Most people know that Tom Selleck was the original choice to play Indiana Jones but did you know that Tim Matheson also tested for the role? Or did you know that Sean Young tested for the part of Marion Ravenwood? These facts and so much more are revealed in The Complete Making of Indiana Jones from Del Rey Books. The 300 page, over-sized trade paperback delves deep into the Indiana Jones series and explores all four films with an abundance of interesting stories and facts and hundreds of photos.
A third of the book is devoted to Raiders of the Lost Ark for several reasons. This chapter not only looks at the development of the first film, but the genesis of the character as well as the friendship that developed between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The pair met for the first time back in 1968 on the campus of UCLA where Lucas’ film THX 1138 4EB was being shown during a student film festival. It’s amazing how much the careers of these two men parallel each other. They both had early films that were well received before they each had their first mega-hit in the mid-70s, Spielberg with Jaws, and Lucas with Star Wars.
You almost feel like you are part of those early meetings regarding Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones (Originally called Indiana Smith!). Lucas, Spielberg, and writer Lawrence Kasdan were meeting in early 1978 and already drafting a script and drawing storyboards. Excerpts from these meetings and early concept art and sketches are provided to give the reader a sense of how much planning went into what was, at the time, considered to be a “B” movie. Legendary comic book artist Jim Steranko was hired to produce several paintings to help develop the look of the film and the character. You’ll learn about scenes that never made the final cut including the experimental Nazi jet aircraft. You also get to see rare photos of Selleck screen testing with Sean Young and Matheson screen testing with Karen Allen. The book is like a daily diary, zealously chronicled by those who were there and lived through it all…there’s details about production difficulties and delays, like all the stuntmen getting sick at once during Raiders.
The chapter on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (originally entitled…Temple of Death) provides a peek at the early script and shooting summary. This was the film that caused the MPAA to create the now common PG-13 rating as they were confused over whether to rate the film PG or R due to some of the graphic imagery and child slavery. One of the most notorious difficulties was dealing with the over 80,000 insects that the film required, whose numbers would decrease each day during shooting as they would simply disappear into cracks and cervices.
From there it’s on to exploring Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the latest film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which went through numerous title changes). The last chapter is especially interesting because it shows how long a fourth Indy film was in the works but the difficulties in getting everyone onboard took many years to work out.
This is a fantastic book, loaded with information and photos. Even the most avid Indiana Jones fan will be amazed at the content in the book.