"The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues (TV Episode 1993) Poster

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Mild Indy is better than none at all.
Tin Man-517 May 2001
I had a look at "Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues" because it had Harrison Ford in the credits. I am a huge fan of the first three movies, and I was enthusiastic about the decision of George Lucas to release the movies and all of the episodes of the TV show, because I always thought that the adventures of Young Indy were very watchable. I had no idea that Lucas edited the show into movies for this plan until I saw this in a store, and this one is one of many of those very films.

There is one distinguishing factor, however, wish separates this from the other Young Indiana Jones movies: Harrison Ford has second billing as an older Indiana Jones, and the film's bookends feature him recalling his adventures as a younger man as he goes searching for an ancient Native American artifact. He only has about ten minutes of screen time, but his presence alone is worthy of notice. This is his fouth outing as the whip-weilding archeologist, and he basically eats the role up for the few lines he has and then collects his paycheck. I liked the look of Indiana Jones from 1950. He aged well, still holding his whip and wearing his hat, but now with more rugged features and a beard. I'm curious to see more movies about what happened in between The Last Crusade and Mystery of the Blues.

My question, however, is this: Could this then be the fourth Indy movie? Technically, since it is the further adventures of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, this could be the case. Even though it is labeled here as chapter 20 of the series, suggesting that it is merely one of many episodes of the show, it's alright because in the official process in chaptering of the series that Lucas placed on each video box, even the Ford films got numbered, and Temple of Doom came before Raiders of the Lost Ark in the chapters, despite the fact that it was released later. Whether Mystery of the Blues is the next chapter in the film series or not, it is still bound to appease the fans of the films until Ford dons the whip and hat again for another big screen outing, which is due to start filming in a few years.

As a movie itself, it's pretty mild. Young Indiana Jones has always had less action in his adventures than the elder Indy, but that is only because the TV show was attempting to be social commentaries, as Indy sees the world and its history as it truly was, and over-the-top action sequences would have bogged that idea down. There have always been several scenes of action thrown in other Young Indy episodes, however, but this one is lacking even those. Instead, the movie focuses on Indy's quest to discover jazz, and he meets important historical figures in pursuit of that. There is a lot of music and a lot of discussion on racial prejudice, but there is no action for most of the film (with the exeption of Ford's segment at the beginning, which features a fun car chase through snow). Later, as Young Indy gets tangled up in some prohibition wars with his college roomate Elliot Ness, there is one excellent action scene, and it is great welcome. However, it only shows what is needed throughout the film: Some intense action sequences. That would have made the movie tick much better, and it would have been much more engaging.

However, as a film itself, it is certainly not bad. What could have been cliched in the racial tensions expressed is actually quite brilliant, featuring Indy actually facing reverse discrimination, and the scenes dealing with gangsters and Al Capone are quite intruiging. The idea of playing the blues provides a nice segue between showing two different wars that were being fought in the 1920's within America: racism and prohibition. These two domestic battles are paralleled with World War I throughout, and it is all well-written and excellently acted by Sean Patrick Flanery as Young Indy, who doesn't look a thing like a young Indiana Jones, but he makes up for it in his performance. I was never bored with the film, and it was entertaining in a way that I wouldn't expect an Indy film to be. However, the overblown action scenes were missing.

As an unofficial fourth Indy movie, it will do till Ford, Lucas, and Speilberg decide to do another big screen film. But I'm holding my breath!

*** out of ****
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An "Indiana Jones" film with Dixieland, Hemingway, Capone, and Ness? Great entertainment.
TxMike25 December 2001
The IMDb "ratings" for this movie are obviously bogus. The 11 people (so far) who voted it "1" are obviously idiots. The 9 people (so far) who voted "10" are different kinds of idiots. It is not a great film, but certainly better and more entertaining than many films that get favorable ratings. It deserves somewhere between "6" and "8". I rate it "7".

This film opens and closes with Harrison Ford playing a mature, retired Indiana Jones. He and his buddy, an American Indian, are being chased in the winter, car stalls into a snowbank, they trudge to a cabin where Indy finds his old soprano sax. That starts the storytelling for this film.

The main attraction to me in this film was the Jazz thread running through it, in New Orleans and in Chicago. We see young Sidney Bichet, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, playing before they became the big stars they were destined for. Young Indy back from the war works as a waiter, studies Archeology, and secretly fantasizes being a great Jazz musician. He hangs out with Bichet and other musicians, and gradually he learns the Jazz idioms, well enough to actually jam a bit with them.

The restaurant owner gets murdered right before opening one evening, and Indy gets to practice his detective work. Along with Elliot Ness. Al Capone and Ernest Hemingway are also part of the story. The film ends with a short sequence back in the snow-bound cabin. Their chasers find them, Indy is hit and the Indian taken away. However, as they get to the front door, Indy begins to play his sax "badly", as he sounded before meeting Bichet, the noise makes the snow rumble off the roof, freeing the Indian. Smiles around, this film doesn't take itself too seriously, consistent with the old Indy we know and love.

Not up to the directing, acting, and photography of "Raiders", which in my opionion is the best film of all time, but still a very worthwhile and entertaining film. Especially for anyone who appreciates good music.
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9/10
Wonderful episode
alainenglish13 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Unlike most episodes of "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles", this one has been retained whole for the repackaged "Adventures of Young Indiana Jones" video (later DVD) series. The bookends of the story, which feature a middle-aged Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) are retained, and although consisting of two separate segments that deal with racism and then mob murders, it flows consistently as one story.

It's 1920 and young Indiana Jones (Sean Patrick Flanery) is now studying archaeology at the University of Chicago. To earn money he works as a waiter at Colosimo's restaurant, run by mobster Big Jim Colosimo (Raymond Serra). Indy discovers jazz and learns to play the blues under the tutelage of streetwise musician Sidney Bichet (Jeffery Wright). Later on, Big Jim is murdered and Indy and an assortment of allies work to get to the bottom of the mystery...

This episode is wonderful to watch. There are some well-scripted scenes here, including one where Sidney takes Indy to Sunday lunch and Indy reveals a troubled ambivalence about his actions during the war and his unease at being back home. Such honest depth to Indy's character is rare in this series and it's nice to see it displayed here. Harrison Ford likewise in his short scenes is brilliant. Just as he did in the recent "Crystal Skull", he slips into his character effortlessly.

The supporting performances are a mixed bag. Fred Weller plays Indy's roommate Eliot Ness and Jay Underwood returns as Ernest Hemingway. Both of them overact horribly, mugging constantly for the camera in their exaggerated voices and facial expressions in a way that is embarrassing.

However, Jeffery Wright is excellent is Bichet, bringing a real charisma to his character and it's mainly thanks to him that the soulful jazz/blues scenes work. Forest Whitaker appears in a few scenes as Bichet's sidekick and Nicholas Turturro gives a chilling depiction of a young Al Capone.

Only two more to go, but this offering was another example of the clever inventiveness of this series.
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6/10
Blues and Booze
polsixe18 February 2008
A good 90 minute show, heavy on the the blues and jazz in the first half but the actors miming the instrumentals come off as too fake. Good music and vocals though. The Indy character takes a bit of a subdued role here, after all his adventures overseas - army, POW, secret service, vampires, etc. during the war he must have wanted to go back to the simple life of being a college kid with a part-time job. In this respect the continuity of the character suffers a bit. Many "real" characters written in the story - the various musicians, Indy's roommate, his friend Hemingway, the bartender with the "scarface" and others. A big action sequence near the end with Model T's (or were they A's?, they could've run faster)...and no real ending, but a glimpse of 1920's Chicago city politics/justice.
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10/10
Just so awesome
topaz48118 April 2001
How much better can you get?? A young Indy and the adult Indy (HARRISON FORD!!) And Ernie Hemingway, Al Capone, Eliot Ness, etc. I mean these are awesome characters! It's such a piece of history in it all. =) I LOVE INDIANA JONES anyway I can take him! It's an awesome movie. Really and truly. All of the Young Indy's are.
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