Here is my personal list, one at a time, of the top ten movie characters ever. However, feel free to agree or offer better choices and argument. SPOILER CAUTION! The content below may give away some of the plot of the film(s) concerned.
#2 – INDIANA JONES
Indiana Jones is not just a superb movie character, he is an icon. He is the Professor of Archaeology who is also the hero who is forever in over his head, getting himself into and then out of tricky situations. In four films, we have followed Indy in his fedora hat, leather jacket and bull whip through his adventures to find or rescue some ancient artefact.
Dr. Jones is made larger than life by the amazing Harrison Ford, in a role he was born to play (it was very nearly played by Tom Selleck). From the opening sequence in the 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark with the tarantulas, the booby traps, swapping the statue for a bag of sand and then finally escaping being crushed by the giant rock ball, only to be confronted by hundreds of arrows pointed at his head and having to give up the statue, you are completely drawn into the world of Indiana Jones and totally hooked.
We don’t learn a lot about Indiana Jones in the first or second films, only that he is an archaeologist who cannot stay in the library and will risk his life to ensure dangerous and powerful objects, such as the Ark of the Covenant, do not fall into the hands of evil Nazis. He is obviously a hero and always on the side of good, a man of conviction but also know he has got on the wrong side of several people.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark:
(talking about Marion’s late father)
Marion: He said you were a bum.
Indiana: Aw, he’s being generous.
Marion: The most gifted bum he ever trained. You know, he loved you like a son. Took a hell of a lot for you to alienate him.
Indiana: Not much, just you.
Belloq: How odd that it should end this way for us after so many stimulating encounters. I almost regret it. Where shall I find a new adversary so close to my own level?
Indiana: Try the local sewer.
In Temple of Doom (1984):
Chattar Lal: Dr Jones, wasn’t it the Sultan of Madagascar who threatened to cut off your head if you ever returned to his country?
Indiana Jones: No, it wasn’t my head.
Chattar Lal: Then your hands, perhaps?
Indiana Jones: No, it wasn’t my hands. It was my… (looks down at his groin)… my misunderstanding.
The same qualities that alienate him from some, have also led to some close and loyal friendships who believe and trust in Indiana, friends such as Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) and Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan). We also learn he is not so keen on snakes.
Indiana: Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?
Sallah: Asps. Very dangerous. You go first.
We also learn from the first three films that he is attracted to intelligent and sassy women and the fact that none of them return in the film that follows, that he is not able to sustain a relationship. One woman, Marion Ravenwood (played by Karen Allen) has been a significant other of Indiana three separate times in his life, once before Raiders of the Lost Ask, then during that film and then in 2008’s disappointing Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Marion: You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.
Indiana: It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage
It is in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) that we discover much more about Indy’s background and character. We see Indiana as a boy (River Phoenix) and learn that his name is actually Henry Jones Jr. and that Indiana was the name of their dog and he adopted this name as a rebellion against his father who simply refers to him as ‘Junior’.
Sallah: Please, what does it always mean, this… this “Junior”?
Professor Henry Jones: That’s his name. Henry Jones … Junior.
Indiana Jones: I like “Indiana.”
Professor Henry Jones: We named the *dog* Indiana.
Marcus Brody: May we go home now, please?
Sallah: The dog? (starts laughing)You are named after the dog? HA HA HA…!
Indiana Jones: I’ve got a lot of fond memories of that dog.
We also see the guy who Indiana has modelled himself on, in terms of look, and it is he who gives Indy his iconic fedora hat. We also learn where he gets his bull whip and how it causes the scar on Harrison Ford’s chin. The main character development is gained from his interactions with his father Henry Jones (Sean Connery) who he has been almost completely estranged from in 20 years by the time of the Last Crusade film.
Professor Henry Jones: You don’t?! You think my son would be that stupid? That he would bring my diary all the way back here?
Professor Henry Jones: You didn’t, did you?
Professor Henry Jones: You didn’t bring it, did you?
Indiana Jones: Well, uh…
Professor Henry Jones: You *did*?!
Indiana Jones: Look, can we discuss this later?
Professor Henry Jones: I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers!
Indiana Jones: Will you take it easy?
Professor Henry Jones: Take it easy? Why do you think I sent it home in the first place? So it wouldn’t fall into their hands!
Indiana Jones: I came here to SAVE you!
Professor Henry Jones: Oh, yeah? And who’s gonna come to save you, JUNIOR?
Indiana Jones: (shouts) I *told* you… (grabs a gun and shoots all soldiers dead) …DON’T call me Junior!
As they share the adventure together, Indiana comments on them finally having a quiet drink together and the last time that had happened, he had had a milkshake.
Indiana Jones: It was just the two of us, dad. It was a lonely way to grow up. For you, too. If you had been an ordinary, average father like the other guys’ dads, you’d have understood that.
Professor Henry Jones: Actually, I was a wonderful father.
Indiana Jones: When?
Professor Henry Jones: Did I ever tell you to eat up? Go to bed? Wash your ears? Do your homework? No. I respected your privacy and I taught you self- reliance.
Indiana Jones: What you taught me was that I was less important to you than people who had been dead for five hundred years in another country. And I learned it so well that we’ve hardly spoken for twenty years.
Professor Henry Jones: You left just when you were becoming interesting.
Although the film is about the search for the Holy Grail, it is really a search for the lost love of a father and son. As they journey along their quest, they regain their respect and admiration for each other.
Even though the fourth film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, is not so good in terms of storyline and character development, it is enjoyable only because of the Indiana Jones character. We had all missed Indy and could not wait to see him don that hat again and embark on another amazing adventure.
Indiana Jones is a movie character that will be enjoyed for generations to come. I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark again for the first time in several years and had forgotten not only what a great film it was, but how great the Indiana Jones character truly is.