of the Week (4/26/01): Toht
(Guest-written by A.E. Anderson of
Featured in: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Skills: Multi-lingual (German, English), supervising sub-henchmen, snappy dresser
Desktop Wallpaper: Bitmap picture of himself and Mengele at SS Frisbee-Golf tournament
Typing Speed: 62 WPM before flesh-searing hand injury, 8 WPM after
Termination: Melted by wrath of God; given two weeks' severance pay in lieu of notice
Temporary Assignment: Toht landed this choice temp-to-perm position after spotting this ad in the Sunday Der Spiegel:
Prestigious organization in need of loyal henchmen. Seeking persuasive, motivated individuals to locate religious artifacts, eliminate unwanted Allied interference, and work for the glory of Der Fuhrer. Responsibilities include high-level negotiations, managing Sherpa goon squads, occasional phone support. Position requires travel and familiarity with firearms. Ideal for recent grads!
Toht aces the interview and is promptly hired to join the Nazi crew searching for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Donning his best bad-guy hat and black leather overcoat, he sets off to help crazed archaeologist
Rene Belloq find the Ark while foiling pesky good guy Indiana Jones and menacing the comely Marion
When Indy's visit to Ravenwood's bar fails to yield the crucial Staff of Ra headpiece, Toht is right there behind him with an entourage of grubby yet effective Sherpas. Sweating so much that drops are actually visible on his face, he politely declines a drink (he's on the job, you know) and offers Marion a substantial reward in exchange for the headpiece. She flatly refuses. Toht then reveals his upper-management potential through his negotiating skills: either Marion reveals its location, or he and his team will torture her with a white-hot
Suddenly Indy bursts into the bar and starts leveling Sherpas. In the struggle, the hot poker ignites the curtains and the whole bar is soon in flames.
Indy and the Sherpas are engaged in manly hand-to-hand combat. Marion is cowering behind the bar. What is Toht doing? Like any good temp, he's hanging back hoping that nobody will notice him and give him more busywork. He does manage to ignite some spilled
whiskey and create more confusion as Indy and the shaggy goons keep slugging it out. Toht then sees his chance to grab the unguarded headpiece, but forgets that it's METAL and gives himself one hell of a burn. He runs outside and sticks his seared hand into a snowbank, no doubt mentally composing his worker's comp claim.
Toht later turns up in Cairo just as the Nazis are bemoaning the loss of the headpiece, which has crucial instructions etched on its surface. Our favorite little sweaty guy has the foresight to offer a "Heil Hitler" which reveals that the hot metal has seared the information
directly into his flesh. Luckily for him, the Nazis don't notice that (true to temp fashion) Toht has only made a single-sided copy of the hieroglyphs when the original was clearly a duplex.
D'oh. (This mistake leads the Nazis to dig in the wrong place,
which leads to John Rhys-Davies singing boisterously, which isn't good for
Later, Marion is pulling the feminine "I'll-let-you-look-down-my-dress-if-you'll-let-me-escape" routine in Belloq's tent. She pulls a dinner knife on her captor and backs away, only to run into -- SURPRISE! Toht, accompanied by a whole new thuggish
entourage. He mumbles "Americans, you are all the same. Always overdressing for the wrong occasions," which won't win him many points in the "Respecting Diversity" section of his performance review. Then he takes a scary-looking chains and metal pipes affair out of his
pocket, which turns out to be a cleverly-designed folding coat hanger. Toht knows that he, as a middle-management henchman, isn't allowed to do union work like bludgeoning! He hangs up his black leather overcoat (leather overcoat? in the desert? Those wacky Germans and their dress code!) and says calmly to the re-captured Marion "Now, what shall we talk about?"
Hitler's Happy Henchman next shows up riding shotgun in a jeep during Indy's infamous traveling-under-the-truck chase scene. He doesn't have much to do here, but he certainly looks thrilled to be in the boss's carpool.
Finally, the action shifts to a puny little orange dot on the map and the Ark of the Covenant is finally ready for opening. Belloq dons his best Egyptian high priest gear for the ceremony. Toht is impeccably dressed in his usual dark suit and fedora; a tactical error, as custom dictates that hats are always removed during moments of high religious mumbo-jumbo. Toht does a lot of creepy nervous giggling when the Ark is first opened to reveal a lot of white dust, but soon all Heaven breaks loose and Nazis start dropping faster than Amazon.com's stock. Our hero henchman, though, proves he's no ordinary temp by meeting a truly spectacular end. No mere lightning bolt through the chest for him. Toht gets to melt like a wax figure
(Our second melting temp in a row! - Chris) and his eyeballs roll down his
liquefying cheeks, proving that those who scream like little girls are sure to get punished for it.
Criticism: Overall, Toht does a decent job on this assignment. He's properly obsequious, always keeps his tie straight, and really knows his way around an archaeological dig. Unfortunately, though, his nervous giggle and his amazing perspiration problem keep him from being a really effective leader.
Toht is played by Ronald Lacey, an English actor who appeared in such films as Red Sonja, Yellowbeard, Valmont, The Fearless Vampire Killers, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. He also makes an uncredited appearance as Heinrich Himmler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Lacey died in 1991 of liver failure.
read more of A.E.
Anderson's work at LS.n, follow the links below.
1 / LS.n
2 / LS.n
HENCHMEN / NOT MY DESK