Things in Adventure Movies

A collection of things from adventure movies.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The wealthy American tourist that Humphrey Bogart’s character keeps touching for cash in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is played by the film’s director, John Huston.

Apparently it was B. Traven, author of the original novel, who suggested that Huston play the cameo role: he’d seen the director handing out change during location scouting.

According to one rumour, Bogart took directing duties on these scenes, deliberately demanding repeated retakes in order to wind up Huston.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Watching Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom on the small screen, it’s easy to miss the fact that Dan Aykroyd makes a brief appearance.

He plays Weber, who appears at the airport near the beginning, following the shoot-out at Club Obi-Wan. It’s Weber who arranges for Indiana Jones to leave the country on the ill-fated flight that kicks off the story proper.

Weber is (I think) supposed to be British, and Aykroyd’s accent is a little alarming: part Bridge over the River Kwai, part C-3PO.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom may not be the strongest film in the series, but it opens with a fine song-and-dance number, followed by an equally well choreographed shoot-out in a Chinese nightclub. What’s being fought over are the earthly remains—such as they are—of the Chinese emperor Nurhaci.

Born in 1559, Nurhaci began his career as leader of one of the many Manchu tribes, though he quickly consolidated his power, unifying the tribes and founding the Later Jin dynasty in 1616.

He also led a rebellion against the reigning Ming dynasty. This would turn out to be a long war: it was under his grandson that the dynasty Nurhaci had founded (now renamed the Qing dynasty) would finally rule China. The Qing dynasty would continue to govern into the twentieth century, when it was finally replaced by the Republic of China following the Xinhai Revolution of 1911.

With such an illustrious history, it’s surprising that he accepted such a—ahem—small part in Temple of Doom.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

The Indiana Jones are full of Star Wars references: one of the more noticeable is the name of the nightclub in Temple of Doom.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones needs to cut a stick to the right length in order to create The Staff of Ra, a doodad that will tell him the secret location of the Ark of the Covenant. Those dastardly Nazis are building their own staff with the help of evil archaeologist Belloq, but when the heroes make their calculations using clues on the staff’s headpiece, Jones realises that the bad guys have got it wrong:

Omar: (Reading the headpiece.) This means six kaddam high.

Sallah: About 72 inches.

Omar: Wait! (Omar turns the headpiece over.) … and take back one kaddam to honour the Hebrew God whose Ark this is.

Indiana Jones: You said their headpiece only had markings on one side, are you absolutely sure? Belloq’s staff is too long. They’re digging in the wrong place!

So if six kaddams make about 72 inches, one kaddam must be 12 inches, or a foot. Therefore, the correct length for the staff is 60 inches, and this makes it only around five feet tall.

However, when we later see Jones carrying it (see the screenshot above), it’s a good foot taller than him, which means that either Indiana Jones is only four foot tall, or somebody in the props department wasn’t reading the script very closely…

(People have tried surprisingly hard to find justifications for the apparent discrepancy: see also the lengthy discussions of the problem on fansite Raider.net.)