It was on this day, June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark (also known as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) was released. Raiders of the Lost Ark became the year’s top-grossing film and remains one of the highest-grossing films ever made.
Nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1982, including Best Picture, and won four (Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects) as well as winning a fifth Special Achievement Academy Award in Sound Effects Editing, the film’s critical and popular success led to three additional films, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), a television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992–1996), and 15 video games as of 2009
Directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by George Lucas, and starring Harrison Ford, it is the first film in the Indiana Jones franchise. It pits Indiana Jones (Ford) against a group of Nazis who search for the Ark of the Covenant because Adolf Hitler believes it will make their army invincible. The film co-stars Karen Allen as Indiana’s former lover, Marion Ravenwood; Paul Freeman as Indiana’s nemesis, French archaeologist René Belloq; John Rhys-Davies as Indiana’s sidekick, Sallah; and Denholm Elliott as Indiana’s colleague, Marcus Brody.
The film originated with Lucas’ desire to create a modern version of the serials of the 1930s and 1940s. Production was based at Elstree Studios, England; but filming also took place in La Rochelle, Tunisia, Hawaii, and California from June to September 1980.
In 1999, the film was included in the United States Library of Congress’ National Film Registry as having been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
1915 – Priscilla Lane (Mullican) (actress: Varsity Show, Million Dollar Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace; died Apr 4, 1995)
1916 – Irwin Allen (producer, director: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Towering Inferno, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure; died Nov 2, 1991)
1916 – Ivan Tors (producer, director: Flipper, Zebra in the Kitchen, Namu, the Killer Whale, Gentle Ben, Salty; died June 4, 1983)
1919 – Uta (Thyra) Hagen (Tony Award-winning actress: The Country Girl , Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ; films: The Boys from Brazil, Reversal of Fortune; died Jan 14, 2004)
1957 – Timothy Busfield (actor: Thirtysomething, Byrds of Paradise, Little Big League, Field of Dreams, Revenge of the Nerds, Sneakers, The West Wing)
1959 – Jenilee Harrison (actress: Three’s Company, Dallas, Fists of Iron, Prime Target, Curse 3: Blood Sacrifice, Tank)