This weekend the CAPA summer movie series at the Ohio Theatre features Raiders of the Lost Ark. I might wander over tomorrow afternoon to catch a showing of what I consider to be the best action adventure movie ever made, and watching it on the big screen will make it even better. That’s if I can get a seat, of course — the last time the Ohio Theatre screened Raiders, more than 2,000 bought tickets to watch it.
I’m sure that some people will disagree with my assessment. I guess it depends on how you define “action.” Raiders isn’t filled with fight scenes, although it has some truly great ones, and if you’re looking for a huge body count, this film really won’t fill the bill — but the people who do get killed tend to die in very novel and interesting ways, whether it’s getting pincushioned by poison darts or chopped to smithereens by the propeller of a plane or being melted by the Wrath of God.
But if you’re looking for action from beginning to end in exotic locations, with a very human hero and his two-fisted love interest mixing in a lot of laugh-out-loud humor along the way, Raiders is the movie for you. The first scene alone, with Indiana Jones brilliantly avoiding countless traps, getting betrayed by his assistant, and barely avoiding getting crushed by a giant rolling stone in his quest to steal a gold icon, is worth the price of admission.
Then you follow it with appalling Nazi bad guys, Old Testament biblical stuff, and some of the greatest stunt work ever filmed. We get to see Professor Indy in the classroom with his love-struck female students, then teaching the Washington bureaucrats what they should have learned in Sunday school, Marion’s drinking bout with Nepali goat herders, the monkey who gives the Seig Heil salute, an exhausted Indy’s decision to shoot down a sword-wielding giant, Marion’s encounter with the Nazi whose apparent torture instrument turns out to be a coat hanger, Indy and Sallah and Marion at the Well of the Souls . . . and you realize that there’s so much great stuff in this movie it blows away the competition. And when the capstone shows the Ark of the Covenant being crated and stored in some unending government warehouse, you’ve simply got the greatest action movie, ever. There’s really no argument.
Raiders is playing at 7 p.m. tonight and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow.