by Mark Greig
“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 than 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 Crusade 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.
--Keeping with the callbacks to Raiders, Denholm Elliott 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 Führer.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.