1. In the infamous shot with Indy pitted against the flamboyant swordsman, Indy was originally supposed to disarm him using his whip…
Unfortunately, due to a bout of food poisoning affecting Ford and the entire crew, he was unable to perform the stunt.
Eventually, after many attempts, Ford suggested “shooting the sucker.” Steven Spielberg immediately took up the idea and the scene was successfully filmed.
2. Spielberg’s second choice for the role of Indiana was Tom Selleck. Thank goodness Harrison Ford was his first!
Other actors considered for the role included: Nick Nolte, Steve Martin (who chose to do Pennies from Heaven instead), Bill Murray (who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with SNL), Chevy Chase, Tim Matheson, Nick Mancuso, Peter Coyote, and Jack Nicholson. Ford was cast less than three weeks before principal photography began.
3. During the Well of Souls scene, ironically, one of the pythons died after being bitten by one of the cobras.
4. The spirit effects at the climactic ark ceremony were achieved by filming mannequins in slow motion and through a fuzzy lens, all underwater, to exude an ethereal quality.
5. The monkey saluting with his paw and saying “Heil Hitler” was thought up by George Lucas and happens to be one of Spielberg’s favorite scenes.
They got the monkey to do the Nazi salute by putting a grape on a fishing pole and getting the monkey to reach for the grape, which was dangling just out of camera range. This took about 50 takes before it actually looked like a Nazi salute.
Voice-artist Frank Welker, who also voiced Abu in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’, provided the chattering sounds for the monkey, including the “Sieg Heil”-like chirp that the monkey gives when it salutes.
6. John Williams wrote two themes for the film. Spielberg loved them so much, he suggested that Williams use both of them.
The result was the famous “Raiders March,” performed by Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope’s London Symphony Orchestra (who did not perform in any more Indiana Jones films). The March has become one of the most popular movie themes of all time.
7. George Lucas first dreamed up the idea of an adventurous archaeologist around the same time he envisioned the Flash Gordon-type space story which became Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.
8. The opening scene in the lost South American temple is partly based on a classic Disney Ducks adventure.
Exploring a lost temple, Donald Duck, his nephews, and Scrooge McDuck must evade a succession of booby traps, like flying darts, a decapitating blade, a huge boulder, a tunnel flooded with a torrent of gushing water, etc., in the story “The Prize of Pizarro” (“Uncle $crooge” no. 26, June-August 1959), which hit the newsstands when Lucas and Spielberg, both avowed fans of that comic book, were respectively 15 and 12 years old. Another Ducks story, “The Seven Cities of Cibola” (“Uncle $crooge” no. 7, September 1954), has a native American lost city and a valuable idol that triggers a giant round rock to smash everything in its way.
9. The giant boulder that almost crushes Indiana Jones at the start of the film was made of fiberglass.
“Sound designer, Ben Burtt, said that in order to get the proper sound effects for the giant boulder, he and the sound crew tried pushing boulders down a hill, but the sounds they were getting weren’t up to par with what they were looking for, and later that day, as they were leaving in a Honda Civic that they coasted down a gravel embankment, Burtt noticed that the sound was just what they were looking for, so he grabbed a microphone and held it near one of the Civic’s rear tires to record the effect.”
10. The unmanned airplane actually ran over Ford’s knee, tearing his ligaments. Rather than submit to Tunisian health care, Ford had his knee wrapped in ice and carried on.
11. After a rusty looking ship that was perfect for the Bantu Wind was found, it was, without the crew’s knowledge, repainted and looked pristine when it came time for filming
It had to be swiftly repainted to achieve its distressed look.
12. The sound of moving the lid of a toilet cistern was used to create the illusion of the heavy lid of the Ark being slid open.
13. The original name of the lead character in the script was Indiana Smith. Luckily, his name was changed to Jones on the first day of production.
14. Indy’s line to Marion when they are on the ship - “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage” - was ad-libbed by Harrison Ford.
15. You can clearly see a fly creep into the mouth of Paul Freeman during the scene where Indiana threatens the Nazis with bazooka.
Contrary to popular belief, he does not swallow it. Freeman explained ater that the fly flew off at about the instant he uttered the word “bad,” but Spielberg noticed it and decided it would be funny to cut out a few frames so the fly would not be seen flying away. This makes it look as though Freeman eats it, and he found the edit highly amusing.
Empire Magazine chose this scene as one of the most common scenes for which people press the “Pause” button on their VCRs.
16. The rope bridge used during the fight scene was actually suspended a couple of hundred feet over a gorge on location in Sri Lanka.
Acrophobic Steven Spielberg would never walk over it, and had to drive a mile and a half to reach the other side. Harrison Ford on the other hand had no such fear, and would run across it at full speed.
17. Kate Capshaw was covered with over 2,000 bugs for the chamber sequence.
18. The “chilled monkey-brains” were made from custard and raspberry sauce.
19. Kate Capshaw was thrilled at the opportunity of singing and dancing in the opening musical number, but unfortunately her dress was so tight, there was very she could attempt without ripping it.
20. The huge mineshaft was a circular construction around the largest soundstage. To make it look different, they just altered the lighting every time the carts completed a loop.
21. For the scene at the Nazi rally in Berlin, Spielberg had all the extras who did the “Sieg Heil” arm salute also put their other arms behind their backs and cross their fingers.
22. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford wore no trousers during the shooting of the entire Zeppelin sequence.
Mainly because it was filmed in a very hot studio and Connery didn’t want to sweat too much.
23. Sean Connery was always Steven Spielberg’s first choice to play Indiana Jones’s father, as an inside joke to say that James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones.
If that had failed, Gregory Peck and Jon Pertwee were back-up choices for the role.
24. Most of the uniforms worn by the Nazis in the Berlin book burning scene are authentic WW2 uniforms and not costumes.
A cache of old uniforms was found in Germany and obtained by a costume designer.
25. When shooting in Venice, they were allowed to have complete control of the Grand Canal from 7am to 1pm for one day.
26. Two thousand rats were bred for the production.
(they had to be bred specially as ordinary rats would have been riddled with disease)