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Young Indiana Jones 3.14 – Hollywood, 1920 (part two)

And so, Young Indiana Jones rides off into the sunset in this funny final hour. Matthew Jacobs handled the script for this installment, where Indy takes a job as John Ford’s assistant as the flamboyant stylist goes to shoot a western. Then one of the actors dies and Indy gets to saddle up in his place. Then, with all the stuntmen carried back to Universal on stretchers, Indy gets to learn how to climb underneath a runaway carriage after being dragged behind it. That’s exactly the sort of skill that comes in handy when you’re clawing your way around speeding trucks trying to hijack the Ark of the Covenant eighteen years later.

More than anything, this story is yet another love letter from George Lucas to all the movies that inspired him. It kind of makes you long for the days when a director like John Ford could shoot from sunup to sundown in six days and make a feature. Stephen Caffrey is terrific as John Ford, and he frankly steals the story completely from Sean Patrick Flanery. This really is just about the actor’s weakest performance as Indy. He’s too immature, too possessive, too petulant, and too indecisive for a character who’s lived through everything that he has. It’s not a very good final outing for Young Indy, but to be fair, everybody hoped that there would be more than this.

Sadly, after the Family Channel decided against ordering any more stories, there was only enough in the budget to finish up what they could to put the 22-film package together. 44 hours isn’t anything to complain about, and a lot more than many series get, but I still wish they’d have got Indy into his late twenties for a couple of them.

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Young Indiana Jones 3.13 – Hollywood, 1920 (part one)

You might make the case that with only four last TV movies budgeted, George Lucas might have been better off not spending one of them on another lightweight comedy. Young Indiana Jones and the Hollywood Follies was the first of the four TV movies shown on The Family Channel from 1994-95, and chronologically, it’s the final adventure made for our hero. What comes next is a fifteen year gap before the events of Temple of Doom. So we never get to meet Abner and Marion Ravenwood or René Belloq or Marcus Brody. But we do get to meet John Ford, without whom…

…but I’m getting ahead of myself. In the first hour of this adventure, John Ford only appears in a couple of short scenes. It opens in New York, just a couple of days after the finale of the previous adventure. As feared, Gloria has had Indy fired from Scandals of 1920 and he only has about a month to cobble his next semester’s tuition together. So George White points him toward a job at Universal that will pay $600: shut down production of Erich von Stroheim’s runaway motion picture Foolish Wives, which has already cost the studio a million dollars and shows no signs of wrapping.

Allied with his latest girlfriend Claire, played by future Spy Game star Allison Smith, and mogul-in-waiting Irving Thalberg, played by Bill Cusack, Indy tries every trick he can to sabotage or put an end to von Stroheim’s excesses. There’s kidnapping, horse tranquilizers, and marbles all over a tile floor. It’s funny, and a little silly, but it’s not the most essential hour of the series!

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