Thursday Night Movie Club
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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Release Date: 24 May 1989

Director: Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford
Sean Connery
Denholm Elliott
Alison Doody
John Rhys-Davies
Julian Glover
River Phoenix
Michael Byrne
Kevork Malikyan
Robert Eddison
Richard Young
Alexei Sayle
Alex Hyde-White
Paul Maxwell
Isla Blair
Indiana Jones
Professor Henry Jones
Marcus Brody
Dr. Elsa Schneider
Walter Donovan
Young Indy
General Vogel
Grail Knight
Young Henry Jones
Panama Hat
Mrs. Donovan
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade poster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade poster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade poster
River Phoenix as Young Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeWelcome back Indiana Jones! Indy's third outing, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is funnier than the previous two films. Director Steven Spielberg, producer George Lucas and screenwriter Jeffrey Boam (The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr.) have brought back Indiana Jones in grand fashion. All of the fun, excitement, danger, romance, intrigue, riddle-solving, action, adventure, and plenty of jokes abound.

Questions of whether this may be the last Indiana Jones film in the series have lead to this film being part prequel and part answering many fans questions. In 1912, a group of boy scouts including Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) are exploring caves. Indiana Jones comes upon a group of mercenaries lead by a tall man wearing a leather jacket and Fedora hat. The mercenaries discover a lost Spanish artifact, the Cross of Coronado. Indy, believing the cross belongs in a museum, steals the cross. He is discovered and the chase is on.

The chase on horseback turns deadlier and funnier when young Indy leaps aboard a speeding circus train. He is nearly gored by a rhinoceros. He falls into a bin filled with snakes. His scream of fear, shown in a long shot of the train car, signals to the audience how Indy developed his fear of snakes. Next, Indy escapes the snakes only to fall into a car containing a lion. He defends himself with a bull whip. He uses the bull whip to escape the lion. Indy escapes from "Fedora" (Richard Young) through a magicians trick box.

When Indy arrives home anxious to tell his father Dr. Henry Jones (Alex Hyde-White), Jones is fixated on his work on finding the Holy Grail. When the sheriff shows up at the house, Indy is relieved and begins to tell his story only to learn he must relinquish the cross to its rightful owner "Panama Hat" (Paul Maxwell). Indy learns a hard lesson in life from "Fedora". "You lost today kid. That doesn't mean you have to like it." With that, he places the Fedora on young Indy's head and the legend is born.

Julian Glover as Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeMany years later, Indy finds a strange package sent from Venice on his desk. Without thinking, he places the package in his pocket. Next, Indy finds himself "abducted" by a group of mysterious men. He is taken to the study of Walter Donovan (Julian Glover). Donovan begins retelling Indy the story of the Holy Grail and how it was protected by three knights of the Crusades.

Donovan is close to locating the Grail when his expedition ran into a snag. The lead researcher has gone missing along with his research. Donovan wants Indy to go to Venice, meet with the team's other archaeologist and pick up the trail. Indy tells Donovan that he has the wrong Dr. Jones and that Donovan should hire his father. Donovan tells Indy the distressing news that Indy's father Dr. Henry Jones is the missing researcher.

The race and the fun and excitement are just starting. The adventure takes Indy to Venice, Germany and North Africa. He is beset upon by enemies and dangers at every turn, not to mention several double- and triple-crosses along the way. Donovan warns Indy to trust no one. Sound advice at the time but the naive Indiana Jones trusts everyone, until they cross him. Don't get Indiana Jones angry. You won't like him when he is angry.

Harrison Ford and Alison Doody in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeHarrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones for his third adventure. Thanks in large part to a superior script to Temple of Doom, Ford has more to do that showcase Indy's enthusiasm for the chase as well as deciphering the many clues.

Love interest for Indy is Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody). Schneider is as attractive as she is talented at archeology. In the brains department, she is every bit Indy's equal. She tells Indy he is giddy as a school boy when he finds a major clue. She is every bit as excited as he. Doody is a welcome change to the whining Kate Capshaw. Doody portrays Schneider with a fierce independence. Yes, it is a man's world, but she is every bit as talented as the men. She has fought long and hard to get the deserved recognition. The repartee between Indy and Dr. Elsa Schneider is a hoot. Their lines are funny, witty, intellectual and full of many double entendres Ford and Doody have great chemistry and make the best of their shared screen time.

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeMany of the best humorous moments come from Indy's father Dr. Henry Jones. Who better of an actor to portray Indiana Jones' father than the original James Bond, the incomparable Sir Sean Connery. Connery is a hoot. Unlike his son, Henry Jones has spent his entire adult life in libraries and in his study researching the Holy Grail. Due to the resources of Walter Donovan, Dr. Jones can finally do actual archeology work. He is giddy as a school boy as he nears his goal.

When Indy and Elsa travel to Germany to rescue his father, Dr. Jones promptly knocks Indy on the head with a Ming vase. Dr. Jones says, "I thought you were a Nazi." Indy replies, "Nazis come in through the door dad." While Indy moans in pain, Dr. Jones lectures him about the vase being a fake. Next, the Nazi guards enter the room saying "Dr. Jones?" Both men turn and in unison reply, "Yes?" Finally, when the Nazis ask Dr. Jones for his Grail diary, Connery goes into a wild rant telling the Nazis that is why he mailed it to his son. My son wouldn't be so stupid as to actually bring it here with him. In the meantime, Harrison Ford's face sinks into despair. When Dr. Jones realizes the obvious, he begins to scold Indy like a little boy giving Indy just enough time to overpower their guards. Hysterical!

Ford and Alison Doody react together like Bogart and Becall. Ford and Connery are a bit like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, but Connery isn't as much a fool as Lewis. Connery plays Dr. Jones with all the glee of Ford when Indy tells his father he has found the name of the city from where to start the journey to the Grail. That is, until Indy tells Dr. Jones about the rats. Where Indy hates snakes, his father hates rats. Like father, like son.

Robert Eddison portrays the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeBut screenwriter Jeffery Boam has brought a new element to the Indiana Jones saga, namely tenderness. One few simple scenes allow both Harrison Ford and Sean Connery to fully immerses themselves in their respective roles on a personal, human, father/son basis. In one, Indy is mad at his father for not spending more time with him and his mother when he was young. Connery gives a touching reply that changes Indy's view of his father. "Your mother kept her illness from me until all I could do was mourn her."

Later while waiting to take a blimp out of Germany, Indy complains that he and his father never talked... about anything. Connery's stern response is short and to the point, "You left just when you were getting interesting." Connery then lays down Dr. Jones diary, looks for straight in the eye and tells Indy, "OK. I'm here now. What do you want to talk about?" Harrison Ford's expression is priceless as he is completely dumbstruck by the question. Dr. Jones promptly turns back to his Grail diary and the two men begin to work together as colleagues for the first time in their lives. The scene is quite touching.

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeHaving both Sean Connery on board and a better caliber script allow director Steven Spielberg to bring his A game to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. There are numerous edge-of-your-seat action sequences. Many of the scenes have humorous elements but Spielberg does a much better job visually portraying humor. After Indiana Jones grows up, he goes after "Panama Hat" to take back the Cross of Coronado. After a fist fight during a raging storm at sea, Indy jumps overboard moments before the ship explodes. After Indy finds a life-saver float and struggles to stay afloat, "Panama's" wide-brimmed Panama hat floats passed him.

Spielberg cleverly repeats this visual joke later. Indy loses his hat before falling over a cliff while fighting on top of a tank. Indy crawls out of the ravine thanks to hanging vines. He collapses at his father's feet. Dr. Jones promptly tells Indy, "What are you doing resting? We're in a race!" Right then, a gust of wind blows Indiana Jones' hat back to him.

Indy finds himself in Berlin where a huge book-burning bonfire is in full blaze. Indy, holding the Grail diary runs head first into Adolph Hitler. Indy and Hitler exchange stares before Hitler grabs the Grail diary and promptly signs his autograph in the book. There is also a brief appearance of the Lost Ark of the Covenant in yet another clever visual joke. The best joke of the film is the revelation behind the name "Indiana". Great job Jeffrey Boam!

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeSpielberg films some fantastic action sequences. Indy and Ilsa battle rats and fire in the catacombs beneath Venice. Indy and Ilsa battle religious zealots who have sworn to protect the Grail at all costs. Indy and Henry Jones flee the Nazis on a motorcycle and sidecar. Indy desperately attacks a German troop who have captured Dr. Jones and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) and put them in a tank. Spielberg changes the pace for the conclusion where Indy must face three very real tests armed only with cryptic clues his father has found. The problem is that neither men know exactly what the tests are. Spielberg heightens the suspense as Indy barely solves the riddles with only seconds to spare.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade does not match up to the still superior Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it doesn't miss by much. Spielberg and Lucas have brought the fun and excitement back to action/adventure films.