The first and more orthodox World War II war film of 1998, Steven Spielberg’s heroic yarn Saving Private Ryan follows a troop of assorted all-American types through the European theater on what seems to them to be a fool’s mission: retrieving a soldier (Matt Damon) from battle after his brothers are killed elsewhere. Tom Hanks rings true as an unlikely macho commander, and the opening D-Day sequence is justly famous for being gut-twisting. With Edward Burns and Tom Sizemore.
If you were there, in the theaters in the summer of 1975, you’ve got Jaws in your DNA. Stephen Spielberg‘s film was the last truly communal movie experiences—everyone saw it, twice, and afterward everyone had a new relationship with the beach. But put the man-eating giant monster shark aside for a moment, and you’ve got full-on, real-to-the-touch Atlantic beach community life, back when people listened to transistor radios in the sand and used suntan oil. The actors’ clothes even seem creased with sand and salt air.
One of the handful of times that Steven Spielberg’s patented overmanipulations and blue-tinted “sense of wonder” doesn’t curdle in our bellies, this George Lucas–inspired yarn is blessedly free of UFOs and dinosaurs, and is set, rather rowdily, in a 1930s pulp-serial world in which the instantly iconic adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) fights Nazis for the sake of Biblical artifacts. Good-natured and distracting without being patronizing.