High Road To China Was Tom Selleck’s Swing At An Indiana Jones Movie

Tom Selleck famously lost out on Raiders Of The Lost Ark and 1983's High Road To China was his attempt at an Indiana Jones-style adventure.

High Road To China saw Tom Selleck take a swing at an old-fashioned, Indiana Jones-style adventure. Tom Selleck is best remembered for Magnum P.I., with the action series debuting on CBS in 1980. It followed P.I. Thomas Magnum who investigates cases in Hawaii and the show ran for eight seasons before coming to an end in 1988. Selleck also gave a serious stab at becoming a movie star while still being in a hit TV show, which had rarely been attempted previously. He made a series of movies like sci-fi adventure Runaway and gritty prison drama An Innocent Man, but his most successful outing was Three Men And A Baby.

Television is where Tom Selleck has mostly made his name, however, and following the end of Magnum P.I. he would go on to make a recurring appearance on Friends, in addition to well-received TV westerns such as Last Stand At Saber River and Monte Walsh. He’s starred as the title character in a series of TV movies based on the Jesse Stone novels, who is a troubled, alcoholic detective. He’s also has a starring role in long-running drama Blue Bloods, which is about a family of New York cops.

One famous anecdote surrounding Tom Selleck’s career is his near-miss with Raiders Of The Lost Ark, where he was offered the role of Indiana Jones. Selleck had shot the pilot for Magnum P.I., but after a successful audition for Raiders he wasn’t allowed to take the movie as it would have conflicted with the show’s planned filming dates. However, a SAG strike delayed production, which would have given Selleck the time to make Raiders Of The Lost Ark, but Harrison Ford was cast instead and the rest is history. The Magnum P.I. season 8 episode “Legend Of The Lost Art” was an extended in-joke about this fact, including Magnum being dressed up as Indy.

Tom Selleck’s first major leading role came in 1983’s High Road To China, which was very much inspired by the success of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Selleck plays roguish World War 1 pilot Patrick O’Malley who is hired by a rich heiress named Eve (Bess Armstrong, Jaws 3D) to find her missing father. Their journey takes them on a frantic race across six countries to China, and the tense relationship between Patrick and Eve eventually leads to romance.

High Road To China didn’t receive great reviews upon release but it did decent business at the box-office. The movie is ultimately a decent adventure that serves as the closest thing fans will come to seeing a Tom Selleck version of Indiana Jones. It’s been all but forgotten since it came out, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to Raiders Of The Lost Ark itself, it’s still a fun journey with some impressively mounted action sequences.

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