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‘Indiana Jones’ Most Iconic Stunt Was Inspired by a John Wayne Film

‘Indiana Jones’ Most Iconic Stunt Was Inspired by a John Wayne Film

While he is known for his originality on the big screen, Steven Spielberg once revealed that a classic John Wayne film inspired one of the most iconic Indiana Jones scenes. 

During an interview with the American Film Insitute, Spielberg stated he had revisited various films by John Ford and John Wayne. “I turned on a John Ford film – one or two – before every movie,” he said. “Simply because he inspires me. I’m very sensitive to the way he uses his camera to paint his pictures and the way he frames things.”

However, it was Wayne’s Stagecoach that inspired the most memorable stunt from Indiana Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark. This stunt features Harrison Ford’s character being dragged underneath a truck carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Much like Raiders, in Stagecoach, Yakima Canutt is seen jumping from a horse to the stagecoach at a speed of 45mph. 

Spielberg further explained why he admires Stagecoach so much. “For one thing, it was John Ford’s first foray into Monument Valley. So he was starting to use landscape art to help tell his story, to create God’s country, and to put little figures in a grand landscape.”

The famous filmmaker also said that Ford also began to bring nature into his films. “This is where we would begin to use nature as a character in his picture.”

‘Indiana Jones’ Star Harrison Ford Did Most of His ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ Stunts

While speaking for the biography of Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg revealed that while Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford did most of his Raiders of the Lost Ark stunts, the production’s stunt team did step in for the most dangerous scenes. 

“There are four or five very risky scenes that Terry Leonard, J.R. Randall, and Vic Armstrong did for him,” Spielberg stated. “JR. Randall was our stunt gaffer, and he wouldn’t let Harrison do any stunts that were potentially fatal. But Harrison did most everything else. Anything that simply promised serious injury or total disability, Harrison did; anything that promised death through fatal miscalculation, Terry, Vic, and J.R. did.”

The Indiana Jones filmmaker did admit there were some terrifying incidents on the Raiders set. “That’s the most amazing thing about the Raiders saga – everybody survived.” 

Although the stunts were important, Harrison Ford spoke once about focusing on his Indiana Jones iconic fedora, brown leather jacket, and whip ensemble. “It was presented to me as an aspect of character in the first film,” the actor explained to GQ. “My questions about it were many. Why am I wearing a leather jacket in the jungle? Isn’t it hot here? Why am I carrying a whip? What am I going to do with a f—ing whip? I’m going to whip people?”