Friends, there are in my mind very few films that I would describe as being perfect – a movie that I could enjoy watching over and over again at the drop of the hat. Personally I believe that Raiders of the Lost Ark from 1981 is such a picture – thanks in no small part to the excellent performances by Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Denholm Elliot, and of course John Rhys-Davies. Naturally you cannot forget the masterful directing by Steven Spielberg or the screenplay from Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Silverado) – from an original story idea by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. All of these elements mixed together perfectly to deliver a movie that was a throwback to the adventure serials that Lucas, Spielberg, and others involved with the film grew up watching at the matinees of their youth.
It would be the epitome of an understatement to just say that Raiders of the Lost Ark performed very well at the box office – as I understand it on a budget of 20 million dollars, it raked in a little over 389 million worldwide. In the process it also spawned a beloved franchise as well as kickstarting a slew of adventure films – period pieces or otherwise – that competed for the attention of movie goers around the World.
Having said all of that, as I have shared throughout the years on both the Retroist and this site, one of the TV programs I looked forward to every weekend was Sneak Previews. With my love of movies at such an early age, it quite frankly felt like a show that I had to watch – especially as a lot of times it focused on films that never saw the light of day in my neck of the woods. Being a kid however when this episode of Sneak Previews originally aired on June 17th of 1981 – I was far more interested in what Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel thought of Raiders of the Lost Ark than their opinions on Moshe Mizrahi’s I Sent a Letter to My Love. In addition on this episode, the duo tackle City of Women, Cutter’s Way – with Dead & Buried and Screamers taking the worst movies of the week prize. I will kindly disagree with the late and great Gene Siskel’s professional opinion on Gary Sherman’s Dead & Buried.
You might notice that for some reason they have Raiders of the Lost Ark listed at the end of the program with an R rating – thanks to the IMDB page – apparently they addressed that mistake at the beginning of their next episode.