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INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)
This exciting adventure yarn begins with the disapppearance of Indiana Jones' father, Professor Henry Jones. In Venice, Italy, Professor Henry Jones was searching for information on the location of his life long obsession, finding the Holy Grail, known as "The Cup Of Christ." A private collector, Walter Donavan had financed the Professor's trip, and when Jones had disappared, Walter Donovan contacted Indiana Jones for help. Indiana Jones, armed with his father's diaries, travels to Venice with museum curator, Marcus Brody in tow, and the thrills, danger, action and moments of discovery begin for all involved; heroes and villians.
Executive Producer: George "Star Wars" Lucas.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
This third film in the Indiana Jones adventure trilogy, starts in the past, taking a look at Indiana Jones as a teenager, and gives us a peek into the differences and barriers that have long existed between Prof. Henry Indiana Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) and his father, Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery). While young Indiana (the late River Phoenix), is exploring Utah rock formations and caves with the boy scouts around 1910, he and his portly friend stumble on some rogue archeologist and his motley crew digging up the famous "Cross of Coronado," for a private collector. Young Indiana stealthily takes the cross, after hissing to his friend, "The Cross should be in a museum!"
An exciting chase ensues, via through a circus train, with the startled diggers hot on his tail, ending in his father's private office. As Professor Henry Jones was deeply engrossed in his life -long research on "The Holy Grail," he makes his excited son count in Greek, but never does get to hear about the cross crisis, being too absorbed in scribbling his findings into his little research book. The sheriff arrives, who then makes the younger Jones give the valuable cross back. But, for his trouble, Indiana receives a bullwhip, and a hat from the archeologist, Fedora (Richard Young) who was chasing him. "You lost today, kid, but you don't have to like it."
We then jump ahead to the pre-World War 2 era, and find Indiana once again in an exciting tussle over this same cross, which he finally gets in the end of this fight, even if he winds up in the drink, still wearing his hat of course. When he returns to the university to teach his classes, and to give Dr. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), the Cross of Coronado, for the museum, he is approached by a collector, Julian Glover (Walter Donovan), asking him to continue in the search for not only The Holy Grail, but his missing father, Dr. Jones Sr. who had gone to Italy, financed by Glover, to pursue The Holy Grail. After Indiana discovers that his father had secretly sent him his little study research book, Indiana, and Dr. Brody, head off for Venice, Italy, which was the last known place that Dr. Jones Sr. had been working. They meet up with Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), a German archeologist also working for Glover, and had been the last one to see Dr. Jones Sr.
From this point, we are off to a high flying adventure, nicely blended with action, lots of humor, witty banter, investigative work, and poignant moments. Between action sequences and humorous quips between the Joneses, father and son slowly begin to understand each other, and heal the rift between them, as they learn from each other's quite different ways of looking at life. It takes both Dr. Joneses to find The Holy Grail, which further helps their relationship.
The direction, by Steven Spielberg, is up to his usual high standards, and he and Lucas once again offer a very entertaining action adventure / comedic movie that is extremely well done, and makes a glorious final third adventure movie for the trilogy series, that details the adventures of Indiana Jones.
Harrison Ford and Sean Connery have excellent screen chemistry together, and have perfect comic timing and delivery of the comical, witty quips shot back and forth, provided in the screenplay by the talented writer, the late Jeffrey Boam, who knows how to make a great action flick fun and entertaining. They seem to have a lot of fun together as well.
Joining the hero team are the rather comically clumsy, yet well-meaning Dr. Marcus Brody (the late Denholm Elliott), & resourceful Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), who are fun characters from the first Indiana movie.
Denholm Elliott, a well-loved character actor, is at his best, and adds a lot to the comic relief of the film.
John Rhys-Davies once again recreates his popular role of Sallah, and is convincing once again as a resourceful helper backing his friend, Indiana.
As our heroes soon find out, both Dr. Elsa Schneider and Julian Glover suffer from rather large character weaknesses, like greed, self-centeredness and the willingness to resort to traitorous, down right mean behavior and will even associate with evil people to get what they want; The Holy Grail. Also known as The Cup of Christ, it was said to have magical powers that can give one eternal life, and perform healing miracles. Dr. Jones Senior was on a life-long quest for The Holy Grail for its spiritual significance, while these two seeked its promise of eternal life, like the fountain of youth, and its power as well.
Alison Doody and Walter Donovan portray their dubious characters convincingly, giving the audience no clue to their true selves, as they masquerade as trustworthy, up front people.
The Nazis are truly dastardly, with no redeeming values at all. Michael Byrne did a great job playing the fanatically nasty, merciless Colonel Vogel, the head Nazi who relentlessly chases both the Senior and Junior Dr. Jones all the way through the film. Being a big bully with a truck load of bad attitudes, he's determined to do anything to learn the secrets of Jones's notebook, and to get the coveted prize for Hitler.
It is hard to choose favorite scenes, but one of my favorite parts is when Indiana and Dr. Elsa Schneider figure out how to reach the catacombs under the Venice Cathedral library, by following the clues found in Dr. Jones Sr.'s Holy Grail notebook, and go exploring amongst the bones, rats, and oily water to find a vital clue to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. Things get hot and ratty when the secret society members who protect The Holy Grail set the oily water on fire. This episode naturally evolves into an exciting motorboat chase that ends with Indiana receiving information as to who had kidnapped his father, and where he was being held captive.
Equally exciting is how Indiana and Dr. Jones Senior escape the clutches of the Nazis, when Indiana is betrayed and held captive along with his father. Lots of humorous, witty lines between the two are sandwiched in this high action sequence.
The last 30 minutes of the movie, however, are really a grand example of the perfect action adventure movie, with a spiritual twist for good measure. What a terrific ending!
Rated PG-13, mainly because of the action scenes, which would not be appropriate for children under 13, due to their intensity, suspenseful element and are a bit violent for children.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg. Screenplay: by Jeffrey Boam, based on the story and characters by George Lucas, and Phillip Kaufman. Music: by John Williams. Executive Producer: George Lucas. Editor: Michael Kahn and George Lucas; (not given screen credit).