WolfmanOz at the Movies #76

The Return of the Great Adventure

With the impending release of Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny it’s opportune to look back at the film that started it all Raiders Of The Lost Ark released way back in 1981.

Nowadays we keep forgetting how magnificent blockbusters can be. Too much CGI makes everything possible and therefore very often also arbitrary. In Raiders Of The Lost Ark you actually seem to feel the physical pain some of the actors/stuntmen had to go through to provide 2 hours of pure entertainment, as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and, most of all Harrison Ford, created a hero that is nowadays iconic, with their attempt to make a homage to adventure comics of the 1930’s they created their own legend. 

It’s funny, exiting, thrilling and romantic. What more can you ask for?

It is a hot sunny day in South America. We see a bunch of men, shot mostly from the back. They are walking deep into the forest. We see a tall dark figure. He is wearing an old leather jacket, he has the 5 o’clock shadow looking like it’s closer to midnight, he wears a fedora and he carries a bull-whip. Finally, two of the men enter a cave and we hear about some guy named Forstall, who was good, very, very good, but he never came out of the place alive. But they enter anyway. They are confronted with tarantulas, spears that are triggered by blocking out the light, a pit that they must swing over and then more tiny poisonous darts that come out of the wall. All this to protect an ancient gold statue. They recover it. One guy dies and the other barely makes it out of the room before it all falls on him. Then he has to get out of the cave and a giant boulder chases him. Finally he makes it out of the cave only to be surrounded by Hovitos and his arch enemy named Belloq. He takes the gold statue that this guy worked so hard for and then the guy runs and makes it to the plane where he is in the passenger seat and there is big snake in the plane. He hates snakes. This mans name ? Indiana Jones !


I’m left breathless just describing that opening. But has there a better beginning of a movie ever? Absolutely not. Does the beginning have anything to do with the rest of the film. No. It is all decoration for what the movie is going to put you through in the 100+ minutes to come, as archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones hunts for the ancient Ark of the Covenant.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark took a simple idea and maybe an idea that the guys had from watching Saturday afternoon movies and made it larger than life. This film never stops for you to take your breath. It is filled with rich characters from Indy himself to Marion to Belloq and even to Marcus Brody. Each has their own personality that shines throughout the movie.

The film is full of energy and that is what makes it the classic that it is. If you like movies, then this a movie that will not let you down. It is pure entertainment and that is indisputable. It finds the youngster in all of us and bombards us with this silly, whip-cracking, incredibly determined archaeologist and only asks us to have fun. And that we do.

Harrison Ford is a mixture of Bond and Bogart with his expressive face and rugged charm, while Karen Allen makes a combative and confrontational leading lady. One great aspect is the change in attitude we see from Indy towards Marion as the film progresses. Initially it’s all about the Ark but by the end it’s a bit more about her.

Visually Spielberg has borrowed and updated action sequences from the films of the past which he then adds his own touch of mischief.


John Williams gave the film one of his finest scores and it makes every frame that bit more special. Seeing Indy swinging from jungle vines, chasing a truck on horseback and swimming on to a German U-boat would not be the same without that famous score to give it that air of superhuman confidence.

The set pieces are terrific, none better than when Indy chases the Nazis and the Ark. Has there ever been a better demonstration of the craft of the stuntman than in this sequence ?


This launched a franchise for Lucas and Spielberg but it was never bettered or even equalled by any of the adventures that followed. I found Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom a rather nasty adventure film, whereas there was a great return to form with Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade with a splendid Sean Connery joining the cast as Indy’s father. The fourth in the series was Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull which was a great disappointment so I don’t hold up much hope for the latest instalment.

Some could argue that there could be a bit more depth or seriousness to the story, but come on, it’s a ripping adventure yarn, you don’t need depth. Saving the Ark from the Nazi’s, surely that’s enough! An outstanding movie and great fun too, without a doubt one of my favourite entertainments of all time.

and the tease for next weeks post . . . Charles Calthrop.

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Wally Dalí
Wally Dalí
June 22, 2023 8:31 am

Karen Allen makes a combative and confrontational leading lady
There is no femme fatale, Bond Girl, CGI GI marvel or Action Karen who even comes close to Karen Allen’s Marion- boozing, scheming, slogging and shooting, all with that gorgeous kitten squeak at the top edge of her voice. Shining eyes, smile full of laugh lines, lovely body too- built like they used to make ’em.

Mother Lode
Mother Lode
June 22, 2023 9:14 am

Things are not looking good for the Dial of Destiny.

There was a launch held which featured George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Kathleen Kennedy.

Kathleen had been executive producer on the first four movies and producer of this latest.

Steven Spielberg wants to introduce the three people without whom none of them would have been there that night.

Do watch…

June 22, 2023 10:54 am

A fillum you could take your Mum to.
Also: Land of my bloody fathers.
If I remember the book correctly.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
June 22, 2023 11:06 am

I’m left breathless just describing that opening. But has there a better beginning of a movie ever?

Well, I have to credit Blade Runner (1982) and Star Wars (1977) too. Something in common…just at the tip of my tongue, may be an actor? 😀

Those few years were a small golden age. Several other movies knocked our socks off around that time too, like Close Encounters (1977) and ET (1982). Spielberg, Lucas and Harrison Ford brought a lot of fun to the cinema screen.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is just delightful, easily watchable over and over (bad dates!) I liked Temple of Doom (bugs!), Last Crusade (he chose…poorly) and even Crystal Skull (the nuke the fridge scene is gloriously silly). John Nolte is very down on Crystal Skull, and the responses so far for Dial of Destiny sadly aren’t looking good. But the same goes for all sequels I suppose.

June 22, 2023 11:12 am

I also like the ‘mild mannered University prof.’ side of the character.

This little scene in the classroom from the ‘last crusade’ is a favourite.


June 22, 2023 11:57 am

I remember walking across the park from our home with my younger brother one evening in 1981 to watch Raiders at the local cinema and being blown away by the film.

Ironically, the cinema only closed down several weeks ago.

Boambee John
Boambee John
June 22, 2023 4:39 pm

Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade were the only ones worth watching more than once (Temple of Doom not even once, except for the scene of the nasties falling into the river full of crocs).

June 22, 2023 5:56 pm

Hahaha! That scene where Indiana Jones shoots the sword twirler is hilarious!

Good review Wolfie!

vlad redux
vlad redux
June 22, 2023 8:13 pm

I remember seeing the trailer for it and thinking if it were playing now I’d leave this cinema and go see it instead!

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
June 22, 2023 8:56 pm

Karen Allen gave a terrific performance as Marion – a real heroine

The Tibetan rotgut scene is my favourite.

The swordsman thing was indeed an adlib, it was supposed to be a full on everything goes fight. But Ford’s adlib was so funny, and worked so well, they kept it. 😀

June 22, 2023 9:27 pm

That opening scene is based on an old flick called Secrets of the Incas.
It even has the same distant conical mountain in it. And in the movie the hero tomb raider Charlton Heston wears a leather jacket and a fedora. I don’t recall a whip though.

Louis Litt
Louis Litt
June 22, 2023 11:24 pm

I did’nt like it because the Germans allways loose.

Fair Shake
Fair Shake
June 23, 2023 1:51 pm

Loved the Raiders. The Temple one, OMG ..way too much over the top screaming and annoying kid.
Sean Connery brought it back from life support. The rest …drivel.

Maybe they should consider Indian Jones returning in…

Indiana Jones and the curse of dementia. God save the Queen.

Indiana Jones and the search for a way off this stage.

Indiana Jones and the Sand bag trip of doom.

June 23, 2023 2:19 pm

Day of the Jackal here we come….

June 24, 2023 1:35 pm

The last 10 seconds (the warehouse scene) always deflated me, but in many ways it’s so true to life. How many mega-million dollar research papers are gathering dust on Govt shelves, never read by anyone but the authors.

June 25, 2023 5:38 am

Just stumbled onto your review, Wolfman.

I love this movie. Just love it. Even referenced it in one of my travelogues on the OT – about the midsummer sun hitting the neolithic burial chamber “Indiana Jones style”. I love that scene…you sense the wings of the cherubim enfolding the resting place and showing the way.

The other scene I love is in the Last Crusade…the “leap of faith”. He steps out knowing he will topple to his death…and there is a path beneath his feet.

I have been to Petra. Sadly, no seal on the treasury floor to cross.

But I did ride off into the sunset. 😀

  1. Just played the pipes with the band for the march to the Cenotaph in our regional town. Great turnout. Thousands.…

  2. On matters Herculaneum https://www.heritagedaily.com/2024/04/carbonised-herculaneum-papyrus-reveals-burial-place-of-plato/151747

  3. Why wouldn’t he just be charged with murder ..? https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-25/man-charged-over-cobram-death/103766876

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