Saturday Movie Review – “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

As you may have guessed, next week’s review will be of
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,
followed in the next week by Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood

Paul Freeman as Dr. Rene Belloq

Ronald Lacey as Major Toht

John Rhys-Davies as Sallah

Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody

Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by
George Lucas and
Philip Kaufman

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Complete information is available from the

Buy the entire trilogy from:

Past movie reviews can be found here.


In 1936, American archeologist Indiana Jones is hired
to beat the
Nazis to the Ark of the Covenant.

High Point

The boulder sequence.

Low Point

The compositing and stop motion effects are quited

The Scores

This is an original film. The serial
structure used is rare
in full length theatrical releases, but it works well.
There also
aren’t that many fun summer films that use Nazis as
the bad guys, yet
those that do are far more common than those that make
archeology seem
this exciting. I give it 6 out of 6.

The effects are dated now, but they weren’t
convincing then, either. (I was four when I saw this
at the drive-in,
and I distinctly remember noticing something “wrong”
with the sky in
the composited storm sequences, and spotting the
individual frames in
the stop motion melting at the end.) I give it 4 out
of 6.

The story used an uncommon serial structure
in a very natural
way. The plotline was very interesting, well
designed, and managed to
incorporate the Christian and Jewish mythologies
without betting
preachy. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting from Ford was very good. Karen
Allen was less
impressive, though the bulk of the cast did an average
job. I give it
4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produces is
strong. This movie
is a lot of fun, with some great action sequences. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The production is the main strength of the
film. John
Williams composed an excellent musical score, and
Michael Kahn edited
the film quite well. I have to give credit to
director of photography
Douglas Slocombe for hiding the distortions of the
Panavision lenses
very well. (I’d watched over half the movie before I
realized it
wasn’t in Cinemascope.) I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, though not perfect, this is a lot of
fun, and kicks
off a worthwhile trilogy. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Raiders of the Lost Ark receives 36
out of 42.

6 replies on “Saturday Movie Review – “Raiders of the Lost Ark””

  1. Originality?
    This is a fun film, but original? It quite self-consciously rips off old serials, which had no shortage of mysterious artifacts and evil Nazis.

    • Re: Originality?
      I suppose it’s original if you haven’t seen any of those old serials, which, sadly, too few have.

  2. High Point
    My high point is the bit with the swordman when Indy just shoots the guy. It’s one of those great on set script edits.

    For those that don’t know the background, the script called for Indy to take the guy down with the whip but during filming, Harrison Ford had problems so he just drew his gun and pretended to fire. The director loved it so much that they refilmed it as it’s on film today. I love that part.

    • Re: High Point

      For those that don’t know the background, the script called for Indy to take the guy down with the whip but during filming, Harrison Ford had problems so he just drew his gun and pretended to fire.

      Not only that, but as I heard the story Harrison had come down with a bad case of the flu and had a fever over 100F on the day that scene was shot. The script called for an elaborate whip-vs-sword fight scene but he just wasn’t up to it, and drew the gun.

      The extended sword battle was transplanted into Temple of Doom, I believe…

      • Re: High Point
        He said in an interview that it was dysentery. He drank the water :o

  3. Jeepers
    Wow, you were extraordinarily picky about special effects, even as a kid. I saw it in the theater at about twice that age and thought they were great. I’m admittedly biased, though, as it’s my all-time favorite adventure movie.

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