Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Screenplay: Jeffrey Boam.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix, Michael Byrne, Alex Hyde-White, Richard Young, Kevork Malikyan, Robert Eddison, Ronald Lacey, Michael Sheard, Bradley Gregg, Alexei Sayle.
“Germany has declared war on the Jones boys”
Even before the days of Raiders Of The Ark, Spielberg had expressed an interest in making a James Bond movie but he couldn’t get the go ahead from Bond producer Albert Broccoli. Indy was just as good an opportunity for him, though, and who better to cast as Indy’s father than (the original) James Bond himself? It’s actually through the casting choice of Sean Connery that this third instalment of Indy’s adventures really takes flight and silences the critics of The Temple Of Doom.
In his third outing, Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) goes in search of his father, Prof. Henry Jones Sr (Sean Connery) who mysteriously disappears while searching for the Holy Grail. Once again, though, the Nazi’s are also in tow. After losing out on the Ark of the Covenant, they too want to get their hands on the Cup of Christ.
By the time of this films release everybody was fully aware of Indiana Jones. With only two films under his fedora, Indy had already become an icon of American cinema. Every woman wanted him, while every man wanted to be him and with a fond familiarity people welcomed him into their homes. That’s the very reason why the opening of this third instalment is such a joy. It’s depiction of Indy in his youth is such a wonderful addition to his backstory and the late, great River Phoenix does an excellent job in capturing Ford’s mannerisms. We learn about his use of the whip and the resulting scar on his chin. We also get an insight into the procurement of his famous fedora and how his unusual name of Indiana originated from the family dog… (It was actually George Lucas’ dog that was named Indiana and it also served as the inspiration for Chewbacca in Star Wars).
After being heavily criticised for his dark tone in Temple of Doom Spielberg finds the lighter side again and delivers the funniest and most gleefully entertaining of Indy’s adventures. The likes of Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies return from Raiders with more drawn out comical roles but, as mentioned, it’s the great interplay between Ford and Connery that’s the biggest draw here. The chemistry between them anchor a poignant family adventure while providing numerous comedic moments.
Like the previous two, though, there’s no shortest of nail-biting action as World War II is on the brink and the Nazi’s are once again Indy’s foes, giving Spielberg another chance to put the Third Reich to the test. Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are obviously his more personal films on the subject but with Indy he gets the chance to have fun with them again, leaving this instalment with more in common with Raiders as well as honing in on the biblical aspects of the story; Out goes the Ark and in comes the coveted Holy Grail and while the fourth film in the franchise – The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull – explores a misjudged science-fiction element, it confirms that Indy’s adventures are better left in the paths of the religious or the occult. Speaking of which, I will not be following this trilogy with a review of the fourth film as it pains me to speak ill of one of my favourite movie characters. Let’s just pretend that The Last Crusade was indeed, his last.
Raiders may still be the absolute classic of them all but it’s hard to give a film with as much excitement and entertainment as this, anything less than top marks.
Trivia: Henry Jones Sr, was (according to backstory material written but not presented in the film) born in the 1860’s, and was a Scottish university professor before emigrating to Utah, where Indy was born. He was roughly 75 years old in 1938. Sean Connery was only 58 at the time of filming (and only 12 years older than Harrison Ford), hence the beard and general “old man” attire his character wears. Indy impersonating a Scottish lord in a scene at Castle Brunwald was a nod to this unspoken backstory.