Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

In the immortal words of Celine Dion: It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is now very evident that all of my childhood memories – hazy as they were – are actually of this film, rather than it’s superior initial instalment or the sequel. Also (perhaps) unsurprisingly, many of these same hazy memories centre on this scene:

River\

which we now know is right at the beginning and has relatively little to do with the actual plot of the film overall.

Speaking of plot, I don’t know what was going on in the film world in 1989 (I was 6 and preoccupied with Quantum Leap and my girlish crush on Sam Beckett), but it seems to me like Spielberg, Lucas and the studio got together and decided that they needed a ‘sure thing’ summer box office winner and that pumping out another Jones Film would be a sure fire way to get it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this is a bad film, or that I didn’t enjoy it and giggle here and there; nor am I saying that I wasn’t happy to catch up with some of my favourite characters – because I did and I was. What I am saying is, that although I enjoyed this third instalment, I think it bears mentioning that it was pretty much the same plot as the first one, except in this instance, Indy’s comic relief is his father; while the romantic lead doubling as one of the villains ensures that Indy gets to flirt outrageously with the one true love of his life – himself.

lady
Lady… you ain’t got a chance….

Let’s look at the plot of Last Crusade: We open with Indy as a child (played by the iconic River Phoenix – sigh), chasing some grave robbers across the desert and stealing back an elaborate gold cross. ‘This should be in a museum!’ he keeps crying out, as he risks life and limb to preserve the precious piece of history… funny how we are filled with the best of intentions when we’re children isn’t it? Anyway, we encounter Indy as he gets the scar on his chin and meet his father (from the neck down), all the while gathering some back ground on how and why Indiana Jones of the first two films came to be the kind of man that he is – which is to say, a bit of a cad, a bit of an arrogant dick and a bit of a grave-robbing doucher. So far so good…. but then we revert back to the college campus where present day Indy is still a bad lecturer and Marcus Brody is still popping by the classroom just before the end of session and the little girl in the front row still has ‘Love You’ written on her eye-lids in texta pen …and it all seems a bit like de-ja-vu doesn’t it?

Flash forward and we find out the Indy’s father is missing, that he was off on the trail of the cup of Christ (which Indy is sceptical about, despite having already found the Arc of the Covenant, but okay) and that Indy is probably the only man alive who can riddle out the secret code of his father’s research and find both the cup and the old man.

For his part, Indy seems to swing back and forth between wanting to go and not wanting to go, but then a smokin’ hot blonde historian and the NAZI party get involved and he comes good. Safe to say that adventure ensures and the audience is traversing many of the same locales that we got to visit in the first films.

honestly

Connery is always a solid choice for action films and father figures. I like him in most of the films I see him in (except for Entrapment… WTF was that even about?!) and I liked him in this. He does bring a good dose of comic relief to the role and, even when you’re thinking he is a complete twat, you’re often laughing along with him. I liked the scene where he is riding side-car to Indy and they have the argument about the legitimacy of the grail; but the later scene where he suddenly feels very sad that his only son has been killed in a car accident feels a bit forced. I don’t know if I can believe in parents suddenly caring deeply about their children after having spent a lifetime letting them do their own thing and having no apparent interest in them or their life choices.

sidecar
this touching side-car moment…

The NAZI’s are back as the true villains of the piece, only this time they are using the saucy blonde minx to throw both Jones Snr and Jones Jnr off their trail. They fall for it too – the pair of them – tsk, tsk boys, you should know better! Of course, the fact that the Nazi’s are back means that other characters get to put in a repeat performance, not the least of which is Sallah – and he is as fat and happy as he was in the original. Bless.

We also get a bit more guts out of Dr. Marcus Brody -who seems to be the only person in the film that considers Jones Snr the kind of friend worth having. I like Brody though, he’s cute in that bumbling and ridiculously ill-equipped way. I feel like he might have had some impact on John Hannah’s performance in The Mummy (I have a ‘thing’ with that movie though, so let’s put it aside for a later date).

It really is a bit of a boys club. Apart from blondie, even the disposable villains are blokes and they’re in no short supply, so I am not going to go into all of them here. Much like the first film, this is one of those adventure movies that works best when you just surrender to the ride. It’s not as annoying as it’s predecessor, because there are no screaming women… perhaps a reappearance from Short-Round would have been a boon though.

Retrospectively, I think I actually think the first film is better than this one, so from here on in, I might reserve my find memories of it. Best not to get ahead of myself though, we still have the 4th and (so far) final instalment to look at next week.

Side bar: Obviously I am late posting this and once again, I can only say I am sorry. This time I was trying to sort my life, which meant a trip to the Gold Coast, an interstate flight, a battle with numerous realtors and then a car trip back – all with only my mobile phone as a source of inter-webs access; and if Halloween taught us anything, it is that mobile phones cannot be trusted when writing important posts on film blogs…

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One comment

  1. Experience Film · September 6, 2016

    A lot of my childhood memories are tied to this one too! I’ve always seen it as a classic. Glad it’s getting some love here.

    Like

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