Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

My Death-Defying Memory of ‘Raiders’

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the release of what I consider the greatest action film of the ’80s, if not the greatest of all-time: Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford as globetrotting archaeologist Indiana Jones. It opened June 12, 1981, the day after I’d graduated from high school, but for whatever reason it would be nearly a month before I’d see it for the first time on the big screen.

And that first time was exactly forty years ago tonight, when my friend Dave Roberts and I ventured in my green 1974 Toyota pickup—a graduation present from my uncle—to the Plaza Twin in Escondido, California for a late-night screening. We knew it was going to be a good movie, but I don’t think we anticipated how good, and when we left the theater that night, along with the other equally delighted and exhilarated movie-goers, we just stood outside and discussed the movie from start to finish, reliving our favorite scenes and moments.

We continued this conversation back at my truck, and continued it further after departing the parking lot and heading for home. It was here—traveling south on Escondido Boulevard, just a few minutes from the theater—that my fondest and most death-defying memory of Raiders took place: there I was, out of school for the summer, hanging with my friend as we discussed one of the coolest movies we’d ever seen, when I blindly and carelessly blasted through a stop light at an intersection, without slowing down, tapping the brakes, or even acknowledging the light even existed!

A moment later, Dave brought me out of my cinematic fog by calmly asking me, “Do you know you ran a red light back there?” No I did not, I replied, as visions of crushed strollers suddenly pranced through my head. But by now it was nearing midnight, and thankfully the streets were deserted on a Thursday night, with nary a car or pedestrian in sight. Looking back it’s all kinda funny—how the power of a good movie can cloud one’s mind—but it would’ve been an entirely different memory (that is, if I still had a memory) if a semi truck had been barreling through that intersection at the same moment.

And so tonight, with modest fanfare, I’ll re-live most of that historic evening by watching Raiders of the Lost Ark once again, this time on Blu-ray for the very first time, with a bowl of popcorn at my side and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound cranking through my headphones. I have no idea where Dave is today, but I hope he’ll be watching tonight as well. And if you’re wondering about that other film displayed in the marquee above, yes, I did also see Dragonslayer a few weeks later; sadly, it would mark my final visit to the Plaza Twin.

(If you’d like to read my review of Raiders of the Lost Ark, click here)

13 comments on “My Death-Defying Memory of ‘Raiders’

  1. Dracula

    I forgot you had that camper shell on the truck. Did it ever come in handy? Weekend camping trip, late night drinking binge, kicked out of the house, homeless facility, etc.? I also don’t recalling seeing any films at the Plaza Twin but I’m sure you have some ticket stubs and can correct me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Todd B

      Unfortunately, the Plaza Twin ticket stubs were ‘old style’, and didn’t have dates or times on them. But I have my master movie list, where I’ve collected dates and other info from various sources, so I’ll check it when I get home. I remember us trying to see Friday the 13th there, but you weren’t old enough yet, so we were denied!

      And definitely no camping (or living or drinking) with that shell…it was pretty rough back there. And the exhaust fumes were highly toxic if you were stuck riding in the back. Just ask my brother.


      • Todd B

        Well, I found two films you and I saw at the Plaza Twin together. The first was ffolkes with Reid in 1980 (exact date unknown), then believe it or not, Raiders of the Lost Ark just six days after I saw it with Dave. And that’s it…although in 1979, you could’ve seen Alien with Bob, Reid, and I (and my Dad), but you were on vacation in Michigan.


  2. Dracula

    I remember the exhaust fumes in the back of your Dad’s blue panel van.

    Transylvania International Film Festival starts on the 23rd, I’ll check on getting programs and t-shirts.


    • Todd B

      That’s funny, I don’t remember fumes in the back of my Dad’s van…what I do remember was the leftover paneling on the interior, and the collection of carpet remnants that were nailed to the floor.



    I am so thankfully relived to at long last have an explanation as to what exactly is wrong with your brother! He was fumigated! Thank you for finally putting that nature/nurture argument to rest – whew! Furthermore… the next time you stomp your brake foot on the floor of a car’s passenger side, you can be sure I am all over that “how the power of a good movie can cloud my mind” too!! The movie might have been years ago but you can bet that I’ll still be thinking about it at that very moment. ;o


    • Todd B

      Our friend Doug received a dose of those toxic fumes as well! I seem to remember driving with them somewhere, and they wanted to try the back…and ended up pressing their faces to the tiny screened windows, gasping for fresh air!

      And you’ll have to come up with your OWN movie when I start slamming my feet into the floorboards! I will accept Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, or anything with Sam Elliott.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. geelw

    “Truck, What Truck?” was my first thought here, Todd.


    • Todd B

      Ha, when I watched it last night, and heard that line, I thought, “Damn! I should’ve incorporated that into the post!”

      Well, now thanks to you, it at least made it into the comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Eric Binford

    Love to hear stories like this one! I’m glad to hear that you guys were okay. Anyhow, I’m a few years younger than you, but I remember the day we went to see Raiders. I had never seen anything like that before. In fact, there was so much action that I thought the movie was over after Indy got hit by the mirror. LOL!


    • Todd B

      Sorry for the delay, Eric…I’m just now getting back into the swing of things. Anyway, that’s pretty funny about you and the mirror scene…and actually, that’d be a fun thing to re-edit for a YouTube clip: he gets hit by the mirror, then the credits roll. I had a similar moment with Stripes, when the graduation took place…I thought it was done! “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, SIR!”…and then, end credits.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Eric Binford

        Yes, I remember the graduation scene in Stripes. I guess the ’80s were good at these double-endings! I thought Poltergeist was over after the little girl was rescued, and even E.T. fooled me: he was dead, so end of the story… LOL!


      • Todd B

        Good lord, can you imagine E.T. dying, and then…THE END! All those kids screaming in their seats, experiencing dead alien nightmares for the rest of their lives!

        Liked by 2 people

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