|Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Alfred Molina
Director: Steven Spielberg
Before the god-awful “Tomb Raider” and “Mummy” films there was “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” a film that still stands as one of the best action/adventure films ever made. Created by the dream team of Steven Spielberg (director) and George Lucas (producer), “Raiders” is the litmus test against which all other films of this genre must be compared; and with the possible exception of the recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, nothing has even come close.
“Raiders” introduces us to the character of Indiana Jones, a renowned archeologist and adventurer based on the heroes found in pulp magazines and Saturday serials of the 1940s and ‘50s. Played to perfection by Harrison Ford, “Indy” is what every man wants to be: smart, bold, suave, sophisticated but not too sophisticated, and handy with a whip. Ahem. He’s an everyman, but one who can handle any situation that comes his way.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the first in an eventual trilogy (the others being “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”), is set in 1936 and the story is a doozy. The Nazis think they have found the resting place of the legendary Ark of the Covenant. Used by the ancient Hebrews to hold the Ten Commandments, according to myth, the Ark has the power to make invincible the army that carries it before them. Fearing this power will fall into Nazi hands, the U.S. government taps Indy to find it before the Nazis do.
What follows is one breathtaking action sequence after another, each one surpassing the next in thrills. See Indy navigate a series of booby traps, see him bar brawl with Nazis in Nepal, see him outrun a near army of would-be assassins (twice), see him escape from a tomb filled with venomous snakes, see him crawl underneath a truck doing 60 mph. But there’s more than just spectacular action to keep you entertained. There’s plenty of romance and humor along the way. Karen Allen plays Indy’s love interest, the feisty and hard-drinking Marion Ravenwood. More than just eye candy, she is every bit Indy’s equal in getting out of jams. And who could forget one of the more charismatic villains in film history, the smarmy and opportunistic Frenchman Rene Belloq?Yes, there’s nothing quite like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It’s a perfect blend of action, romance, comedy, and even science fiction. A lot is owed to the great script by Lawrence Kasdan, who incidentally also had a hand in writing the screenplay for “The Empire Strikes Back.” He, along with Lucas and Spielberg, created a timeless character and put him in a timeless film; a film that continues to engage viewers to this day.