Dr Henry Walton Jones Jr- known to most people as the fedora wearing, whip carrying archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of its release today; June 12th 2021.
Originally released on this date in 1981 in the USA, the film has gone on to spawn 3 sequels, with a 4th currently in production. RotLA has also inspired books, comics, audio dramas, video games and of course the “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” (Later renamed ‘The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones’) as well as the usual merchandise of action figures, pop figures and more. I’ve obviously seen all the films and the TV show multiple times. I loved playing the Atari game too.
In the UK the film was released roughly 5 weeks after the US. It came out on Thursday 30th July 1981 and that was the day I first saw it. I was 9 years old.
I didn’t do well socially at school. I had 3 close friends I could trust and that was about it. Two of those friends, Nick and David, were also part of the same swimming club as me. This club met on a Thursday at 5pm. Over the previous year, myself, Nick and David had been working our way through all of the swimming awards that were available from the ASA at the time.
We had completed everything except the final award known as ‘The Honours Award’. I can’t remember the details but you had to carrying out a specific set of tasks all with a 45 minute period. Swimming 30 lengths of an Olympic size pool with the first 15 fully clothed in trousers, tee-shirt, sweater, and training shoes. At 15 you had to stop- undress underwater and throw all your clothes poolside except for your trousers which you had to make a float out of. The last 15 lengths consisted of swimming down to the pool bottom and through a 2m tunnel before surfacing. After that it was tasks such as treading water and holding your breath underwater.
Needless to say at the end we were knackered but we all passed! To celebrate, Nick’s dad took us all for McDonalds and then onto the cinema to see ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. I went in knowing nothing except that the guy that played Han Solo was in it.
We all came out totally blown away by the film and it became one of those films that was replayed over and over in the playgrounds and parks. I saw it again with my parents and younger brother and again with one of my Grans. I tried to make my own costume and props but they were not perfect! It was the 80’s!!
So many iconic scenes to choose from. The boulder run at the start, the shooting of the swordsman and so on…outstanding! We played these scenes over and over again.
Admittedly, it took me a while to see where R2D2 and C3PO appeared in the film.
This had me hooked on the whole franchise to the point that I have some collectables, I’ve 3D printed some items, I have some autographs and have met some of the cast (BUT NOT HARRISON FORD!! PLEASE, I NEED TO BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!).
Ahem, sorry for that outburst! I also have, but lost the paperwork for, one of the stunt Bullwhips used on the film. They are longer than the regular one Indy carries and were used for scenes that required Indy to swing across something. I bought it years ago from a reputable prop-seller but lost the damn paperwork!
I love all the films, including the 4th. Yes, it has some issues but it was a fun romp. I can’t wait for Indy 5!But out of all of them ‘The Last Crusade’ is my favourite.
I have one regret. Just down the road from me is an old chapel that was built in the mid-1800s for the poor of the area. In the mid-80s it was converted into a film and tv studio. One summer, about a month or two after ‘The Last Crusade came out, I was walking past the studio. Sat outside relaxing in the sun was the actor Denholm Elliott (Dr Marcus Brody). I said hello to him and he said hello and asked how I was. After the very brief chat I went on my way. Just under 3 years later he died. Although I have that memory, I wish I’d gotten his autograph.
The main cast are all amazing to meet. Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood) is beautiful both on the inside and out. John Rhys-Davis (Sallah) is hilarious and a nice guy. I’ve not yet met a cast member who wasn’t fan-friendly. (I HAVEN’T MET HARRISON YET, DID I MENTION?)
The franchise even inspired this father and son to cosplay as Indy and his dad Henry Sr at a con in Milton Keynes. They did an amazing job!
So that’s it. That’s how I met Indy and how my relationship with him continued over time. I hope we have Indy around in one form or another for many years to come!
Note to Kathleen Kennedy:- If ever you decide to make films where you need a much younger Indy, maybe set between the TV show and the films, I think Alden Ehrenreich would be a good casting!