Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Watch: 1-Hour 1981 PBS Special On The Making Of ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’

The Playlist By Ben Brock | The Playlist November 27, 2013 at 12:43PM

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” was the first and either the best or the second-best of the Indiana Jones films (you know this to be true, commenters), and it now seems like such a stone-cold, well-known classic that it's hard to believe its 1981 release was a gamble of sorts. Sure, it had George Lucas and Steven Spielberg behind it, who at the time were amicably tied for the title of “most powerful film-maker in the world”: but the film appeared to be a hokey, intentionally old-fashioned attempt at a two-fisted tale about ne'er-do-well Nazis and shifty Arabs, starring that guy who played Han Solo in those movies about space. This could easily have been a “Lone Ranger”-type situation.
1
Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark” was the first and either the best or the second-best of the Indiana Jones films (you know this to be true, commenters), and it now seems like such a stone-cold, well-known classic that it's hard to believe its 1981 release was a gamble of sorts. Sure, it had George Lucas and Steven Spielberg behind it, who at the time were amicably tied for the title of “most powerful film-maker in the world”: but the film appeared to be a hokey, intentionally old-fashioned attempt at a two-fisted tale about ne'er-do-well Nazis and shifty Arabs, starring that guy who played Han Solo in those movies about space. This could easily have been a “Lone Ranger”-type situation.

Well, it wasn't, and Indiana Jones took off into a whole big franchise (until it nuked its very own fridge), but it's interesting to look back at the moment when it was an untested idea, and (via Slashfilm), here's a way to do just that: a 1981 PBS “making-of” doc. It's a fun hour: watch old-school, schlubby Spielberg, before he learned how to trim his beard, teach his leading lady how to pant fearfully and then describe one of the models of the Ark's lost souls as looking “like a girl I once slept with”. The real delight, of course, is 1981-vintage Harrison Ford, strolling around a backlot cracking his whip while still wearing his glasses and performing his own truck-riding stunts. Sit back, enjoy, and try not to think about crystal skulls.

This article is related to: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates