Not a bad title, eh? I’d watch that movie.
I was 11 going on 12 in the summer of 1981. I loved movies, but knew nothing about Raiders of the Lost Ark until some friends of mine who’d seen it told me how great it was. I pestered my Mom into taking me and a friend to see it at a matinee, which was required by Alberta’s movie ratings system of the day. She thought it was going to be a boring movie about Noah’s Ark or something, and I didn’t know enough about the movie to tell her otherwise.
So me, my friend, and my Mom all headed to the Westmount cinemas in Edmonton one summer afternoon in 1981 to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. We all loved it. I mean loved it. My Mom said after: “Why didn’t you say it had Han Solo in it!” I really didn’t know.
Seeing Raiders was a big deal that summer. I think I saw it six times in movie theaters — most of them requiring me to buy a ticket for Superman II, which started 10 minutes before Raiders, and then slipping into the other theater. I got caught once or twice, sent back to Superman II, and then usually slipped back into Raiders.
Unlike Star Wars, there wasn’t much in the way of merchandise for Raiders. I read the novelization, but preferred the Marvel Super Special adaptation, which Marvel later split up into three standard comic book issues the same way they had done with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The magazine-size edition had a great painted cover by Howard Chaykin, whose name I recognized from Marvel’s adaptation of Star Wars.
I wasn’t reading comics in 1982 when Marvel finally launched its new series The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones, and it took more than 20 years for me to come back around and collect this 34-issue run. Even then, I don’t know if I read them all. Some of them seem familiar, others not.
Unlike Star Wars, Indiana Jones struggled to adapt to comic books, which seems strange in retrospect given how much Indy borrows from comics classics like Terry and the Pirates.
For me, Indiana Jones is a frustrating movie franchise, in a way. I consider Raiders of the Lost Ark to be a perfect movie. I can watch it anytime and each viewing is as thrilling and as fun as the first.
From there, it’s a direct downhill slide.
My and friends stood in line to see on opening day Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the Paramount Theater on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton. It’s not as good as Raiders, but I still find its freaky energy entertaining and original. I love that it’s gross and dark and weird — qualities major movie franchises no longer have.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a further step down. If Indy was a TV series, this would have been a fifth-season episode that proved it was time to wrap it up. Sure, Sean Connery is great (I met him once), but this movie plays it very safe, with imitations of Raiders and goofy comedy bits that would be more at home in a sitcom.
I know I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the theater, and I have a copy on DVD somewhere, but I can’t remember much about it save an early sequence where Indy locks himself in a refrigerator to protect himself from an atom bomb test.
I’m looking forward to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I overall like James Mangold’s films — in particular Cop Land and Ford vs. Ferrari — and enjoyed interviewing him for the DGA magazine at his office when Logan came out. (He had a large blown up poster of Marc Silvestri’s art from the cover of The Uncanny X-Men #251 on the wall, and a huge collection of classic vinyl albums in his office at Fox.) But we’ll have to see if Dial of Destiny can defy the downward spiral after so many years away.
I’ve been re-reading the old Marvel series and will try to post some highlights here in the lead-up to the new movie. Based on the early issues, it may be rough going, but we’ll see if we can find some comics treasure in this largely forgotten comic serial.