Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter: Lawrence Kasdan
Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies, Ronald Lacey, Denholm Elliot
You know a film has made it when it's deemed historically significant by the U.S. Library of Congress (if it was British, it would have been knighted). The epic fantasy pioneers (and sand castle enthusiasts, apparently) George Lucas and Steven Spielberg teamed up for a movie that aimed dead at the heart of the American imagination.
Harrison Ford is the roguishly handsome professor by day and the roguishly handsome tomb raider by night. In uncovering the secret artifacts of civilizations ancient and powerful (and stealing them), he fulfills the American dream of owning everything.
In the first film of what would become a trilogy (yes, a trilogy—the fourth film never happened; we're closing our eyes and covering our ears, la la la) Indiana Jones stumbles upon a Nazi plot to use the supernatural Ark of the Covenant to form an immortal army and take over the world. It's all going great until Indy foils them in a swashbuckling fashion that would make Douglas Fairbanks proud.
There are no shortage of thrills in this opus of action from the father of the blockbuster. Raiders of the Lost Ark was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won across the board for its technical prowess, pushing Industrial Light and Magic to its Nazi-face-melting, boulder-chasing best. —GT