Raiders of the Lost Ark as a 1951 adventure movie

This trailer for a notional 1951 version of Raiders of the Lost Ark has my head nigh-exploding with recursive delight: a retro movie that hearkens to 1950s adventure serials remade as a 1950s adventure serial!

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1951) Trailer (via Neatorama)


  1. On the subject of recursive delight, I’ve always had a fondness for Giorgio Moroders revamp of ‘Metropolis’

    The 80’s, remixing the 20’s, imagining the 21st century. Awesome.

  2. What movie are the Heston clips from, and why isn’t it already in my nerd-brain as an inspiration for Raiders?

  3. Gah! Now I need to know what Sub-B Grade movie that actually was a trailer for! I need to watch that movie on Saturday Morning with a bunch of friends in our PJs and multiple boxes of sugary cereals!

  4. Secret of the Incas is the movie. Indiana Jones was a rip off of it. Yma Sumac was also in the film, along with Heston.

  5. According to the YouTube page it comes from:

    The 10 Commandments, Prince Valiant, Naked Jungle, Secret of the Incas, Jungle Queen, Zulu, Look to Lockheed for Leadership, Casablanca, The City of Brass, Mr. Moto takes a Vacation, Star in My Crown, A Pain in the Pullman, On Dangerous Ground, Patton, King Solomons Mines, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Greatest Show on Earth, David and Bathsheba, The Screaming Skull, When You Know, Mysterious Mr. Moto, Lawrence of Arabia, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and Superman at Bay.

  6. Well, except that _Raiders_ was referencing 1930s/1940s serials — not 1950s stuff. By the time the 1950s rolled around, archeologists were out and astronauts and the like were the new heroes of pulp.

  7. The Heston movie is “Secret of the Incas.” I first saw it on late night TV sometime in the ’80s and you could clearly see that his Harry Steele character was a direct influence on the look of Indiana Jones. It was almost shocking at the time.

  8. Jonathan Badger @#8

    Well, except that Raiders was referencing 1930s/1940s serials — not 1950s stuff.

    Except… the movie it’s largely taken from is from 1954.

    Secret of the Incas

    The Heston character is “Harry Steele”.

    Also, beating up Nazis never went out of style.

  9. Wikipedia

    Secret of the Incas — Influence on Raiders of the Lost Ark:

    The film is often cited by film buffs as a direct inspiration for the Indiana Jones franchise of films, with many of the scenes in Secret of the Incas bear a striking resemblance in tone and structure to scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Throughout Secret of the Incas, the main character, Harry Steele, can be seen wearing the “Indiana Jones” outfit – brown leather jacket, fedora, tan pants, an over-the-shoulder bag, and revolver.[2] The character also sometimes wears a light beard, unusual for films of its time, and there is a tomb scene involving a revelatory shaft of light similar to the “Map Room” sequence in Raiders.

    Raiders’ costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis noted that the inspiration for Indiana’s costume was Charlton Heston’s Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas: “We did watch this film together as a crew several times, and I always thought it strange that the filmmakers did not credit it later as the inspiration for the series” and referred to the film as “almost a shot for shot Raiders of the Lost Ark.”[3]

  10. LOL! The Anthony Quinn scene is so obviously Lawrence of Arabia with the color taken out! And does Peter Lorre do anything in movies except hold people up for information or goods? Not that I’m complaining……

  11. “Secret of the Incas” used to be on TV all the time in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and I watched it many times as a kid. I was amazed when I saw the Indiana Jones character on screen, he was Harry Steele, almost. Harry was tougher, meaner, more amoral, and vastly more adult – he slept around for fun and profit. The light trick in “Secret of the Incas” really did it for me tho – the Map Room light trick in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” seemed like just a rip-off as soon as I saw it.

    “Secret of the Incas” was also released on videotape before the Indiana Jones craze started, then never re-issued. It’s curious that it’s still unavailable as an official release in DVD, and was so influential on the Indiana Jones character. When Heston died recently, and a lot of films were shown on TV as tributes, “Secret of the Incas” was not one of them. I think it’s been buried somewhat, to keep anything that would show the lack of originality in the Indiana Jones franchise from being generally available.

  12. What’s really fascinating about this is the sort of metacommentary behind it – modern movies with the ethos and attitude of the past behind them.

  13. I personally didn’t know about “Secret of the Incas”, but I’m hardly surprised. Reworking old movies is standard practice in Hollywood; however, it’s bad etiquette not to acknowledge your sources (or worse, actively hide them). The authors of “Secret” must have been royally pissed off.

  14. Anonymous, @#17

    “Yma Sumac* was also in the film, along with Heston.” Amy Camus (New Jersey)

    Nothing like a few tabloid made-up stories to spruce up the internet, eh, Mr. Winchell?

    An’ lookit all them Wikipedia cites

    Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo was born on September 13, 1922[5] in Ichocán, Cajamarca,[6] Peru. Although she claimed to have been born on September 10, “her personal assistant, who claimed to have seen her birth certificate, gave her date of birth as September 13 1922.” [7] Other dates mentioned in her various biographies range from 1921 to 1929. Some sources[8] claim that she was not born in Ichocán, but in a nearby village or possibly, in Lima, and that her family owned a ranch in Ichocán where she spent most of her early life. Stories published in the 1950s claimed that she was an Incan princess, directly descended from Atahualpa. A story claiming that she was born Amy Camus—Yma Sumac backwards—in Brooklyn or Canada was fabricated while she was performing in New York City in the early 1950s.[9]

  15. Secret Of The Incas wasn’t the only source of “inspiration” for the Indy franchise. There was also the old Republic serial “Manhunt In The African Jungle”, which featured a fedora wearing, leather jacket clad, whip wielding treasure hunter doing battle against Nazis.

  16. Interesting, Robbo. The serial Secret Service in Darkest Africa (1943) was rereleased as Manhunt In The African Jungles (1954). Tagline: “Nazi raiders steal a lost Arab treasure!”


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