Raiders of the Lost Ark

Unlike the ill-advised Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the 1981 Raiders is a movie freed from the responsibility of fatherhood, much less adulthood. Then 39, Harrison Ford was more like the embodiment of the boyish dreams of producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg. Sure, he makes manly eyes at Karen Allen, but the lust—like the violence, in which movie-Nazis can be killed like flies—is only as real as in the movie serials that inspired the Indy franchise. In a thoroughly satisfying, always kinetic way, this first Jones flick lives inside its own archetypes, and Ford is too disciplined an actor to wink at the artifice. He always seems sincerely, physically invested in this iconic role, whether he's outrunning boulders, being dragged under trucks, or recoiling from snakes. He's a moonlighting, grave-robbing, rogue scholar, nobody's hero. Twenty-seven years later in Crystal Skull, the filmmakers filed those ruffian edges off his character. (And also smoothed his voice: Is there some computer process for removing the effects of 40 years of Marlboro smoking?) Here is Indy as we remember him: cocky, an improviser, irresponsible, but true to his course. He's a man you want to be—not the same thing as being a role model. (PG) BRIAN MILLER

Wed., Dec. 26, 7 p.m.; Dec. 28-31, 7 p.m.; Wed., Jan. 2, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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