5 Phenomenal Scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

PHENOM 5

I originally planned on doing a Phenomenal 5 list of great Indiana Jones moments. It turned out that limiting that list to only five was absurd and impossible. So to solve the problem I decided to break it down by the three true Indiana Jones movies (sorry “Crystal Skulls”, you are absolutely terrible). It starts with Steven Spielberg’s adventure classic “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. One of my very favorite films, “Raiders” has stuck with me since I first saw it in theaters way back in 1981. Now limiting the list to five was quite the chore and I certainly wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But there is no denying that these five “Raiders of the Lost Ark” scenes are absolutely phenomenal.

#5 – Marion in a Basket

RAIDERS BASKET

When Indy and Marion arrive in Cairo they quickly learn that the Nazis are aware of their presence. The two are separated and Marion heads into the back alleys before hiding in a straw basket. Indy fights off some thugs and gives us one of the franchise’s most memorable scenes. He then sets out to find Marion but realizes that there are hundreds of these straw baskets all over the city. The sequence ends with a bang. It’s such a clever mix of action and humor – something the entire series would become known for.

#4 – Horse versus Truck

RAIDERS HORSE

There is a spectacular action sequence centered around Indy’s pursuit of the Ark. Indy had the Ark in his grasp but the Nazis quickly steal it away. Indy first has a great fight with a Nazi heavyweight around a German bomber. But the excitement really amps up when Indy commandeers a horse and chases after the caravan of trucks loaded with soldiers and the Ark. A high-speed fight in trucks, on trucks, and under trucks ensues offering up one of the film’s most exhilarating action scenes.

#3 – The Bar Fight

RAIDERS BAR

The bar fight in “Raiders” is great for numerous reasons. First it starts with the rocky reunion between Indy and Marion. Second it gives us one of my very favorite exchanges. The devilish Gestapo investigator Major Toht comes in search of a medallion in Marion’s possession. Toht’s interrogation plans are…unpleasant but luckily Indy busts in and a wild bar fight and shootout follows. As before, the scene is mixed with great action and several clever slices of humor. It is also the scene that forces Indy and Marion together and sets them off on their wild globetrotting adventure.

#2 – The Well of Souls

Raiders well

Indy, Sallah, and their crew work in an Egyptian desert uncovering the entrance to the mysterious Well of Souls. Just a few paces away the Nazis are also digging but in the wrong place. Indy and Sallah enter the snake-filled chamber. Indy faces his fear of snakes and obtains the Ark. Unfortunately the Nazis are waiting on Sallah as he exits. They take the Ark, throw Marion into the Well with Indy, and seals them in. But never to be outdone, Indy comes up with a clever but unorthodox way out and it sets in motion the next leg of his journey to get the Ark.

#1 – The Peruvian Temple

RAIDERS TEMPLE

How on earth could any scene top the Well of Souls? For me the answer is found in one of the best movie openings of all time. Spielberg perfectly launches this fabulous franchise by introducing us to Indiana Jones in one of his most dangerous environments. He and a very young Alfred Molina enter a booby-trapped Peruvian Temple to grab a mystical golden idol. The sequence works on so many levels. It reveals to us the type of fun and adventurous character at the center of the film. But it also reveals the tone and quality these movies became known for. I can’t imagine the movie or the series kicking off any better.

There is my list. Obviously there are other great scenes that I had to leave out. Now tell me, which would have made your list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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23 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

  1. I remember watching Raiders the first time on VHS. Back then I thought it was the most bad-ass movie I’ve ever seen. I still love it today. Nice list Keith.

    Also on an unrelated note, when I saw Crystal Skull in theaters, the entire audience burst into applause after the movie ended, though I thought when watching it, like everyone else would later, that it was a huge disappointment.

    • Oh that sounds superb. I have the the affection for the three films that count. Each are unique but unquestionably Indy! Look forward to reading your goods!

  2. These are awesome Keith, I LOVE this movie! There’s actually a documentary playing at TCFF called Raiders!: The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, I can’t wait to see it!

  3. One of my favourite films of all time; I used to watch it in rotation with Star Wars: A New Hope at my uncle and auntie’s house when I was a kid! I can imagine how hard this was to narrow down, and I’d definitely agree with you that #1 is one of the best opening scenes going. I don’t think I’d change any of your picks if I was choosing!

  4. great post! one scene I love is when Marion turns the mirror over and bangs Indy on the chin then the establishing shot of the ship and his scream bellows over the water. classic!

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