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This is certainly not a bad way of looking at it either.
That Man from Rio is a definite acknowledged influence on Indiana Jones. Steven Spielberg has watched that film at least nine times (as expressed in a letter to director Philippe de Broca).
Up to His Ears is some uneven followup that has its moments, but you can notice that, starting with Ursula Andress, they tried a little too hard to rival with the James Bond franchise and they lot some of what made That Man from Rio so original and genuine.
In the seventies, Belmondo and de Broca teamed again for Le Magnifique/The Man from Acapulco, so-starring Jacqueline Bisset. It plays as a meta spoof on the James Bond films, but it's actually more based on the French cheap spy thriller books like the OSS 117 or the SAS series that were being churned out by some writer (Jean Bruce wrote 88 OSS books in 14 years) or ghostwriters (the SAS series) at the risk of being repetitive and derivative. Here, an out of inspiration François Merlin (Belmondo) starts to weave elements of his private life and fantasies into the bigger-than-life adventures of his fictional double, also played by Belmondo.
That Man from Rio is itself very much inspired by the Tintin books, and is basically a stealth adaptation with a more adult protagonist (shortly before, the crew for that film had worked on an adaptation that was ultimately canceled, hence their deep familiarity). Spielberg was unaware of the connections, and that's only when ROTLA was released that he heard about Tintin, and bought the adaptation rights a couple of years later... resulting in the adaptation that involved Craig.
That Man from Rio had a motorbike chase taking place in Paris, where Belmondo doesn't wear any helmet. It's inspired by a sequence from King Ottokar's Sceptre, and it was mentioned as an influence on M:I Fallout.
And it looks like that people in the Hong Kong film industry were quite impressed when they saw that Belmondo performed most of his own stunts. Jackie Chan apparently heard about it, and used it as an inspiration.
You can also spot Belmondo as an influence of many Japanese creations. His face was the model for Cobra and Lupin III (though it hasn't been confirmed for the latter), and even the Belmont character in the Castlevania games is a tribute to Belmondo.
I think I'd still rank Raiders above it, but I remain baffled by people who say Temple is a bad film. As you say, the pacing is flawless and it's just one of the best adventure movies ever made. The first act, from musical sequence to diamond exchange to nightclub brawl to car chase to plane escape to white river ride, is an opening sequence which no Bond film can match, it's amazing.
For me Raiders is the better film overall; but Temple is better-directed, plus I think Ford was really at his movie star peak by this point and is even better than he was in Raiders.
Crusade is still excellent, but perhaps just a little ragged in places comparatively.
Spot on, that's mostly how I feel about them. I was surprised to see more folks don't feel the same way about TTOD, didn't know it wasn't as loved as I expected it might be.
This is quite the wealth of trivia! I've seen Le Magnifique before—great film, btw—but didn't realize it was the same director who did That Man from Rio and Up to His Ears. I didn't realize the roundabout way Spielberg came to appreciate Tintin either.
But I digress. As a child I wasn't happy with Temple of Doom. I found it dark and disturbing. Fast forward to my older years and I have come to appreciate the film on a different level. Showing it to my youngest son he thought the violence was a bit too much as well. Guess some things never change. LOL
Looking at it now, the opening sequence is brilliant, as is the whole final section, with the mine cart chase and rope bridge finale, but the middle section strains to keep you interested, and Kate Capshaw gets on your nerves, and doesn't have an ounce of Karen Allens charm or good looks. 'Raiders' maintains your interest throughout, therefore its still the one to beat! 'Last Crusade' has a wonderful appearance by Connery, but the action and effects are poor, and it has a lame opening and even more lame finale!
Compared to 'Raiders' and 'Temple of Doom', its lame! Nothing really exciting, and it doesn't help that Ford doesn't appear!
Ah okay - it's probably the weakest of the bunch, but considering how good the openings of the previous two were, I think "lame" is stretching it a bit. I find it quite charming and clever, even if it's not as iconic as the opening to Raiders or as relentless as the opening to Temple. The hat transition from young Indy to older Indy is superb.
The boat being called 'Coronado' does always make me wonder: perhaps Panama Hat's claim on the Cross was legitimate? Is Indy just stealing it? :D
But I do slightly cringe at how every element of Indy's iconography is established in so short a time. Imagine a similarly eventful afternoon where young Bond earns his facial scar, first drives an Aston Martin, picks up a Walther PPK and learns all about the joys of beautiful women and vodka martinis, shaken not stirred (and yes, he does look like he gives a damn...)
I'm not sure I'd go so far as "lame," but it's certainly fair to call Crusade's opening very underwhelming by comparison with Raiders and Doom. I like the idea of Crusade's prologue, but when you're expecting some jaw-dropping action sequence that really gets you pumped for the adventure ahead watching an Eagle Scout hop train carriages is a bit like going from filet mignon to that one pepperoni left stuck to the lid of the pizza box. It's still really good. I'd just rather have the filet mignon.
Yeah, it's easily the best part of that film. A lot of fun.
You said it better than I did!
The opening of Last Crusade, establishing so many of Indy's future traits as well as his early relationship with his stern and obsessive father, is a joy and sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the film.
I still prefer release order for the films in terms of quality, but I think the first three are all very close.
Agreed. Personally, though, I've never been a fan of prequel bits where all the indicators of what makes a character are suddenly realized. It just feels too easy. No doubt this was a defining moment in Indy's life but it's all way too convenient.
It's the tone and nuance that matters here. It's playful, but also plants the seeds for the rest of The Last Crusade. The opening is not trying to out action the first two Indy films, it is deliberately taking a fresh path, one which supports the rest of the film, which is the most character based Indy film. It's just good and smart storytelling.
Yeah, if it were any other character like Han Solo or whatever it would be clumsy that he discovers all of his iconic accoutrements in an afternoon, but the thing about Indy is that he isn't a real character. He's a perfect construct of cinema; every scene exists to be a perfectly-directed witty piece of moviemaking. So I don't need him to be believable or even hugely consistent (the "It belongs in a museum" mantra here very much contradicts the younger Indy of Temple's "Fortune and glory" ethic, but it just doesn't matter), I just need it to be a brilliant cartoon, basically, with clever touches scattered throughout; and that's what the opening to Crusade is.
Also note that FordIndy's conversation with Panama Hat on the boat lasts a total of five lines between both of them: compare that to the endless nonsense about Georgian accents and mind control which slows down the opening to Crystal Skull so badly.