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Trivia / Raiders of the Lost Ark

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Accidentally Correct Writing: The flying wing airplane that the villains use in the climax was a fictional design inspired by the Horten Ho 229 (which didn't exist in 1937, and was a jet). In the script, it's called a "Blohm & Voss BV-38"; no such plane exists. However, there just so happens to have been another real Nazi flying wing design almost identical to the one in the movie, which the filmmakers were unaware of.
  • Acting for Two:
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    • Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film - once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane's propeller.
    • Vic Tabilan plays Indy's treacherous guide and the monkey man.
  • California Doubling: On-location filming took place primarily in Hawaii and Tunisia, doubling for South America and Egypt respectively. In Hawaii, they filmed on the island of Kauai, where Speilberg would return to shoot the Isla Nublar scenes for Jurassic Park. Tunisia also plays the Nazis' secret island for the scene when Indy threatens to blow up the Ark. In fact, it's the same canyon where R2-D2 was captured by Jawas in A New Hope. The submarine base is actually located in France, and was also featured in Das Boot, which was being filmed at the same time incidentally. With the studio sets built at Elstree Studios, most of the U.S. scenes were filmed at the nearby Royal Masonic School, with the result that England doubles for the U.S.
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  • Deleted Scene: See here.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Ronald Lacey shaved his scalp to play Toht. While walking to the Ark-opening ceremony, he removes his hat to wipe his brow, and the shadow of his stubble can be seen.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • The French Belloq is played by the very British Paul Freeman.
    • The Welsh John Rhys-Davies plays Sallah.
    • The British Ronald Lacey plays the Nazi torturer Toht.
    • The British Alfred Molina plays the South-American Sapito.
  • Fan Remake: A now-famous shot-for-shot remake, conducted over the course of several summers by some enterprising Mississippi boys; it received Steven Spielberg's approval many years later.
  • List of Films You Should See By the Age of 14: #34
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: During one scene, Spielberg had set up a ring of torches to keep the snakes away, but being cold-blooded reptiles, they are naturally drawn to sources of heat and kept slithering nearer. At one point, he just grabs one by the 'neck' and stares it in the eyes, yelling:
    "Why do you like fire!? You're supposed to hate fire! You are ruining my movie!"
    • The opening sequence featured live tarantulas on Alfred Molina, but they did not move until a female tarantula was introduced.
  • No Stunt Double: Harrison Ford did most of the stunt work himself, including the scene in which he is getting dragged behind the truck. He sustained several bruised ribs from the stunt and later said "if the stunt was dangerous, we wouldn't have done it."
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  • Orphaned Reference: When Indy and Marion head from the Well of the Souls to the plane, you can see an unconscious man in the background. This is the result of a deleted scene where Indy knocks him out after escaping.
  • Prop Recycling: The U-boat sailing prop was the U-96, rented from the production of Das Boot. In fact, the German crew woke up one day to find it was suddenly missing because someone forgot to tell them that Spielberg was borrowing it. The secret U-boat base was filmed at the La Rochelle U-boat Pen, which was also used in the filming of Das Boot.
  • Recycled Set: The Well of Souls sequence was filmed on the set of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: The swordsman chase scene originally involved Indy disarming the man with his whip, but Harrison Ford was sick with dysentery at the time, and he asked if he could just shoot the man, which the final cut had him doing.
  • Star-Making Role: For Harrison Ford. A New Hope was a huge success and his Lovable Rogue became an Ensemble Dark Horse, but it was after Raiders of the Lost Ark that he stopped being "the guy from Star Wars" and became Harrison Ford. Tellingly, despite his ties to George Lucas, Ford only got the role when first pick Tom Selleck couldn't get time off from Magnum, P.I., considering Lucas was against using Ford after using him in several of his previous films to avoid being like Martin Scorsese and Robert de Niro.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The legendary Cairo swordsman scene is one of the most famous in all movies. Harrison Ford had become horribly sick and was feeling too ill to shoot the (planned) highly elaborate sword, so he suggested Indy just shoot the bastard, and the rest is history.
    • Harrison Ford ad-libbed the line "It's not the years, honey. It's the mileage."
    • Ford's stumble in the boulder scene was deemed to look authentic and was left in.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Tom Selleck auditioned for the role of Indiana Jones before Harrison Ford was cast. However, Selleck turned it down due to contractual obligations with CBS for Magnum, P.I.
    • Debra Winger, Jane Seymour, Mary Steenburgen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amy Irving, Dee Wallace, Barbara Hershey, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Sean Young read for the role of Marion Ravenwood before the casting of Karen Allen.
    • Jonathan Pryce and Giancarlo Giannini were considered for the part of Belloq before Paul Freeman was cast.
    • Danny DeVito was initially chosen for Sallah before the casting of John Rhys-Davies, but dropped out of the project due to filming commitments to Taxi.
    • An early draft of the script had Indy traveling to Shanghai to recover a piece of the Staff of Ra. During his escape from the museum, where it was housed, he was to be sheltered from machine gun fire, behind a giant rolling gong. Also in the same script, Indy and Marion flee the chaos caused by the opening of the Ark in a wild mine-cart chase sequence. Both of these scenes were cut from the script, but ended up in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
    • On a more disturbing note, Lucas and Spielberg actually considered making Marion twelve in the backstory when she first had a relationship with an adult Indy. For perspective, that's the same age as Short Round. (Not that the final product was that much of an improvement; in the official backstory, Marion was fifteen and Indy was still in his twenties.)
    • The iconic scene where Indy shoots the sword wielding guard was actually meant to be a lengthy sword fight that would have taken three days to shoot. However, Harrison Ford was suffering from dysentery at the time and could only film scenes in ten minute increments. Thus Ford and Steven Spielberg decided it would be better to simply have Indy shoot the swordsman instead.
    • When Brody first goes to Indy's house to discuss the mission, Jones is dressed the way he is because he is entertaining a young woman in his bedroom. The script originally planned to show her before moving to the next scene, to give Indy a more worldly persona (like James Bond). However, her appearance was cut, as Spielberg thought that being a playboy did not fit Indy's character.
    • In the original draft, Toht and Dietrich are named Belzig and Schleimann. Also in that draft, Toht/Belzig is in the rear car during the desert chase, and goes off the cliff with it. Dietrich is not present for the opening of the Ark, which takes place inside a Tabernacle tent. Instead he is outside, and is killed while pursuing Indy and Marion in their escape.
    • In Lawrence Kasdan's earlier drafts of the film, Indy was the direct cause of Barranca's death instead of the Hovitos. When Barranca pulls his gun out on Jones, the archaeologist uses his whip to make Barranca shoot himself.
  • Word of God: On the Pinball Protagonist arguement, Lucas and Spielberg have countered that Belloq only opened the Ark because Indy showed up, and he wanted a final "screw you" to his rival, and that Hitler would have been savvy enough not to open it.
  • Word of Saint Paul: Karen Allen came up with her own back-story for the character, such as what happened to her mother, her romance with Indiana at age 15, and her time in Nepal; Spielberg described it as "an entirely different movie". This even included Marion prostituting herself following her father's death.

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