Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The third instalment in Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s adventure series influenced by Saturday morning serials is also the most light-hearted.

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Introduction

“Though it seems to have the manner of some magically reconstituted B-movie of an earlier era, The Last Crusade is an endearing original.”

Vincent Canby, The New York Times, 1989

The archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones, wryly played by Harrison Ford, acquired in his third movie a more comic side than fans of his previous outings – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) – were accustomed to. This was prompted by the introduction of the hero’s disapproving, tweed-wearing father Henry (Sean Connery), whom he rescues from the clutches of Nazis hunting for the Holy Grail.

The brightness of The Last Crusade, and its return to the globe-trotting, caper-like feel of the first picture, was a reaction by Spielberg to complaints about the gruesome, gruelling Temple of Doom. Highlights here include a rip-roaring prologue with the late River Phoenix as a young Indy, acquiring his trademark phobias and accoutrements in a single adolescent adventure.

Subsequent action-adventure films featuring fictional Nazi villains include The Rocketeer (1991), Hellboy (2004) and Inglourious Basterds (2009).

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