Whoa! Why J.D. Salinger HATED Raiders of the Lost Ark

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

J.D., J.D.—what's with all the hate for Raiders of the Lost Ark? I don't mean to diss the recently dead, but when the writer of a book I love goes after a movie I love, well, come on, what are you doing to me? It hurts. Don't make me choose sides, because I can't!

Sure, I knew Salinger had strong opinions about films. After all, in The Catcher in the Rye, he had Holden Caulfield say, "You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phoney stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they're mean bastards at heart."

But to go after Raiders? That's a low blow.

Because based on a letter recently posted over at Letters of Note, it looks like one of the things Salinger lumped in with "phoney stuff in the movies" was Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In the middle of a 1981 letter about a trip to Boston, he wrote about getting "hooked into seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark," which he called "unwitty," "unfunny" and "awful."

Here's the relevant paragraph:

Have seen no good movies, except The Last Metro, which wasn't exactly indelibly fine, but Deneuve herself maybe was, or came close. I got hooked into seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, which might be excused for its unwitty, unfunny awful socko-ness if it had been put together by Harvard Lampoon seniors. I'll coast on the Deneuve performance the rest of the summer. She was always a good actress, but had never seen her with all this much restraint and finesse.

If only I'd only known about this when you were still alive, J.D., I'd have somehow found a way inside that famous Fortress of Solitude of yours, brought along a DVD (though you were probably a Betamax kind of guy) and taught you to love Raiders. But now it's too late.

Now that's something to cry your goddam eyes out over.

For more fun letters, visit Letters of Note.

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