Would we still be celebrating Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' breathtaking tribute to the cliffhanging serials of the 30s had first choice Tom Selleck nabbed the role of Indiana Jones? Probably not. The stunts are incredible and the effects astonishing, but it's Harrison Ford's effortlessly charming performance as the original tomb raider that makes his globetrotting quest for the Ark of the Covenant so appealing.
After an action-packed prelude in an Incan temple that introduces all the key ingredients (booby-trapped tombs, hair's breadth escapes, nasty creepy crawlies), the race to find the Ark before the Nazis do begins in earnest. Cue fiery bar brawls in Nepal, truck chases in the desert, and a terrifying descent into an underground vault that forces Indy to face his worst fears. ("Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?")
Few heroes have proved as enduring as Ford's whip-wielding, fedora-wearing adventurer, and a whole generation grew up thinking Karen Allen really was the sexiest thing on legs.
Throw in Paul Freeman's suavely persuasive villain Rene Belloq, a masterly John Williams score, and one of the best throwaway gags ever caught on celluloid - Jones dispatching a sword-waving thug with a single derisory bullet - and you have a timeless classic that will go on captivating youngsters long after Indy's priceless artefacts have crumbled into dust.
By the way, Indiana's surname was originally not Jones but Smith. One can only assume that Spielberg and co. were having an off-day when they decided to change it.