Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Questionable Jones No. 1

Indiana Jones films are truly a wretched hive of scum and villainy... or they wouldn't be any fun.

Question: "Who was your favorite villain?"

Scott's Answer: Believe it or not, I don't really have a favorite villain. Belloq is the best-acted and best-written villain but I think Mola Ram is the most impressive from a visual (or "cinematic") perspective. I'll pick the safe answer and go with Belloq. He was also the only villain with whom Indy was already somewhat acquainted.

Andrew's Answer: I'm going to go with Major Toht (Ronald Lacey). He's the black-leather coated Nazi who has them digging in the wrong place. :) Remember this? "Shoot zem. . . shoot zem bos." I love his ruthlessness. And even more, I love that he's no fool. He is a worthy challenge for Indi, which makes Indi's victory all the more impressive.

35 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

We're going to start mixing our Questionable articles so come check every Tuesday. :)

BIG MO said...

Andrew - Wasn't it agent Toht who said "Shoot them both"?

Belloq and Mola Ram were excellent villains. Belloq and Indy were essentially the same man, except Indy had his limits: While both men hungered after the history of the artifacts, Indy (usually) loved the thrill of the discovery, whereas Belloq craved the power the artifacts could bring him.

Mola Ram was pure menace done very well.

Donovan from Last Crusade, though, combined Belloq's crave for power and Mola Ram's callousness with human life. The most chilling moment in all the Indy movies comes near the end of Last Crusade, inside the grail temple.

Donovan: "What do you say, Jones? Ready to go down in history?"

Indy: [contemptuous] "As what? A faceless Nazi stooge like you?!"

Donovan: "A Nazi? [chuckles] Is that the limitation of your view? The Nazis just want to write themselves into the Grail legend, take on the world. Well, they're welcome to it, but I want the Grail itself, the Cup that gives everlasting life. Hitler can have the world, but he can't take it with him. I'm going to be drinking my health when he's gone the way of the dodo. The Grail is mine, Dr. Jones, and you're going to get it for me."

Indy: "Shooting me won't get you anywhere."

Donovan: "You know something, Doctor Jones? You're absolutely right."

And he turns and coldly shoots Indy's father in the stomach.

Jason said...

I have to say I love Mola Ram's delivery.

"You don't believe me, Dr. Jones? You will, Dr. Jones. You will become a true believer."

It's a toss-up between him and Colonel Dietrich for me.

ScottDS said...

BIG MO -

Yeah, that was Toht, though I'm pretty sure it sounded more like, "Shoot 'zem both." :-)

I mentioned in my defense of Doom last year that, while Mola Ram doesn't have a personal relationship with Indy, he makes up for it in sheer menace and theatricality, so it's nice to see some love for the character 'round these parts.

Donavan was good, though he kinda pales in comparison to his predecessors, though that's not the actor's fault and we do get a hot femme fatale to go with him.

ScottDS said...

Jason -

Good stuff with Mola Ram! All the films were running earlier in the week (I think on Spike) looking gorgeous in HD and I maintain that Doom is one of Spielberg's best-looking movies, period. Interestingly, the actor who played Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) passed away in 2005 - apparently, he was a huge figure in India's theater and film scene.

Colonel Dietrich was a formidable villain as well, though I tend to classify villains as "main villain" and "henchman" à la the Bond films.

Tennessee Jed said...

haven't seen them all. I think I like the Nazi chick who did both Connery and Ford, though. As an alternative, the monkey from the first film.

tryanmax said...

TJ, that would be Elsa Schneider, and she is my favorite antagonist, as well.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

They're all worth watching, at least the first three.

You might want to sample the fourth one day, at least parts of it, if only to understand the pain and anguish in our voices when Andrew and I discuss it. :-)

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I wouldn't call Elsa a favorite but she's definitely up there. The "She talks in her sleep" scene is a classic and Ford/Connery get all the mileage they can out of it. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Dang it. I put the wrong name. I'll change that. Thanks for catching that.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - those are the 3 I've seen, and while like a lot of sequels, none equalled the original, the second and third were pretty good. TMax - she can antagonize me any day :)

AndrewPrice said...

All in all, I like all the villains, but I think you can't beat the villains from the first film. Raiders is packed with quality villains from top to bottom, which is truly unusual for Hollywood.

rlaWTX said...

Ok - the guy that melts in Raiders and the Kali guy are pretty good, but I think the combo of the power-hungry Nazi and the slimy femme fatale in Last Crusade wins for overall Badness.

BIG MO said...

Andrew - no problem!

Raiders also has four minor villains that really make the movie come alive:

1) The big bruiser boxer during the plane fight, who was permanently sliced right out of the picture.

2) Another German soldier whose face we never see, after the U-boat arrives at the island. Indy jumped a soldier and stole his uniform, only it doesn't fit. Another soldier (either an NCO or officer) sees Indy and starts to berate him as a slob and goof-off. In German, he says: "Good day… Tired … ? You are a pig!” (Or something like that.) Indy starts to comb his hair and straighten up – then slugs the soldier and takes his uniform.

3) The swordsman in the Cairo market fight/basket chase, who does this elaborate dance with his sword to intimidate Indy and challenge him to a sword fight. But our intrepid adventurer pulls out his pistol and blasts the man. (In case you don’t know the story behind it: Ford was under the weather that day, and when it came time to do the elaborate sword duel, Ford instead tiredly “shot” the stuntman. Spielberg liked it so much he kept it in the film.)

4) FBI agent Eaton was sort of a villain, if only to represent universal bureaucratic foolishness. At the very end of the film, Indy and Brody demand to know where the ark is. Eaton’s final statement is perfect – and perfectly delivered:

Brody: Where is the ark?
Eaton: I thought we'd settled that. The ark is somewhere very safe.
Indy: From whom?
Brody: The ark is a source of unspeakable power and it has to be researched!
Eaton: And it will be, I assure you, Doctor Brody, Doctor Jones. We have top men working on it right now.
Indy: Who?!
Eaton: Top. Men.

Marvelous!

ScottDS said...

BIG MO -

I say "Top. Men." all the time. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, Agreed. From top the bottom, Raiders is full of worthy challenges and I think that's what makes the film such a good one. Too often, Hollywood makes the villains and the henchmen into buffoons or drones, which robs the hero of any chance to really be heroic.

K said...

I think the two villains Indiana Jones had the most problems with, and to whom he eventually lost to, were George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

= aliens + Shia + Karen Allen redux

Also, I can't help but wonder if the Indy franchise would have been better off after the first perfect entry if it had gone Lovecraftian rather than doing the world tour of religious icons.




ScottDS said...

K -

I don't know who should get more of the blame: Lucas for insisting on crystal skulls and aliens, uh, I mean "inter-dimensional beings," or Spielberg for going along with it!

Shia doesn't bother me that much in the film but I feel bad for Karen Allen and especially John Hurt - I hope he got paid handsomely for playing an incoherent, poorly-written fool!

AndrewPrice said...

K, LOL! I think you've found the true villains! :)

K said...

ScottDS: I didn't mind Shia per se - but Shia doing the Brando "Wild One" and Tarzan schtick in one movie just blew my willing suspension of belief right out of the theater.

OTOH, John Hurt is an adult and knew what he was getting himself in for. I think he just wanted to be part of the Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness and Sir Christopher Lee club of great British actors who did at least one film for the uber kitchy but super popular Lucas Spielberg combine.

Jason said...

ScottDS: I blame George. Ever seen that clip of Spielberg talking about the aliens idea? He looked soooo beat down that just giving in and doing it would get George off his back. It's hard not to sympathize with the guy!

Commander Max said...

Andrew again we like the same guy.

"Your fire is dying here..."

The Nazi's(National Socialist Party) are some of the best villains out there in reality and fantasy. The Soviet's didn't have any style in comparison.

I never saw the latest Indy film, Indiana Jones without Nazi's just doesn't work. That was proven in the 2nd film.

Raiders was a top notch film, hands down.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, That's an awesome line too about the fire. :)

I agree, the Nazis were cool bad guys, the Soviets are dull. They just don't have the evil flare... they're more like low-grade thugs.

AndrewPrice said...

Jason, K and Scott, I blame Lucas as well. I think Spielberg is capable of much, much better than he achieved in Skulls.

Commander Max said...

I would say the same for all of the other socialists/commies of the world. But who is going to tell a low grade thug he needs to dress better?


ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I think if you read between the lines when watching this clip, you can tell Spielberg was never crazy about it.

ScottDS said...

Max -

There's a very good Seinfeld episode where Elaine finds herself dating a Communist and I think she has a line where she nitpicks the guy's taste in wardrobe:

(ah, found it!)

"Just because you're a Communist, does that mean you can't wear anything nice? You look like Trotsky. It's gorgeous. Fine, you want to be a Communist, be a Communist. Can't you at least look like a successful Communist?"

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I never did understand why the socialists are so poorly dressed. Maybe it's lack of taste? Maybe it's an attempt to make an ideological statement through their clothing, I'm not sure.

In a way, I'm glad they don't though because people do often fall for snazzy packaging.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yeah, you kind of get the feeling that he really didn't think aliens was a good idea.

obiwan2009 said...

First of all, life's been busy, but I am back for a little fun tonight. Thanks for making it about Indiana Jones.

I enjoyed the Third One, and enjoyed Walter Donovan as the villain, mainly because he was an enemy who really pricked Indiana Jones a whole lot. Forget hold Indy's friends hostage, he delivered his own father, Henry Jones Sr., an otherwise fatal gunshot wound right there on the spot, and pretty much coerced Indy to go get the relic. Not to mention he also got Indy through having someone go undercover and get close to Indy in the form of that Austrian woman Elsie, I believe. Donovan was a gifted, brilliant opponent, that struck harsh chords against Indy, and had the subtle knife, if you will, against him.

Plus I enjoyed Last Crusade for Sean Connery as Indy's Father, plenty of cool phrases and witty ideas (birds on the beach while quoting Charlemagne come to mind)

Commander Max said...

The bad clothes must be a way to relate to the common man. Since living in a palace sure doesn't.

I too liked the third film, it was all fun.

ScottDS said...

obiwan -

I believe it was "Elsa." :-)

And Connery's Charlamagne quote is one of my favorite Indy quotes, period, even if he's quoting someone else.

There was a time when Last Crusade was airing on HBO seemingly every day. This was many years ago and it was really my first experience with the Indiana Jones franchise. Between that and me being a sucker for a father/son story, this one will always have a special nostalgic value for me.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, I really like Connery as Ford's father as well. That was a great choice.

rlaWTX said...

the comments about "commie clothes" brought to mind the 80s Wendy's commercials with the East German fashion show... "Evenik Vear"

Koshcat said...

Belloq-

He is like Indy's evil side. Both intelligent. Both driven but to different goals. I think they could have easily had another movie with Belloq but would have to occur before Raiders.

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