By Dan Skip Allen
It's no secret that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were fans of the pulp serials of the early '40s and '50s. They loved the movies, don't get me wrong, but they really loved the pulp serials of Batman, Buck Rogers, Tarzan, and the like which kept them coming back week after week. The cliffhangers were almost unbearable for the duo as kids growing up on the verge of becoming filmmakers decades later. These serials were what gave Lucas the idea for Indiana Jones. With that, he got his good friend Spielberg to come along for the ride on this extraordinary adventure.
Dr. Henry Jones (Harrison Ford) is a professor for his day job, but on the weekends he goes by Indiana, whether it was the dog's name will soon be determined in later installments of the franchise. He galivants around the globe on a crazy adventure and dangerous exploits. When his friend and sometimes assistant, Dr. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), comes to him with the idea that the Ark of the Covenant still exists and they need to find it before the Nazis, he can't resist the chase and the danger that goes along with it. The Nazis make the perfect villain! They are set on world domination and the ark can help them get it.
Like a lot of the shorts, Indiana Jones has its share of heart-pounding escapes. He also has to deal with "Snakes? Why does it have to be Snakes?" a phobia we didn't know about until that moment. Disney even adapted one of his most famous hair's-breadth escapes into a show at their theme parks. He encounters several natives and sword-wielding assassins, as well as men who turn their back on him when he needs them the most. He does have a few friends though, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) who he meets on his trip, and Sallah (John Rhys Davies) his trusty ally in far-off lands. The stage is set for an epic adventure for the ages.
Another frequent collaborator to Lucas and Spielberg is the composer of the Boston Pops, John Williams. He has done epic scores for the Star Wars movies, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial by this point in his career, six of the most famous compositions in his long and storied career as a composer. He would need to do something even greater for Indiana Jones though. It had to live up to everything he had done in the past, but bring something new to the table. He did just that. His Raiders of the Lost Ark score is one of the best he ever did. It had such a great catch to it. It was a perfect addition to this amazing film.
Harrison Ford was an established actor by this point in his career. He had a small role in American Graffiti, but his big role came when he got the no-good swindler himself, Han Solo. He brought a sense of colorful suave ladies' man to the table in the Star Wars films. He brought an entirely different side to his performance in the Indiana Jones films. He got to flex his action muscles in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This film required a lot of running and jumping which was very vigorous and hard on him. He enjoyed every moment of it though. He loved playing Indiana Jones, and it showed on screen.
As a kid, I was looking for different kinds of films that I could get behind. I loved everything growing up. I'm not as old as Lucas and Spielberg so I didn't grow up on these serials as they did. I sure as hell grew up on Indiana Jones, though. I was about 7 when the first Indiana Jones film came out and I had never seen anything like it before. The action and adventure were off the charts. The acting, campy at times, was funny and cool. The score by Williams was so amazing as well. Everything combined for a great experience for me and a lot of other people I'm sure of. Forty years later Raiders of the Lost Ark stands up better than ever. Nothing like it has come since so it makes sense.
The Snake Hole
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