Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues is the eleventh episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and the fifth episode of season two. It is the twentieth film in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. The two-hour episode originally aired on ABC on March 13, 1993. The title was shortened to Mystery of the Blues for its release on home video in 1999; otherwise, the home video edit is nearly identical to the broadcast version.
Wyoming, 1950. A middle-aged Indiana Jones is on the run, outwitting goons trying to steal a sacred Indian relic. Snowed in inside a cabin, Indy uncovers a relic from his past: a soprano sax. Playing a few notes brings back Indy's memories of Chicago, 1920, a time of prohibition, speakeasies and jazz.
Indy works as a waiter in Jim Colosimo's restaurant, and spends his breaks admiring the house band led by Sidney Bechet. Indy is crazy about jazz, sneaking out from the University of Chicago at night with his up-tight dorm-mate Eliot Ness to listen to jazz at clubs around town. Loving something and doing something are two very different things, as Indy discovers when he humiliates himself by taking a solo on his new soprano sax. Sidney agrees to teach him the ropes, and as Indy opens his eyes to the fundamentals of jazz, he also sees firsthand the often fierce racial divides splitting Chicago.
Then, one morning, gunfire rings out and Big Jim is shot dead in his own restaurant. Who's behind the murder? There's no shortage of suspects, but Indy and Eliot, joined by Indy's reporter friend Ernest Hemingway are determined the find the truth. Could it be his ex-wife, still steamed that she was left cold for 19-year old Dale Winter? What about Dion O'Banion, the Irish mobster from the North Side? And how about Johnny Torio and his new friend from New York, a scar-faced bartender named Al "Brown"? Even if Indy does uncover the truth, getting justice in a town as corrupt as Chicago may be a tall order.
In 1950, Indiana Jones and his friend Greycloud are being pursued by car in snowy rural Wyoming. After losing their gun-toting pursuers, Indy crashes their truck into a snowbank, and they proceeded on foot to an empty cabin. In the cabin, Greycloud reveals what their pursuers were after: an ancient peace pipe, recently reclaimed by Indy, that was the most sacred relic of Greycloud's people. Indy discovers a soprano saxophone in the cabin and after testing it out, begins to recount the story of how it is significant to him.
Chicago, April 1920
While attending the University of Chicago, Indy has worked his way up as a waiter to serving at Colosimo's Restaurant, where he could listen to Sidney Bechet and his jazz band perform. One night, he asks Bechet if he had ever played with King Oliver, who Indy had seen in New Orleans when he was twelve, but Bichet ignores him. Back in his dorm room, Indy convinces his roommate, Eliot Ness, to go out with him to the Royal Garden Club to listen to some jazz, sung by Goldie Williams. After Ness causes a disturbance in the club over his lost hat, the two are forced to flee when a fight breaks out, with Bechet recognizing "Jonesy" but refusing to help him.
The next day, at Colosimo's, Indy apologizes to Bechet for causing trouble at the club and mentions his love of jazz from when he had visited New Orleans. When Bechet learns that Indy learned to play soprano sax in his army days, Bechet presents Indy with a soprano saxophone. That evening, Indy tags along with Bechet and Goldie to a speakeasy, The Four Deuces. While Bechet plays, Goldie talks with Indy about Bechet's skill as a jazz clarinetist and the elements of jazz.
Indy continues practicing jazz on the soprano sax, much to the annoyance of his roommate, who sends him to practice elsewhere. Indy gets invited to a fraternity party at Alpha Sigma Chi, and Ness accompanies him, hoping to be introduced to Susie Hilt. After learning that Indy has his saxophone with him, Hilt convinces him to play with the fraternity band, only to be disappointed when Indy plays jazz, which the band leader scorns as "brothel music". Indy leaves the party, but not before receiving compliments from a female guest and a black waiter.
Back at the Four Deuces, Bechet and his band allow Indy to play for a set, then force him to quit, calling his playing a "danger to society". Bechet takes Indy aside to explain the two basics of jazz. On the walk home, Bechet teaches Indy to simply practice one song: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
The next day, Indy practices the tune on the beach at Lake Michigan and is reminded by a beachgoer to stay on the white side of the color line. Bechet takes Indy to a church on 5th Avenue to listen to Goldie sing gospel. Afterward, Bechet and Indy join Goldie, her brother CJ and their parents for a meal. CJ expresses his frustration at having fought in the Great War and returning to a country without opportunity for him. CJ and his father argue about CJ's role in a riot that took place after white swimmers had refused to save a drowning black child.
That evening, after some begging, Indy tags along with Bechet, Goldie and CJ to a blacks-only jazz club, the Pekin Inn. Trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Oscar 'Papa' Celestin invite Goldie up to sing, but Indy faces discrimination from both the waiters and the other patrons, though CJ vouches for him.
Indy continues his saxophone practice everywhere, eventually adding his own improvisations to his one melody. After hearing Indy's practicing in the back room at Colosimo's, Bechet calls Indy up on the bandstage at the Royal Garden to join the band in a jam on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Indy's goal of playing jazz with the greats is finally realized. His roommate is less appreciative of Indy returning so late and leaving a mess.
Chicago, May 1920
Johnny Torrio arrives at Colosimo's restaurant to see his uncle, "Big" Jim Colosimo and his new wife, Dale Winter, who now sings at the restaurant with Bechet's band. Indy joins Bechet at a speakeasy also owned by Colosimo and learns the difference between jazz and blues. In a history class, while studying about Pythagoras and music, Indy unsuccessfully debates with his professor about the role of emotion in music.
Back at work, Indy is in the kitchen before opening when Colosimo is shot to death near the front door, his rings stolen. Chief of Police Garrity, a friend of Colosimo's, ensures Torrio that he would handle this case personally. Torrio notices that Colosimo's money belt, containing $200,000 was also stolen. Ernie Hemingway and Ben Hecht arrive on the scene to report on the crime, and Hemingway hopes to use Indy to get exclusive story information. Hemingway, Ness, and Indy team up to solve the mystery.
During Colosimo's funeral procession, the trio ran into Al Brown, the bartender at the Colosimo's speakeasy, while watching many dignitaries march in the procession, including Chicago Mayor Bill Thompson and opera performer Enrico Caruso, as well as the Irish mobster Dion O'Banion. At the post-funeral reception, Indy mentally eliminates Colosimo's ex-wife, Victoria Moresco, a brothel madam, as a murder suspect since she hysterically states that she would have rather killed Colosimo's new wife instead. Meanwhile, Ness meets with a classmate working at the morgue and learns that Colosimo was killed from behind: someone inside the restaurant who knew that Colosimo was expecting someone at the door. Hemingway, unable to meet with the police chief, overhears from Hecht that the gangsters in the North Side Gang (O'Banion and "Hymie" Weiss) have alibis.
Meeting up over ice cream, the trio exchange notes and run into Susie Hilt again, who has already forgotten Ness' name. Indy realizes that he has to work that night and would have to skip dinner with Ness and his aunt Bessie. Back at Colosimo's speakeasy, Bechet clues Indy to the fact that Colosimo had been expecting a shipment of bootleg alcohol. Later that night, Indy talks his way past the speakeasy door guard to discover that their shipments come from the Cristo Lemonade Company. Back in the dorm, the trio meet up again and Ness obtains the location of the bootleg storage warehouse through a phony phone call. They drive Aunt Bessie's car to Warehouse 35, Ness looking to solve the crime, and Hemingway looking for the exclusive story.
The three break into the warehouse, and sneak into the office. When confronted by a gang watchman, Ness accidentally starts a gunfight with a pistol found in a drawer. Ness grabs some files and the trio ducks out of the office back into the warehouse, while the gangsters call O'Banion, their boss. With bullets flying, each of the three find a separate hiding place. Indy ambushes one gangster, and Ness uses a rope and his martial arts on another. The three escape from the warehouse, with Indy riding on top of their car. They are chased by two gangster cars, which they elude by some daring driving by Hemingway between two train cars. But the car runs out of gas and the three are captured by O'Banion's men.
The next day, O'Banion interrogates them in his flower shop, and then releases them as not worth killing. He also tells them the information that he hadn't killed Colosimo, but perhaps someone was trying to set him up, and the scheduled alcohol delivery had not taken place. Back at work, Indy spies Al Brown wearing Colosimo's ring and meeting with Torrio. Meeting up with his friends, he shares this information, which combined with Hemingway's discovery that Al Brown is actually Al Capone and one of Ness' stolen files is the order for alcohol, which had been signed by Torrio, leads them to the conclusion that Torrio and Capone had Colosimo killed to in order to take over his business. They deliver their case to Chief Garrity, who promptly tears up their evidence and kicks them out of his office. Ness is enraged at Garrity's corruption. As they leave, Hemingway tells Hecht that the story is dead, and Hecht announces his career change to become a playwright.
Over lunch by the Chicago river, Ness, Hemingway, and Jones discuss their futures. Hemingway, also tired of journalism, plans to go to Paris and be a writer. Indy decides to quit his job at Colosimo's. Back at the speakeasy, Bechet sees his friend looking disillusioned and realizes it is now time for Indy to play the blues.
As Indy concludes his story, Greycloud points out that the storm has passed. Just then, their pursuers reach the cabin and burst through the door. With guns drawn, a collector and his henchmen reclaim the peace pipe from the unarmed Indy and Greycloud. Indy lets them leave and sets down to play the sax again. As the thieves exit into the snow, Indy hits a loud note, which causes the snow on the tree branches outside to rumble and fall—right onto the collector and his two thugs. Indy recovers the peace pipe and returns it to Greycloud, and the two head out into the snow.
Cast and Characters
- Sean Patrick Flanery as Indiana Jones
- Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones (bookends)
- Jeffrey Wright as Sidney Bechet
- Jay Underwood as Ernest Hemingway
- Keith David as King Oliver
- Frank Vincent as John Torrio
- Frederick Weller as Eliot Ness
- Maria Howell as Goldie
- Nicholas Turturro as Big Al Brown
- Saginaw Grant as Greycloud (bookends)
- Jane Krakowski as Dale Winter
- David Arnott as Clifford
- Victor Slezak as O'Banion
- Ray Serra as Colosimo
- J. Leon Pridgen II as CJ
- Byron Stripling as Louis Armstrong
- Mark Kiely as Ben Hecht
- Sunday Theodore as Babs
- Lou Criscuolo as Ceasarino
- Jim Fyfe as Harold
- Damon Whitaker as Piano Man
- Ed Grady as Professor Hunt
- Mark Jeffrey Miller as Frank Camilla
- Malachy McCourt as Chief Garrity
- Barry Bell as Charles MacArthur
- Linda Lutz as Victoria Moresco
- Keith Flippen as Sam
- Alan McCoy as Holloway
- Shilla Benning as Black Female Vocalist
- Dwayne Andre Murrill as Arte
- Hadley Eure as Susie
- Philip Loch as Sculli
- Jery Hewitt as Coveralls Man
- Nate Bynum as Black Waiter at The Royal Gardens
- Terry L. Wallace as Tall Black Man
- Pete Prehn as Natty White Man
- Ralph Wilcox as Black Manager
- Paul Mixon as Drunk White Customer
- Lee Spencer as Gregory
- Ishmond Jones as Black Waiter
- Don Hartman as White Man in Trunks
- Charles McIntyre as Old One-Armed Man
- Helmar Augustus Cooper as Mr Williams
- Lizan Mitchell as Mrs Williams
- Otis Banks as Waiter Gus
- Stormy Lang as Young Black Man
- Sal Ruffino as Customer at Colosimo's
- Rudy Tyson as Orchestra Leader
- Winston Hemingway as Doorman at Pekin Inn
- James Bloodworth as Doorman at The Royal Gardens
- George Evans as Doorman at The Four Deuces
- George Fisher as Thug #1 (bookends)
- Anthony Schmidt as Thug #2 (bookends)
- Nick Dimitri as Greycloud Double (bookends)
- David Frisinger as Library Clerk
- Johnny Dodds (Mentioned only)
- Earl "Hymie" Weiss (Mentioned only)
- United States
Behind the scenes
While the episode forms a continuous narrative, the story can be broken down into two segments: "Chicago, April 1920", in which Indy befriends Sidney Bechet and learns about jazz, and "Chicago, May 1920", in which Indy—along with Eliot Ness and Ernest Hemingway—investigates the murder of his boss, a member of the mob. Each was originally conceived as its own episode.
Harrison Ford reprised his role as a middle-aged version of the title character in this episode. The American bookends for this chapter starred Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in 1950, and were the only episode bookends that were kept when the series was transferred to VHS and DVD. The version of the television episodes that aired in the United Kingdom did not have the Harrison Ford bookends designed for a single two-hour showing, but instead was broken into two episodes ("Chicago, April 1920" and "Chicago, May 1920") that each had interconnected bookends that director Carl Schultz had originally shot with George Hall playing Indiana Jones, who conversed about jazz with his grandson Spike. This footage was not used in the US in favour of the new bookends starring Harrison Ford in an attempt to boost ratings and re-launch the series.
Parts of Joel McNeely's score, not including the "Wyoming 1950" cues adapted from John Williams's Raiders of the Lost Ark score (1981), can be heard on the Varese Sarabande CD The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Volume Three (1994), produced by Robert Townson.
Harrison Ford has a beard in this episode because he filmed his scenes for this episode in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on December 19 and December 20, 1992, between filming the early scenes of The Fugitive (1993).
Historically, Big Jim Colosimo was murdered on May 11, 1920.
An interesting if not unusual connection in this story is with the name Colosimo and Indy studying about Pythagoras. The origin of the name Colosimo is Calabria, southern Italy and the small commune of Colosimi where Big Jim emigrated from. Colosimi means people of enormous ability or importance and is an ancient commune near to Crotone where Pythagoras settled creating his Order, the Pythagoreans. Colosimi was also home to the first Masonic workshop in 1813 noting a strong connection between freemasonry and the teachings of Pythagoras. The link between Indy studying about Pythagoras and then working in Colosimo's restaurant may be purely coincidental but it adds an interesting depth, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
This episode was released on VHS on October 27, 1999 as Mystery of the Blues—the 20th chapter in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones and The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones. It was released on DVD on April 29, 2008 as part of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three, The Years of Change (Disc 6). Disc 7 contains six companion historical documentaries.
Companion Historical Documentaries
- Al "Scarface" Capone - The Original Gangster
- Ben Hecht - Shakespeare of Hollywood
- On the Trail of Eliot Ness
- Louis Armstrong - Ambassador of Jazz
- Jazz - Rhythms of Freedom
- Prohibition - America on the Rocks
- Hellfighters - Harlem's Heroes of World War I
Notes and references
- Young Indiana Jones Mystery of the Blues bookends
- Variety review
- Film as Art: Danel Griffin's Guide to Cinema - Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues - a fan's review of the episode
- Al Capone, Johnny Torrio & "Big Jim" Colosimo
- Gangs and the 1919 Race Riot
- The Mystery of the Blues Education Resources and Lesson Plans at IndyInTheClassroom.com