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The Front Row View: Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.

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By the beginning of 1981, Harrison Ford was known all over the world as the guy that played Han Solo in those Star Wars movies. Even though he was the most vivid (and well-played) character in the first two movies, he was really just a part of why the original movies worked as well as they did. His effectiveness as a performer blended in nicely with George Lucas’ mix of sci-fi mysticism and derring-do. However, in the summer of 1981, the movie world got to see what Harrison Ford could do as the center of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lucas mined his affection for the cliffhanger serials of old in this glorious mix of adventure and comedy, aided by John Williams’ rousing music score(one of the best of all time), and hotfooted along by Michael Kahn’s editing and Douglas Slocombe’s clearer-than-life cinematography. To be 16 and sitting in a movie theater watching this for the first time was one of my movie-going highlights. Admittedly, it was yet another Lucas blockbuster that nudged aside character for the sake of action. But if taken as what it is, as an extremely well-made pastiche and a tribute to movies (and trying to forget the Hollywood hack jobs that tried to duplicate it’s success for years afterward), Raiders of the Lost Ark still stands as one of the most entertaining confections to roll off of the Tinseltown assembly line. I recently watched it with my wide-eyed and enthusiastic 12-year-old. We’re ready to see it again.

-Jim

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