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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Revisit

Original Episode: #1 Raiders of the Lost Ark (released February 27, 2020)

New Episode: #78 Raiders of the Lost Ark Revisit (released August 18, 2021)

Plot Summary: In 1936, American archaeologist Indiana Jones, (Harrison Ford) briefed by Army Intelligence agents that Nazi German forces are excavating at Tanis, a lost city of Egypt, to seek the Ark of the Covenant, goes on a quest to recover the Ark before the Nazis. On his journey, Indiana reconnects with his lost love Marion (Karen Allen), and they travel to Cairo where they meet Jones's friend Sallah (Joh Rhys-Davies) who reveals that Jones’ rival, Belloq (Paul Freeman), is assisting the Nazis. What secrets does the Ark hold, will Indiana find the Ark, and we he keep it away from the Nazis?


  • Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

  • Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood

  • Paul Freeman as René Belloq

  • Ronald Lacey as Major Arnold Toht

  • John Rhys-Davies as Sallah

  • Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody


  • Highest Grossing Film of 1981 over Superman 2

  • It's $212 million more than doubled the next two grossing films On Golden Pond and Superman 2 in the U.S., and its $354 million internationally was not quite double that of For Your Eyes Only at $195 million.

  • It was so popular that it stayed in most theaters from its release on June 12, 1981 until March 1982.

  • Raiders was nominated for Best Picture, Director (Spielberg), Cinematography, and Original Score (Williams); it won for Best Art Direction, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects.

  • A 2014 poll of 2,120 entertainment-industry members by The Hollywood Reporter ranked it the thirteenth best film ever made. It is also listed in the film reference book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

  • In 2005, the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) listed the film's screenplay as the forty-second greatest screenplay of the preceding 75 years on their 101 Greatest Screenplays list.

  • Empire listed the film at number two on its 2008 list of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, behind the 1972 crime film The Godfather. They said, "no adventure movie is quite so efficiently entertaining".

  • In 1997, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Raiders number 60 on its 100 Years...100 Movies list recognizing the best American films. On the 2007 10th Anniversary List, it fell to number 66.

  • On the AFI's list of the 100 Best Thrills, the film was ranked number 10, and the 2003 list of the 100 Best Heroes & Villains ranked the Indiana Jones character as the number two hero, behind Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

  • Made the National Film Registry in 1999.

Did You Know?:

  • Traditionally when one of his films is about to open, George Lucas goes on vacation to get away from all the hoopla. As Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) was just about to open, Lucas went to Hawaii where he was joined by Steven Spielberg. When the grosses for Lucas's film came in and it was clear it was going to be a hit, Lucas relaxed and was able to discuss other topics with his friend. It was at this point that Spielberg confessed he always wanted to direct a James Bond film, to which Lucas replied he had a much better idea, an adventure movie called "Raiders of the Lost Ark". The conversation happened while the two were making a sand castle. After their trip, they got together and developed the script with Lawrence Kasdan.

  • Freeze-framing during the Well of Souls scene, you can notice a golden pillar with a tiny engraving of R2-D2 and C-3PO from the Star Wars saga. They are also on the wall behind Indy when they first approach the Ark.

  • Indy's line to Marion when they are on the ship ("It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage") was ad-libbed by Harrison Ford.

  • During filming in Tunisia, nearly everyone in the cast and crew got sick except director Steven Spielberg. It is thought that he avoided illness by eating only the food he'd brought with him: a lot of cans of Spaghetti-O's.

  • The out-of-control airplane actually ran over Harrison Ford's knee, tearing a ligament in his left leg. Lucky for him, the heat had turned the rubber tire's soft, so it did not crush the bone. Rather than submit to Tunisian health care, Ford had his knee wrapped in ice and carried on.

  • Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison wrote a script during shooting breaks on the location of this film. Mathison was there to visit her husband, Harrison Ford, and Spielberg dictated to her a story idea he had. That script was eventually called E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

  • The last line to be added to the script was Dietrich's "I am uncomfortable with this Jewish ritual" because after reading through the script, the Screenwriters realized that there was no mention of Jews or the Nazis' hatred of them.

  • Although the Nazis speak German in many scenes, most of the lines were dubbed for the German versions of the film, because the actors spoke very bad German, with a very strong American accent. Some lines were simply wrong. On the recent DVD release, no German lines are wrong. The majority of the German lines seems to be spoken by native German speakers, with a slight south German accent.

  • Indiana Jones kangaroo-hide bullwhip 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.

Original Legacy Score: 6.5

New Legacy Score: 9.75

Original Impact/Significance Score: 6

New Impact/Significance Score: 9.38

Original Novelty Score: 9

New Novelty Score: 9.25

Original Classicness Score: 8

New Classicness Score: 7.5

Original Rewatchability Score: 9.25

New Rewatchability Score: 8.75

Original Audience Score: 9.6

New Audience Score: 9.4 (92% Google, 96% RT)

Original Total Score: 48.35

New Total Score: 54.03

Remaining Questions:

  • How long is the Ark in storage?

  • Why doesn't the leading car just pull over in front of the truck during the truck chase? It wouldn't be able to get by, and you could have surrounded Jones?

  • Why do thousands of snakes congregate just in the Well of Souls?

  • How is Jones able to hide inside a U-Boat for what is most likely a few days?

  • How does Indy know that closing his eyes will keep him safe?

  • How do Jones and Marion get off the island after everyone else is killed?

  • Do you buy that Indiana Jones is not essential to the arc of the Ark?

In Memorium:

  • Pat Hitchcock, 93, English-born American actress (Stage Fright, Strangers on a Train, Psycho).

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