Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

“You call this archaeology?”

After the excessive darkness of Temple of the Doom, Last Crusade sees a return to the more light-hearted tone of Raiders. Lucas and Spielberg clearly saw where they went wrong with Temple of Doom and tried to make up for it with this film.

The Holy Grail might not have the same resonance as the Ark of the Covenant, but it is never anything more a MacGuffin. For Indy this quest isn't about finding the lost cup of a famous carpenter's son who overcharged for bookshelves, but about reconnecting with his father. In the best case of Spielberg's continued cinematic quest to work out his daddy issues, we're introduced to our hero's estranged father; Professor Henry Jones, played by none other than Sir Sean Connery. Hiring the one and true James Bond as Indy's father was a masterstroke. From the very moment he appears on screen, Connery is just an utter joy as the bookish Jones Snr. He and Ford have such fantastic chemistry together that you don't doubt that they are father and son. Last Crusade is the funniest Indy movie, thanks in part to the wonderful banter between Ford and Connery (much of it ghost written by Tom Stoppard).

One of the joys of Last Crusades is that we get to see the origins of Indiana Jones. Once upon a time, Utah 1912 to be exact, Indy was a floppy haired boy scout who looked suspiciously like one of the kids from Stand By Me. It is rather a stretch that our hero acquired his iconic hat, whip, scar and life long fear of snakes all at the same time, but this is a fantastic sequence that does in a few minutes what the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles failed to do in three seasons.

Like the previous film, Last Crusade suffers from a lack of memorable bad guys. The Nazis might be back as the central villains but they're never anything more than faceless foot soldiers for Donovan (a sadly forgettable Julian Glover). Even the twist that Elsa, the film's main love interest, is actually in cahoots with them lacks any punch due to how bland Alison Doody's performance is. Nice Hitler cameo, though.

Last Crusade has one of the most perfect endings ever filmed. Our four heroes, the quest at an end, riding off into the sunset together. Can't get better than that, can you? Last Crusade might not have been able to completely recapture the magic of Raiders, but it did bring the trilogy to a wonderful end. Until Lucas and Spielberg foolishly decided to make another one. But that's a rant for another review (which I won't write because I frankly can't be arsed).

Notes and Quotes

--The Jones boys both wear bow-ties and Sallah wears a Fez. Clearly they've all been taking fashion advice from a certain mad man with a box.

--First it was snakes, then insects and now rats. Big, hairy rats.

--Ah, Venice.

--Keeping with the callbacks to Raiders, Denhom Elliot and John-Rhys Davies are both back as Marcus and Sallah, respectively. This time Marcus gets to come along on the adventure, but is sadly relegated to the role of comic relief.

Fedora: "You lost today, kid. But that doesn't mean you have to like it."

Indiana: “I told you... (kills Nazis)...Don't call me Junior.”

Indiana: “It's disgraceful, you're old enough to be her... grandfather.”
Henry: “I'm as human as the next man.”
Indiana: “I was the next man.”

Donovan: "Germany has declared war on the Jones boys."

Indiana: "Come on, dad. Help me get us out of here. We have to get to Marcus before the Nazis do."
Henry: "But you said he had a two day head start. That he would blend in, disappear."
Indiana: "Are you kidding? I made all that up. You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum."

Henry: "The quest for the grail is not archeology, it's a race against evil. If it is captured by the Nazis the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the earth."

Henry: "I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne. Let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky."

Henry: “I didn't know you could fly a plane?”
Indiana: “Fly, yeah...land, no.”

Knight: “He chose...poorly.”

Three and a half out of four former Grange Hill teachers who look like the F├╝hrer.

10 comments:

ChrisB said...

I've always loved this one for the reasons that you cite in your review, but especially because Ford and Connery together are one of the great screen duos. I loved every minute of their being together.

I hadn't realised the dialogue had been written by Stoppard, but as soon as I read it, I thought "of course." He is a genius at the give and take and at word play.

Thanks for doing these reviews, Mark. You've made me want to dust off my box set and re-watch all three.

Josie Kafka said...

This was the first Indiana Jones movie I ever saw, in a big, old-fashioned, one-screen movie theater in my home town that has since been torn down and turned into yet another office building.

Maybe because I saw it first, or maybe just because it's awesome, I was never able to love the previous two as much as this one. Am I the only one who thinks it is the best of the three? (Because there is no fourth.)

Gus Brunetti said...

Josie, I'm with you. This one is my favorite in the TRIlogy.

Jess Lynde said...

This one is thoroughly delightful, but in a different way than Raiders. I think because of the pairing of Connery and Ford, but also because of the amped up humor and slightly "mock serious" nature of a lot of the dialogue and interactions. Wonderful!

Mark said that Raiders was some of John Williams best work, but I actually love the scoring in this one the better. It has so many fantastic pieces, from the music accompanying the escape with the boats in Venice, to Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra, to the lovely melancholy music that plays over that final sunset. And, of course, it still has that iconic Indy theme. Great stuff.

Matthew L said...

Josie, you're not the only one.

I do like this the best of the three. Mostly because of the casting of Seasn Connery as Indy's dad and watching the two of them interact. I also liked the small origin story at the beginning and the tests to get to the Grail.

Alison Doody as the love interest was okay, nothing special, but out of the three, she was the least grating to me. Willie Scott was the most, she was just annoying throughout Temple, but Marion also was off-putting to me at times in Raiders.

I remember reading in EW or some other entertainment source near before the movie was released about some of the behind the scenes shennigans where, I don't remember which one of them, either Ford or Connery kept teasing Alison on her last name by going by her and repeating her last name in a sing-song voice.

So Raiders was great action, Temple was dark, and Crusade was just great fun.

Mark Greig said...

Overjoyed that everyone has been enjoying the Indy reviews. I've had them sitting on my to do list for so long now that I never thought I'd ever get them done.

Jess, after Raiders, this is my favourite Indy score.. John Williams music is the one thing that stays consistently good throughout each film, even that one we do not speak of. Forget about the character it's associated with and just listen to "The Adventures of Mutt". That is some 24-carat Korngold right there. 

OHara said...

This movie is so much fun! I still slightly prefer Raiders overall, but this is a close second.

Dustin said...

I always loved the simple wooden grail among all of the gaudy gold ones. "This is the cup of a carpenter's son." Indeed.

"I named the dog Indiana."
"I have fond memories of that dog."

CrazyCris said...

Another great review Marc! Now I'm waiting for the final one which shall not be named... come on! You know you want to!!! ;o)

This was the first Indy movie I saw in the cinema (saw the others on TV), and the one thing from that day that sticks in my mind is turning to my mom and asking "I've been there, right?" when they come out of the "canyon of the cresent moon" in Petra. I LOVED the fact that I had been there and could spot it on screen! :o)

I think this is also my favourite Indy (although sometimes I lean towards Raiders 'cause of the whole snakes shenanigans and Marion) because of the Sr/Jr relationship. Those two are BRILLIANT together! Pity they couldn't entice Connery out of retirement for that film which shall not be named... might have improved it!

I've really enjoyed your reviews Mark! They came right on time to remind me of the films because last weekend I went to visit (and play in) and Exhibition set up by National Geographic about Indiana Jones! Lots of fun! If anyone's interested:
http://crazycrishereandthere.blogspot.com.es/2012/07/indiana-jones-and-adventure-of.html

And this week I've enjoyed popping the dvds into the player, turning on the surround sounds, and just enjoying it all over again! :o)

Anonymous said...

Love it!