Indy: Oldest. Whippersnapping Archeologist. Evaarrrr.

NPR : Harrison Ford Returns As Indiana Jones

Another graying action star is reviving an old role. Harrison Ford will once again crack the whip, 18 years after Indiana Jones' last adventure. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are also back, directing and producing. Excited fans do wonder if, at 64, Indy can still do the stunts.

I'm wondering, too. I'll never forget the time I saw the first Indiana Jones movie, which was around New Years when I was still in college. I've been a fan of Harrison Ford's since American Graffiti and Star Wars (okay, yes, I've had the hots for Harrison since 1977. Deal). I found the second movie mostly diverting ("Hang on, lady! We go for ride!" ), albeit repulsive (Bugs! Monkey brains! Kate Capshaw shrieking in a sari! ), and I totally adored the third movie (aw… Indy's dad is Sean Connery, how geriatrically hot was that?). Why risk screwing all those great cinematic moments up??  Harrison, my Harrison, why risk the humiliation of being described as "another graying action star?" But hell, Connery is older than he is, and he's still sexy. So what the hell.

I still remember a time before Indy. It was the 80's, Reagan was President, and Star Wars had been firmly embedded in the American psyche (they were up to the second movie by then, when Han gets embedded in that carbonite stuff, and I was heartbroken). Then these great comic-book style posters and full page ads started showing up in the movie section of the local paper. On the Sunday before the opening, there was a full color one, I think… it was all very mysterious. I think it just had the hat and the whip and some old-timey movie serial copy, but no title. I saw Harrison Ford's name in the "mystery" ads and thought "Oh, boy!" Then I saw the full-cover poster with the hat, the whip, the open shirt, the holstered gun, and I thought "Holy CRAP, somebody hose me down."

My girlfriend Debbie and I went, after having drunk part of a bottle of pink champagne (and spilling most of it when we had a catastrophic failure in the uncorking procedure). We rode bikes downtown to the one big fancy old theater, wobbling a little as we went.

We were enthralled. Beguiled. Debbie gleefully translated all the German swear words. The first action sequence, with the rolling ball, totally exhausted us, and that was in the first 15 minutes.

But I fell irrevocably in love with Indy when he came running over the hill, trailing cobwebs, the dust of centuries, and an entire tribe of pissed-off Amazonian Indians and their poison arrows. When he jumped in the passenger seat of the little floatplane… and got totally freaked out to find his buddy's snake in his lap, I lost my heart completely. That's when I knew we we'd better strap in and hold on, because the rest of the movie would be a hell of a ride.

What with the wine and all, both Debbie and I had to take breaks in the middle of the movie, at different points in the story. I tell you, I nearly didn't bother to take the break, which would have been nasty for the cleanup crew. I didnt want to miss anything. Neither did Debbie.

No problem… we just sat through it and watched a second time. The theatre guys never said a word, they just cleaned up around us as we discussed the movie and caught each other up on what had been missed during breaks. And we weren't the only ones to watch it again, either.

A few years later, Temple of Doom premiered. I remember seeing it sitting in the balcony, up high and to the left of the screen, but I don't remember if Debbie was there, or if she'd moved away by then. I just remember getting all shaky and a little nauseated during the human sacrifice scenes. It was revolting, but aside from that sequence everything else was great except for Kate Capshaw. I laughed loudest when she was freaking out while Indy and Short Round were playing poker, and ran, shrieking merrily, around and around their camp before finally knocking herself out… I think by running into an elephant? Either way, "Bwah!"

After I moved to Seattle, The Last Crusade opened Memorial Day Weekend in 1989. As it happened, several old college friends all happened to be together. Debbie and Aleta were staying with me for the Northwest Folk Life festival, Arne came into town and surprised them, and Kevin was in law school at the UW. We all drove to the theater in 2 little cars, singing the main theme and testing the theory that humming the Indiana Jones music made you drive more recklessly. We weren't all able to sit together, as the theater was packed out. Didn't matter. We had a blast, and then drove around again real fast (I think we ditched Arne because Kevin was driving too "Indy," sorry about that).

Good times. I wonder if arranging for a reunion to see the premiere with everybody is in the cards? Kevin and his family live a ferry ride from Seattle, Arne and his family live in Colorado, Debbie lives in Washington DC, and Aleta is living in California, I think. The movie is supposed to open in May, 2008. Hmm. Memorial Day? Folk Life in Seattle? Driving around in MUCH nicer, much faster cars, singing "Ba da-da DAH, ba da-daaaaah. Ba da-da DAH, ba da da da DAH!" Not losing Arne?

I can't really imagine how this next movie might play out – Wikipedia suggests the working title per George Lucas ought to be "Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time." Heh. George isn't normally that funny, or good at dialogue (including his own). According to the backstory now constructed via the TV series for Indy's life, we know he ends up in New York as a 90-year-old man with an eyepatch and a cane, buttonholing strangers to tell them about his adventures as a lively young whippersnapper.

Yes. "Ravages of Time." Indeed. For all of us.

Here's some other suggested titles: "… and the Temple of Prunes"
…and the Adventures in Geritol (or: "…and the Search for Adult Diapers That Don't Leak" )
and my entry: "Grandma-Panty Raiders of the Old Adventurer's Home."

And here's some hopes and fears. Some of them reportedly Ford's own:

Fan favorites such as Karen Allen, Sean Connery, and John Rhys-Davies are rumored to reprise their familiar roles in the new film. Ford himself is said to have blocked Lucas’ wish to cast his wife, Kate Capshaw, in the role of love interest, as he did in Temple of Doom. “Kate is a friend of mine” said Ford “but if I have to spend another year of my life hanging off of a vine while she shrieks in my ear, I’ll freaking let go and end it all.”

Spit take! BWAH! Oh, Harrison, I still love you, a little. You rock.

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2 thoughts on “Indy: Oldest. Whippersnapping Archeologist. Evaarrrr.

  1. Thanks so much for the linkage! I’m glad you liked my little fantasy. I always hated Kate’s screeching, and could not for the life of me figure out why they made her such a wimp after establishing Karen Allen as the sort of tough chick Indy would like.

    Whatevs. Lucas is a dope.

  2. Ah, but wasn’t the second movie set a year or two before the first one? After that, getting socked in the jaw by his first love Marion would be a de-stinked improvement.

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