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Old 01-20-2005, 09:41 PM   #1
IndyFrench
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Arguing Willie's case

Hey all,

Was just thinking about Temple of Doom in the aftermath of writing "Gunga Doom" and came to a conclusion about Willie.

Clearly, Temple of Doom had to compete with Raiders as a sequel, and its tactic was to literally not compete. Instead, Temple was crafted with its own identity. It's a film that has a much zanier sense of pace and humor within the context of a horrific event.

In Raiders, we the audience follow Indy and see the film through his eyes. The story is serious and dangerous, yet not so much that the hero is untouchable for the viewer.

However, watching Temple of Doom closely, it is clear that the audience is directed through the eyes of Willie. The situations in the film are deadly to the extreme, and the entire final act of the film is a go-for-broke thrill ride of danger. Willie's reactions to all of these situations are the sounding boards for the audience. She recognizes and reacts to the absuridty of the situations and gives the viewer a sense of scope and gravity.

Indy is the straight man in the picture, the tough guy in who's hands rests the fate of many. Shorty is his loyal companion, brave of heart, and rarely fazed by the trouble around him. He keeps a cool head the whole way through, minus a few choice moments in which everyone is panicking (e.g. the plane). It is in Willie that we find the emotion, the fear, the panic, and in a strange way, the realistic reactions to such a situation.

Her reaction to Shorty's glib, "Hold on lady, we're going for a ride," as Indy prepares to send the bridge into the abyss, is the reaction any normal person would have with the realization that they were about to be hanging onto a falling, ricketly bridge for their lives.

Willie sees through the fortune and glory to the simple truths of the matter. "There are two dead people down here!", "No one's flying the plane!", "Give me your hat...Because I'm going to puke in it!"

These are grounding statements, the declarations that orient the viewer within the absurd, while Indy (and to a lesser degree Shorty), are underreacting to these moments, playing the psychologically superhuman heroes. In Raiders, Indy can be identified with all the way through, and the story reigns itself tightly within a realistic net of danger.

Temple of Doom takes the audience beyond the boundaries of Raiders into true darkness, and only Indy can get us out. To do so, Indy must become emotionally untouchable to the audience for the majority of the story, and a surrogate vehicle is needed to carry our emotions - which manifests in the form of Willie.

Yeah - these are the kinds of things I think about after grad classes.

Mike
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:30 PM   #2
Brooke Logan
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I agree with this. I think Willie represents how an average person might feel to be thrust into Indiana Jones' adventures. When she says, "Who are you?", it was like to me saying, we the audience know who he is and what kind of crazy things can happen to him, but she doesn't yet.

I like Willie and it was fun to see her grow up throughout the movie. I don't blame her for being scared and screaming! I would!

And she's not as wimpy as people think, she does get feisty and she had the courage to pursue her dreams of working outside the home and moved to an exotic country. I don't think that's a wimpy woman at all.
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Old 06-10-2012, 08:45 PM   #3
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Willie is probably the text-book example of "executive meddling" causing harm to a movie, or, in this case, a character. She was supposed to be a cynical, even bitter, showgirl woman who had tasted stardom and then was shanghaied (excuse the pun) into servitude. An initial draft made it explicit that Willie was Lao Che's whore... and she was desperate to get out of that situation.

At some point, Steven and George thought her screaming was funny and decided that that would now be the character's defining trait.. she was the 'comic reaction' for the audience. The thing is, the movie was not paced like a comedy, and her 'comedic screaming' and other antics happened all the time, and often rediculously so.

Visually, I always saw something just off with Willie that I could never put my finger on in years before. Now, it's so blatantly obvious that I can't believe I missed it. Whoever did the hair and makeup for Kate was dressing her up for a movie set in 1984 and not 1936. Her costumes also tend to be one step too far for each character shot.

She's easily the least-pulp of the female leads and just stands out for all the wrong reasons. Honestly, you could pluck her out of Indiana Jones and put her into Romancing the Stone and not change a single thing.

For me, Willie is a bit of a focal point of Temple of Doom's weaknesses. What's wrong with her (revising the 'story' midway, losing dimensional depth, endless parade of misplaced gags, loss of detail to the setting, etc) is what's wrong with the movie as a whole. It's clear that Kate had some fun with the character and there are some scenes where she really shines.. but whenever I think of Willie, I'm left wondering what could have been.
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vance
She's easily the least-pulp of the female leads and just stands out for all the wrong reasons. Honestly, you could pluck her out of Indiana Jones and put her into Romancing the Stone and not change a single thing.

You're right, leading women in serials were often made of sterner stuff, despite suffering from glass jaw syndrome (it not being right to beat up a lady too much!)

Willie is a result of Lucas and Spielberg presenting the older style to a newer audience. As with that precocious brat, Short Round.

To me it's a marvel that the film thrives so well in spite of these two annoying main characters!
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vance
Whoever did the hair and makeup for Kate was dressing her up for a movie set in 1984 and not 1936. Her costumes also tend to be one step too far for each character shot.

I thought she kind of seemed like a Jean Harlow or Mae West character type. Not that I'm that familiar with those women, but a little bit, and that's sort of what Willie reminds me of.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:54 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Brooke Logan
I thought she kind of seemed like a Jean Harlow or Mae West character type. Not that I'm that familiar with those women, but a little bit, and that's sort of what Willie reminds me of.

Willie didn't have the edge or that type of sexual confidence to pull off Mae West. Hell, few women could do that today.

Willie seemed to be more of an archetype - but one really painted through far more modern glasses. She was the failed starlet, a would-be broadway singer that got the attention of the wrong men from Shanghai. She was supposed to be more bitter and cynical, and someone to play off of Indiana's darker impulses... but... no...

It's hard to pin down an exact model from the pulp era that would fit Willie. There are a few that come somewhat close (mostly lesser-known sultry acts), but Willie is just decidedly not pulp, nor is she really a woman from that era at all. For the most part, she's merely a boomer-esque 1980s Hollywood girl.

The fact that she's 'done up' with the 1980s big hair and far more modern Hollywood-style costumes really draws more attention to this. She's completely out of place in Indiana Jone's world, but not in the ways that would have made for a good narrative.

You have to blame Steven and George for this one, because the character wasn't supposed to be like this. But we're stuck with what we got, which makes Willie the weakest female lead of the franchise.
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:41 PM   #7
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I hate to sound stupid here, but, what is pulp? I'm sorry, I'm just not familiar with the term. So if someone could explain it to me I'd be grateful.

I don't know much about costumes but I thought Willie's first dress was supposed to be chinese-style. I didn't really think it looked 80's, but again, I'm no expert.

I guess I saw her as somebody who was supposed to taken out of their element and having to learn to adjust to it, with a comedic edge to the character to lighten up the mood.

It would have been interesting to see her with a bitterness but then again I like her sort of childlike innocence/naive quality.

It would be fun to see if she developed any bitterness if Indy dumped her. I have a feeling Indy is the kind of man that once a woman falls for him, she never really gets over him.
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Old 06-12-2012, 03:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Brooke Logan
I hate to sound stupid here, but, what is pulp? I'm sorry, I'm just not familiar with the term. So if someone could explain it to me I'd be grateful.

Technically, 'pulp' refers to the cheap paper on which early serialized stories were printed in the Victorian era. They often weren't great literature (though Charles Dickens' stories were also distributed in that manner), but they were popular.

'Pulp' has also come to refer to the action/adventure/science fiction serials and films that were especially popular from the 1930s onwards. Indiana Jones was inspired by these often wild tales.

For some later pulp magazines you could look at this thread if you dare!

And for film serials, here.
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Old 06-12-2012, 03:27 PM   #9
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Thank you for the information! I'll check out the links.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:00 PM   #10
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Technically, 'pulp' refers to the cheap paper on which early serialized stories were printed in the Victorian era. They often weren't great literature (though Charles Dickens' stories were also distributed in that manner), but they were popular.

Pulp would be used more heavily by the yellow press (which, ironically, were also printing on the same paper) and it was more popularized once the 'pulp magazines' really started to hit in the 'tween-war era. Though often debased due to the sheer volume of work, low quality of paper, and usually simplistic stories, they were also immensely popular.

We tend to think of characters like "The Shadow" and "Doc Savage" when we think of the pulps, but we tend to forget that characters like "Sherlock Holmes", "Tarzan", "Hercule Poirot", etc. were also in the pulp category for their debuts.

The pulps would enjoy great success through the Second World War (a favorite to ship to soldiers since they were cheap and could go through Army post). Their popularity would shift in the 1950s under the 'red scare' and a focus on space-aliens, but this would be relatively short lived.

In the 1960s, the pulps would be devastated both by the pro-censor movement and the rise of television in homes. The death-knell for the pulps popularity would come with the advent of the "Comics Code" which would outright censor material and ban them based on very questionable 'ethics' choices. By this time, the television had embraced pulp adventures anyway (particularly the space, mystery, and western series) and that, as they say, was that.
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Old 06-14-2012, 01:54 PM   #11
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Thanks for the explanation, Vance! I'm glad I know what it is now.
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Old 07-12-2012, 01:35 PM   #12
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Willie to me was easily the best Indy girl of the series. If you think about it, Marion screamed more then Willie. I think Indy fans just decided that one movie of the series that they had to hate, and they decided to use Willie. Her screaming is not annoying at all. I would be screaming. You all would probably be to! In the creepy dinner scene, sometimes I got bored of them talking all of the time, so I knew I could count on Willie always being disgusted by the foods. Everyone remember Willie's quote.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:31 PM   #13
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I thought Willie was the most easy to relate to of all the women.
Quote:
If you think about it, Marion screamed more then Willie.

A friend of mine who had never seen the Indy movies until adulthood did not like Marion because she said she yelled too much. Now she hadn't seen Temple yet, but yeah, she did say Marion was always yelling and when I rewatched the movie, I get the point. Marion does yell her sentences a lot. Willie has a higher pitched voice/scream, but Marion certainly does her share of yelling as well. They're damsels in distress during these times, of course they're going to scream.

If Marion had been put in the situations Willie was, I doubt she would have been quiet.

I like Marion, don't get me wrong, but I get tired of the Willie bashing and comparisons to Marion when they are two entirely different women in different situations.
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I think Indy fans just decided that one movie of the series that they had to hate, and they decided to use Willie.

Good point. It's hard to make a sequel as good as an original, especially if the original was excellent like Raiders. So when the sequel comes out, people try to figure out why it wasn't as good or fresh as the original and that's why any new characters are going to get flack and be compared to the ones in the first.

Personally I think the sequels (Temple and LC) are as good or only slight less good than Raiders, so I think that's a great accomplishment because rarely can sequels meet up, but Temple and Crusade very nicely met up for me.
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Old 07-12-2012, 02:56 PM   #14
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If Marion had been put in the situations Willie was, I doubt she would have been quiet.



Your right. No one complained about Marion screaming.

Last edited by Finn : 07-13-2012 at 09:01 PM. Reason: tag fix
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Old 07-13-2012, 04:15 PM   #15
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I think being the second woman to come into the Indy trilogy made people harder on Willie. Even though the writers made it a prequel, it's almost like people might have seen Willie as a sort of interloper, or how they would view a woman who came into Indy's life after Marion.

It seems to be human nature to kind of see that second person as "stealing" the man from the first girl or whatever. That's why I think the writers made this a prequel, and I really wish they hadn't done that.

By the time Elsa came in the picture, the movie makers didn't worry about making it a prequel to protect Indy/Marion because they could see by then that the film and Indy could still be a hit with audiences whether he was with Marion or not.
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