Today! Because we have top men looking into it –
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Directed by Steven Spielberg (x13)
Starring Harrison Ford (x9), Karen Allen (x5), Paul Freeman (x2), Denholm Elliott (x3), John Rhys-Davies (x5), Ronald Lacey (x2), Alfred Molina (x5), Wolf Kahler, William Hootkins (x3), Fred Sorenson, Pat Roach (x2), Anthony Higgins, Vic Tablian, Eddie Tagoe
Many, many films from my childhood fought their way onto this list – some decent and still relatively high in my estimation, some Howard the Duck – but none wind up above the utterly perfect first Indiana Jones adventure. I haven’t the slightest idea the first time I watched this movie, and can’t even realistically guess how many times I’ve seen it, but despite the decades wearing on and all the changes in film and my personal preferences, the greatness of this movie has never abated. Even my reasons for liking it haven’t changed all that much. Figure, The Muppet Movie still finds a high rank due mostly to my enduring love of the brand – as a kid, I think it was a lot more the silliness and the songs. Jaws I don’t think I saw uncut until well down the road, so it’s kind of a different movie for me as an adult. But Raiders is the same slam-bang, non-stop action thrill ride its always been, and it totally still holds up.
As I think I mentioned back in Temple of Doom, for a period of time growing up I thought this was the second film in the series, as the concept of a prequel was beyond me and the establishing dates to open these films set them up in this order. I guess the logic was…they didn’t want us to wonder why Indy and Marion weren’t still together? Why they didn’t mention the Ark of the Covenant while battling possessed children and eating monkey brains? It seems like a concept overthought, really, because Temple doesn’t give us any added insight to Indy that informs something in Raiders, like most prequels do. I guess it was so we might like Willie better. Couldn’t Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have both Karen Allen and Kate Capshaw return? That might’ve been more interesting than the bizarre mess they hurled at us instead. Geriatric love triangles! At least they could’ve returned Short Round.