Indiana Jones…a Mile High Adventure at Midnight

Authors Note:
Thanks to those of you who allowed me to talk to you! I’ve got to work on the photo and video stuff for later this weekend. Hopefully by Sat or latest Sunday Night. Feel free to comment and let me know your Indiana Jones memories or if you were there with me at the Continental or other theatres, tell us what it was like!

It’s about 5:00pm on a Wednesday night. Where am I? Where any self respecting nerd or honorable fan would be on May 21, 2008. Indiana Jones Midnight showing of course!

I’m looking at four guys in the front of me. Three have a brown fedora adorning their head and all look ready to see the anticipated film, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” I sit down, note pad in hand. “My first memory of Marion (Ravenwood reprised by Karen Allen) is being like 4 and watching her drink all those guys under the table. All I cold think was, ‘This woman is beautiful’. From then on until I was ten she was my impression of a beautiful woman” Kevin “Grover” Webster is all of 20 years old but reveals he is a do or die fan of the adventurous archaeologist. He smiles as he waxes poetic about the young crush on the top Indy girl.

The movie is a mere six hours away and he’s ready. When asked to choose one of the three original movies to take on a deserted island he looks me in the eye and says without question, “It’s all or nothing.” Such is the feeling of many fans in the line, including this one asking the questions. “He’s your typical American Hero. His charisma gets him the girls. He’s basically the Alpha Male but he’s also a professor.” Webster allows a small sly grin, “I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I grew up…and I still want to be him.”

Kevin brought his tickets the first chance they came out. “Today is a day to celebrate Indiana Jones!” His buddies chime in, “It should be a national holiday!” I laugh but deep inside where my raging Indy fan heart beats, I secretly agree with them.

Next to Webster is Drew Cookston, 16. He has the Indiana Jones story to beat all comers. The tan faded brown fedora he wears came to him in a park. On the ground and waiting for him. No one was around and like the long ago young Indy, he picked it up and has worn it ever since. First introduced to Indy when he was 3, he revels that not even The Power of the Force can win against the snap of the classic whip. “Indy comes first”, he says without blinking an eye.

The connection to WW II and the history draws him into being a fan of the grizzled hero. “It’s Ford, Spielberg, Lucas and Williams. They can do no wrong.” A joke is made about the four Horseman of the Apocalypse. As we laugh I consider that if the world ended just after the final credits roll…at least we’d all be smiling.

Aaron Miller, 16 was introduced to Indy at the age of 5. What’s worse is that it was Temple of Doom. He laughs now, but admits, “I was scared of the temple…for awhile.” His favorite of the series? “Last Crusade.” Next to him is the fourth in this gaggle, Nick (corrected, sorry Nick!) Doll, 20. The late bloomer of the group he first saw Indy when he was in third grade. “I’m happy Karen Allen is back. It makes it more comfortable.”

All four agree expressing concern Lucas will send this one south like Star Wars. The comparisons to the Golden Age of Sci Fi are unavoidable. Harrison Ford plays a titular character in each however that’s where it ends for these guys. Miller speaks as they all agree, “Better than Solo. No question.” I thank them for their time and quietly chuckle to myself. Star Wars, the Force ain’t got anything on Indy.

Down the line is a lad in a black fedora. I begin talking to Will G, age 13. He’s a history geek, like his father. I doubt his skills but only for a moment. He starts to take apart each historical contextual moment from the three original movies with a passion I rarely see in my younger nerd counterparts. I ask him if he gets upset when movies mess up on historical details. “Sometimes, but I usually just throw popcorn at the screen.”

Will loves the fedora and has a brown one at home. A real functional whip is at home that the young man has actually learned to snap through teaching himself. Will has also tried to wrap it around trees and do the “Indy Swing”. However he’s fallen more than fly. His mother chimes in from the seat next to him, “That only happens in the movies.” The young Indiana Jones follower smiles but I know somewhere in that mind of his there’s a plan hatching to make it work just like in the movies.

Will has also shot a tank, just like his archaeological idol. Once a month his father takes him to an event that features historical guns, artillery and even, yes, tanks. The tanks don’t feature explosive firepower but there are still shells being fired from the lumbering monster. As he describes the moment, his eyes shine bright and his smile grows. This kid really is into this whole thing. I almost shed a tear and give him a big hug. Nerds are awesome. “They had a WWII Stewart Tank. You could climb in and shoot a car. The car actually lifted up off the ground.”

I listen as he rattles down all kinds of historical details I could never imagine knowing. I shake his hand, impressed and humbled by this kid’s talent and knowledge. As I thank him and his mother for the time I walk away with a smile of my own. This kid has been Indiana Jones most of his life. All he’s missing is an adventure in the far reaches of the dusty mountains.

And having only spent a short time with the kid, I know he’ll be there someday. Probably sooner than later.

Next to me and my friend Pam B. are two buddies who just met. Jason, 34 and Matt, 25. Jason’s brought the soundtrack on CD to play for the next few hours and it serves to keep all of us in the line focused on the return of Indiana Jones to the big screen after nearly twenty years of being gone. Both had their tickets the first day they hit. Both brought pop tarts, waffles, Dr. Pepper, Snickers and some beer. All but the latter are Indiana Jones branded. All along the line books are open, portable DVD players are bringing the sounds of Indy past to present. We are all very ready to hear the music and the crack of the whip.

“You want a good story?” The bedraggled man asks me as I’m standing doing my people watching. I warily look him over but say sure, why not? Eric is 43 years old and homeless. I don’t ask why and he doesn’t tell me. “The money I got today…I used it to buy a ticket.” Eric tells me he saw the movie opening night many years ago, when life was different. “It’s a legacy. Indiana Jones is action and adventure.” He admits to being a little drunk but isn’t belligerent. I thank him for the story and move on. Part of me wanted to know a little more about his past but it is too late. For the rest of the night he sits in the line munching on the food from Jason and a few others.

I don’t see him after the movie but I hope he enjoyed his time returning to the memories of before.

Just a few feet behind Eric are two girls. Alessandra, 18 and Abagail, 19. They’ve come prepared with a 64 and 96 box of Crayola Crayons respectively. They’re drawing in a coloring book of dinosaurs. “It’s an American Classic!” They answer as to what draws them to tonight. I ask them way midnight. They look at each other and laugh, “Indiana is worth it!” It doesn’t hurt that Shia LaBeouf fights along side Harrison Ford. “We share a love for Indiana Jones and coloring books.” They laugh again and I leave, amazed at the range of ages of people who would risk zombiesm the next day to see Indiana Jones crack his whip one more time.

We move inside soon enough as the wind picks up. The energy is palpable as the crowd has now grown. We get lined up outside the theatre and I prowl the crowd for more people. I find Robyn, 17, Caitlyn, 17 and Chelsea, 16 all crowded around a mobile DVD player watching “Last Crusade” and loving every moment of it. The boat crushing scene dances across the screen as I ask them what it is about Indiana Jones. “Well, it’s like John Wayne is to cowboy movies…as Indiana Jones is to action movies.”

Another pipes up, “Hot women, action, the hat and the whip. Especially the whip sound effect.” These are a rare kind of girl as I continue to talk with them. They play video games to excess and have played just about every action game. “Call of duty!” they all answer to the question of their favorite console game to play. “We’re so boss!” They collapse into laughter as I leave them wondering where those kinds of girls were when I was a kid.

It takes all kinds to watch an Indiana Jones movie. I continue to walk the hallway as the line grows to now stretch from one side of the building. I’ve talked to many fellow Denver people tonight and think it’s time to sit down and take a nap.

One last guy catches me, “I got a story for you.” Twice in one night. I figure I’ll listen one more time. Scott Primack (Or Drimack, my notes are terrible by this point), age 47 begins to tell me his story of Indiana Jones. In 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark was coming out and Scott was an intern at an inner city hospital in Detroit working in the ER. “Five gunshot victims and all kinds of stuff going on all night. It was one of the worst nights.” They were to get off just near midnight and they had heard about a midnight showing of a “funky new movie about some guy names Indiana Jones. We were all depressed after what had happened in the ER that night so we decided to go and see it.”

He pauses for a moment and I can see memories flashing before his eyes. This means something to him and I’m starting to understand why he pulled me aside. “We saw that movie and it was the greatest release we had ever had. We came away from that movie feeling so much better.” He and his buddy made a promise to see the sequels every time it came out at midnight. I look for his buddy and then he smiles, “And tonight I dragged my kids with me to feel that same feeling I had back in Detroit on that night.” Shaking my head in amazement I ask him how long he’s been in Denver. “17 years!” I ask him if he’d ever leave. Looking at me he laughs. “Are you kidding me? Never!”

I shake his hand and watch him walk away. Tonight I’ve met all kinds. Each one of them fans of a hero that has brought us together at midnight. We are soon ushered into the theatre and find our seats. Over the next hour the place fills to the brim until each seat is occupied. People are still watching DVD’s. The previews roll and we talk amongst ourselves.

Then it happens.

The Lucas Films logo appears. The crowd erupts in cheers and applause. The scenes of the movie began to play out before us and it is silent in awe. Indiana Jones is back and we’ve missed him.

Is the movie great? Nothing will compare to the first three. But there are moments of familiarity to each scene, as if we’ve been here before. The movie is a fun romp with great action, laugh out moments and even some (le gasp!) romance. As the last (and it’s a predictable but harmless end scene) rolls we wish we could stay just a little longer. The music swells and we all leave with smiles a mile wide…or is it a mile high?

Indiana Jones reminds us of when movies were once great adventures that changed our young lives when we first saw each memorable moment. In Denver, we watched and welcomed him back.

Midnight at the Regal Continental Ten in Denver Colorado was also one of (if not) the largest crowd gathered in one place to see our old friend return.

2 Comments so far

  1. nickdoll on May 24th, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

    Just a note. It’s Nick Doll, not Nate. ;)

    Glad you enjoyed the movie too.


  2. Aaron DeLay (den_aaron) on May 24th, 2008 @ 5:54 pm

    DOH! Sorry boss! Fixed it. I have a brother named Nate. :)

    Aaron



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