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Indy in outer space?

Posted by Thomasine Berg  May 23, 2008 12:54 PM

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Photo by David James/Paramount Pictures

Tom Russo here from the Sunday DVD page, stopping by the blog for a visit. After catching Sunday’s Boston media screening of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – my personal movie-going holy grail – I ran home all anxious to take a look back at a piece I had written years ago for the late, hopefully lamented Premiere magazine.

It was a roundup of various never-produced screenplays with a notable fanboy pedigree. The best one of all? (BE WARNED – SPOILERS START HERE.) “Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars,” written way back in 1995 by Jeb Stuart, who presumably got the gig partly thanks to his then-recent work on Harrison Ford’s “Fugitive” remake. (Stuart shared the broader Indy “story by” credit with George Lucas.)

Doing my own archaeological dig through dusty files, I located my copy of the script – and sure enough, you could see the roots of various story ideas that wound up in “Crystal Skull.” There was Indy, now a Cold War spy, tangling with the Commies. There was a wedding. There was our hero stumbling, explosively, right into the middle of a desert A-bomb test, a scene that ultimately survived very much intact. Ford even name-checks the term “saucer men from Mars” in the new movie as the action moves firmly into “X-Files” territory.

But memory is a funny thing. Going back over my Premiere text, I was a little thrown to realize that I hadn’t actually included “Indy IV.” And then, vaguely, it came back to me – my editor and I had instead placed a safer bet, going with an “Indy III” variation purportedly by Chris Columbus (“Harry Potter”) that featured a set piece recognizably incorporated into “Last Crusade.”

Our rationale for cutting “Saucer Men,” I think, was that the idea of Indy hunting for little green guys was entertaining and all – but clearly just too far out there to be trusted. Go figure. Makes it all the more apt that our headline on the piece was “Would Have, Could Have…Should Have?”

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

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