Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (USA, 1981)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ron Lacey
IMDb Top 250: #27 (13/2/13)
Trying to analyse Indiana Jones is every bit at tricky as analysing Star Wars. Both have become such indelible parts of our popular culture that it often seems fatuous to question their legacy, with every year throwing up new examples of films which either directly imitate Lucas and Spielberg or which owe a passing debt to them in some way.
1941, Spielberg's reputation had declined from a wunderkind who couldn't fail to a reckless liability. Studios had let the production delays on Jaws and Close Encounters slide due to their phenomenal grosses, but when 1941 failed to match these returns, the blank cheque was permanently torn up. To get back in Hollywood's good books, Spielberg had to demonstrate that he could make a wide-appeal film that would come in on-time and on-budget - on low-budget, to be exact.
A New Hope, I remarked that Star Wars came from pulpy, pantomime stock but tried to pass itself off as something a little more serious. The mythology that Lucas constructed from a variety of difference sources may have brought depth to the characters' universe, but at the consequence of making the finished product seem more than a little po-faced.