Article pillaged from the official site web archives. (I understand the read-along adventures use voice impersonators and are different from the movies-on-cassette
Indy's Read-Along Adventures
April 13, 2004
If there's one thing that children schooled by Read-Along Adventures know, it's when it is time to turn the page. A staple of a late 1970s childhood, a Read-Along Adventure was a full-color storybook adaptation of a popular children's film, accompanied by a record or audiocassette of a narrator reading the text of the book word-for-word. Produced by Buena Vista Records, Read-Along Adventures adapted such classics as the Star Wars trilogy, several Star Trek films, E.T., Gremlins and many Disney films.
Though they adopted greater variety in later years, the Read-Along Adventures of the early 1980s were practically standardized in their presentation, with the same text introducing each 24-page booklet:
"This is the story of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You can read along with me in your book. You will know when it's time to turn the page when you hear the bullwhip crack like this... Let's begin now."
Of course, not all titles had a whip-crack prompting a page turn, but that was sound effect of choice for the Indiana Jones Read-Along Adventure trilogy. As collectibles go, Read-Along Adventures are affordable and relatively easy to find, and offer instant nostalgia to vintage Indy collectors. The simplification of a gritty two-hour PG-movie into a 24-page storybook for kids is made all the more charming by enthusiastic narration and not-quite-dead-on voice actors.
Full sound effects and authentic film music accompany the narration, with dialogue spoken by a cast of unbilled actors. Since the dialogue was often rewritten to be concise, clearly enunciated, and/or expository, audio clips could not be lifted directly from the film. As a result, each Read-Along has all the principal roles re-cast by a stable of Buena Vista Records players. David Esch played Indy in these recorded romps; his knack of capturing Harrison Ford's understated delivery landed him the role of Indy in the Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb video game, and Han Solo in Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.
Children growing up in the pre-videocassette households of the early 1980s couldn't be faulted for accepting these books as proxies for films no longer in the theater. Today's sophisticated audiences, however, can be excused for finding humor when these adaptations don't quite live up to the real thing.
Here's an overview of the Indy Read-Along Adventure trilogy.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The rip-roaring debut adventure of Indiana Jones clocks in at a speedy 12 minutes, with the rousing Raiders march giving it plenty of pep. It begins in the darkest of South American jungles, and ends in the endless warehouse of crates. The gruesome subject matter of melting Nazis is glossed over; the Ark is described as "destroying Belloq and the soldiers!"
Opening Line: "For most people, archeology means digging up old clay pots for museum displays."
Most Concise Editing: The entire brawl on the airstrip is reduced to three sentences: "Indy fought with the crew. A fuel tank broke and began to leak. The gasoline caught fire and the plane exploded!"
When to Flip the Record Over: After the map room, before the descent into the Well of Souls.
Notable Omissions: Indy and Marion's romance (mushy stuff, after all), no evil monkey, no duplicate of the medallion.
Dead-On Impressions: The uncredited Sallah and Toht are pretty convincing.
Most Out-Of-Character Expository Dialogue: Marion: "What's that? Snakes! Get me out of here!"
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
The darkest of Indy adventures doesn't play all that dark in 12 minutes and 24 pages, but there's a lot crammed into this brief little package. Recognizing that kids are their audience, Short Round gets an entire page dedicated to bonding with his baby elephant, when other plot-considerations are rushed through. This audio adaptation plays a bit looser than the previous one, with unscripted "wild lines" spoken by Shorty, Indy and Willie slightly off-microphone, and not appearing in the text.
Opening Line: "Adventurer Indiana Jones normally didn't wear a tuxedo, but the Chinese ganster Lao Che had chosen a fancy Shanghai nightclub for their meeting."
Tipping Your Cards Early: Willie's introduction on page one: "Lao's girlfriend, Willie Scott, eyed Jones with interest, but he was in no mood for romance."
Most Concise Editing: The rope bridge standoff is resolved very fast in two sentences: "Swinging his sword with all his might, he cut the ropes, shearing the bridge in two! Indy grabbed a rope and swung to safety as Mola Ram and his evil guards fell toward the hungry crocodiles."
When to Flip the Record Over: After Willie trips the spike chamber, before the first look at the Temple of Doom.
Notable Omissions: Not surprisingly, there's no Thuggee quadruple-bypass surgery; there's also no Colonel Blumburtt, and no evil Maharajah.
Dead-On Impressions: Lao Che sounds almost like the real thing.
Most Out-Of-Character Expository Dialogue: The Chieftain (in English): "Welcome. You are now in India."
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The most sophisticated of the lot came out in 1989, to accompany the theatrical release. It includes a full cast and crew list in the inside cover, and a producer credit on the cassette and record. John Rhys-Davies narrates, his deep voice giving the story a bit more weight. Voice actor Stanley Jones gives Henry Jones a much thicker Scottish accent than what appears in the film.
Narrator: John Rhys-Davies; Young Indy: Michael Manasseri; Walter Donavan: Phil Proctor; Indiana Jones: David Esch; Marcus Brody: Richard Doyle; Dr. Elsa Schneider: Debbie Gates; Professor Henry Jones: Stanley Jones; S.S. Officer: Phil Proctor; Colonel Vogel: Richard Doyle; Sallah: John Rhys-Davies; Grail Knight: William Glover.
Writer: Randy Thornton; Editor: Ann Braybrooks; Producer: Ted Kryczko; Engineer: Tom Johnson, Sproket Systems, Inc. ; Art Director: Lea Bivens
Opening Line: "In a desert cave, a boy scout was hiking with his troop when he heard voices."
Check your Calendars: The Read-Along surprisingly sets The Last Crusade in 1941, instead of the correct 1938.
Kid-Friendly Gunplay: Indy doesn't shoot Nazis. He instead ... "snatched up one of the guns and overcame the soldiers."
Most Concise Editing: The entire escape from Castle Brunwald, distilled to a single sentence: "Left alone, Henry and Indy burned through the ropes with a lighter, then slipped out of the castle and into the hills."
Surprising Inclusion: Despite the watered-down action and romance, this choice ideological retort remains: "I believe in the Grail, not the swastika."
When to Flip the Record Over: After escaping Castle Brunwald, before the decision to go to Berlin.
Notable Omissions: No rats; no Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword; the entire tank chase is gone; the second two Grail challenges are extremely condensed.
That was the end of the story. If you'd like to hear it again, turn the tape over.