The Trenchcoated European Spy was a Nazi Gestapo intelligence agent assigned to follow American archaeologist Indiana Jones during the man's flight from San Francisco to Patan, Nepal to retrieve the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra from Abner Ravenwood in 1936. The spy was present aboard the Pan Am Clipper which transported Jones to Kathmandu, stalking the American, but soon handed over the remainder of his mission to Major Arnold Ernst Toht and his partner Otto.
A European spy served as a Nazi Gestapo intelligence agent in 1936. That year, he was assigned to follow famed American archaeologist Indiana Jones as he was travelling to Patan, Nepal to retrieve the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra from an old friend, Abner Ravenwood, to use in his search for the Ark of the Covenant at Tanis outside Cairo, Egypt. Jones arranged a flight to Nepal with Pan American Airways in a Pan Am Clipper, an arrangement which the trenchcoated spy learned about and used to his advantage.
The spy also arranged to fly on the plane, and arrived before Jones wearing a trenchcoat, fedora and glasses. He was allowed onboard the plane by its steward, and looked back at Jones as he climbed aboard the vessel. Jones entered the plane shortly afterwards, and the spy, hiding behind an issue of Life magazine, watched Jones refuse a drink from the steward and then put his own fedora over his eyes, drifting to sleep for the duration of the flight. The agent likely later handed the rest of his mission over to Major Arnold Ernst Toht.
Behind the scenes
The Trenchcoated European Spy, as he is named in the script, was portrayed by an uncredited Dennis Muren in Raiders of the Lost Ark. As the agent wears glasses and his face is only seen fleetingly, some have assumed he was meant to be Major Arnold Ernst Toht. However, Muren has been quoted as saying he did not stand in for Ronald Lacey, and thus did not portray Toht. The identity of the "Toht lookalike" has yet to be established.
As established from the cover art, the issue of "Life" magazine being read by this agent is the November 30, 1936 issue, the second issue of the magazine ever published. Various official timelines place the search for the Ark in April 1936 or late July 1936, making the agent's reading material an anachronism.
In Campbell Black's Raiders novelization, the novel combines this agent and Toht into one character, although in the novel he boards the plane in Shanghai, China, not San Francisco as in the film. A sequence set in Shanghai, which was later recycled for the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was cut from the film during its development. In LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, it seems that the character on board the Pan Am Clipper is indeed Toht. In the game’s sequel, however, the European Spy is absent because Jones is taken to Nepal by his friend Jock Lindsey instead.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (First appearance)
Notes and references
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- 1936 Life Magazine covers
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones
- "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Goofs at Indiana Jones.de
- Raiders of the Lost Ark novel
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues