Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

My Favorite Scene: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) “Father & Son”

 

Raiders of the Lost Ark is undoubtedly the best Indiana Jones film, but if I’m going to pop one in to just have a great time, I’ll go with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (where the series should have ended).  Where Temple of Doom was a diversion from Indy as a relic-seeking archaeologist, The Last Crusade brought back everything that made Raiders great.  In a fantastic opening sequence, a young River Phoenix plays Indy (spawning a short-lived TV series) in an early adventure that explains virtually every tic and hiccup about the character we’ve come to love over the two previous films..  It’s one of the best openings of any Spielberg movie, and a brilliant idea to reintroduce audiences to Jones after the five-year gap between Temple and Crusade.  

More than an adventure film, though, The Last Crusade is a wonderful father-son story.  He may be most people’s favorite James Bond, but my favorite Sean Connery performance is as Henry Jones Sr.  Indiana’s hyper-focused, hectoring, academic father is such a wonderful character.  Though Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford, they have such a fantastic father-son dynamic that it steals the picture.  More than any one scene are the dozens of touching and hysterical interactions between the two.  If I have anything nice I can say about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and I have to really try), it’s that you do see several ways in which Indy is aging into a slightly less dotty version of Henry.

The first three Indy films, all have fantastic ending scenes in common.  This is one of the biggest differences between classic Spielberg and current Spielberg, who doesn’t seem to know how to end a movie to save his life (Lincoln, anyone?).  THIS scene should have always finished the series.  You cannot improve on the core characters, the revelation of origin of Indiana’s name, and then a beautiful ride off into the sunset set to John Williams’ unforgettable fanfare.  It was a perfect ending (and for most of us HOW we’ll choose to leave the Indy series).

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Poster

28 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) “Father & Son””

      1. He hasn’t forgotten anything. He’s made a special effort. And in a way I get it, Neverland must be a strange and frustrating place for a grown adult to reside in full-time. Maybe he had had enough, and just wanted OUT. In fact, I’m sure that’s it. Schindler and Private Ryan told him he could do adult, but once he stepped out of Neverland completely, there was nothing outside of it, nothing for him to latch onto. Schindler and Private Ryan, even with all their unspeakable horrors, feel like Spielberg films to me. There’s an optimism to them, and a sense of the boundless possibilities of the film medium. Those movies feel like Steve making magic. His films have nothing that tie them together anymore. Nothing is there to replace his wonderful, powerful creative vision, the one that changed the face of cinema. If Indy 4 and RP1 fall way short, its because his heart is not in it anymore, and he is out of practice with those kinds of movies. I would have been ecstatic that he was remaking West Side Story 20 years ago. Now, I just don’t know what will come out of him.

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  1. People don’t realize that the title “Last Crusade” refers to the fact that the film is about a so-called last crusade for the holy grail. The did not preclude further installments. I just had to throw that out there, because I am tired of hearing that complaint. But given what we got with Crystal Skull, they should have called this movie “The Very Last Indiana Jones Movie That Will Ever Be Made, and If We Renege on Our Promise, Boink Us in the Eyes.”

    Yeah, this is the most entertaining one. It’s lighthearted, the dialogue sparkles (can I use that word?), the character interactions are the most fun out of all the movies.

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    1. I think it was dual meaning. Yes, it was about the crusades, but I think it was also clearly meant to signal this was the final adventure and it should’ve been. That ending can’t be topped. That Spielberg used to be so brilliant at ending films and can’t do it for the life of him now is an example of how his skills as a director have degraded. That has nothing to do with his inner child or self-identity; that’s just craft and he muffs every ending.

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      1. I saw RP1 this evening. I had fun. The references made it enjoyable. Where’s Waldo. I kept thinking, “I’ll have to see this again, and in a theater.” A couple hours later though, and I can safely say I will never be watching it again.

        I think it’s kind of a bad movie. Not spectacularly or ostentatiously so. It’s not THAT bad. But yeah.

        I felt no dramatic stakes. I didn’t care whether the OASIS was misused for advertising. I endure pop up ads all the time when I’m trying access the accumulated knowledge of the human race via the internet. Join the crowd, 2045. Also, aren’t all these pop culture references with us precisely because of evil corporations like IOI? Halliday was far worse than Sorrento, for creating the OASOIS in the first place. I did not care if IOI took it over. I get that one guy is good and one is evil, but clearly the OASIS was being monetized already, and in a major way, and if wasn’t, that was not made clear. I’m sure all of this makes sense in the book, but I felt disengaged from the central conflict. We’ll see what happens to the world on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but again, that’s sprung on us at the end, and doesn’t aid in grabbing us during the hunt.

        The stacks were a cool environment (though that first shot of them represented some of the worst CGI I have ever seen) but for the most part the real-world scenes looked dull and were shot without a sense of style, much less Spielberg’s usual stamp. The inside of the OASIS was cool because Chucky, the Iron Giant, Hello Kitty, and Pee-Wee Herman’s bike were all there, but I could not get engaged. Moving your camera in amazing ways is simply not impressive, if everything is a cartoon. I loved the Saturday Night Fever bit, and the Shining part…thank God for the Shining part, it got me through the movie. This actually should have been one of the most incredible movies ever made. But there was none of the charm of ET, Gremlins, or the Goonies. None of the kids in Goonies were deeply drawn, either, but they were not blanks, they were not ciphers, you knew exactly who they were.

        The state of Steve’s career has everything to do with his inner child and self-identity. RP1 is not the work of a director trying to find something he’s lost, or even someone doing a pastiche of his own work. It feels like the work of someone other than Steven Spielberg, trying to do classic Spielberg. It’s like Steve can’t even remember what he used to be like. It’s like he was working from a blu-ray collection of his own movies, which he kept rewatching and trying to imitate. When an artist loses his passion for the kind of art he’s always made, and mostly turns away from that kind of art, he forgets, and it’s hard to turn back the clock to the way things were.

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      2. I’m sorry, that was a little harsh. I usually don’t call movies “bad” outright. But this one was unusually problematic, and when you place it alongside Crystal Skull, which is the same, it becomes clear that Steve should probably step aside. Gracefully. I really wish he would.

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      3. Even The Post felt like it HAD no director. There was nothing of him in it except for a crappy ending. Bridge of Spies is the only film he’s made after Catch Me If You Can that I’m glad he did.

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      4. It’s not awful, but it’s not something I’ll ever watch again either. I had a lot of criticisms in my review, but yours are all pretty valid. Such a fun book, such a bland film for all they threw in it, and I’m sorry, why in the world did we need a random F-bomb for a Chucky joke that maybe 30% of the audience got? Does every PG-13 film HAVE to have an F-bomb now? Is it a requirement? It seems like it is. It’s pedantic and annoying. Thank God for A Quiet Place. Figuratively and literally after the noise of RP1.

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      5. I liked having Chucky in there. Sad that Steve is hurling obligatory F-bombs though. 20, even 10 years ago I would have told you you were crazy for suggesting it.

        For a film so steeped in geekdom, there are too many places where it does not trust its audience enough to just let people get all the references they can get. It’s not enough that Wade dresses like Buckaroo Banzai, and that it’s pointed out, we also have to sit through dialogue explaining how it’s a cult film.

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      6. I have to say the madball made me smile. So did the holy hand grenade. I was also happy that Serenity was in there. This film could have been THE defining film for our times, if Steve and company had had enough courage to show us what the OASIS would actually do to our species, and the world. But he was never going to go to a very dark place, for the simple reason that the OASIS already exists in our time, in many forms, and we are already addicted to it, and it is already a hair’s breadth away from bringing us down. Gloomy.

        So RP1 gave us eye candy, and what little substance there was was easy to digest. As I said the film did not even trust us to pick out all the references ourselves. If the plot had been truly masterful and solid, the kind of tale Steve used to tell, he could have thrown ten times the references at us, with no explanations, allowing every audience member to recognize his own favorite properties, and have a slightly different experience than everyone else.

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      7. Yes, Last Crusade has a double meaning. People only latch onto the one meaning, though. I really wish Pixar was not making a 4th Toy Story.

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      8. Me too. I’m dreading it. Indy 4, Jason Bourne, etc. You can’t go home again. But…..I said that after every previous Toy Story especially the last one, but the last one was such a perfect ending, like Last Crusade’s that it should be left alone. Why can’t they ever do that? yeah, yeah, money

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      1. The motion is carried, yes, good, ON WE GO TO MORE MOVIES (I actually have an insane schedule of the favorite scene column that goes to mid-next year, with room to be a bit bendy, but it’s my favorite thing on the site to write…which is probably why I’ve done over 300 now).

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  2. I am horrified to learn that Steve will be joining the DCEU. The property he’s going to film is made for him, or would have been, earlier in his career, but the thought of there being any connection between Steve and the existing DCEU gives me the heebie-jeebies. First time I’ve ever used that phrase. I swear. But it is appropriate. I am wondering how this will pan out…

    On another note, I find myself smiling whenever I think about RP1. Doesn’t change my opinion of the film one iota, but I guess it’s a fun movie when divorced from expectations. The Iron Giant giving the T2 thumbs up slayed me at the time.

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    1. The DCEU is going forward without its big guns greenlighting Birds of Prey, New Gods and Blackhawk now. If these films ever get made, who knows? It’s not a cohesive thing in the slightest, it has no plan or direction, and with the exception of WW, their biggest gun is Harley Quinn. They’re not even trying with the big name heroes, and WB is too traumatized by JL to keep going down that path but it doesn’t have a new one. I think they’re hoping a minor property is a huge hit like Guardians was for Marvel, but Marvel knew its characters and DC farms them out to people who don’t. Like Spielberg.

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      1. Well, obviously this isn’t about Spielberg, the problem is with the whole industry. The problem is that “this kind of movie” has become the only kind of movie…the young promising filmmakers are instantly enlisted to make big franchise films, and no one is interested in letting the veteran filmmakers make anything other than retreads of their old franchises.

        Except that in this case, THE veteran is getting enlisted to help build someone else’s shiny new machine. Back when he was at the top of his game, he would have made a great Fantastic Four movie. Spider-Man too, though Spider-Man would have almost been too tailor-made for him. I would have killed to have seen it, but not as part of a shared universe. It’s wrong on so many levels.

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