The Raiders script originally included a long fight between a swordsman and Indiana with his whip. However, Harrison Ford was suffering dysentery at the time, and asked if the scene could be shortened. Director Steven Spielberg, one of the lucky few to avoid dysentery due to his regular diet consisting entirely of canned foods, said the only way he could shorten it was if Indy pulled out his gun and just shot the swordsman.
“I was in my fifth week of dysentery at the time,” recalled Ford later in the book The Harrison Ford Story. “The location was an hour and a half drive from where we stayed. I’m riding to the set at 5:30 am, and I can’t wait to storm up to Steven with this idea. I’d worked out we could save four whole days on this lousy location this way. Besides which, I think it was right and important, because what’s more vital in the character’s mind is finding Marion. He doesn’t have time for another fight. But as is very often the case, when I suggested it to Steven — ‘Let’s just shoot the sucker’ — he said, ‘I just thought the same thing this morning.’ Sure, the idea was nothing. Putting it on film, that’s the most difficult part.”
“Harrison wasn’t feeling well because of the local food,” Spielberg also added later. “In the script, that fight scene was a three-page whip and sword duel but seeing Harrison’s condition that morning I thought, well, why don’t we have Indy draw his gun and dispatch the swordsman. Which turned out to be the biggest laugh in the film.”