Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark ★★★★½

A classic Humphrey Bogart adventure made for the fast food generation. On paper, Indiana Jones is the combination of two old cinematic character archetypes: the lonesome whiskey-infused private detective and the cocksure treasure hunter (essentially the two sides of Humphrey Bogart as a leading man, Sam Spade, and Charlie Allnut). He's a smart ass who's both professor smart and whip-smart.

One of the best attributes of Indiana Jones is that he shuts up. He might be a smart ass at the top of the conversation but he knows he can be rescued by any person or object around him. Everything except his mouth. My favorite scene is the one with Karen Allen in the airplane while the shirtless German strongman beats the shit out of Indiana Jones and he's only saved by his awareness of the propellor blades while Allen fumbles at the controls. He frequently improvises around his and other's weaknesses. (Ford begrudgingly coming down from the cockpit to accept the fist fight challenge highlights that Ford's keyed into this.) It's part of what makes him so attractive. He's confident to a point. But he still tussles. His brains get him in the right spot and then he just... wings it.

Additionally, Raiders of the Lost Ark has one of the best villains because he himself is an inept archeologist who just follows Jones around with a paid army to steal the work and credit of whatever Indiana Jones' toil has uncovered. Taking credit for other people's work and aligning with fascists to get what he wants, while still saying he doesn't believe what they believe it just helps him achieve his personal desires, that's capitalism, baby! Combine that with lazy Nazis doing the same, and it's a nice screwball-era twist from Steven Spielberg that delightfully nods to the serial medium.

And most importantly, practical effects = adventure. CGI = screensaver.

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