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Stand By Me

The Mosquito Coast

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade


Steven Spielberg

Jeffrey Boam

Indiana Jones

The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

John Baxter


Steven Spielberg: The Unauthorised Biography

George Lucas: A Biography
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

George Lucas: A Biography

by John Baxter.
First published in 1999.

ISBN 0-00-257009-2 (Hardback, 466 Pages)

It's the last few pages of this lengthy and expensive biography, written by the same author as the previously featured Steven Spielberg biography, that make particularly interesting reading for any River fan.

At the same time that River was having the time of his life in Oregon filming Stand By Me, screenwriter Jeffrey Boam was finishing the first draft of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

To be sure of thoroughly hooking the audience, The Last Crusade offers not one but two preliminary action sequences. The first features a teen Indy, played by Hollywood's hottest young actor, River Phoenix. His hiring became one of the best-kept of Last Crusade's secrets. In the script, he's only referred to as "Boy on Train," and once rumors began circulating, Lucasfilm spread its own misinformation that Phoenix was playing Indy's young brother.

River Phoenix deserved a major opening sequence, so Boam wrote one especially for him. Young Indy and a group of Boy Scouts are visiting an Indian canyon village where, coincidentally, a grave-robber, identified only as "Fedora" and dressed like the adult Indy, has just dug up the ancient Cross of Coronado. Indy, declaring righteously, "This should be in a museum," grabs it and sets off for town, pursued by Fedora and his men. Taking back the cross, the sheriff returns it to Fedora. "You lost today, kid," Fedora consoles him, "but that doesn't mean you have to like it." He gives him his stained felt hat.

The opening should have ended there, but Ford protested that his own introduction as a weary college professor in tweeds hardly did justice to his character. He also resented the space given to Phoenix, who had almost stolen The Mosquito Coast from under his nose, playing his son. Lucas inserted a second opening sequence in which Indy, twenty-six years later battles more minions on the storm-drenched deck of a freighter off the Portuguese coast.

In painstaking detail, a technique applied throughout the length of this biography, the author spends the next four pages of his book looking into the short-lived television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

The rebirth of Indiana Jones attracted network TV, and ABC rose to the suggestion of an hour-long weekly series about young Indy.

ABC hoped River Phoenix would reprise his role for the series, but the young actor's career was too hot for him to commit himself to three or four years of globetrotting.

Speculation is always a dangerous undertaking. Nevertheless, had River agreed to reprise his role for this television series it would probably be pretty safe to say that the audience levels that would have been generated would have meant that this project would not have been axed after just thirty-two episodes as actually happened. Had River spent 1991 to 1995 filming such a series, just how differently history might have turned out, one can only wonder.

And it's heartbreaking to do so.

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