The Little Old Raider Who Swallowed the Fly

The first movie goof of sorts that I remember is when Belloq, the amoral French archaeologist and Nazi collaborator, swallowed a fly in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The scene is the infamous one where Indy is aiming a panzerfaust rocket launcher at the Ark, threatening to destroy it if they don’t release Marian. I had such a crush on Karen Allen for her role here and in STARMAN that I completely understood why he’d obliterate a priceless artifact to get her back, but now, my thoughts turn to when Belloq grabs the Schmeisser burp gun and tells Indy “to blow it back to God.” (which became a short-lived expletive among my fellow schoolmates after we watched this movie)

If you watch closely, you can see a fly land on Belloq’s face and crawl right into his mouth. Now, as a testament to Paul Freeman’s acting ability, he doesn’t even flinch as the insect crawls over his lip and into his mouth, probably getting crunched between bicuspids with a sickening sound and a squirt of acidic goo. Mr. Freeman was recently the priest in HOT FUZZ, in a long string of character actor roles, but I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves for not messing up this take. If I met him at some Indiana Jones-themed fan convention, where I’d go dressed as Sallah of course, I’d ask him “So, did you spit that fly out right after Spielberg said cut? Or did you swallow it? Millions await your answer.”

But perhaps the fly was meant to be there, otherwise Steven Spielberg would have removed it digitally, like he pondered doing with the infamous “Indy shoots first” scene in the bazaar, when he’s confronted by the guy with the big-ass scimitar. The script called for a long, drawn out slapstick fight, but Harrison Ford had a nasty case of the pantsy poops that day (“Bad dates,” of course). So he said “why don’t I just shoot him?” And history was made. I like to think that the fly was supposed to be there, so it was in Belloq’s stomach when he opens the Ark, desecrates it and takes the Lord’s name in vain by mocking it, and brings the wrath of kingdom come upon himself and his Nazi cohorts. Would God destroy the innocent fly? The poor fly didn’t help the Nazis. I think it survived the explosion. We probably just can’t see it because of all the chunks of Nazi dude in the frame. I wish they’d followed the further adventures of that fly, than make that Crystal Skull bullshit.

© 2010 Tommy Salami