Not a “Bad Date”: Raiders of the Lost Ark is 30

by Dave on June 24, 2011

in Movies

Considering yesterday’s unenthusiastic summer movie post - this is uncanny. I just learned, via JoBlo, that Raiders of the Lost Ark was released 30 years ago today. My 7-year-old self hasn’t been the same since.

raiders-artIf I were tasked (by someone who was incredibly bored and probably unemployed/smelling of pee) with selecting just one movie to represent my childhood – it would be Raiders. History has been kind to the film – it didn’t exactly get poor reviews on this day back in 1981 (It has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s legacy has grown considerably. What began as little more than a fast-paced summer blockbuster (resulting from a Lucas/Spielberg collaboration dedicated to serials from the 1920s) is now heralded as a cinematic benchmark frequently selected by critics as one of the best movies of all time…

  • Just this past March a TV special put together by ABC News and People Magazing voted Raiders the best action movie of all time.
  • In 1998 the American Film Institute voted it #60 on their list of the 100 best American movies, evah. To give context it outranks Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Unforgiven. By a lot.
  • It’s #22 out of 250 on IMDB’s list of best flicks.

But forget about established critics and accredited film society thingys for a second. As part of my own personal tribute I’m going to share just a few foggy Raiders memories from my distant childhood:

  1. My father must have also been a huge fan of the film, because he took me to see it 7 times. It’s how we bonded. How we related to each other - and I have no complaints.
  2. I remember him asking his sister, my Aunt Susan, if after seeing it she thought it was appropriate for a 7-year-old. Her exact response was “Well, there’s a little bit of blood, but I think he’ll be alright.” Which brings me to the next memory…
  3. After the first time we saw it, I ran ahead of my father and checked the back seat of his car for mummies.
  4. My friend Adam and I spent countless hours trying to beat the tie-in Atari 2600 video game. 30 years later it is still frequently mentioned as one of the hardest games of all time.



  5. I’d jump at any chance to accompany my Mother to the grocery store in Manotick, Ontario as I was determined to collect each of the 100 Raiders trading cards. After consuming near-fatal quantities of nasty pink-colored gum sticks, I only ever got 99 of them. The elusive card? That bastard, Belloq. And I still have all 99 in a photo album for which I actually won a Boy Scouts “collector’s” badge a couple years later.
  6. My grandmother gave me an Indy action figure during one of her visits, that had a spring-loaded arm which would crack a little cloth whip. I still have it.
  7. One of our neighbors, Terry (whom many years later I would end up working for in England) claimed he knew a guy who had a bootleg VHS copy and if we could organize $100 and two VCRs for the dub I could get one of my very own. Needless to say, he lived to regret telling me that. I don’t think the word “haunting” covers it.
  8. We bought the soundtrack on LP, which I then transferred to cassette, which then became the soundtrack of many backyard adventures, blasted via carefully-balanced ghetto blaster through my bedroom window.
  9. I remember friends and I acting out so many “takes” of the famous swordfight scene that David Fincher and Stanley Kubrick would have said in unison, “Enough already, kid. We got the shot.”
  10. Due to a glaring lack of actual Indy toys in the marketplace, Star Wars stormtroopers and Cobra soldiers frequently stood in for Hovitos, Thuggees and Nazis.
  11. I learned what a Nazi was.

Toht-meltingIf we forget our history we are doomed to repeat it. So in honor of this magnificent anniversary, take time out today and force a 7-year old child to sit through Raiders of the Lost Ark. And don’t let them close their eyes at the end, either. The children are our future, so teach them well and let them watch melting Nazis. Happy birthday, Dr. Jones.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar Jennifer Shepherd June 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm

But – but — WERE there any mummies in your dad’s backseat? Are you sure there weren’t any? Did you look really closely? ‘Cause there could have been some you didn’t see. I hate those invisible mummies. They always creep me out.

Glad yer dad took you to see the movie frequent times – with me, it was my movie-fanatic mom who took me over and over again. Pretty much anything with Harrison Ford in it we went to see repeatedly, including Blade Runner. That was another movie very much ahead of its time. Why aren’t there more “science fiction noir” type movies made? That movie really set a mood.

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