Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. It's no secret I'm a big fan of the clockwork of filmmaking. I ran a 3 year long Behind the Scenes column for this site because I have a fascination of the process of making a movie. One aspect of that process that can't be captured via photos or video is the screenwriting process.
I've tried my hand at it, sold a script to a horror flick that made it all the way through development and pre-production, but lost its budget 6 weeks out from photography. It's an intimate process full of imagination, frustration, excitement and a specific kind of thought process akin to putting the world's most complicated puzzle together.
In my research for this Fortune and Glory series I was able to get my hands on an early draft of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz's script for Temple of Doom. Dated 3-10-83, this draft was old enough to still be called Temple of Doom (instead of the original Temple of Death title), but still feature some ideas and sequences that were ultimately axed from the film.
I thought it'd make an interesting and different kind of article to chronicle some of the differences, which range from tiny character moments to massive ideas that were cut. There are a ton of dialogue tweaks and changes, some scenes that go on longer, some that are shorter, but I tried to focus on the real big/interesting things.
So, starting from the beginning of the story, let's look at some original concepts and thoughts that went into telling this particular story, shall we?
THE OPENING SEQUENCE:
The opening sequence plays out mostly the same, except the club is called The Dragon, not Club Obi-Wan. Short Round is glimpsed in the club before Indy barters with Lao Che. Willie is played even more slapstick than she appears in the movie. She makes Lao Che spill the remains of Nurhachi, kicks another girl in the butt while going after the diamond, etc.
ATTACK ON THE PLANE:
The first major difference involves the plane Willie, Indy and Short Round board. It's a regular passenger plane, no Lao Che airlines. As they get to the airport Shorty is told Wu Han isn't joining (remember, he's Indy's friend who gets shot at Club Obi-Wan). Mr. Round is sad, but says “Don't worry, Indy. Short Round number one bodyguard now.”
Willie takes Wu Han's ticket and they board. Lao Che still wants his revenge, so he sends some bi-planes to shoot this passenger plane down. They tear the plane up, stewardesses hand out parachutes to the passengers who jump out of the plane. There's only one remaining parachute and Short Round wants it for Indy. Willie wants it for herself, they fight over it and it goes out the open door, nearly taking Shorty with it, but Willie saves him.
Funnily enough, Indy is knocked out by the antidote to the poison and spends most of this action sequence sleeping. Short Round is the hero for the majority of this scene. He grabs Indy's pistol and fires it at the bi-planes. Naturally it isn't effective. He throws the empty pistol at them.
Finally, Indy wakes up when a stray bullet hits a fire extinguisher next to him, spraying him. He rushes to the empty cockpit while Shorty somehow finds a machine gun in the cargo hold and sets it up, calling for Willie (who is freaking out, naturally) to help. “Come here, lady, hold this and shut up, please.” She feeds the ammo into the machine gun as Shorty fires at the bi-planes, taking one out before trailing another and accidentally hitting their plane's engine.
Sound familiar? Much like how Spielberg ended up using the mine cart gag cut from Raiders in Temple of Doom, he later took this moment and gave it to Sean Connery in Last Crusade. “I'm sorry, son. They got us.”
THE BOA CONSTRICTOR SCENE:
After the raft scene Indy meets the childless villagers, just as in the movie, except there is no Fortune and Glory speech at the village, but there is a version of it at the campfire scene later. Instead, the Shaman claims that Krishna forced their plane down and brought them to save the village.
One of the most well known cut sequences was a big snake scene with Willie that they actually prepared to shoot, but cut once Spielberg saw how petrified Kate Capshaw was of the boa constrictor they were going to use.
The script describes all three washing themselves and watering their elephants in a river. Shorty and his baby elephant actually have a more developed friendship. Indy tries to get Willie to stay close to the riverbank, but she's naked and thinks he's just trying to get an eyeful.
Indy leaves as she gets dressed, not noticing the boa constrictor on the branch where she was hanging her clothes. She screams, Indy comes to save her as she backs into the water again. He's all heroic until she says it's a snake. He was pulling his boots off to jump in and freezes when she says it's a snake. The snake wraps around Willie and she has no idea why Indy stays on the riverbank.
In a that's what she said moment, Indy instructs Willie to “pet the snake.” He tells her to pet it on the head. She pets the head of the snake multiple times and just before it crushes her to death it starts relaxing and ultimately begins to fall asleep.
Willie gets free and returns to shore. Indy is happy, she is not and decks him a la Marion.
PANKOT PALACE/BANQUET SCENE:
The beats leading up to the palace are the same. The bats and the statue with the finger necklace are there. There's an even more gruesome statue written about in this draft that describes an 8-armed God statue holding a real human head in each of its 8 hands.
There are little bits and pieces throughout the Pankot arrival that didn't make the cut. Indy ogles a belly dancer and Willie gets jealous, we see a voodoo doll (called a Kryta) on display and Indy describes how the superstitious believe they work. Also the “maybe he likes older women” comment about the Maharajah is attributed to Indy, not Short Round.
The banquet has all the moments we know plus a description of a roast boar with arrows still in its eyes and a roasted baby boar positioned as if suckling (Jesus Christ!). Noticeably absent is the whole “it wasn't my head... it wasn't my hands... it was my misunderstanding” moment.
One thing that caught my eye was a production note made in this draft just after the monkey brains are introduced. Here's how it reads:
(*Production note: because of his extremely sensitive nature, the director has requested that these monkey heads be simulated)
INDY TEACHES THE MAHARAJAH HOW TO USE A WHIP/EARLIER MOLA RAM INTRODUCTION:
A big sequence was removed that was to take place just after the banquet in which the guests retire to a location called “The Pleasure Gardens.”
Indy comments that devout Hindus would never touch meat and wonders to Captain Blumburtt exactly who these people are.
The Maharajah is fascinated with Indy's whip and requests a demonstration. With a sly nod Indy agrees and proceeds to whip the candle out of a servant's hand and a flower out of a dancing girl's hair. The Maharajah whoops and hollers and begs to be taught how to use it.
While Indy is instructing the Maharajah, Chattar Lal slips into the shadows and confers with a robed figure. This was to be our first glimpse at Mola Ram. He is described as having a pale face and dark, hollow eyes. Indy notices, but is caught up with the Maharajah.
On the Maharajah's first attempt to crack the whip he slices his cheek open (another Last Crusade event). Everybody stares in stunned silence except for Short Round, who laughs, pissing off the Maharajah who tries to whip him. Shorty grabs the whip and starts a tug-o-war that gets him close enough to see that the Maharajah's eyes are glowing yellow.
This was used to show those under the influence of the Black Sleep of Kali and was repeated with most of the Thuggees and, later, Indy himself.
Shorty tries to tell Indy about the glowing eyes, but Indy doesn't believe him.
ENTERING THE TEMPLE OF DOOM:
Most of the flirt scene and assassination attempt are the same, but Indy isn't as frantic when he goes back to Willie's room. A gross bug crawls up her leg, she screams and he comes running. Indy teases her as she squirms, the bug crawling up her leg and eventually up to her face. “This a cheap trick to get me over here?” “I'll bet he's mad because they ate his friends for dinner.”
He finally swats it off of her and Shorty sees it skitter under the secret passage. They continue in, no “fortune cookie” reference or the “two dead people” before the spike chamber. That scene runs the same except Willie doesn't reactivate the room.
THE HEART-RIPPING SCENE:
One of the most interesting things about this early draft was how they handled the magic on display. The biggest example is that they strongly allude to Mola Ram's heart ripping as being an illusion. The flaming heart disappears after it catches fire and the wound on the human sacrifice's chest is only described as a “reddish mark.”
Another noticeable difference is that after Indy disappears behind the altar, investigating the cries of the slave children, Willie actually escapes. Short Round takes on the Thuggee guards that finds them and gives her time to get back to the palace. She reappears in her room, covered in bugs, and goes to get help.
Captain Blumburtt and Chattar Lal are talking when she finds them, raving about human sacrifice and Lal calls her a dope fiend. Later on a possessed Indy comes back and tells Blumburtt that everything is fine, she passed out at the sight of bugs and that his troops can leave.
There's a really weird moment described here that I can't wrap my head around. Indy soothes Willie and gets her to go to sleep before he gets rid of Blumburtt. He returns to her room pushes his face into the mosquito net covering Willie's bed and HIS FACE BURNS THROUGH THE NETTING. His eyes are glowing yellow and smoke pours from his mouth. It's a nightmare image, but full of “where the fuck did that come from?!?” randomness.
SHORTY DISCOVERS PAIN CAN WAKE UP A POSSESSED PERSON:
Shorty is digging in the mines when he strikes a vein of lava, which seeps out of the rocks, burning a thuggee guard who wakes up. Other guards come to retrieve him. He fights, not wanting to return to the nightmare of Kali. When he goes to rescue Indy he makes burning him the priority. He wants to wake up his friend and he knows how.
This sequence is actually much more brutal than what they ended up shooting. Indy still backhands Short Round, but that's not it. He stalks him, hissing at him and eventually grabs Short Round and starts to choke the life out of him before Shorty can grab another torch and finally wake his friend up.
RESCUING THE SLAVE CHILDREN:
One of the best moments of Temple of Doom is Indy looking so righteously pissed when he shows up in the mines to rescue the slave children. That moment is actually played for laughs in this draft. Indy steps out of the shadows with a smile and approaches a thuggee guard saying he's from the union and the work conditions in the mine are unacceptable.
This is a prime example of how brilliant Spielberg is as a filmmaker. He's got such a fantastic grasp of pacing and earned moments. He understood this is a cheer moment waiting to happen and it's one of the reasons I firmly believe in Indy's arc being a creative decision (as described in my essay about how great of a prequel Temple of Doom is), not some randomness because they slapped on an earlier date during the prologue.
After they have the kids, our heroes help them out by putting a wooden plank over the crevasse in the Temple itself. That's how the kids get out in the movie, too, but here the plank breaks after the kids cross, trapping our heroes in the temple and forcing them to find another way out.
MOLA RAM'S DEMISE:
As we near the end of the breakdown we come to the most intriguing idea that was cut from the movie and it involves Mola Ram and his death scene.
So, remember how it was established that those who are under the spell have glowing yellow eyes? Mola Ram does, too, and when the finale comes and he's fighting with Indy over the satchel holding the Sankara Stones something interesting happens.
The scene plays out exactly the same, but when Mola Ram grabs the last stone before it falls it burns his hand. This draft describes the yellow light dying in his eyes and Mola Ram looking to Indy confused, awakened from the nightmare... and then he falls and is eaten by crocodiles.
One, that's just plain old fucked up. Everybody else who is shown to be under the spell wakes up and are set free. In the movie it's just Indy, but in this script the thuggee that's burned by the lava as well. Poor old Mola Ram was just as under a spell as Indy was!
Two, if Mola Ram was originally intended to be shown as under the spell of Kali then that opens up a very interesting question. Who forced him to drink the blood of Kali? I guess Mola Ram could have been experimenting with dark thuggee magic and kind of cursed himself, but it makes more sense that someone else forced him like everybody else in this story. If so, then who is the real evil behind the resurrection of the thuggee cult? All the stones are still around there! They were dropped, but they will be found! The world is fucked! The Hebrew God will fall!
No wonder they cut that particular subplot out. Takes a dark movie and leaves the happy ending kind of ambiguous.
So there we are. Another Fortune and Glory entry down. Got another couple of things posting tonight as well. I just got into Washington DC and have a huge busy day tomorrow, but will finish out this series with my favorite interview of all I've done about Temple of Doom. Stay tuned!