Wednesday, May 21, 2008

'Raiders of the Lost Ark' popular among box historians

Note: This post is part of the Indiana Jones Blog-a-Thon at Cerebral Mastication.

DENTON, Texas -- Citing "iconic imagery of the industry," the Society for Historical and Informative Teachings of Boxes (or SHIT Box) honored the 1981 film "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with its prestigious Gold Box award. Awarded semi-annually, or whenever they get enough money, the Gold Box recognizes works of art that promote "positive box themes and ideology."

"'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is the rare movie that advanced the public's perception of boxes, and what they are capable of," said SHIT Box President-elect Wesley Cratchman. "How many times has someone entered a crowded supplies closet and said, 'hey it's just like in that one movie'?"

Though very little of the movie concerns boxes, "Raiders" closes with a famous shot of a box containing the Ark of the Covenant being filed away in a warehouse filled with countless other such boxes.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't care much for the rest of the movie," said Muss Wheeler, 91, a self-described "SHIT head" who has spent 50+ years researching boxes and crates. "But when I saw that T-502 being packed away at the end, my eyes lit up."

The life's work of Herman "T" Titmole, the T-502 was the first wooden box to be made in a square shape, as opposed to the triangle and star-shaped boxes of the 19th century. When it premiered at the 1944 Worlds Fair in Tokyo, skeptical box critics decried the design as "lurid," but its inclusion in many Hollywood productions forced the public to take notice. T-502 boxes were soon a staple prop in movies and on television.

But when "Raiders" was released, the T-502 had long since fallen out of public favor, overshadowed by cheaper and less durable cardboard boxes. The whimsical warehouse scene in the movie sparked a brief resurgence in sales of retro wooden boxes.

"We had customers in the Midwest who wanted to turn their barn into an Indiana Jones warehouse, and for awhile it was one of the most popular costumes for shut-ins," said Tuffy Wipple, a former SHIT Box treasurer and box opportunist. "For a few months, it was like the golden age of boxes."

That fleeting feeling of box hysteria was credited to "Raiders," and the fact that a T-502 was chosen to protect a precious religious artifact seemed to invigorate the industry. Cratchman noted that producers could have easily written in a trunk or sack to house the Ark of the Covenant, but clearly saw the aesthetic power of a wooden box.

Accepting the Gold Box, which is actually made of copper, was actor Barrie Holland who played the famous box pusher in the heralded scene. Since his role was uncredited, Holland's pay was a plate of breakfast sausages (a longstanding policy of Steven Spielberg), but the actor says the legacy of his performance has been priceless.

"I can't tell you how many warehouse jobs I've landed because of that role," said Holland, standing at the podium in the prestigious Chaparral Room of the Denton Clarion Inn. "This gold box should look good on the dashboard of my car."

2 comments:

Peter Nellhaus said...

LOL. Packed with information. I just can't contain myself.

cialis online said...

so I have been reading abut T-502 , It is one of the most important ting in the world, I Though very little of the movie concerns boxes, as you did!