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Arnold Ernst Toht

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CHARACTER
Arnold Ernst Toht
Toht
Gender Male
Death 1936
Geheimhaven
Nationality GermanFlag German

Profession(s)

Allegiance(s)

"Fraulein Ravenwood, let me show you what I am used to..."
―Toht preparing to torture Marion Ravenwood with a flaming poker[src]

Arnold Ernst Toht was a sadistic and ruthless Nazi Gestapo agent and frequently René Belloq's bane during the Nazi effort to locate the Ark of the Covenant.

BiographyEdit

Major Arnold Ernst Toht[2] had at least one sibling, a sister named Ilsa.[3]

In 1936, Toht was sent to Nepal by the Third Reich Special Antiquities Collection[4] 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.

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. 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 in pain, he fled from The Raven, jumping through the tavern's window to plunge his hand into the snow outside.

Legendary hanger scene

Toht prepares to hang his coat.

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.
Death by face melting

Toht's face melts

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; 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.

Personality and traitsEdit

"Heil Hitler."
―Arnold Ernst Toht[src]

Toht was a sadistic psychopath, with a knowledge of torture methods. 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 Hitler despite his own skepticism of anything claimed to be supernatural,[5] and enjoyed René Belloq's disenchantment when the opening of the Ark appeared to contain nothing but sand.[6]

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.[5]

Behind the scenesEdit

Ronald Lacey portrayed Toht 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. 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.

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.

Toht comic death

Toht's death as depicted in the comic.

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. Although he has this name in Campbell Black's novelization, Toht does not die as he does in the film, but is killed flying off a cliff during The Truck Chase (being aboard the jeep driven by Gobler).[7] This depiction is also included in the comic[8] and storybook adaptations.[9] Ryder Windham's 2008 junior novelization has a more screen accurate portrayal of Toht's death.

RoboToht

Toht concept art by Ron Cobb.

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 before becoming part of canon with Helmut von Mephisto in Indiana Jones and the Mystery of Mount Sinai.

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!.

Hasbro released an exclusive action figure of Toht from their canceled fifth wave of Indiana Jones action figures at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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