Bullet Points: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
It isn’t often that I refer to a movie as perfect. I think I may have used that high praise only once before on the site when I was discussing Superman The Movie. I would put Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the rarefied air of perfect movies.
Movie buffs will debate which was better, The Godfather or The Godfather Part II. It is my opinion that the same question could be asked of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
- Young Indiana Jones: The film begins with a look at an Indiana we had not seen before, Indiana as a teenager (played by the late River Phoenix). We learn that Indiana’s dedication to archaeology started at an early age, we learn how he got the scar on his chin and that at one point he was not afraid of snakes and then we get to see the exact moment his fear of snakes was born. We learn that Indy’s father was obsessed with finding the Holy Grail. We also meet the man who would influence Indy’s look when he grew up with the fedora and leather jacket. And all of this takes place with an action packed chase on a circus train. I love when a movie can immediately suck you in like that.
- Introducing Professor Henry Jones: Movie franchises will often add new characters to keep things fresh as the sequels keep coming, but it is rare when they can add a character the quality of Henry Jones Sr. played by the one and the only Sean Connery. This is one of those cases where you can’t even imagine anyone but Connery playing the role of Indiana Jones’ father. The chemistry between Connery and Ford was off the charts. You really believed they were father and son and like any actual fathers and sons they have some similarities (both are ladies men and love archaeology) and some differences (Indy is a little rough around the edges after years of adventures, where Henry Sr. is a refined college professor). Whenever I watch this movie now, I can’t help but be disappointed that they couldn’t get Connery out of retirement for Crystal Skull.
- Welcome Back: The Last Crusade brings back two of Indy’s allies from the original film. His trusted friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). And mentor and friend of the family Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot). Sallah and Brody bring some comic relief to the film, although I am not sure of any other movie franchise that incorporates humor into the action with quite the precision of the Indiana Jones franchise. I like that Brody got a bigger role in this one and was more hands on than the original… The Nazis were also back in this one. The only guy who even came close to Indiana Jones in kicking some serious Nazi ass in a movie back in the 1980’s was Art LaFleur when he punches Hitler right in the face.
- Stone Cold Advice: Indiana Jones is contacted by collector Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) to lead an expedition for the Holy Grail. Indy refuses at first and suggests they contact his father instead, when he learns they already did and Indy’a father and his diary with a lifetime’s worth of Grail research have gone missing, Indy is on the first plane to Venice, where Indy’s father was working with a Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody). One bit of advice that Donovan gives Indiana before he goes looking for his father is “don’t trust anyone”. He really should have heeded that advice. #DTA
One of the best things about all the Indiana Jones movies is the pacing. From the opening sequence with the circus train, to exploring the underground tomb in Venice, that leads to a boat chase, then Indy’s rescue of his dad and their subsequent escape from the Nazis, only to have to go to Berlin for Henry’s Grail diary and then the race to the Grail in the desert and the big finale! No wonder the movie breezes by despite being over 2 hours long. It is action packed with characters you either love or love to hate and it is all combined to tell a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat… as I said at the top, it is a PERFECT movie!
Here are a few more Last Crusade Bullet Points…
- Give Tanks: My favorite sequence in the movie is where Indy is being pursued by Vogel the Nazi. Indy is on horseback, Vogel is inside a tank. This scene rivals the desert chase scene from Raiders, where Indy gets the Ark back. Ironically that one also starts off with Indy on horseback.
- Favorite Quote: My favorite quote from the film takes place during the sequence I mentioned above. As Marcus Brody gets out of the tank he politely asks “How does one get off this thing?” moments before he is inadvertently elbowed by Indy who is throwing a punch at that jerk Vogel, knocking Marcus off the tank in the process.
- John Williams: As is often the case when John Williams scores a movie, the music really adds to this enjoyment of this film. I think my favorite piece of music is the song “Indy’s Very First Adventure” used in the young Indiana Jones themed opening of the film.
- Eskimo Brothers: Not only are Henry Jones Senior and Indiana Jones father and son they are also Eskimo brothers.
- Bond Girl?: Alison Doody, who plays Elsa Schneider, has worked with three of the actors that have played James Bond. Doody worked with Connery in Last Crusade. Doody worked with Pierce Brosnan in Taffin. And her first movie was actually, A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s last James Bond film.