"Fraulein Ravenwood, let me show you what I am used to..."―Toht preparing to torture Marion Ravenwood with a flaming poker[src]
Loyal to Adolf Hitler, Toht did everything he could to contribute to the search for the Ark. Although deep down he did not believe in the supernatural, it was the power of the Ark that would be his undoing.
Major Arnold Ernst Toht had at least one sibling, a sister named Ilsa. He was a skilled torturer and interrogator, relishing the opportunity to inflict pain and suffering even for its own sake, and a firm believer in the Nazi doctrine.
In 1936, Toht was sent to Nepal by the Third Reich Special Antiquities Collection to acquire the headpiece to the Staff of Ra from Marion Ravenwood. Toht and his surbordinate Otto hired three henchmen off the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal known as Ratty Nepalese, Mean Mongolian, and Giant Sherpa and followed Indiana Jones to The Raven bar in Patan where Toht tried to take the piece by preparing to torture Marion with a hot iron, but Indiana Jones appeared and intervened, disarming Toht with his bullwhip.
All the henchmen who went into the bar with Toht died during the ensuing fight with Jones and Ravenwood, during which Marion's bar was set ablaze. While Indy was grappling with a large thug, Toht dispassionately ordered both shot, but his henchman was quickly dropped by four bullets from his erstwhile victims and Toht scrambled for cover. Crouching next to a table, Toht noticed the headpiece lying on the ground during the skirmish but when he tried to pick it up, he burned his hand as the headpiece had been lying close to the fire. Howling non-stop in agony, he fled from The Raven, jumping through the tavern's window to plunge his hand into the snow outside.
When Toht met up with Colonel Dietrich, Gobler, and René Belloq in Cairo, his "Heil Hitler" salute revealed his headpiece-scarred hand. From this scar the Nazis were able to create a crude, one-sided reproduction of the headpiece; but the missing information from the other side would prove critical to finding the Ark's resting place, the Well of the Souls.
Frustrated with Belloq's inability to extract useful information from the (now captive) Marion Ravenwood, Dietrich had Toht intercede. His own interrogation proved equally fruitless however. When the Nazis finally caught up with Jones at the Well of the Souls, Toht threw Ravenwood into the Well, for they had no further use for her. Belloq's protest against the action caused Toht to giggle with glee.
He later accompanied Belloq and his fellow Nazis in the effort to deliver the ark to a safer location, since his duty was to oversee the delivery of the artifact Hitler desired. However, Jones succeeded in stealing the ark back from them. Toht and the others located his whereabouts later on and took the Ark again along with Marion.
Shortly thereafter, on a small island north of Crete, Toht stood with Belloq and Dietrich in the Tabernacle for the ceremonial opening of the Ark. Initially, the Ark seemed to bear only dust and sand, which was all that was left of the Ten Commandments; this amused Toht, who never quite believed in the supernatural imperative of his assignment. His laughter was replaced by astonishment, and then screams of terror, as the Ark unleashed its true power. The Gestapo agent's face was melted off of his skull by the intense fire and his remains were taken away by the following whirlwind.
After his death, his sister Ilsa tried to avenge him by killing Indiana Jones, the adventurer who had contributed to the death of Arnold. Ilsa, a high-ranking official of the Third Reich in the same vein as her brother, became head of a plot by the Nazis involving the theft of the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol and its use in manipulating the South American native peoples into joining the Third Reich were war to break out. A battle of wits followed as Indiana Jones attempted to prevent Ilsa from enacting her revenge and succeeding in her mission. As a direct result of Jones' intervention, Ilsa perished in a violent plane crash.
Personality and traitsEdit
"Heil Hitler."―Arnold Ernst Toht[src]
A sadistic psychopath, Toht possessed an extensive knowledge of torture methods. Besides that he displayed a sardonic sense of humor as well, picking up something that uninformed observers could misinterpret as an instrument of torture, before revealing it as simply a hanger for his coat. Usually a quiet man, Toht favored black attire, wearing a fedora, leather coat and a full suit and tie regardless of the climate he was in. He had jet black hair and a pair of round spectacles spread across his broad face.
Toht was loyal to Adolf Hitler despite his own skepticism of anything claimed to be supernatural, and enjoyed René Belloq's disenchantment when the opening of the Ark appeared to contain nothing but sand. He was flabbergasted when the Ark began to unleash spirits which swarmed amongst the soldiers, and quickly became terrified when they showed their true colours.
With a faith in Aryan society, Toht believed that "pure" Germans were a race of superbeings and that their supposed racial and political purity gave the Nazis the right to destroy any threat to their supremacy.
Behind the scenesEdit
Toht was portrayed by the late Ronald Lacey in Raiders of the Lost Ark who is never referred to by name beyond the credits and only has a total of sixteen lines in the film. The Raiders novel establishes Toht's first name as "Arnold," but in Marvel Comics' The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, the character's sister Ilsa refers to him as "Ernst Toht." The third issue of the UK Indiana Jones Comic reconciles both names, establishing Ernst as Toht's middle name. Although Dennis Muren plays a similarly bespectacled, nameless trenchcoated spy who boards the plane in San Francisco with Indy, this is not Toht. Author Campbell Black in his Raiders novelization has Toht boarding with Indy in Shanghai and not San Francisco.
Before Lacey was cast in the role of Toht, famous actors like Roman Polanski and the late Klaus Kinski were offered the part. However, they both declined the offer with the latter dismissing the script as being "moronically shitty". Michael Sheard, who played the later named Oskar Schomburg in the finished film and later went on to portray Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, was in contention for the role, but lost out to Lacey.
The character originally identified as "Belzig" in Lawrence Kasdan's Raiders of the Lost Ark screenplay, remains unnamed in the film dialogue and was renamed "Toht" in the closing credits of the film. The original script for Raiders of the Lost Ark depicted Toht as a cyborg with a metal arm that could change into a machine gun and a flamethrower. The next script gave him a light in his right eye. Eventually this was decided as too far-fetched by the directors but the idea of a mechanical limb resurfaced in the unmade Indiana Jones and the Monkey King script before becoming part of canon with Helmut von Mephisto in Indiana Jones and the Mystery of Mount Sinai.
Also, in the third draft of the original Raiders script, Toht was originally going to die along Gobler after flying off a cliff into his troop car during The Desert Chase. Although cut from the film, this fate for Toht was retained in Black's novelization (being aboard a jeep with Gobler). That depiction was also included in the comic and storybook adaptations. Ryder Windham's 2008 junior novelization has a more screen accurate portrayal of Toht's death.
Ronald Lacey shaved the top of his head to play Toht in Raiders. When he removes his hat to wipe the sweat off his head, stubble showing his hairline can be seen. His character was the inspiration for Herr Otto Flick in the British sitcom 'Allo 'Allo!.
During the early development of the fourth Indiana Jones film, Frank Darabont's first draft of his Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods script featured the Nazis seeking revenge against Indiana Jones due his role in the deaths of Toht and other Nazis that he fought before and during World War II. However, Spielberg disliked the idea and it was dropped. Although Toht doesn't appear in Crystal Skull, he briefly appears in a trailer for the film as footage from the opening of the Ark scene from Raiders was included.
Hasbro released an exclusive action figure of Toht from their unreleased fifth wave of Indiana Jones action figures at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark novel (First appearance)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Raiders of the Lost Ark comic
- Raiders of the Lost Ark storybook
- Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures
- The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones – "The Gold Goddess: Amazon Death Ride!" (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Non-canonical appearance) (As "Major Toht")
- Raiders of the Lost Ark Sourcebook
- Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- Indiana Jones Comic 3
- Top Trumps: Indiana Jones
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Top Trumps: Indiana Jones
- ↑ Indiana Jones Comic 3 Villain Spotlight
- ↑ The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones – "The Gold Goddess"
- ↑ Raiders of the Lost Ark novel
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Raiders of the Lost Ark Sourcebook
- ↑ Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
- ↑ Roman Polanski: Interviews
- ↑ Kinski Uncut
- ↑ Michael Sheard interview at TheRaider.net
- ↑ The Complete Making of Indiana Jones
- ↑ Raiders of the Lost Ark novel
- ↑ Raiders of the Lost Ark comic
- ↑ Raiders of the Lost Ark storybook
- ↑ The Complete Making of Indiana Jones