Forty years ago, in the summer of '81, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg teamed up to give us a classic summer blockbuster, Raiders of the Lost Ark. We've been smitten ever since.
Starring Harrison Ford as the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones, the movie follows Jones as he sets out in search of the fabled Lost Ark of the Covenant, racing a bitter rival and his Nazi cohorts to the prize. Over the course of a hair-raising adventure, Indy endures explosions, spiders, snakes, booby traps and truckloads of bad guys in his quest to save the holy relic.
As with illustrator Ralph McQuarrie's famous concept art for Star Wars, Lucas commissioned artwork to set the tone and visualize the concepts of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1979 before any frame of the movie was shot. Famed graphic artist and illustrator Jim Steranko was chosen. He created four paintings of the rogue archeologist in thrilling situations that were inspired by—among other influences—Humphrey Bogart in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Doc Savage pulp magazine covers, and a production still from the 1937 film Zorro Rides Again showing Zorro jumping from a horse onto a moving truck.
Steranko’s interpretation of the character effectively defined the Indiana Jones look and persona we would see onscreen—including the iconic hat, beat up leather jacket, and bullwhip.
Props used in the film and the three sequels—a fifth film is scheduled for 2022—as well as other memorabilia remain incredibly popular. Such as . . .
Raiders of the Lost Ark
An original movie poster from the first chapter of the adventure tale (Paramount, 1981) can bring as much as $400.
Harrison Ford's signature screen worn "Indiana Jones" fedora from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Paramount, 1989) sold for $90,000 at Heritage Auctions.
Indy's Leather Jacket
This version of Indiana Jones' classic leather jacket from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount, 2008) was created by Tony Nowak and is constructed of cowhide rather than the lambskin versions seen in the previous films. It sold for $72,000 at auction.
One of the most iconic tools in any action-hero's arsenal, this bullwhip was used in each of the original three Indiana Jones' films in foreground and close-up shots. The whip was gifted to Sotheby's UNICEF auction in 2001 by director Steven Spielberg. It sold for $216,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2014.
The Getaway Motorcyle
Indiana Jones and his father, Henry Jones (Sean Connery), ride this motorcycle with sidecar while being chased by Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Paramount, 1984). The bike is a 1988 Ukranian-built Dnepr dressed to appear like a German BMW WWII-era military motorcycle. It sold for $68,750
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