begins with a shot of a peak in the jungle which is reminiscent of the Paramount Pictures logo. See also Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
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Kathleen Kennedy is listed as "Associate to Mr. Spielberg" in the credits. She has since co-founded Amblin Entertainment, and is the President of Lucasfilm.
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Jane Seymour, Barbara Hershey, Lisa Eilbacher, Mary Steenburgen, Amy Irving, Dee Wallace, Valerie Bertinelli, Linda Purl, Patti D'Arbanville, Michelle Pfeiffer and Debra Winger were all considered for the role of Marion. Sean Young was used as Marion in screen test with Tom Selleck. Tim Matheson and John Shea were used for Karen Allen's screen test. Young would later star opposite Ford in Blade Runner (1982) and Wallace would co-star in Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) with Peter Coyote, who also read for the role of Indy.
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All of the German vehicles in the desert chase sequence are replicas of pre-World War II German vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz 320 staff car is a Jaguar MK9 with a modified MK5 body; two were built for the movie by Classic Cars of Coventry. The cargo truck is a Mercedes-Benz LG3000 replica, built on a GMC CCKW. Gobler's troop car is a replica of a Mercedes-Benz G5 "Geländewagen".
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The opening scene in the Peruvian jungle was filmed on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, to where Steven Spielberg would return to film Jurassic Park (1993).
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Kevork Malikyan was offered the role of Sallah, but arrived an hour late for his interview with Steven Spielberg because of a traffic jam. He would later play Kazim in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
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Scenes cut from the film: In the uncut conversation between Indy and Marion at the Raven Bar, Marion explains the cause of Abner's death, and tells Indy about the difficult last two years of her life. After having arranged the following day's appointment for the delivery of the medallion, Indy turns to leave, only to return under Marion's urge. She grabs his jacket and pulls him close for a kiss. The whole Raven Bar scene was cut because it was considered too long. The kissing part can be seen in The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark documentary. The scene appears in a script draft, the novelization, and the Marvel Comics movie adaptation. A plot element involving the Ark of the Covenant was cut from the film, and is only hinted at during the finale, when the Ark is opened. Basically, there were two rules about the Ark not mentioned in the final cut of the film: 1. If you touch the Ark, you die. 2. If you look at the Ark when it is opened, you die. This is first explained in additional dialogue for the scene when Indy and Sallah visit the Imam. Before translating the writings on the headpiece that give the height of the Staff of Ra, Imam warns Indy not to touch the Ark, or look at it when it is opened. The next scene involving this Ark subplot, is when Sallah and Indy remove the Ark from the Well of the Souls. When Sallah first sees it he reaches out to touch it. Indy stops him before he does, and reminds him of the Imam's warning. Then they insert long poles through each side of the Ark to lift it out of its crypt. Notice that nobody ever touches the Ark throughout the rest of the film, until the finale. While Indiana Jones is in the map room trying to find the exact location of the Well of the Souls, two German soldiers approach Sallah and order him to help them remove their truck that had been stuck in the sand. In the process, Sallah loses the rope, with which he was supposed to help Indy get out of the map room. In a continuing scene, we see Sallah entering a German tent looking for something to substitute his missing rope, and awhile later he comes up with a "rope" made of bed sheets and a Nazi flag. What we don't see, is Sallah in a state of panic, wandering in the Nazi camp at breakfast time. A group of German soldiers ask him to serve them water from a marmite. Sallah spills the content of the marmite on the German officers' uniforms and leaves promising to return with fresh water. The scene called for smoke in the background, but unfortunately the tires, used to produce the smoke were too many, thus making the scene too dark. Steven Spielberg opted to cut this scene, instead of spending half a day shooting it again. With Indy and Marion left to suffocate in the Well of the Souls, the Germans decide that Sallah should be executed. A young German soldier was supposed to carry out the dirty job, but things changed when he started having second thoughts. A German youth vacationing in Tunisia had been hired for the part of the young soldier. The funny thing is that this inexperienced young man managed to express brilliantly the moral dilemma of a young soldier forced to decide whether or not to kill a harmless stranger. This is the business of foreign wars, and this unknown German boy was able to convey it as well as any actor. The result was beyond description, with this German student playing an intensely moving and emotional scene, making David Wisnievitz and Karen Allen call it the greatest moment since the film began. Spielberg said the bitter truth was that brilliant and memorable though the scene was, it would probably end up on the cutting room floor, because it was just too long. So it did. There was a small cut during the scene where Indy and Marion escape from the Well of Souls. When Indy pushes the large stone brick out of the room filled with mummies, there is an Arab guard standing outside. When the Arab and Indy come face to face, Indy simply knocks him unconscious. Evidence of this scene still remains in the film. As Indy steps out of the chamber, he pauses and looks off to the left side of the screen. In the following shot, when Indy and Marion run from the building to the German plane, the Arab is visible lying on the ground by the building. Indy surviving the submarine journey by lashing himself to the periscope with his whip. In the final film, the plot hole goes largely unnoticed. Most people seem to assume either that Indy snuck inside the sub, or that it stayed on the ocean surface for the duration of the trip. This cut scene did appear in the Marvel Comics adaptation.
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For the DVD release, over 970,000 frames were cleaned up by Lowry Digital Images, the same company that cleaned up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), North by Northwest (1959), and Sunset Blvd. (1950) for DVD.
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George Lucas directed a few second unit shots, in particular the monkey giving the Nazi salute.
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The Pan American seaplane that Indiana Jones flies to Nepal in is a Short Solent Mark III flying boat modified by matte effects to resemble a Martin M-130 with the name "China Clipper". The producers contacted the owner of the craft about using the flying boat for the movie, and though he responded that he was happy to help out, he informed them that only one of the flying boat's engines had been restored to working order, therefore, for the shot used in the movie, we see only that single engine running. Additionally, in order to convey the fact that it was a passenger aircraft, Spielberg had several production assistants dressed in period clothing, and filmed them simply walking through the doorway of the plane.
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One of the unique selling points of the Indiana Jones movies was their sound quality. Ben Burtt, the sound designer, said that the sounds used after the Ark was opened were synthesized using human vocalizations and recorded animal cries of dolphins and sea lions to make it sound otherworldly. The sounds for the subsequent sparkle and beams were recorded with the old gear used for the early Frankenstein movies.
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The building used for one of the exterior shots of the university is the large music conservatory on the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
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Three different stuntmen were used to double for Harrison Ford: Vic Armstrong, when riding the horse; Martin Grace at the falling statue, and Terry Leonard when pulled behind the truck.
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the writing categories.
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WILHELM SCREAM: As one of the German soldiers falls out the back of the truck Indiana is driving.
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The name Marion Ravenwood was a combination of two names: Marion was the grandmother of Lawrence Kasdan's wife, and Ravenwood was from Ravenwood Court, a small street off Beverly Glen.
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In her bar in Nepal, Indiana Jones offers Marion Ravenwood $3,000 for the headpiece to staff of Ra. Accounting for inflation, that would be the equivalent of about $18,700 in 1981 (the year the movie was released) and $55,600 in 2018.
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The sinister Gestapo agent Toht's appearance (notably the receding hairline and glasses with the circular frames) was deliberately based on Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS in Nazi Germany and one of the regime's most infamous criminals for his central role in the Holocaust.
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During Indiana's escape from the natives in the beginning of the film, he has his pilot start the plane in the water. When the engine starts, it is the same sound used when the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive engine fails from the Star Wars saga.
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In the map room, one of the buildings has red graffiti written on it that says, "Nicht stören", which is German for "Do not disturb".
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Ben Burtt selected a .30-30 Winchester rifle for the sound of Jones' pistol.
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The Bible that Indiana hands to Major Eaton and Colonel Musgrove in the beginning of the movie is a old Dutch version, and shows 2 Chronicles 5, which describes how "the Ark of the Lord's covenant is brought to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim."
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In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #66 Greatest Movie of All Time.
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The William Hootkins character is named "Major Eaton" which is a running joke since Star Wars (1977) of naming Hootkins characters after his obese physical trait (in Valentino he was Mr. Fatty, in Star Wars he was Porkins, in Plums Plots and Plans he was Dr. Pretzel, in Hanover Street he was Beef, and in BBC2 Playhouse he was Mr. Bowles).
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Brody states that the Pharoah Shishak (Shoshenq) invaded Jerusalem in 980 B.C. Historians actually date his reign from 943 to 922 B.C., and Solomon's as 970 to 931. According to the Bible's chronology, this would mean Shishak invaded around 926 B.C., five years after the death of Solomon.
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The truck chase sequence took five weeks to film for six minutes of screen time.
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The only Indiana Jones movie where his name doesn't appear in the title. Though re-releases of the movie on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray are titled Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on the front covers.
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The first time Steven Spielberg ever directed in the UK.
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A fiberglass boulder twenty-two feet (seven meters) in diameter was made for the scene where Indiana escapes from the temple. Steven Spielberg was so impressed by production designer Norman Reynolds's realization of his idea that he gave the boulder a more prominent role in the film, and told Reynolds to let the boulder roll another fifty feet (fifteen meters).
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At one hour and fifty-five minutes, this is the shortest Indiana Jones movie.
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Animé voice actor Bob Papenbrook voiced some of the screaming natives chasing Indiana.
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The mouse that was writhing to the sound coming from the crated ark is there because this mouse was seen behaving this way and then filmed. As it later turned out, unknown to the crew, the mouse was sick with a brain tumor.
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For the conceptual process and drawings, Ralph McQuarrie was not brought in, but, instead, George Lucas brought in Marvel artist Jim Steranko. However, McQuarrie did provide the illustration of the Ark seen in the large bible at the college.
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Because of his commitment to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford was unable to play Han Solo in the NPR radio adaptation of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). The role was taken over by Perry King, who had been among those auditioning for the part in the movie before Ford was cast.
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The March 2004 issue of "Vanity Fair" contained an article about three South Mississippi boys named Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, and Jayson Lamb who, in the summer of 1981, started videotaping a homemade remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark staring themselves and their elementary and middle school classmates. Their movie project continued on and off for seven years and several thousands of dollars, finally resulting in a near shotforshot, lowbudget, unauthorized recreation of the original film, albeit one in which the actors age from 12 to 17 and back again between scenes. Nowprofessional filmmaker Eli Roth (who went on to direct Cabin Fever) saw a muchpassedaround copy of the remake at NYU Film School and was instrumental in having it screened at Harry Knowles' film festival in Austin, Texas, and eventually getting a copy to Steven Spielberg, who wrote Strompolos, Zala, and Lamb a complimentary letter in 2002. After the "Vanity Fair" article was published, their story was optioned as a movie by producer Scott Rudin for a rumored midsix figuresironically, under the auspices of Paramount, the studio that released Raiders of the Lost Ark in the first place.
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Maureen McCormick auditioned for the role of Marion Ravenwood. She later admitted in her memoir, "Here's the Story", that she was addicted to cocaine during the audition.
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The advance trailer for this film played up Steven Spielberg's earlier films, with the exception of 1941 (1979), which was considered a failure at that time.
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The silver pontoon equipped biplane that Indiana Jones uses to escape from Belloq and the enraged South American natives is a 1930s era Waco UBF-2 Tourist.
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Originally, mechanical snakes were going to be used in the Well of Souls sequence, but it was decided that they looked too fake, so they opted for real snakes instead.
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In the original draft, Toht and Deitrich are named Belzig and Schleimann. Also in that draft, Toht/Belzig is in the rear car during the desert chase, and goes off the cliff with it. Deitrich is not present for the opening of the Ark, which takes place inside a Tabernacle tent. Instead he is outside, and is killed while pursuing Indy and Marion in their escape.
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Indy's whip is ten feet long, although some shorter versions were used, depending on the shot required.
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Indy's hat and jacket were designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis , who also designed Michel Jackson's iconic red and black jacket from his "Thriller" video.
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The Air East Asia airliner that Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood take to Cairo is an example of the iconic Douglas DC-3. One of the most significant aircraft of all time, the DC-3 and its military variant (the C-47) were produced from 1936 to 1950.
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According to Graham Hancock's book, "The Sign and the Seal", the lost Ark of the Covenant resides in the city of Axum (Ethiopia), at the Saint Mary of Zion church.
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In 1980, Photoplay Film Magazine reported that Robert Duvall was having meetings with Steven Spielberg in London for a role as a Nazi, in his new untitled project.
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Before Paul Freeman was cast, another British actor, Jonathan Pryce, who was then not well-known in the film world, was considered for Belloq.
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Despite his third billing in such a hugely successful film and playing the main villain in it, Paul Freeman did not become a major name actor. He was even a "pointless answer" in the British television quiz show Pointless (2009) when it did a category on actors in Raiders of the Lost Ark (a "pointless answer" meaning that a hundred members of the British public were asked to name actors in the film and nobody said Paul Freeman).
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Visual Effects.
In the script, Marion tells Indiana that she survived by working at the bar, "And I wasn't the bartender." George Lucas suggested at the script conference, "She started out maybe singing or being a call girl or whatever. Eventually she bought out the guy who ran the place, or he died."
The scene where Indy hangs onto the underneath side of a moving truck was inspired by John Ford's movie Stagecoach, a reference which was expanded in the "Hollywood Follies" episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. In this episode, set in 1920, Indy serves as a stuntman on a western directed by John Ford, where he performs the same stunt, crawling along the underside of a moving wagon. This creates an in-joke within the Indiana Jones canon, implying that Indy inspired his own stunt.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The sound of the boulder in the opening is a car rolling down a gravel driveway in neutral.
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Ronald Lacey shaved his scalp to play Toht. While walking to the Ark-opening ceremony, he removes his hat to wipe his brow, and the shadow of his stubble can be seen.
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Filming of Jones boarding a Boeing Clipper flying-boat was complicated by the lack of a surviving aircraft. Eventually, a post-war British Short Solent flying-boat formerly owned by Howard Hughes was located in California and substituted.
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The film was shown at the Rialto cinema in 1981. When Steven Spielberg produced Gremlins (1984), a billboard with a DJ on it called Rockin' Ricky Rialto is done up in the likeness of Indiana Jones.
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Indiana Jones has two Herbert Johnson Poet hats in this film. He has a grey dress hat (seen in the shot of him boarding the plane to Nepal, and in the ending scene on the steps of the Capital building) and the iconic brown "work" hat.
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Michael Sheard was the runner-up to play Toht before ultimately being cast as the U-boat captain. He would play Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
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In Part 3 Henry Senior teases Indiana about his nickname. He tells him "that's the name of our dog". In real life George Lucas, in the early 70s, had a dog named Indiana that the character of Indiana Jones was named after. As a matter of fact, one day Lucas saw his wife pulling into their driveway, driving their station wagon; and watching her park; through the windshield; he saw his wife in the right hand driver's seat, and his dog Indiana, sitting up in the left hand seat. He thought to himself, "they look like a pilot and co-pilot". And that became the inspiration for Han Solo and Chewbacca in Star Wars. So Indiana was the inspiration for two characters Harrison Ford played.
If Tom Selleck had played Indiana, he would have had a mustache. As it was, Ford just has 5 Oclock shadow throughout the movie. (Except in the teaching scenes where he shaves it off. And in the scene at the end with the beaurocrats he's clean-shaven also. But whenever he's in adventure mode, he dons the face bristle).
This is about the time Cliffhangers replaced Westerns as the preferred action genre in Cinema. Whereas Star Wars was trying to reboot Flash Gordon type cliffhangers, Raiders was resurrecting Perils of Pauline/ Gunga Din type cliffhangers.
One of the lead characters in two of Steven Spielberg's franchises has the same name. The lead in Jaws is named Martin Brody; and one of the leads in the Indiana Jones franchise is named Marcus Brody. (Essentially the same name for a similar type character in both stories). Spielberg and Lucas most likely lifted this name from the Jaws franchise, since Peter Benchley wrote Jaws in 1972 and 1973, and Raiders was not scripted until about 1980.
Just before the fight around the Flying Wing, Gobler (Anthony Higgins) says to Dietrich (Wolf Kahler) in German: "The plane is ready. It can be loaded."
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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The only Indiana Jones film where Indy doesn't wear a bow tie.
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In a famous scene, Marion Ravenwood, played by Karen Allen, is left in a tent tied up with a gag in her mouth. In the sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Marion is tied up and gagged in the exact same way.
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The opening logo says "A Paramount Picture," a common feature for Paramount releases prior to 1968, but out of use by the time this film was released. Since 1968, it has only appeared on the Indiana Jones films released in the 1980s as an homage to classic film releases.
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According to the book "Gene Hackman: The Life and Work" by Peter Shelley (page 79), published by McFarland in 2018, Hackman, who was 12 years older than Harrison Ford, was sought by Steven Spielberg for the role of Indiana Jones. Hackman worked with Harrison Ford in Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974).
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The truck used in the chase scene from the excavation is a World War II 2 1/2 ton GMC CCKW-353, with the hood and cab converted to approximate a pre-war Mercedes truck.
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The Disney Springs lifestyle center at Walt Disney World has a tie-in cocktail lounge named for Fred Sorenson's character Jock, giving him the last name of Lindsey and stating that he settled in central Florida in 1938.
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Versatile but not-so-well-known German actor Wolf Kahler played the cold, ruthless Nazi military commander Colonel Dietrich, who assists in the seizure of the Ark. In Barry Lyndon (1975), he played a completely opposite role as the dandy German aristocrat, Prince of Tubingen, with make-up and cheek rouge of the eighteenth century.
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Ishaq Bux is crediting in the end titles as playing Omar, but it is nearly impossible to spot him in the film. If you pay attention during the Well of the Souls scene, he's the portly digger with the short white beard in a medium shot with Nazis behind him.
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The insert scene where the small capuchin monkey gives the Nazi salute to the German spies was part of the film's post-production pickup schedule, an allotted time to re-shoot or tweak scenes from the principal production shoot, supervised by George Lucas at Elstree Studios in London. Although the animal trainers had trained the monkey to perform the move prior to the shoot, they couldn't get the monkey to do it during a take. At first, the animal trainers were tapping the monkey on the head to get a reaction, but days dragged on, and the monkey didn't do the proper salute. Finally, they resorted to dangling grapes with fishing line just off camera to provoke the monkey, and that was what got the little actor to do a good take. The final shot in the film is the monkey reaching for the grapes just above the frame.
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In Quantum Leap: Another Mother - September 30, 1981 (1990), Kevin Bruckner mentions that he is going to see Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) with his friends, which is interesting, because they use archive footage of Magnum, P.I. (1980), and Tom Selleck was originally going to portray Indiana Jones.
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When the Ark is opened and the angels start flying around the observing Nazis, the look on Beolloq's face resembles that of the Golden Idol of the Hovitos.
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the acting categories.
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Voted number 20 in Channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films".
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There's an infamous shot in this movie, when Paul Freeman, AKA Bellock, is talking to Indiana, and he appears to eat a fly. Freeman denies this in interviews, saying, "I did not eat a fly... If you look closely, you can see there's a few shots missing". Nonetheless, the actor say that's the first thing Raiders fans say to him when they meet him.
While the cutaway shot to Jock fishing in the opening set piece is funny, he is not really dressed in period appropriate clothes. (This just looks like the modern day actor in his work clothes).
It was on the UK leg of this location shoot that producer Kathleen Kennedy first met husband-to-be Frank Marshall.
The film's popularity spilled over to Atari, specifically the 2600. A player gets to be Indiana Jones & has to get several pieces to move on, very much like Adventure.
The Well of Souls foreshadows the Egyptian cult in the Spielberg-produced Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). Both films also mention the city of the dead and the Egyptian God Ra.
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Karen Allen later returned as Marion Ravenwood for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
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Harrison Ford, Wolf Kahler and Michael Sheard appeared in Force 10 from Navarone (1978). In same film, also appeared Michael Byrne, who played Vogel from Gestapo in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
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Alfred Molina is covered with tarantulas (an eight-legged creature). In Spider-Man 2 (2004), he portrayed another eight-legged creature in the form of Doctor Octopus.
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French actor Jacques Dutronc and Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini were considered for the role of Belloq before an English actor, Paul Freeman, was cast.
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While flying to Nepal from California, Indy's plane makes three refueling stops before reaching his final destination. In order of stops: Hawaii, Wake Island and Philippines.
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Wolf Kahler was born in Kiel, Germany in 1940, four years after his character Dietrich's death.
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The names of the characters Satipo and Barranca are the same as two small towns located in Peru.
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The wistfully nihilistic and Sisyphean ending, when we see the maintenance man wheeling the ark into a crate, and into a giant endless warehouse with a million other crates, unopened, is reminiscent of the same wistful tragicomic feeling of the end if the Great Escape, where we see Steve McQueen jailed again, throwing the ball up against the wall, defeated but about to start another adventure.
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The Life magazine read by the German agent on the plane to Nepal is dated November 30, 1936, which is also the day the social activist Abbie Hoffman was born. Steven Spielberg would years later be initially slated to direct a project about Hoffman and his fellow defendants in the Chicago Seven.
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Steven Spielberg would have skeletons and desecrated burial grounds in the subsequent likes of Poltergeist (1982) and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).
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All three archeologists in the film refer to the Ark as having pieces of the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, which were then dashed to pieces at the bottom of the mountain. According to the Bible, the broken stone tablets were replaced by whole ones, and it was this second set which was stored in the Ark, along with the budding staff of Aaron and a measure of manna.
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There is a character in Frank Herbert's Dune saga called "Duncan Idaho", which follows a similar logic of naming a hero with a state. However, set in space in a far-away future, this doesn't make quite as much sense.
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In the scene in the valley on the island where Indiana threatens to blow up the Ark, you can see that apparently a Navy Blue shroud has been made for it.
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Australian comedian/actor Glenn Robbins parodies Indiana Jones in the TV series Fast Forward (1989).
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Lawrence Kasdan was hired first to write the film, and then to write Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Much of the talent of the later Star Wars films would first work on the Indiana Jones series. Kathleen Kennedy produced all four films, as well as the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Rick McCallum, who produced The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992), also produced the prequels. Jonathan Hales wrote several episodes of that series, as well as co-writing Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). Benedict Taylor, Oliver Ford Davies, Pernilla August, Christopher Lee, and Daniel Craig would all also appear on "Young Indy" before appearing in a Star Wars film.
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Frank Marshall: Pilot of the flying wing. All the stuntmen were sick on the day that Marion hits the pilot of the Flying Wing over the head, so producer Frank Marshall agreed to do it. Unfortunately for him, the shot took three days, and a lot of it involved him sitting in a cockpit that was in excess of one hundred degrees.
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Terry Leonard: The stuntman who appears as the German truck driver also performed numerous stunts as Indiana, including jumping from the horse to the truck and sliding under the truck.
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Dennis Muren: Appears as a Nazi spy who is tracking Indiana Jones on the airplane. Only his eyes can be seen, though, as most of his face is hidden behind the magazine he's reading, which is Life volume 1 number 2 (November 30, 1936), which has pages 42-43 dedicated to the water color paintings of Adolf Hitler.
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Frank Welker: The prolific voice actor provides the monkey's sounds, uncredited.
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Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach dies twice in this film, once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar, and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane's propeller.
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The spirit effects at the climax were achieved by shooting mannequins underwater in slow motion through a fuzzy lens to achieve an ethereal quality.
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Steven Spielberg and George Lucas argued over who Indiana's companion should be. One idea was that she was to be a Nazi spy. After discarding that idea, they couldn't decide if they wanted the character to be Indiana's former mentor, or an old lover. It was Lawrence Kasdan's idea to combine the two ideas, by making her the daughter of Indiana's teacher. The idea of Indiana traveling with a Nazi spy was re-used for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
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Steven Spielberg and George Lucas disagreed on the character of Indiana Jones. Although Lucas saw him as a 007-like playboy, Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan felt the character's academic and adventurer elements made him complex enough. Spielberg had a darker vision of Jones, interpreting him as an alcoholic, similar to Humphrey Bogart's character Fred C. Dobbs in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). This characterization fell away during the later drafts, though elements survive (especially Jones's response Marion's "death").
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Although there is a fan theory that Indiana Jones has no impact on the plot (the Nazis found the Ark and opened it despite his attempted intervention) this fails to account for Marion. Had he not shown up, the Nazis would have killed her. He saved her life again when the Ark was opened and he told her to close her eyes, something she wouldn't have done had he not been there. Also, it would mean that the ark would either be left forgotten (on that island) or be in the possession of the Nazis, who would have possibly eventually brought it to Berlin.
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The submarine pen on the island where the Ark is taken and finally opened is not a set, but in fact an actual German U-Boat pen left over from World War II in La Rochelle, France. Producer Robert Watts was so amazed at how preserved the submarine pen was (even down to the graffiti on the walls) that he described it as "an actual set in existence".
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Body Count: sixty-four (including the monkey). Eleven by Indiana Jones.
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As scripted, the scene where Indiana and Marcus meet with the Army Intelligence officials in Washington, D.C., was to be followed immediately by the Ark being stored in the warehouse. The filmmakers realized there was no resolution for Indiana's relationship with Marion, and the new scene was written. It was filmed on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall.
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In a 2001 "Making of" special, it was revealed that the effects used in the three antagonists' rather gruesome deaths (Dietrich, Toht, and Belloq) were a vacuum machine, a time-lapsed heat gun and a shotgun, respectively. When the movie was submitted for an MPAA rating, it was given a rating of "R" because of the exploding head. In order to lower the rating, flames were superimposed over this image. The result was the appearance of a head exploding behind a dense curtain of flames. The rating was lowered to "PG" (at the time, the PG-13 rating did not exist).
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According to the novelization, the writing on the headpiece of the Staff of Ra included a specific warning not to look into the Ark. This is why Indiana and Marion survive the conflagration at the end, simply by closing their eyes. It may be an allusion to 1 Samuel 6:19, where God "smote" the men of Beth Shemesh for looking into the Ark.
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Indiana Jones never kills the lead villain in any of the films. It is always the treasure itself / greed for said treasure or its powers that accounts for their deaths.
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The melting of Toht's head was done by exposing a gelatine and plaster model of Ronald Lacey's head to a heat lamp with an under-cranked camera. Dietrich's crushed head was a hollow model from which air was withdrawn.
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Numerous characters die as a direct result of Indiana Jones's actions (or omission of action), but he only deliberately kills eight people (1. He shoots the Mongolian in the bar. (2. He shoots the Egyptian swordsman. (3. and 4. He shoots two Arabs on the truck carrying explosives. (5. 6. and 7. He runs the Nazis in the utility vehicle off a cliff. (8. He runs over the Nazi with the truck. By those guidelines, it's possible that Marion intentionally kills more people than Indiana. She shoots the Sherpa in the bar and a bunch of Nazis from the tail gun of the plane. It's unclear exactly how many Nazis she kills, but there are at least seven in the back of the transport, and she appears to kill them all, which would at least tie her body count with Indiana's.
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A common fan theory states Indiana Jones supposedly had no effect on the outcome since the Nazis actually did get the ark. This may be false, however, because Belloq states in the beginning of the movie that following Indy around is his usual way of finding things, which is the basis of their rivalry. This, along with scenes where Belloq is advising the Nazis, may indicate that Belloq has told them to follow Indy around until he leads them to the Ark, as he had led Belloq to previous discoveries . Even though the intercepted German communique mentioning Ravenwood would indicate that the Nazis are already on their way to Marion to retrieve the Staff of Ra, and Indy simply beats them to it, this may be simply misdirection: there is a very reasonable possibility that Belloq and the Nazis purposely let the Americans intercept that message, knowing that they would call upon Indy to seek out Marion. All they would have to do was follow Indy, which would explain the presence of the German spy on the plane.
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A fan theory that was popularized by the Big Bang Theory episode The Big Bang Theory: The Raiders Minimization (2013) states that Indiana Jones plays no role in the final outcome of the story, since despite his best efforts, the Nazis still end up obtaining the Ark, and killing themselves by opening it. In the absence of Indiana Jones, the Nazis would have stolen the headpiece from Marion, made a correctly-proportioned Staff of Ra, and discovered the Ark themselves. It stands to reason that many Nazis would have been killed during the first opening of the Ark, but that they would have eventually figured out how to use the Ark as a weapon by keeping their eyes shut. However, it was Indiana Jones' presence at the end that may make the difference: he finally recovered the Ark after it killed the Nazis on the island and delivered it to the United States, thus keeping it out of German hands during World War II.
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In the scene where Jones threatens the ark with a bazooka, a fly can be seen crawling into Belloq's mouth, and then flying away (Though the editing team removed a few frames to make it appear as though Belloq had inadvertently eaten the fly. This was a prank played on the Paul Freeman character because "Frogs eat flies.").
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The crate in which the Ark is placed at the end of the movie has the number 9906753.
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Lawrence Kasdan is known for disliking improvisation by actors. One such improvisation was having Indy shoot the swordsman. The final film that Kasdan wrote for Ford was Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), in which Ford is killed by a swordsman.
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