RAIDERS TURNS 37! Jesus I’m old… But “it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”
37 years ago, my mom took me to a small theatre in Farmington Hills, Michigan to witness what would be yet another solidification of my passion for wanting to make movie. That film was “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” released June 12th, 1981. I was riveted from frame one. Like most folks, who’ve seen it, it was a magical experience. For me, yet another life changer. Heck, my first LONG film I made as a 12 year old kid was an “Indiana Jones” “fan-film” before the term fan film was a thing. I made an Indiana Jones movie with my grandmother’s Super-8 camera called “Indiana Jones and the Curse of Death Island.”
The movie is probably one of those films one would call “perfect.” The pacing is impeccable, the acting-fun and not too over-the-top, the special effects were groundbreaking and fantastical, the story; incredibly compelling and, the action; superb. You forgot Harrison Ford was Han Solo as he BECAME Indy. Karen Allen played the tough, Marion Ravenwood with a resilient sex appeal; a tomboy who could out-drink you at one moment, be tender and caring the next and a moment after that, be the pure femme fatale. Paul Freeman, as Belloq, was a perfect foil for Indy… a charming, sophisticated mirror opposite of our rough and tumble, gruff and dirty adventurer. John Rhys-Davies, as Dr. Jones faithful and trusty side-kick, Sallah not only offered support but, some fun humor. Denholm Elliott as Brody and Ronald Lacey as the evil, Peter Lorre-like Toht round out an incredible cast.
If you haven’t seen it, you’re living in a cave and need to get out more. It’s too great to pass up. It’s Steven Spielberg playing in George Lucas’ sandbox and it’s those two doing some of their finest work. The movie never slows down long enough for a watch glance or a seat shift. The script, written by Lawerence Kasdan (who wrote Empire- the best of the Original Trilogy, Return of the Jedi, The Big Chill) and based on the story by Phillip Kaufman and Lucas, is an magnificent blend of action, adventure, romance, thrills, chills, spills and other words that are awesome and some more that even rhyme. It moves like a well oiled freight train filled with gold, love, wizard magic, unicorns and kittens. Plus we got to see a dude’s head blow up and a nazi’s face melt. Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!
And the THEME SONG BY JOHN WILLIAMS?! Like the most savory, melted butter on my ear popcorn!
Some fun facts you may not (but probably know):
-During breaks in production, Harrison Ford’s wife at the time, Melissa Matheson, and Spielberg were writing a script together. That script was E.T.
-During filming in Tunisia, nearly everyone got sick from either the food or water there except for Spielberg, who ate the food he brought with him to avoid illness. Many cans of Chef Boyardee’s Spaghetti-O’s.
-Tom Selleck was the first choice for Indy but, he couldn’t get out of his TV contract from the show “Magnum P.I.”
-Many people claim Jeff Bridges was offered the role of Indiana Jones but, that was never the case.
-The line “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage” was completely ad-libbed by Harrison Ford.
-Biggest grossing film of 1981, and rightly so… it’s brilliant.
-The film had such an impact on me, I save my money and bought a very expensive whip and learned how to use it.
-I watch it at least once a month just to remind myself how good films were back in the day.
While the sequels were not as well received (don’t get me started about the LAST one), this film is considered one of the greatest ever made. I’d have to whole-heartedly agree.