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Few film franchises are as beloved as the Indiana Jones series, which continues to enthral and entertain across generations. These weird and wonderful behind-the-scenes factoids will have you reaching for a timely rewatch, or first watch, if you’ve somehow missed these classics! All four films are now streaming on Showmax.
The iconic bullwhip-wielding, Nazi-fighting archaeologist has left an indelible mark on cinematic history, so here are some behind-the-scenes legends we dug up to add to Indy’s venerable legacy.
1. Diarrhoea’s role in Raiders of the Lost Ark
While our hero is searching for Marion in Cairo, he is suddenly confronted with a black-clad villain who taunts Dr Jones with an impressive display of sword twirling. Indy, unimpressed and impatient, simply pulls out his revolver and shoots the man dead, deftly subverting the audience’s expectations. The script originally called for an elaborate fight scene but on the day of shooting, food poisoning prompted Harrison Ford to improvise a less physical, less bowel-disrupting resolution to the conflict.
2. Easter eggs referencing a galaxy far, far away
With George Lucas working on Indiana Jones and the Star Wars films at the same time, references to some of his other famous characters made their way into Indiana Jones’s world. From Indiana watching the podrace in The Phantom Menace to Han Solo carrying Indy’s bullwhip on his belt in The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas put considerable effort into linking his famous franchises. The images below show a Shanghai nightclub in The Temple of Doom named after a modest old Jedi, and a tomb in Cairo adorned with two of the most recognisable rebel droids ever.
3. The world’s most famous death cry
Hollywood sound designers share an inside joke that originated with frequent George Lucas collaborator Ben Burtt, who discovered a stock sound effect of a man dying and began to insert the distinctive scream into numerous movie death moments. He named it the Wilhelm Scream after it accompanied the death of Private Wilhelm in the 1953 western, The Charge at Feather River. Burtt first used it in Star Wars: A New Hope when Luke Skywalker shoots a stormtrooper in the Death Star. It can be heard a total of seven times in the Indiana Jones films. Since then, sound designers have used the memorable shriek in hundreds of movies, series and video games.
4. Rat insurance
Blockbuster productions have had to insure all sorts of strange items over the years, but it wasn’t until Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that insurers had to conceive of the first “Thousand Rat Deductible.” When the producers asked for the rodents used in the Venice tunnel scene to be insured in case they were somehow ill or unavailable, the insurance company wanted an estimate of how many rats would be on set. An additional thousand mechanical rats were also utilised in the scene.
5. “Scruffy-Looking Nerfherder”
The titular archaeologist was named after Lucas’s dog, an Alaskan Malamute. Lucas hints at the connection at the end of The Last Crusade, when Indy’s father Henry Jones reveals to Indy’s friend Sallah that his son’s name is Henry Jones Jr. Indiana then proudly explains that he preferred the dog’s name and so claimed it for himself. Indiana (the dog) had the unprecedented distinction of being the inspiration for two beloved movie characters, the second being Chewbacca the Wookiee.
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