The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (1993) – Mystery of the Blues

Harrison Ford makes an appearance as Indiana Jones in this television movie that first aired on 13 March, 1993.

Written by Jule Selbo from a story by George Lucas, the film open and closes with Ford’s return as Indy as he and a friend, Grey Cloud (Saginaw Grant) are racing across snow swept Wyoming in 1950, chased by a group of thugs who want the ceremonial peace pipe the pair have just recovered. Holing up in a remote cabin to avoid their pursuers, Indy stumbles across an alto sax, and regales Grey Cloud with a story from his youth…

Which leads us to Indy (Sean Patrick Flanery) in Chicago, during the 1920s. He’s there for university, but gets caught up in Prohibition and jazz. His roommate at the University of Chicago is another brush with history, none other than Elliot Ness (Frederick Weller).

To help pay his way through university, he works in a restaurant where he is enchanted by the house band, led by Sidney Bechet (Jeffrey Wright).

The episode has some great music, wonderful moments, and great performances.

Indy’s love of jazz grows through the film as he comes into possession of an alto sax, cultivates a friendship with Bechet, and tries to jam with jazz legends.

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Their is also a glimpse at the racism that was prevalent at the time (and sadly still is).

Ness is played as a bit of a straight-laced goof, and he’s there more for comic relief, balancing the drama of the rest of the story as Bechet and Indy relationship grows. Sidney teaches him, and he slowly learns, after much, much practice.

Keeping it in context of the character, this story allows Indy’s youth to shine through, something he lost during the war, and the music restores that. My only real issue with this one is that we don’t see much in the way of his time at the university but for his dorm room and the occasional party.

Where are his classes? He’s obviously very good at what he does, but we aren’t given very many glimpses into his academic life. All we see is his time working in the restaurant and enjoying jazz.

There are a couple of action beats outside of the bookends, as Indy’s place of employment is mobster Jim Colosimo’s (Raymond Serra) restaurant. So when Colosimo is whacked, the story takes a bit of a turn.

It also allows him to bump into an old friend, who is working as a freelance reporter… Ernest Hemingway (Jay Underwood). Together, Indy, Ness, and Hemingway work to solve the murder while Bechet continues Jones’ jazz and now blues education.

The second half of the film doesn’t have the life of the first, and it’s easy to see that they were designed to be broken up into separate episodes. Still, this one ends up being one of my favourites in the series.

Next week, Indy finds himself in the Scandal of 1920.

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