For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “MOVIES” and go with “Raiders of the Lost Ark“. This movie was released in 1981, and was one that I think almost everyone enjoyed. My husband and son still love to watch it!
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” was one that had some great action, and a great story to it! I know that there were a few other movies after this one, but I don’t think any of them were as good as the first. I also loved the “Indiana Jones Adventure” ride at Disneyland…that was a fun one to go on, for sure!
If, for some reason, you are of an age that makes it difficult to remember the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie, here’s a preview of what it was about:
Did you ever watch the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV or Netflix later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Movie:
In 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) braves an ancient booby-trapped temple in Peru and retrieves a golden idol. He is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq (Paul Freeman) and the indigenous Hovito people. Surrounded and outnumbered, Jones is forced to surrender the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting floatplane.
Jones returns to his teaching position at Marshall College, where he is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, who are obsessed with the occult, are searching for his old mentor Abner Ravenwood. The Nazis know that Ravenwood is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis, and that he possesses the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Jones deduces that the Nazis are searching for the location of the Ark of the Covenant; the Nazis believe that if they acquire the Ark their armies will become invincible. The Staff of Ra is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried.
The agents authorize Jones to recover the Ark to prevent the Nazis from obtaining it. He travels to Nepal and discovers that Abner has died, and the headpiece is in the possession of Ravenwood’s daughter Marion (Karen Allen). Jones visits Marion at her tavern, where she reveals her bitter feelings toward him from a previous romantic affair. She rebuffs his offer to buy the headpiece, and Jones leaves. Shortly after, a group of thugs arrive with their Nazi commander, Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey). Toht threatens Marion to get the headpiece, but when Jones returns to the bar to fight the Nazis and save Marion, her bar is accidentally set on fire; and during the fight, the headpiece ends up in the fire. Toht severely burns his hand trying to pick up the hot headpiece, and flees the tavern screaming. Jones and Marion escape with the headpiece, and Marion decides to accompany Jones in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt to her.
The pair travels to Cairo, where they meet up with Jones’s friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), a skilled excavator. Sallah informs them that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece, created from the scar on Toht’s hand. They quickly realize the Nazi headpiece is incomplete and that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. The Nazis kidnap Marion and it appears to Jones that she is killed in an exploding truck. After a confrontation with Belloq in a local bar, Jones and Sallah infiltrate the Nazi dig site and use their staff to correctly locate the Ark. Jones, Sallah, and a small group of diggers unearth the Well of Souls and Jones is forced to face his fear of snakes to acquire the Ark. Belloq and Nazi officer Colonel Dietrich (Wolf Kahler) arrive, seize the Ark from Jones, throwing Marion into the Well of Souls with him before sealing it back up. Jones and Marion escape to a local airstrip, where Jones has a brutal fistfight with a Nazi mechanic (Pat Roach) before blowing up a flying wing. The panicked Nazis remove the Ark in a truck and set off for Cairo, but Jones catches them and retakes it. He makes arrangements to take the Ark to London aboard a tramp steamer.
The next day, a Nazi U-boat appears and intercepts the ship. Belloq and Dietrich seize the Ark and Marion but cannot locate Jones, who stows away aboard the U-boat and travels with them to an island in the Aegean Sea. Once there, Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Jones reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a bazooka, but Belloq calls the bluff and Jones surrenders rather than destroy such an important historical artifact. The Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, angelic and beautiful, ghost-like beings emerge from the Ark and float around the assembly. Jones cautions Marion to keep her eyes tightly closed, and not to observe what happens next. Belloq and the others look on in astonishment as the apparitions are suddenly revealed to be angels of death. A vortex of flame forms above the opened Ark and energy surges out into the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. As Belloq, Toht and Dietrich all scream in terror, the Ark turns its fury on them: Dietrich’s head shrivels up, Toht’s face is melted off his skull and Belloq’s head explodes. Flames then engulf the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion. The Ark’s lid is blasted high into the air before dropping back down onto the Ark and sealing it. Jones and Marion find their ropes burned off and embrace.
In Washington, D.C., the Army Intelligence agents inform Jones and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) that the Ark is someplace safe and will be studied by “top men”. The Ark is shown being permanently stored in a giant government warehouse among countless similar crates.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (later marketed as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) is a 1981 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, with the screenplay written by Lawrence Kasdan, from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by Frank Marshall for Lucasfilm Ltd., with Lucas and Howard Kazanjian as executive producers. Starring Harrison Ford, it was the first installment in the Indiana Jones film franchise to be released, though it is the second in internal chronological order. It pits Indiana Jones (Ford) against a group of Nazis who are searching for the Ark of the Covenant, which Adolf Hitler believes will make his army invincible. The film co-stars Karen Allen as Indiana’s former lover, Marion Ravenwood; Paul Freeman as Indiana’s nemesis, French archaeologist René Belloq; John Rhys-Davies as Indiana’s sidekick, Sallah; Ronald Lacey as Gestapo agent Arnold Toht; and Denholm Elliott as Indiana’s colleague, Marcus Brody.
The film originated from Lucas’ desire to create a modern version of the serials of the 1930s and 1940s. Production was based at Elstree Studios, England; but filming also took place in La Rochelle, Tunisia, Hawaii, and California from June to September 1980.
Released on June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark became the year’s top-grossing film and remains one of the highest-grossing films ever made. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1982, including Best Picture, and won four for Best Art Direction, Film Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects with a fifth Academy Award: a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing. The film’s critical and popular success led to three additional films, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992–1996), and 15 video games as of 2009. In 1999, the film was included in the U.S. Library of Congress’ National Film Registry as having been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Raiders is ranked among the greatest films of all time in the action-adventure genre and often in general.
Some of the Characters:
Harrison Ford (Indy) was born on July 13, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (Nidelman), a radio actress, and Christopher Ford (born John William Ford), an actor turned advertising executive. His father was of Irish and German ancestry, while his maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Belarus. Harrison was a lackluster student at Maine Township High School East in Park Ridge Illinois (no athletic star, never above a C average). After dropping out of Ripon College in Wisconsin, where he did some acting and later summer stock, he signed a Hollywood contract with Columbia and later Universal. His roles in movies and television (Ironside (1967), The Virginian (1962)) remained secondary and, discouraged, he turned to a career in professional carpentry. He came back big four years later, however, as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti (1973). Four years after that, he hit colossal with the role of Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Another four years and Ford was Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Four years later and he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his role as John Book in Witness (1985). All he managed four years after that was his third starring success as Indiana Jones; in fact, many of his earlier successful roles led to sequels as did his more recent portrayal of Jack Ryan in Patriot Games (1992). Another Golden Globe nomination came his way for the part of Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive (1993). He is clearly a well-established Hollywood superstar. He also maintains an 800-acre ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood) was born October 5, 1951 in Carrollton, rural southern Illinois, to Patricia (Howell), a teacher, and Carroll Thompson Allen, an FBI agent. Karen spent her first 10 years traveling around the country with her parents and two sisters. She was always “the new girl in school”. Acting did not really cross Karen’s mind until her early 20’s when she saw a ‘Jerry Grotowski’ theater production that impressed her so much she instantly decided to give it a shot. She trained as a classical actress and enrolled at the Actors Studio and with Lee Strasberg in New York. Her first major film role came as “Katy” in 1978’s National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) which became one of the biggest hits of the year, obtained “classic” status and launched a whole host of young “hot” stars. It was her performance in Rob Cohen’s A Small Circle of Friends (1980), as well as her previously mentioned turn in Animal House (1978), that caught the eye of a certain Steven Spielberg. He then cast her as the feisty heroine and Harrison Ford’s co-star in his big budget blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), which became a huge hit in 1981-82 and is regarded by many as the greatest action adventure film ever made. Strangely, following the huge success of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Karen chose to spend over two years out of the limelight – concentrating on smaller, more personal projects. She won a major award for her performances on Broadway, won critical acclaim for her creation of “Abra” in the hugely successful ABC production of East of Eden (1981) and had parts in two smaller films: Alan Parker’s Shoot the Moon (1982) and Split Image (1982) co-starring James Woods and Peter Fonda. Karen Allen is undoubtedly one of the most talented, ambitious and versatile actresses of the last 20 years. In many ways her own choices to “go back to theater and smaller projects” are the only things that have really stopped her being a major, major star. Karen was voted one of the most beautiful women in the world in 1983, and is a naturally attractive lady – who often plays characters significantly younger than herself. She also often plays unglamorous types – and there is no one better at portraying real, human, and wholly believable people.
Paul Freeman (Dr. René Belloq) was born 18 January 1943 in England. He is one of Britain’s most versatile character actors, Paul Freeman’s dark, hypnotic good looks and talent for accents have often seen him cast as villains. He originally worked first in advertising and then he trained as a teacher, while he participated in amateur dramatics as a pastime. As a professional actor he gained extensive experience performing in repertory in England and Scotland and landed small roles at the Royal Court Theatre. He is also a founding member of the Joint Stock Theatre Company. He acted at the National Theatre and began to get roles on British television. Films included The Long Good Friday (1980) (starring Bob Hoskins) and The Dogs of War (1980) (starring Christopher Walken). His work was noticed by American director Steven Spielberg, who cast Freeman as French archaeologist Rene Belloq, Harrison Ford’s charismatic but utterly selfish rival in the blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He had expected to appear in the next Indiana Jones movie, but Spielberg and George Lucas decided on a different story. Nevertheless, his portrayal of Belloq guaranteed him good work in the following years, during which he continued to showcase his command of dialects and chameleonlike ability to disappear into roles, such as the deliciously evil Professor Moriarty in the Michael Caine comedy, Without a Clue (1988). His notable television appearances have included Will Shakespeare (1978), Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years (1981), Falcon Crest (1981), Inspector Morse (1987), and ER (1994). He has also continued to work as a stage actor.
John Rhys-Davies (Sallah) was born May 5, 1944, in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales, to Mary Margaretta Phyllis (Jones), a nurse, and Rhys Davies, a mechanical engineer and Colonial Officer. He graduated from the University of East Anglia and is probably best known to film audiences for his roles in the blockbuster hits Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Rhys-Davies was introduced to a new generation of fans in the blockbuster trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)) in the role of Gimli the dwarf. He has also had leading roles in Victor Victoria (1982), The Living Daylights (1987) and King Solomon’s Mines (1985). Rhys-Davies, who was raised in England, Africa and Wales, credits his early exposure to classic literature for his decision to pursue acting and writing. he later refined his craft at London’s renowned Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. His television credits include James Clavell’s Shogun (1980) and Noble House (1988), Great Expectations (1989), War and Remembrance (1988) and Archaeology (1991). An avid collector of vintage automobiles, Rhys-Davies has a host of theater roles to his credit, including “The Misanthrope”, “Hedda Gabler” and most of Shakespeare’s works. He divides his time between Los Angeles and the Isle of Man.
Did You Know?
While developing the film with Spielberg and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Lucas named the main character “Indiana Smith.” But Spielberg protested that it was too similar to the 1966 Steve McQueen western Nevada Smith and requested a change. The three agreed that the last name should be as universal and nondescript as “Smith,” so Lucas threw out “Jones” as a possibility. Indiana came from Lucas’ dog, an Alaskan malamute named Indiana. The big, hairy pup was also the inspiration for Chewbacca from Star Wars.
For Marion, Spielberg and Lucas settled on the young actress Karen Allen, who had previously appeared in National Lampoon’s Animal House. The name of the character she was to play came from an assortment of inspirations from screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s life. “Marion” was Kasdan’s wife’s grandmother’s name, while “Ravenwood” came from Ravenwood Court, a small street off of North Beverly Glen Boulevard in Los Angeles that Kasdan drove on to get to the studio every day.
A boulder nearly crushing Indy as he escaped from the temple with the idol in the opening was always part of the script, but it was originally only supposed to be a minor detail. When production designer Norman Reynolds brought the 22-feet-in-diameter fiberglass boulder onto set, Spielberg fell in love with it so much that he decided to extend the rolling boulder another 50 feet to make it a major part at the end of the thrilling scene.
Indy is famously afraid of snakes, but Steven Spielberg is most definitely not. When shooting the scene where Indy and Sallah descend into the Well of Souls to uncover the Ark—only to find it completely covered in slithering asps—the production originally had about 2000 snakes on set at their disposal. But that didn’t satisfy the director, because the 2000 snakes didn’t cover the entire set. Spielberg then estimated they would need at least 7000 more snakes to make it believably scary, so he had the producers raid all the pet shops in London (where they were shooting the film at Elstree Studios) and elsewhere around Europe to get enough of the slithering reptiles. They picked up with the same scene again a few days later, this time with 10,000 snakes, to Spielberg’s devious delight.
The hellish shooting conditions in Tunisia weren’t just because of heat exhaustion. Apparently, over 150 members of the crew got sick from food-based illnesses—but not Spielberg. The director wisely drank only bottled water and ate canned food from the UK that he brought over in an old steamer trunk that he kept in his hotel room. Despite his relative health, he still called the time in Tunisia “one of my worst location experiences.”
Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.
Indiana Jones’ kangaroo-hide bull whip was sold in December, 1999 at Christie’s auction house in London for $43,000. His jacket and hat are on display at the Smithsonian.
Despite having the dream team of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg behind the film, it was initially turned down by every studio in Hollywood. Only after much persuasion did Paramount agree to do it.
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Didn’t Toht’s glasses float off of his face when raiders of the lost ark came in the theatres? Steven did a lot of cutting in the movie, but I still love it! LOL
I don’t remember that part – but it was a great movie.
I did not know it was originally going to be called “Indiana Smith!” “Indiana Jones” sounds so much better. Fun co-hosting #HomeMattersParty with you!
That’s why I love posting about this – you always learn something new! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
I saw this movie about a zillion times! Thank you for bringing back those memories!
You’re welcome – it was really a great one! 🙂