As with the Star Wars Blu-ray discs, most of my anticipation for watching the Indiana Jones Blu-ray set gravitated toward the deleted scenes. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the new Indiana Jones Blu-ray set does not include a dedicated menu option for deleted scenes, though some are included in the set's only new feature, "On Set With Raiders of the Lost Ark."
To be fair, "On Set With Raiders of the Lost Ark" is so good, it's actually a shame that something similar wasn't put together for the other three films in the series, too. Regardless, there is quite a bit to learn from this newly released behind-the-scenes footage. Well, at least seven things ...
1. Measuring the Paramount logo.
Living in this world of computer-generated effects, where everything can be "done in post," I assumed that something as innocuous as having the Paramount logo turn into an actual mountaintop to start the movie could have been "done in post" -- even in 1981. Nope. Sure enough, there's Steven Spielberg meticulously measuring the logo on location so that his shot precisely matches.
2. Harrison Ford wasn't getting great scripts.
It's kind of remarkable that when you look at Harrison Ford's body of work between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back (save for his very small role in Apocalypse Now), there's not much of note there. Even so, it's still odd to hear Ford say that he's not offered the same kind of scripts that "the top-ten get," even after Empire. And that he was grateful Raiders came along because, even three months after he finished Empire, he hadn't been offered anything worthwhile. After Raiders, that changed.
3. Spielberg's Star Wars hat.
During filming, Spielberg often wore a Star Was baseball cap. I bring this up for no other reason than that I would very much like to own a cap like that.
4. Marion's punch.
When Indiana Jones first confronts Marion in Nepal, she responds by punching him in the face. Originally Indy takes the punch and immediately brushes it off like nothing happen. It's quite fascinating to watch the painstaking conversation that went into one scene -- with the end result being the now-iconic scene of a humiliated post-punch Indy mugging for the camera.
5. The audience will believe, if they buy the first ten minutes of the movie.
These are the words of Steven Spielberg -- a very wise man -- on his strategy concerning the supernatural elements of Raiders of the Lost Ark. And it's true: the first ten minutes of Raiders are very believable. This is also precisely why no one really cared for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Surviving a nuclear explosion by hiding in a lead refrigerator is not believable ... which didn't help once the inter-dimensional aliens showed up. (Good grief, that really happened, didn't it?)
6. The Swordsman.
Yes, it's common knowledge that, originally, Indiana Jones was supposed to battle the swordsman with his whip, and not just simply (and quite comically) shoot the guy. (Ford, suffering from dysentery, requested that he be able to shoot the swordsman so everyone could move on.) But! I didn't know that even before the idea to shoot the swordsman originated, this scene was always played for laughs. As Indy and the swordsman fight, a town butcher is hard at work in the background -- which results in the swordsman inadvertently doing the grateful butcher's work after a few swings that miss Indy, but slice right through a slab of meat.
7. Indy rides a periscope.
OK, yes, I was aware that when Indy hitches a ride on a submarine in Raiders he, somehow, rides all the way to land while clutching on to its periscope. I always imagined this as looking preposterous. Well, having now seen the footage, it's more preposterous than I imagined. Yep, it's Indiana Jones, half submerged in water -- occasionally splashing himself in the face to stay awake -- probably thinking to himself, I really hope this submarine doesn't go any deeper underwater, because that's what they tend to do.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. He really wishes the Indiana Jones Blu-ray contained all of the deleted scenes. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.