Indiana Jones came from a conversation that Steven Spielberg had with George Lucas. He was expressing his disappointment that he had been turned down for a gig making the next James Bond movie. Why would he want to waste his time on Bond, Lucas wondered aloud. Lucas had a better idea for an action hero: Indiana Smith.
In the 1980s, the TV spin off movie was relatively rare. Star Trek: the Motion Picture and its sequel The Wrath of Khan had been moderately successful but in general TV stayed where it was. The idea of a portmanteau film likewise wasn't hugely popular. Grand Hotel had launched the genre in 1932 but with the exception of the British horror film Dead of Night, there were few glowing examples. So a TV spin off and a portmanteau film? It sounds like a bad idea, right? Well, things were to get much worse.
I don't cry watching movies. I weep. Sometimes inconsolably. Certain classic movies can press my buttons in a way that isn't affected by repetition. It's a Wonderful Life always hurts me. Weirdly, the bit that is the most 'I'm not crying, you're crying' moment is when Old Man Gower hits George and then realizes he's made a a mistake. Other films get me all lachrymose and I couldn't tell you why. Even adverts at times. Re-watching E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial it was embarrassing. My daughter told me to pull myself together.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first Steven Spielberg film I saw on the big screen, at The Astra cinema, Barrow-in-Furness in July 1981. I was 9 years old. And it changed my life.
Stanley Kubrick said it should have been marketed as a drama. John Milius saw it as an opportunity to make a historical film about a general to rival Patton. Steven Spielberg admitted he might have been better off making the film as a musical. On one thing everyone seems to agree. 1941 didn't work as a comedy.
John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.