Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

>> Saturday, July 28, 2007

USA/C-115m./Dir: Steven Spielberg/Wr: Lawrence Kasden/Cast: Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood), Paul Freeman (Dr. Rene Belloq), John Rhys-Davies (Sallah), Denholm Elliot (Dr. Marcus Brody), Ronald Lacey (Toht)

I know what you’re thinking--“Raiders of the Lost Ark? Booze Movie?” It is indeed. While most firewater-fueled films feature immoderate drinking throughout, others earn their place in the soused cinema canon on the merits of a single character or a lone liquor-laced scene that is utterly unforgettable and iconic. Raiders of the Lost Ark falls within the latter category, as it contains the most memorable drinking contest sequence in film history.

Although Harrison Ford’s archeologist/adventurer, Indiana Jones, is the center of the movie, it is his love interest, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the hard-drinking daughter of Indy’s mentor, who is most intriguing from an alky perspective. We are introduced to her character inside her bar in Nepal where she is engaged in a drinking contest with a tub of lard three times her size. They take turns downing whiskey shots, and from the empty glasses overturned on the table, it is obvious that they are well into the battle. The rotund challenger shallows his drink without much trouble and the focus turns to Marion. She slowly empties her glass but then begins to falter. The wagerers are certain the game is over and money begins to change hands, but then Marion steadies herself and places her empty glass face down upon the table. The tubby challenger again takes his turn and passes out upon consuming the golden liquid.

Marion also proves that her thirst and capacity for booze are central character traits during a few other moments scattered throughout the movie. For example, she takes time to drink from a punctured keg in the middle of a shootout in her bar, and when captured by the Nazis, her first question to her captors is “Whatta ya got to drink around here?” However, Marion is never a sloppy drunk. She can put away liquor with the best of them and holds it like a champ. She may be the perfect woman.

Of course, the film itself receives my highest recommendation. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ homage to the heroes of the 1930’s movie serials and pulp magazines is quite possibly the most enjoyable adventure film ever produced. Unfortunately, they didn’t see fit to bring Karen Allen back for the first two Indiana Jones sequels, and those films are drier (in all senses of the term) because of that decision.

Drinks Consumed--Whiskey, beer, and unknown wine or liquor (Belloq's family label)

Intoxicating Effects--Passing out, slurred speech, and the giggles

Potent Quotables--(Final line of the film) MARION (to Indy): Come on. Buy you a drink? You know, a drink?

Video Availability--Raiders is available as a solo DVD or as part of Indiana Jones - The Complete Adventure Collection (Paramount).

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Karen Allen returned as Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but alas, she didn't drink a drop.


Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 3:14 AM  

I see Raiders of the Lost Ark through a new lens now, Garv. It's really about the pitfalls of Marion Ravenwood's drinking.

It never occurred to me that her first and last lines of dialogue concern getting a drink. Great pick for the Booze Movies archives!

DC Liar July 30, 2007 at 4:23 AM  

In retrospect, Karen Allen was my first hard crush (Carrie Fisher being the first soft one). I've spent the last 26 years trying to find a girl of her caliber.

I've failed miserably.

garv July 30, 2007 at 4:56 PM  

I wonder if subconsciously I was also looking for a girl like Marion. I think Trixy could probably keep up with her drink for drink. She can certainly drink me under the table.

Michael K July 31, 2007 at 6:57 PM  

She was by far the best Indy love interest. Glad to hear she is coming back.

Anonymous May 22, 2009 at 6:44 PM  

I think much of why you don't see Marion in the other films is that the second one (Temple of Doom) is a prequel and the third (Last Crusade)suggests that Indy and Marion have broken up. The fact that Marion doesn't drink in Crystal Skull suggests to me that her alcoholism may have gotten worse and that she has chosen to stop drinking.

Anonymous July 15, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

Hello everyone - we're not usually blogging, but have a big Q. Which movie would my partner have seen at the cinema in Devon in <1969>, aged 6, in which the daughter of the king drinks from her father's skull and finds a ruby embedded in the base of the skull - thereby proving his kingship (deceased) !!! Aged 6 what a film to see! Can anyone figure it out for us? Thank you, Petra in Warwick

MLB2k11 April 28, 2011 at 4:17 AM  

Thanks for sharing this information. Very interesting. February 19, 2013 at 7:53 AM  

It's a shame that the drinking element was missed out in the fourth Indiana Jones movie.

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Bad Movies February 19, 2013 at 7:55 AM  

I should add that if you ever feel like doing some guest blogging, feel free to get in touch.

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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