You know, I never thought about that before...

I’ve been laid up all week with the most godawful stomach bug I’ve had in recent memory, so I’ve been confined to bed doing naught but trying to drink Lucozade and watching DVDs.

Tonight’s Feature Presentation was one of my favourite films, Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I’ve seen this film innumerable times, but tonight I started wondering something I’d never even noticed in the film before:

What on earth are the Deutsche Afrika Korps doing in Egypt (which was a British Protectorate) in 1937?

I mean, there are a LOT of them, and they’re heavily armed, and they’re digging holes at a major archaeological site “just outside of Cairo”… don’t you think the British authorities might be wondering what the hell is going on?

Belloq (the French archaeologist) makes mention in one scene that the desert stretches for “three weeks in every direction” if you’re on foot, so I figured OK, they’re in the middle of nowhere and no-one has noticed. But after Indy blows up the Flying Wing, the DAK guys have to transport the Ark by road to Cairo, which eventually turns into a running gun battle through (sparsely) populated areas, and eventually culminates in Cairo itself- yet neither the British nor the Egyptian authorities are anywhere to be seen!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the film, but this is the first time I’d ever wondered about that in all the times I’ve seen it- even though it’s actually quite an obvious thing, when you think about it.

I figured I can’t be alone in this… so, what other films/TV shows/books have you enjoyed over and over again, before suddenly seeing something that made you say “Hang on… that’s not right at all!”?

Dude, sit down and hold on, 'cause I’m going to point out something that will blow your mind.

Indiana Jones is essentially irrelevent to the entire movie. Had he not intervened, or just stopped at various points: [ol][li]Toad never would have found the medallion,[]Belloq and the Nazis never would have found the Ark,[]The Nazis, having found the Ark and removed it to their sub base in the Med, would have been destoryed after opening it, as would anyone else handling it.[/ol]Thoughout the entire film, he kills innumerable people, destroys large amounts of property, and puts himself and Marion at risk countless times, only in order to have the Ark placed in an anonymous crate in a massive warehouse, no doubt to be thrown in the incinerator along with the sled lying next to it [Rosebud!]. So, everybody would have been better off had Jones not gotten involved in the first place. What a hero. :dubious: [/li]
Great movie, but much about it (including the German Army in the Egyptian desert outside of Cairo) makes no sense.

The same thing is true for the movie Goldfinger, where, despite being equipped with the lastest gear including a car that could take on an army of henchmen, he’s captured and interrogated, fails to relay critical information to his own service or the CIA, he doesn’t even deactivate the bomb in the end, which only requires turning a switch, and he defeats Oddjob in hand to hand combat by pure luck. Bond’s singular (and highly questionable) achievement is converting Pussy Galore from man-hating lesbian to sexpot turncoat. (Personally, I think she just realized that Goldfinger was completely mad, his plan wouldn’t work, and the best maneuver was to switch sides using the besotted government agent as proxy and defender.) Oh, James! Next time we’ll send 008 to do the job; he follows orders, not instincts.


I disagree:

  1. Major Toht was well on his way to Marion. At the very least, Indy has to assume the Nazis will eventually get to her, and…
  2. If the get the (whole) medallion, they find the ark. Don’t forget Indy’s objectives include actually getting the ark himself, not just keeping the Nazis from getting it.
  3. While this is true, nobody knew this in advance, especially Indy, because we’re told he doesn’t believe in all that hocus-pocus.

Yes, the Germans in Egypt doesn’t make sense, but remember, the plot of a movie like this is like the chips at a salsa contest: delivery vehicle for the good stuff.

Wasn’t the flying wing originally supposed to fly it directly to Berlin? In that case the capital of Germany and the top eschelon of the Nazi party would have been wiped out in the mid 1930s. No WW2!

Probably the letters of transit in Casablanca are probably the most famous example, depending on what you hear:

Ugarte: “Look, Rick, do you know what this is? Something that even you have never seen. Letters of transit signed by General De Gaulle. Cannot be rescinded, not even questioned.”

Many people have wondered why the Nazis would not question documents signed by the rebel De Gaulle when the Vichy government officially controlled France. (There’s a theory that the name said is actually General Weygand.) And there’s the ending, where the letters of transit don’t appear necessary to board the plane.

In both cases (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Casablanca), it’s probably best to think of the ark and the letters as MacGuffins. (Although the ark does lead to the destruction of the Nazis on that island, so it’s not entirely a MacGuffin.)

No, no, no, no, no, no, no. The line is “Letters of transit, signed by General Weygand.”

Weygand was a high official in the Vichy Government at the time. The name is pronounced “Vey-gan” (with the French nasal “n” at the end). It’s also quite clear that Ugarte is saying that.

It’s only because people today don’t recall Weygand that there’s any confusion. “De Gaulle” is a mondegren, and one that never would have occurred to anyone at the time the movie was made.

My “Let’s be really generous take on Nazis-in-Egypt.” was:

  1. Various people are allowed permission to dig at certain cites. So the Brits allowed a German group to dig at the city.

  2. Given the area and time, hanging out in the desert could be a little iffy. So some people with guns would be permitted.

  3. Give a Nazi an inch, and he’ll bring in a battalion. (Cf. Sudetenland.)

It really is surprising how often in real life units of one government would be “permitted” inside the territory of a somewhat hostile second government. China up to the 1930s was a particularly bleak example of this. There were all sorts of strange European armies running around areas that were supposedly under Ottoman control before and after WWI.

In case anyone is wondering: “cites” is a typo for “sites”, not “cities.”

Interesting points re: Goldfinger… I’m inclined to agree, although it’s still a cracking film nonetheless!

It’s interesting how many of the Bond films only seem to happen because 007 is sticking his nose into things that, well, normally wouldn’t warrant the attention of anyone who couldn’t be bought off (Dr. No, especially), now I think about it…

I didn’t understand how Indy got inside the submarine once it started diving.

Toht followed Indy, or at least someone followed Indy on the plane.

Didn’t need to. Depending on who you talk to or read there were two ways, first God intervened making it so that even if the sub did go under there was still air around Indy, or the sub never went under since there wasn’t a reason.

I don’t remember anything about “just outsied of Cairo”, but I’ll take your word on it. However, if it’s three weeks in any direction it could be in lots of places. Indy goes to Cairo to get Sallah and to get the medallion translated.

How do you know it’s Cairo at the end? They are in a port city since they get on a boat. I don’t know much about Cairo, but I do know it’s pretty far down the Nile, so they could have been much further north.

Some people don’t keep up with their original scripts (as presented in the Marvel comics adaptation).

Indy used his whip to lash himself to the periscope which (apparently) those nutty Germans never bothered to lower below sea level on their cruise to the island of death.

I always assumed he either got in through one of the escape hatches, or else the submarine never dived for the duration of the journey.

I believe the “Just Outside of Cairo” line was made at the very beginning when the Government Men were asking about Tanis and the telegram concerning “The Headpiece of The Staff Of Ra”

I don’t know if it’s Cairo where they board the cargo ship (I assumed it was Alexandria), but it’s implied that the car/truck chase ended in Cairo, which is where they were going anyway. Even if it was Alexandria- or any other Egyptian port city- where the chase culminated, you can bet that someone in charge would have their interest piqued by a running gun battle…

Oh of course! It all seems so plausible now. :smack: Lucky that Indy knew in advance that the sub wasn’t going to either dive or down its periscope, eh?

I wonder why this piece of nautical, al fresco bondage was dropped from the finished picture? Thank heavens we have the good people at Marvel to tell us the whole story and make sense of what might seem at first glance to be plotholes :slight_smile:

Now if only Marvel had won the franchise to adapt Die Hard II…

WW2 submarines generally stayed on the surface while cruising, but if they did submerge, absent an enemy attack they stayed close enough to the surface to use the snorkel. However, the slightly less accurate periscope-clinging scene was filmed but dropped.

Tanis was close enough to Cairo for Sallah to commute to work from there, and for Baeeloq and friends to take day-trips.

This is true. (It was actually one of my heroes, FX guru Dennis Muren, on the plane.)
Still, my contention was that you shouldn’t use audience knowledge and hindsight to judge a character’s actions in an adventure movie.

The original script included the opening scene from Temple of Doom after the Nepalese bar fight.

He went in through the screen door.


[keebler commercial]

TV REPORTER: Wait a minute, rasberries don’t grow on trees!

CAMERA GUY: Dude, if that’s the only thing around here that bothers you, you’re my hero!

Nice try, but no plot-hole closing here. As wiki says, “The first boat to be fitted with a snorkel was U-58 which experimented with the equipment in the Baltic during the summer of 1943.” No 1937 boat had a snorkel.
But they did usually stay on the surface unless they had a reason to dive. And probably fewer reasons to dive in 1937 than during real war time.

Can’t be Afrika Korps–they weren’t formed till 1941.

Well, if we want to get even more pedantic ;):

The MP-38 Schmeisser SMG wasn’t introduced until 1939, (With the MP-40 coming in 1940) and the MP-36 was a prototype never on general issue. In other words, the Germans at Tanis probably should have been carrying MP-28 SMGs.

The Walther P-38 wasn’t introduced until… 1938. (again, after the movie was set)

The Browning Hi-Power semi-auto Indy is shown using was extremely uncommon in 1937- they didn’t become widely available until WWII (Although I know there’s a backstory or something somewhere that says Indy won the Browning in a card game with a Belgian Officer). Obtaining ammunition for a 9mm semi-automatic pistol outside Europe in 1937 would have been quite difficult- not impossible, but expensive and time-consuming, much like trying to obtain .455 Webley ammunition nowadays.