Happy Birthday greetings today to Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr., the fictional main character and archeologist of the Indiana Jones franchise, created by the dynamic film duo of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg which has spawned four theatrical features, in which the character was portrayed and popularized in cinema lore by Harrison Ford, and also portrayed by others in younger or older and even video game incarnations of the fabled character.
Dr. Jones was born on July 1st, 1899 as the story goes. Most of the films take place in the character’s heyday during the 1930s. The film franchise followed Jones’ pursuits of adventurous discovery: fighting Nazi’s in the first film (Raiders of the Lost Ark), in which he uncovered the Ark of the Covenant; in the second film (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), which acted as a prequel, audiences saw Jones’ exploits take him to India to uncover Sankara stones and his attempts to liberate enslaved children; the third installment (Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade) showed an early teen version of the character (played by River Phoenix) and found him reconnecting with his father (played by Sean Connery) in adulthood to try and locate the famed Holy Grail; and by the 4th film (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), set almost 20 years later than the third installment (taking place in 1959), Jones was trying to outwit the Russians who wanted to harness the power of a Crystal Skull which was in concert with celestial beings. In that final to date film, it is discovered that Indy (his nickname in the films) fathered a biological child, Henry “Mutt” Williams, played by Shia Labeouf, who, rumor has it, will take over the film franchise.
Other than the Harrison Ford vehicles, there have been other attempts to mythologize the character of Indiana Jones. A television show aired during the mid 1990s, entitled The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and was executive produced by Lucas and showed Jones in various stages of his life, a geriatric version of him (played by George Hall), a 17-year-old version of the character (played by Sean Patrick Flanery and was the main character throughout the show) and even younger and infant versions of Jones. It was on this program that the birthdate of July 1st, 1899 was established for Indy.
The character of Indiana Jones itself has also lent itself to much media, video games, posters, book adaptations, T-shirts, Lego sets, toys, DVDs and the upcoming Blu-ray release. Dr. Jones is beloved by many, mainly in its Harrison Ford incarnation, whose aggressively witty and sharp and sometimes cunning and snarky portrayal of the character, even humanizing him by having him afraid of snakes, now a classic moment in any the history of storied film characters, remains one of the all-time influential action film protagonists in screendom.
So happy birthday today to Dr. Jones, a memorable character, etched in the minds of millions of moviegoers for over 30 years now who gave audiences thrills, chills, excitement, and collective joy and yet another character to cheer for and root for, all while rolling out in adventures that truly gave the term “popcorn movie” its rightful place in cinema speak and also raised it to the highest levels.