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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 movie poster
Indiana Jones' hat
Indiana Jones' leather jacket
Indiana Jones' bullwhip
Indiana Jones' motorcycle


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