Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

A Chat with actor Chris Ellis: An interview by Nate Hill

Very excited to bring you my latest interview, with actor Chris Ellis! Chris has an epic and wonderful career, appearing in many films including Armageddon, The Island, The Dark Knight Rises, The Devil’s Rejects, The Guest, Catch Me If You Can, Transformers, Wonderland, Planet Of The Apes, October Sky, Mr. Bean, Con Air, Wag The Dog, A Little Princess, Crimson Tide and many more. He’s a true gentleman, a hard working performer and a great guy. Enjoy our chat!

 

Nate: How did you first get into acting? Was it something you always wanted, or did you stumble into it?
Chris: From age 5 while watching the Mickey Mouse Club on early television, I warbled, “Hey diddley dee, that actor’s life for me.”
Nate: I’ve heard you referred to as a character actor before. What is you opinion on the term, and would you categorize yourself as such?
Chris: A male character actor is one who never gets the girl because he is not pretty enough – too bald, too chubby, too southern. I have played such roles throughout a lengthy, undistinguished career. Just once I wanted to kiss the girl.

Nate: The Dark Knight Rises: How was your experience working on this film, with Christopher Nolan and such an epic scene on that bridge?
Chris: You have the advantage of me, sir, as I have never seen that movie. More to the point, I have never read the script, though I understand I appeared in it in the early, middle and late sections. The reason I never read the script is that I was never shown any part of it other than the pages containing my own dialogue, and those pages were drastically redacted such that I was able to see the immediate cues for my dialogue and nothing else. At one point, after shooting a scene over my shoulder, the camera was turned around on me for a reaction shot. My query as to what I might be reacting to and how was answered by Nolan so: “That is on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know.” He fleshed out that response by suggesting I react as if I were “reacting to the sight of two guys talking.” No one I know who saw the movie hinted that I never looked as if I didn’t know what the hell was going on, but in fact no plot point was ever made known to me, nor any suggestion of the long arc of the movie. On the other hand, I got paid well, travelled to Pittsburgh, New York City, and Nottinghamshire in England. In all three places I had lots of time off in which to wonder what the hell the movie was about and to do lots of sightseeing. Any time, Mr Nolan.
Nate: I’ve noticed that you work with Michael Bay very frequently. Are you two pals, or has that just been coincidence? How has you experience been on his films, Armageddon/The Island etc.?
Chris: I worked with Bay on Armageddon, Transformers, and The Island. He is said by some to lack gentility and sophistication, and I have seen him on sets demonstrating a want of courtesy to actors who permit him to do so, but if you want a big action movie grossing a billion dollars about exploding planets and trucks turning over in high speed traffic mishaps, he is your boy. If you want art, go to the Lemmle Theatre in Santa Monica. I do this for a living. I go to museums for art. 
Nate: The Devil’s Rejects: such a wild and crazy film. Very memorable part as the goofball cop. How was your experience on that set, working with Rob Zombie and William Forsythe?
Chris: One day I mentioned to my theatrical agent that I had always been a fan of horror movies, by which I meant the classics of that genre, mostly from the 1950s and 60s. Very next day he called me with an offer for “a horror movie by Rob Zombie,” of whom I had never heard. I wouldn’t call The Devil’s Rejects horror – more like a Charlie Manson wet dream, but Zombie was the soul of gentility on the set. He is covered in tattoos, many of them visual renderings of famous horror movie characters from a simpler time, and when I worked with him he kept his wallet attached to his person by a length of chain sagging with languor between the wallet and his belt loop. This is a fashion accessory I associate with the Donald Trump demographic but which was belied by Zombie’s gentle and quiet spirit. 
Nate: What are some of your favourite roles you have played in your career so far?
Chris: Last year I played a judge on a TV series called Murder In The First. That was my dream job, as it involved sitting in a comfortable chair all day long on set, frequently unshod, and with an improving book in my lap to which I could refer between the words, “Cut!” and “Action!” I quite enjoyed yet another incarnation of Sheriff Cracker von Peckerwood in a 2000 movie called The Watcher, not least because I was given a rather wide berth by the director and screenwriter in making the dialogue my own. Also, it was a character with whom I felt a comfortable intimacy. The same applies to the character I played in the movie Armageddon and in one episode of the TV show X-Files. Playing Deke Slayton in Apollo 13 was probably the actual thrill of a lifetime because we all believed while working on that movie that it would become a significant movie (which it remains) and because I remembered Deke while he had been part of the Soyuz/Apollo mission in 1975. But, I hope it will not appear to be taking the liberty of rodomontade to utter the hope that there never has been a time of stepping onto a movie set without breathing a prayer of inarticulate gratitude for the consummation of a lifetime’s desire.
Nate: How was your experience on Catch Me If You Can?
Catch Me If You Can was a joy to work on, first because the script is superb, and because it gave me the chance to work with Spielberg who is a gentleman non pareil and who offers every artistic freedom to everyone on set. When I worked with him, at the completion of each set up, he would ask to the crew as well as to the cast, “Does anybody want to try another one? Anybody want to try something a little different? We have the time, so let me know if you’d like to do anything else with this shot.” Of course he has a very competent crew surrounding him, so his movies are apt always to come in one time and under budget, so it was a joy to work with such freedom.
Nate: Do you have a favourite or preferred genre to work in, or is it all equally enjoyable? Just once I’d like to kiss the girl, but as I say, every time I step onto any kind of set I remind myself that I am not laying roofing tar in Phoenix during the summer. If you ever hear me complain about any circumstance of my livelihood, you are invited to come where I am and kick me in the nuts.
Nate: What is next for you? Any upcoming projects, cinematic or otherwise that you are excited about and would like to mention?
Chris: Nope. Mostly what I do for a living is wait for the phone to ring. My family and I are now on vacation, but soon as I get home I will be slouching toward the telephone hoping to god it rings.

Nate: Thank you so much for your time Chris, it’s been a pleasure, and keep up the awesome work!

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND – A REVIEW BY J.D. LAFRANCE

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I have been fascinated by UFOs and the notion of life on other planets ever since I was a kid and saw Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). At the time, it made a huge impression on me as it did with many of my generation. Nowadays, most people dismiss stories about UFOs or alien abductions as tabloid fare. They laugh at the stories of people being snatched by “little green men,” but over the years there have been some really interesting cases that have come to light.

In the past 40 years, the idea of UFOs and alien sightings has been investigated by numerous psychologists and psychiatrists like Carl Jung. Some of the first recorded sightings can be traced back to the late 1940s and during the 1950s when the UFO craze really took off. After this initial phenomenon died down, reports began to drop off as more and more people scoffed at the idea that people may have been abducted. They say that there’s no physical evidence that UFOs exist, but perhaps there is no publicly acknowledged physical evidence that UFOs exist. Spielberg’s film takes this idea and runs with it in an entertaining and engaging way that continues to fascinate me after all these years.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind begins in the Sonora Desert, Mexico during a blinding sandstorm. A group of scientists drive up in two vehicles. They are there because of a squadron of American World War II era fighter planes that have mysteriously resurfaced minus their pilots after disappearing during a training run in 1945. The scientist, led by a Frenchman named Lacombe (Francois Truffaut) question an old man who was there when the planes appeared and he claims that the sun came out at night and sang to him. I love the opening image of headlights just barely piercing the intense storm. Spielberg establishes a fantastic air of mystery during this sequence, which leads us right into the next scene.

At an air traffic control center in Indianapolis, a controller is in communication with pilots in two different planes that experience a brief run-in with a UFO. Nobody can explain it, but the pilots don’t want to report it as such. What I like about this sequence is that we get a few more teasing details about the alien craft from the pilots, but we don’t actually see anything, which only adds to the intrigue.

In Muncie, Indiana, a little boy named Barry (Cary Guffey) is awoken in the middle of the night by his toys suddenly activating. He’s not scared, but excited as if he’s met some new playmates. The sounds of crickets and the play of shadows across Barry’s room reminds me of summer nights as a child and really draws me in to this scene. The use of light inside and outside the house (including a brief glimpse at an incredible starry sky) is tremendous.

These three atmospheric teasers are all part of the same mystery – that whatever made the planes reappear almost caused two commercial airliners to crash into each other and also activated all of a little boy’s toys. Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography really shines in these early scenes, from the sandstorm in Mexico to the rural Muncie home to the beautiful night sky full of stars as electrical lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) goes on a call. Spielberg creates a tangible sense of place that immediately draws you into the film.

Roy is the film’s protagonist and I like how Spielberg expertly sets up the family dynamic of the Neary’s, like how Roy chastises his kids for having zero interest in going to a screening of Walt Disney’s animated classic Pinocchio (1940). He lives in a noisy, chaotic household and kind of acts like a kid himself. Roy soon has his own close encounter that changes his life forever. While he’s out on a call, late one night, a UFO hovers over his vehicle and bathes him in a blinding light. On his C.B. radio, Roy hears of others seeing what he saw and heads off in pursuit. Spielberg continues to tease us as a large shadow flies ominously over the stretch of road that Roy is driving along. He literally crosses paths with Barry and his mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon), narrowly avoiding running over the little boy with his truck. They witness several UFOs flying by in graceful formation at an incredible speed.

After his experience, Roy becomes obsessed with what he saw much to the chagrin of his family who don’t understand what he’s going through. Richard Dreyfuss does a fantastic job at conveying his character’s newfound mania. Roy is practically euphoric, but there is also a sense of child-like wonder and we are meant to share these sentiments. Spielberg takes us back and forth between the global and the personal, with Lacombe and his assistant Laughlin (Bob Balaban) going all over the world gathering evidence, and Roy’s own journey as he tries to make sense of an image of a large mountain in his head, which turns out to be Devils Tower in Wyoming.

Roy and Jillian’s journey to Devils Tower is an exciting adventure as they cover a lot of terrain, first by car and then by foot, facing constant opposition by the military. Throughout, Spielberg creates all kinds of tension as the two run across ominous signs that something isn’t right, like the livestock that lie dead by the side of the road. They risk getting caught several times and when they are captured, even manage to subsequently escape. This sequence also shows the United States’ government’s response to all of this activity. They create a fake threat to get people who live near Devils Tower to evacuate because Lacombe and his team believe that is where the aliens will establish contact. With the scandal of Watergate still fresh in people’s minds at the time, this elaborate ruse must’ve rung true with audiences who had a healthy distrust of their government. Spielberg really uses the environment around Devils Tower to great effect. You get a real sense of place and how imposing a structure it is for Roy and Jillian to traverse.

Fresh from his excellent supporting role in Jaws (1975), Richard Dreyfuss delivers a wonderfully layered performance as a man who doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. He knows what he saw and experienced, but is unable to get anyone to believe him, not even his family. Roy also has visions of a place he feels compelled to go to, but can’t articulate beyond constructing mountain-like images out of his mashed potatoes or mounds of dirt. It drives him and his family a little crazy and there’s a moving scene where Roy breaks down in front of his family during dinner that really makes you empathize with the poor guy. Eventually, his obsession is too much for his wife (Teri Garr) and kids and they leave him, afraid that his madness will consume them as well. It’s really quite incredible how much Roy alienates his family – something that, sadly, Spielberg has said he would never do now that he has a family of his own. It is heartbreaking to see how Roy’s mania affects his kids, causing them to act out, but Roy can’t help himself. Dreyfuss is so good at conveying this compulsion, this drive to make sense of what Roy experienced. Spielberg is unafraid to show the extremes of Roy’s behavior and how it affects his family.

Close Encounters’ impressive practical visual effects still hold up, like the animated cloud formation that occurs when the aliens appear and take Barry away or the colorful quartet of UFOs that Roy chases in his truck. These effects, in particular the show-stopping finale, are still awe-inspiring and have a tangible quality that has not dated at all. With the Barry abduction sequence, Spielberg demonstrates how you can convey so much by doing very little. With the use of lighting effects and some practical tricks, he creates an intense, nerve-wracking scene as the little boy is taken from his mother right from their house. We never actually see the aliens or the craft. This is all left up to our imagination. For most of the film we are only given glimpses of the UFOs as Spielberg gradually builds to the exciting climax where contact is achieved.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind’s influence can be seen either stylistically or thematically in other like-minded film such as The Abyss (1988), Contact (1997), Signs (2002), and, the most obvious homage, Super 8 (2011). For the ending of his film, Spielberg took a page out of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by making the aliens benign and enigmatic. Instead of falling back on the tried and true clichés of alien invasion movies from the 1950s, Spielberg presents aliens that only wish to communicate with us. He created a film full of wonder and hope, culminating in the transcendent climax where we make contact with the aliens. It is an incredible display of good ol’ fashion practical effects that is truly something to behold.

closeencounters2Close Encounters of the Third Kind was made by someone who sincerely believed that there was intelligent alien life on other planets and that if it did exist would not want to wipe us out. This yearning for answers, for wanting to believe is embodied perfectly in Spielberg surrogate Roy Neary. Whether or not you believe in life on other planets, this film still tells an entertaining and engaging story – a global-spanning epic that still feels personal and intimate. This was the first film Spielberg had made that he felt truly passionate about it and this is evident in every frame, brimming with sincerity and idealism that flew in the face of a lot cynicism of the 1970s. As a result, Close Encounters was a touchstone film for me. Seeing it a young age affected me profoundly and still does to a certain degree. It also spoke to a young, impressionable generation, instilling in them a fascination and wonder for the possibilities of intelligent life on other planets.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK – A REVIEW BY J.D. LAFRANCE

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There’s no disputing that Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) is one of the greatest action/adventure films ever made, featuring some of the most memorable action sequences ever put on celluloid. Who can forget part-time archaeologist, part-time adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) outrunning a giant boulder at the beginning of the film? Or the exciting gun battle in a Nepalese bar? Or Indy being dragged behind a truck full of Nazis? However, the older I get the more I appreciate the quieter moments in Raiders – the downtime between action set pieces. These scenes convey exposition and develop the characters. The credit for them working so well should be given to the film’s screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who also wrote the screenplays for such noteworthy films as The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Body Heat (1981), The Big Chill (1983), and many others. He’s written some of the best scripts ever committed to film and knows how to write witty dialogue and create engaging characters.

raiders1Kasdan’s ability to engage us in the obligatory exposition scene is evident early when Indy and his friend and colleague Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) meet with two military intelligence officers about the location of an old colleague of Indy’s – Abner Ravenwood – who might have an artifact – the headpiece of the Staff of Ra – that will reveal the location of the Ark of the Covenant, which the Nazis are eager to get their hands on. Indy and Marcus give the two men a quick history lesson on the Ark and its power. Marcus concludes with the ominous line about how the city of Tanis, that reportedly housed the Ark, “was consumed by the desert in a sandstorm which lasted a whole year. Wiped clean by the wrath of God.” The way Denholm Elliott delivers this last bit is a tad spooky and is important because it lets us know of the Ark’s power, his reverence for it, and why the Nazis are so interested in it. This dialogue also gives us an indication of the kind of danger that Indy is up against.

raiders2This segues to a nice little scene right afterwards at Indy’s home between the archaeologist and Marcus. He tells Indy that the United States government wants him to find the headpiece and get the Ark. As Indy gets ready they talk about the Ark. The camera pans away from Indy packing to a worried Marcus sitting on a sofa and he reveals his apprehension about what his friend is going after: “For nearly 3,000 years man has been searching for the lost Ark. It’s not something to be taken lightly. No one knows its secrets. It’s like nothing you’ve ever gone after before.” Indy shrugs off Marcus’ warning but his words, accompanied by John Williams’ quietly unsettling score, suggest the potential danger Indy faces messing with forces greater and older than himself.

raiders3Kasdan also does a great job hinting at a rich backstory between Indy and his ex-love interest, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). When they are reunited at a bar she runs in Nepal, she is clearly not too thrilled to see him, giving Indy a good crack on the jaw. Marion alludes to a relationship between them that went bad. She was young and in love with him and he broke her heart. To add insult to injury, her father is dead. All Indy can do is apologize as he says, “I can only say sorry so many times,” and she has that wonderful retort, “Well say it again anyway.” Harrison Ford and Karen Allen do a great job with this dialogue, suggesting a troubled past between them. In a nice touch, Spielberg ends the scene with Indy walking out the door. He takes one last look back and his face is mostly obscured in shadow in a rather ominous way as he clearly looks uncomfortable having had to dredge up a painful part of his past.

raiders4Indy and Marion have another nice scene together after they’ve retrieved the Ark from the Nazis and are aboard the Bantu Wind, a tramp steamer that will take them to safety. Marion tends to Indy’s numerous wounds and says, “You’re not the man I knew ten years ago,” and he replies with that classic line, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” It starts out as a playful scene as everything Marion does to help hurts Indy’s world-weary body. In frustration she asks him to show her where it doesn’t hurt and he points to various parts of his body and in a few seconds the scene goes from playful in tone to romantic as they end up kissing. Of course, Indy falls asleep – much to Marion’s chagrin. Kasdan’s dialogue gives Spielberg’s chaste, boyhood fantasy serial adventure a slight air of sophistication in this scene as two people with a checkered past finally reconnect emotionally.

raiders5.jpgFor me, Raiders is still the best film in the series. The pacing is fast but not as frenetic as today’s films. There are lulls where the audience can catch its breath and exposition is conveyed. In many respects, it is one of the best homages to the pulpy serials of the 1930s and a classic example of when all the right elements came together at just the right time. This film has aged considerably well over time and each time I see it, I still get that nostalgic twinge and still get sucked in to Indy’s adventures looking for the lost Ark.

Intimidating Rust Cohle and assisting Walter Mitty: an interview with actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, by Nate Hill

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, who has appeared in a very memorable turn as villain Dewall in season 1 of HBO’s True Detective, the rowdy, loveable helicopter pilot in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, as well as films including A Walk Among The Tombstones, Contraband,  XL, Stormland, Beowulf And Grendel. He can also be seen in the TV show Banshee, as well as the upcoming fantasy action film The Last Witch Hunter, The much anticipated sequel to Zoolander, and the recently announced adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. He’s a super nice guy, and I think will be a huge upcoming talent in years to come. Enjoy!
Nate: How did you get into acting, was it something you always knew you wanted to do growing up, or did you fall into it?

Ólafur: I didn´t really decide to be an actor until after my first year of drama school. I know that sounds weird but I sort of fell into acting in college. When college was finishing up, I had no idea what I wanted to do, I loved acting but had never really considered a career doing that. Then one of my friends wanted to audition to get into the drama school here in Iceland and sort of dragged me with him. Of course I ended up getting in but he did not. Even though I got in it still took me awhile to really take the plunge. But in retrospect, getting in was the first step. I was lucky, I got a lot of work straight out of school, lot of smaller parts and as your get older you realize how important experience is. But I wasn´t really using all my potential.

As weird as it seems, one of the best things that has ever happened to me professionally was when I was fired from The City Theatre of Reykjavik in 2003. That really forced me to look at my career and where I wanted to take it much more critically. That´s where the decision was made. I was going to be a better actor, person, an artist. I was going to have a much more honest dialogue with myself and be someone who takes responsibility for their art.

Nate: Who were some of your favourite actors, filmmakers and films growing up?

Ólafur: I was in love with everything film. I remember walking home late New Years night about 25 years ago and seeing one of my favorite films, High Anxiety, I thought it was brilliant (HERE IS YOUR PAPER!) Jaws, Alien, Star Wars, Kentucky Fried Movie, all of James Bond, ohhhhh, to be able to go back and re-watch them for the first time?!!! I also remember loving these teen comedies like Better of Dead and Ferris Bueller´s Day Off. All those actresses and all that teenage angst. I had a crush on quite a few of them.
Nate: Working with Marteinn Thorsson: You and him have done several projects together, what is your working relationship like, and do you plan to collaborate again soon?

Ólafur: Me and Matti are blood brothers. We have done two features and one short together and have in the works at least a couple of films that we want to do. Marteinn is just such a great director to work with, he thinks big and has an extensive background in film, he has worked as a script supervisor, producer, editor, director and screenwriter. There are probably more titles he has held on a set. He is easy, fun, collaborative and honest. You can´t ask for more than that.
Nate: True Detective: You are an integral part of the story despite only appearing in one episode. How was your experience playing Dewall, working with Nic’s writing and acting opposite Matthew? How did ty approach the character? Backstory and intentions etc.

Ólafur: True Detective was such a great experience. I auditioned for a bigger role but was offered this part and fell in love with it. The scene in the bar with those excellent actors, Matthew McConaughey and Joe Sikora was so much fun to do. Joe who plays Ginger in the series is one of my best friends today.

I had studied an Algiers (a neighborhood in New Orleans) accent for my role in a film called Contraband which I was able to use in True Detective. And the writing made the scene easy to do. Overall it was a show filled with good, talented, hard working people led by a man who is one of the best directors working today, Cary Fukunaga.
Nate: A Walk Among The Tombstones: How was your experience working on this, playing Jonas and acting with Liam Neeson?

Ólafur: I had a general meeting in New York with the great Avy Kaufman during which she asked me if I would be around two days later to meet a director. When I met Scott Frank two days later, I had a taxi waiting for me downstairs to take me straight to the airport for my flight home. Scott is such a lovely artist, it was a pleasure to meet him and after a couple of Skype readings he offered me the role. And I can´t really tell you how happy that made me. I though Jonas was such a wonderfully twisted creation. Someone who could so naively get himself involved with the wrong crowd. A crowd consisting of two monsters really. And filming it was truly great. Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors and he is such a good, kind man. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I would give anything to work with Scott again, which I hope might happen soon…
Nate: Walter Mitty: your character is so funny and memorable, you really gave him a sheepish drunken amiable quality that lights up the whole sequence. How was your experience playing him?

Ólafur: It helped that I had recently played an almost entire film “drunk”. I worked with Jermaine Clement on a film and he asked me twice if I really hadn´t been drunk, I think that might be the best review I ever got. But I have to say that Ben Stiller really made it easy. Both as a director but also as an actor, you could really feel how much he enjoyed the “acting” part and how he made me able to just relax and enjoy being there and not to worry about having to perform. I´ll admit that I there were moments where in my mind was going “holy s..t, that´s Ben Stiller and I´m working with him”. One of the best days of my life was spent at that table drinking that fake beer.

Nate: Do you have any upcoming projects you are excited for and want to speak about?
Ólafur: There are a few projects that I´m excited and a few that I can´t mention. I got to reunite with Ben for a tiny cameo in Zoolander 2. There is a Icelandic tv series called Trapped, which will premiere around Christmas. The series is the biggest thing we have produced here for tv and I´m really looking forward to seeing it. Then there is a film directed by Jörg Tyttel and Alex Helfrecht called The White King. A series for Cinemax, Quarry that really looks incredible and finally The BFG which was an absolute pleasure, directed by Steven Spielberg.
Nate: Thank you so much for chatting , Ólafur, and I look forward to all your upcoming projects, especially The BFG which is a favourite book of mine. 

Episode 14: Steven Spielberg’s MINORITY REPORT with Guest Joel Copling

We are pleased to be joined by Joel Copling of Joel on Film, who is a great friend of Podcasting Them Softly’s.  We discuss Steven Spielberg’s masterful MINORITY REPORT as well as the top five performances of Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton!

The Man Who Made Indiana Jones – By Frank Mengarelli

“You lost today kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” – Fedora (Richard Young)

 Every time I’ve watched INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, even as a little kid, I was always drawn to the character dubbed Fedora (Richard Young) in the credits. He’s never called directly by name in the film, but during the opening when Young Indy (River Phoenix) is watching the gang in the cave digging for treasure, the name Garth is mentioned.

Indiana Jones had met a wide array of characters in the films, but I don’t think anyone had as big of an influence on his life as Fedora did. Fedora has limited screen time, and few lines of dialogue, but during the opening sequence of the film – he’s the most important character. After Indy gets the cross from the gang and Indy gets chased to a circus train – he finds himself in a life or death situation when he falls into a train car that contains a roaring lion.

Indy tries to tame the lion with his whip, but Fedora and his men are on top of the train car looking down, and Fedora commands that Indy toss-up his whip so they can pull him up. After Fedora rescues Indy, they chase beings again, as Indy escapes from the caboose Fedora watches Indy run down the train tracks, away from the hauling train. As Fedora watches him run away, he gets a smirk on his face.

When Indy returns home to tell his father what he had just done, his father essentially brushes him off because he’s working on his obsession of the Holy Grail. Fedora’s gang shows up with the town’s sheriff and the sheriff asks Indy for the cross back. Fedora’s gang is pompous and smug because they just won. But as everyone leaves, Fedora is left standing in the doorway. He removes his fedora and as he sets it on Young Indy’s head he says one of the greatest lines in film history: “You lost today kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” The film then resumes in real-time where we see Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones – he’s on a ship, being held by men with blood coming from his busted lip. He’s smiling remembering Fedora’s words of wisdom.

It’s not that Fedora is sympathetic to Indy, even though he’s the only one who shows respect to him; Fedora sees himself in Indy, and for that he gives him his fedora as if he’s passing the torch to him, telling him, “here you go kid, the job is now yours.” In the films when Indy is out in the field, he always has his hat, and risks his life on a couple of occasions to ensure that he has possession of his hat that Fedora gave him when he was a teenager. While it may not always be the same exact hat, the hat does symbolize Fedora, the man who made Indiana Jones.

When Spielberg shot the scene in the cave, where the men find this rare artifact, Fedora is hunched over, and he’s holding it – watching it. He’s mystified by the discovery and it’s then you realize he’s not after the money, he’s after the hunt. The tight close-ups, and the way the camera revolves around Fedora is much like the way Spielberg shoots Indy when he’s found the idol in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

When we see Ford as Indiana Jones, he’s dressed exactly like Fedora was in the third film. His hat, his rough leather jacket – and even Fedora’s rough look and demeanor and right down to that signature smart ass smirk transcended to Indy. As the third film displays, Indy didn’t have a good relationship with his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) was obsessed with his work, too obsessed to provide the emotional commitment of being a father. Fedora accepted that role – though their interactions only lasted for a couple of hours when Indy was in his teens. Fedora shaped the man who stopped being “Junior” and became Indiana Jones.

In the original script the character of Fedora was originally Abner Ravenwood, who was the father of Marion (Karen Allen) and dubbed as Indy’s “mentor”. To be honest with you, I completely ignore the fourth installment of the franchise. Lucas, Ford and Spielberg should have known better.

The fact that in the original script that Fedora was Abner almost solidifies the fact that Fedora is actually Indy’s mentor. Next to Indiana Jones, I think Fedora is the second most important character in the franchise even though he had maybe ten minutes of screen time and ten lines of dialogue. In that short time, we see Fedora in Indiana Jones, and in turn when we see Ford as Indy – I see Fedora.

After the films premier, Robert Young reprised his role as Fedora/Garth for a live performance of the opening show of the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. This event was produced by Steven Spielberg.

I would have liked to have seen more of Fedora, even an adventure of his since he is the precursor of Indiana Jones – but that’s what makes him so effective – is the fact that we know absolutely nothing about him – yet his story is told through the adventures of Indiana Jones.