"The man with the hat is back. And this time he's bringing his dad."―Tagline[src]
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third film in the Indiana Jones series. Released in 1989, it was directed by Steven Spielberg. Although it was the third motion picture released, the movie is chapter twenty-five in The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones.
Set two years after the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the story follows archaeologist Indiana Jones as he discovers his estranged father has gone missing while seeking out clues leading to the Holy Grail. Guided in his search by his father's diary, Jones learns that the Nazis are also interested in the Biblical cup, and must overcome them to be reunited with his parent.
The movie was re-released on VHS in 1999, and twice on DVD in 2003 and 2008 respectively. The 2003 DVD was part of The Adventures of Indiana Jones box set containing the first three Indiana Jones films, while the 2008 release was promoted as a Special Edition of the film, as part of Indiana Jones – The Adventure Collection (the original trilogy), then individually and as part of the four-film Indiana Jones - The Complete Adventure Collection. The film received a high-definition home video release in 2012 as part of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures.
Prologue: Utah, 1912
The film starts in 1912 with Indy (River Phoenix) as a Boy Scout in a failed attempt to retrieve the Cross of Coronado from treasure hunters. After stealing the Cross from Fedora and escaping across the countryside on horseback and circus train, Indy returns home, only to have the local sheriff reclaim the Cross for Fedora and his client, Panama Hat. The small adventure inspires his whip, fear of snakes, fedora (and style of dress), and even the scar on his chin.
Portuguese Coast, 1938
The story then advances to 1938, two years after the events in Raiders of the Lost Ark, with Indy (Harrison Ford) now a grown man. He successfully retrieves the Cross from Panama Hat (leaving Panama Hat to die on the boat explosion in the process) and after returning to Barnett College, donates it to Marcus Brody's (Denholm Elliott) museum.
Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) informs Indy that his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery), has vanished while searching for the Holy Grail, which Donovan believes has the power to grant eternal life. Indy is shown half of an ancient tablet, a marker leading to the Grail, and told that the other one is buried with the knight's dead brother. Indy and Marcus travel to Venice to meet Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) to follow the footsteps of his father. Below the library where his father was last seen, Indy discovers the tomb of a knight of the "First Crusade" which holds the second marker with information needed to begin the quest for the Grail. Indy encounters the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a secret and fanatical religious cult determined to protect the Grail at all costs. Their leader, Kazim (Kevork Malikyan), tells him that his father is being held in Brunwald Castle near the Austrian-German border.
At Castle Brunwald on the German-Austrian border, Jones discovers that the castle is actually a Nazi command center. Jones rescues his father from captivity but both are captured by Vogel, a Nazi colonel, when betrayed by Schneider. They are taken to Donovan, who is also working for the Nazis. His father had been kidnapped in Venice when he realized Schneider's true allegiances. Schneider ties up the Joneses and mockingly kisses Indiana, while Vogel punches him in the head as a farewell. Left alone in the castle, Indy and his father start a fire and escape on motorcycle, crossing into Germany.
The two head for Berlin in order to retrieve his father's Grail diary, taken there by Schneider to show their mission's progress to the Fuhrer. In Berlin, Jones recovers the diary by grabbing and cornering Elsa and then forcing her to give the diary back to him. As the two try to exit the city, a disguised Jones narrowly escapes at one point as he comes face to face with Hitler. Meanwhile, the Nazis capture Brody in Iskenderun and obtain the map that Brody had taken from the Grail diary. Indiana Jones and his father board a zeppelin for Athens, to get out of Germany, but Colonel Vogel has tracked them down and searches the zeppelin for them.
Disguised as a ticket taker, Jones punches out the colonel and tosses him off the airship. During their flight, Henry reveals that the diary has information about three booby traps in the temple that the Grail is kept in, and he and Indy slowly begin to reconcile their differences. However, the zeppelin turns back toward Germany, and the pair escape in a biplane moored to the airship. A pair of Nazi fighters chase their slower biplane. Henry tries to shoot them down, but shoots up their own plane instead, forcing them to crash-land. Stealing a car, the Joneses managed to destroy the pursuing planes, and travel to re-unite with Sallah.
Arriving in Iskenderun, Hatay, the Nazi party attempt to negotiate a treaty with the Sultan by offering him a treasure chest in exchange for safe unopposed passage through his territory. The Sultan declines the treasure chest incentive in favor of one of the Nazi party's escort vehicles, a Rolls-Royce Phantom II (which ironically and comically has less commercial value than the treasure chest), of which he is technically familiar with and very fond of. The Nazi party agrees to the trade and they are granted passage as well as additional camels, horses, armed escorts, provisions, desert terrain vehicles, and tanks. Then using the captured map, the Nazi team, led by Donovan, Schneider, and Vogel, with a captive Brody, begin the Grail quest in Hatay. As they head out in search of the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, they are ambushed by Kazim and the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword. Using the battle as a distraction, Indiana Jones and Sallah try to steal some horses from the Nazi caravan, while Henry attempts to rescue Brody, who has been imprisoned in a tank. Henry ends up getting captured by the Nazis, who successfully defeat the Brotherhood's men, with a dying Kazim delivering a fateful warning to Donovan and Schneider.
Indiana attempts to rescue his father and Brody from the tank, managing to leap from his horse onto the side of the tank. Brody and the elder Jones cause disruptions inside the tank, and eventually Indy ends up in a duel with Vogel on top of the tank. Henry Jones and Brody manage to get off the tank, which then falls off of a cliff with Jones and Vogel aboard. With his father, Brody, and Sallah peering over the cliff, believing that Indiana had perished alongside Vogel, Indiana climbs onto the cliff edge, having jumped from the tank before it fell.
The four reach the Canyon of the Crescent Moon where the secret temple that houses the Grail is located. Inside the temple, they spy on Donovan's party attempting to enter the Grail chamber, but being stopped by its defensive traps. The four are captured and Donovan shoots Henry, forcing Indiana to face a set of challenges and retrieve the Grail to save his father's life with its healing powers.
Indy, guided by his recollection of his father's diary, surpasses the three challenges, and enters a room with Holy Grail hidden amongst many false grails and an ancient knight guarding the Grail. With the traps disabled, Donovan and Schneider follow Jones into the Grail chamber. Donovan allows Schneider to choose out the Grail for him, and she selects a golden, bejeweled grail which Donovan drinks from. The grail turned out to be a false one and Donovan ages rapidly, and dies trying to grab Schneider.
With death on the line, Indiana Jones picks the true Grail, a plain carpenter's cup, and takes a sip. The knight affirms Jones' selection but warns him not to let the Grail go "past the Great Seal" in the temple entrance, as it is the boundary of immortality. Jones takes the Grail with the holy water and heals his mortally-wounded father. This action frightens the Hatay soldiers and Sallah is able to disarm them and the remaining Nazis. Schneider picks up the unattended Grail and tries to leave with it, crossing the Great Seal. The temple begins to quake, and the ground opens up. The Grail falls into a crevasse and Schneider dives after it. Jones grabs her and tries to pull her up, but as she tries to reach for the grail, she falls into the abyss.
After another large tremor, Jones falls into the crack, within reach of the Grail, unaware he is about to fall in, but his father, now holding onto him, simply says "Indiana, Indiana...let it go". Realizing that his father does care more about him than the Grail, Jones turns and lets his father pull him to safety and the four archaeologists escape from the crumbling temple, leaving behind the Grail knight. The adventure ends with Henry revealing that "Indiana" was the family dog's name; Indy, his father, Sallah, and Marcus ride out of the canyon and off into the sunset.
- Indiana Jones .... Harrison Ford
- Professor Henry Jones .... Sean Connery
- Marcus Brody .... Denholm Elliott
- Elsa .... Alison Doody
- Sallah .... John Rhys-Davies
- Walter Donovan .... Julian Glover
- Young Indy .... River Phoenix
- Vogel .... Michael Byrne
- Kazim .... Kevork Malikyan
- Grail Knight .... Robert Eddison
- Fedora .... Richard Young
- Sultan .... Alexei Sayle
- Young Henry .... Alex Hyde-White
- Panama Hat .... Paul Maxwell
- Mrs. Donovan .... Mrs. Glover
- Butler .... Vernon Dobtcheff
- Herman .... J. J. Hardy
- Roscoe .... Bradley Gregg
- Half Breed .... Jeff O'Haco
- Rough Rider .... Vince Deadrick
- Sheriff .... Marc Miles
- Deputy Sheriff .... Ted Grossman
- Young Panama Hat .... Tim Hiser
- Scout Master .... Larry Sanders
- Scout #1 .... Will Miles
- Scout #2 .... David Murray
- World War One Ace .... Frederick Jaeger
- Professor Stanton .... Jerry Harte
- Dr. Mulbray .... Billy J. Mitchell
- Man at Hitler Rally .... Martin Gordon
- German Officer at Hitler Rally .... Paul Humpoletz
- Hatay Soldier in Temple .... Tom Branch
- Zeppelin Crewman .... Graeme Crowther
- Principal SS Officer at Castle .... Luke Hanson
- Officer at Castle .... Chris Jenkinson
- Female Officer at Castle .... Nicola Scott
- Young Officer at Castle .... Louis Sheldon
- Hatay Tank Gunner .... Stefan Kalipha
- Hatay Tank Driver .... Peter Pacey
- Gestapo .... Pat Roach
- Film Director .... Suzanne Roquette
- G-Man .... Eugene Lipinski
- Man on Zeppelin .... George Malpas
- Irene .... Julie Eccles
- Flower Girl .... Nina Almond
- Brunwald (Mentioned only)
- Charlemagne (Mentioned only)
- Citroën owner
- Heinrich Himmler
- Adolf Hitler
- German pilot 1
- German pilot 2
- German Soldier with Motorcycle
- Anna Mary Jones (Mentioned only)
- Omar (Indirect mention)
- Periscope Soldier
- Second Man
- Second tank crewman
- Sinister Man
- Tyree (Mentioned only)
- Cross of Coronado
- False Grail
- Friar's manuscript
- Grail tablet
- Grail Knight's book
- Holy Grail
- Richard's shield
- Ark of the Covenant (Pictured only)
- Azores (On map)
- São Miguel (On map)
- Naukratis (Mentioned only)
- Newfoundland (On map)
- St. John's (On map)
- Portugal (On map)
- Lisbon (On map)
- Spain (On map)
- S.P. Morocco (On map)
- Sudan (Mentioned only)
- United States of America
- Yugoslavia (On map)
Vehicles and vessels
- Circus train
- Vasquez de Coronado
- Rolls-Royce Phantom II
- Mark VII Tank
- John W Mackay
- Citroën 11 Légère Cabriolet
- D-138 zeppelin
- German biplane
- Pilatus P-2 fighter
- Volkswagen Kübelwagen
- 1926 Renault 6CV Torpédo
- Dodo (Mentioned only)
- Fish (Mentioned only)
- Berlin bookburning rally
- Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword
- Egyptian Mail
- Just a Gigolo
- Knights of the First Crusade
- You're a Sweet Little Headache
Behind the scenes
This installment in the Indiana Jones series has more humor than the previous two films. The humor is mainly shown through the relationship between Indiana and his father. Also Marcus Brody is a less serious character than his previous appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark, being described as a museum curator who "once got lost in his own museum". The light-heartedness of the movie especially contrasts to its predecessor Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which is usually cited as the "darkest" in the trilogy. Despite being regarded as some to be derivative of the original film, it is often regarded as the second best of the trilogy.
The Last Crusade is estimated to have grossed over US$197 million in the United States and $277 million elsewhere. These sales figures put the film second to Batman in the United States and first globally for 1989.
Indiana Jones artist Drew Struzan created the film's distinctive artwork. Also like the previous films in the series, the soundtrack was composed by John Williams.
The opening sequence, with River Phoenix as the young Indiana Jones, was shot at the end of production. The rock formations during the opening credits belong to Arches National Park, outside of Moab, Utah. The circus train was shot on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which runs between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. As with the previous two films, studio filming took place at Borehamwood Studios in Hertfordshire, England. Indiana Jones, Elsa and Brody arrive in Venice along the Rio San Barnaba and cross over the Ponte dei Pugni (bridge of fists), where Indiana offers Elsa a flower. The Church of San Barnaba in Campo San Barnaba served as the exterior for the fictional Venetian church-turned-library. The jetty where Indiana Jones and Elsa let Kazim go is in Venice at the Palazzi Barbaro.
- River Phoenix, who plays the younger version of Harrison Ford's character, played Ford's character's son in The Mosquito Coast. Ford personally recommended Phoenix for the part, citing that of all the young actors working at the time, River Phoenix was the one who looked the most like himself when he was around that age. Ford had also offered advice to Phoenix on how to stay grounded in the high pressure world of Hollywood, and was reportedly grief-stricken when he heard of Phoenix's death four years later in 1993.
- When Indiana and Elsa are in the catacombs under the Venetian church-turned-library, Elsa points out a mural. Indiana says it is the Ark of the Covenant, to which Elsa asks "are you sure?" Indiana replies "pretty sure." Indiana would know this because the focus of Raiders of the Lost Ark was his search for the Ark. There is also a musical cue from Raiders playing during this exchange.
- In the Boy Scout Scene, Indiana Jones is a Life Scout. There are several claims as to why this is:
- 1) He was supposed to be an Eagle Scout, but the badges are not given out to anyone other than Eagle Scouts, so he had to be just one under. (Critics of this theory note that a costume department with a big budget could have just had one made.)
- 2) Indiana Jones was a Life Scout in honor of Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg's father who had died recently and who earned the rank of Life Scout in his youth.
- 3) Indy, born in 1899, would have been 13 at the time, and Eagle was much more rigorous and much less seldom earned until older, until well into the 1940s.
- 4) When Harrison Ford was younger, he was a Boy Scout and had earned the rank of Life Scout
- The stunt where Indy jumps from a horse down on to a tank — performed by legendary stunt man and coordinator, Vic Armstrong — was voted one of the 10 best stunts of all time by Sky Movies viewers in the UK in 2002.
- The interior of the Zeppelin sequence was filmed in the blistering heat of Spain. Neither Ford nor Connery wore pants during the conversation at the table to get longer takes before having to wipe the sweat from their faces. (Connery's character is wearing a tweed suit and Ford's character had a leather jacket in that scene.)
- During the fight on the tank, soldiers inside the tank watch as Indiana is in a fistfight. One of the soldiers asserts "The Americans - they fight like girls" in German and then gets knocked out by the periscope.
- Connery's hair and beard, and Ford's sideburns lengthen during two scenes: after the motorcycle chase and after the tank goes off the cliff. These two additional scenes were filmed after principal photography had ended.
- Last Crusade was the first Indiana Jones movie to receive an MPAA rating higher than PG, the recently created PG-13. This was the certificate Spielberg himself was partly responsible for (see Ratings in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
- Tom Stoppard performed uncredited rewrites on the dialogue for this film as a favor to George Lucas.
- Sean Connery, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Michael Byrne, and Julian Glover all appear in the James Bond series. Steven Spielberg once said he would have liked to do a James Bond film.
- The march played by the Nazis in Berlin is called "Königgrätzer Marsch", a military march written by Johann Gottfried Piefke to commemorate Germany's victory over Austria in the battle of Königgrätz in 1866. It was a personal favorite of Adolf Hitler's and was played at many of his public appearances.
- Donovan's wife is played by Julian Glover's actual wife.
- Julian Glover told Empire magazine that Connery ad-libbed the line "She talks in her sleep". "They had to stop filming," he recalled. "Everybody just fell on the floor and Steven said, 'Well, that's in.'"
- In the movie the grail is located in the Republic of Hatay near the city of Alexandretta. There actually was a Republic of Hatay from 1938 to 1939, after the region was granted independence from French Syria and before it became a province of Turkey. The capital of Hatay was Alexandretta before 1939 when the city's name was changed to Iskenderun and the capital moved to Antioch.
- Harrison Ford, Michael Sheard, and Julian Glover all appeared in George Lucas' Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This film also features an uncredited cameo by Nick Gillard as the Periscope Soldier. Gillard later choreographed the lightsaber duels in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and appeared in Revenge of the Sith.
- During the scenes in the Republic of Hatay, most Nazis wear AfrikaKorps uniforms, and the emblem of the AfrikaKorps appears on a Nazi truck in Iskenderun. The DAK was never part of the Schutzstaffel and they would never participate any expedition to find religious artifacts. Also the DAK did not exist until 1941.
- The gray uniform worn by Colonel Vogel while he is in Hatay reflects nothing like the real Wehrmacht colonel nor the Standartenführer. However, his rank patches were real Standartenführer's insignia of 1938.
- When Donovan presents the payment to the ruler of Hatay, his phrasing (especially the pause before "donated") suggests that the money is, in fact, gold stolen by the Nazis from the Jews. Though the concentration camps were not yet started by the time Last Crusade takes place, the Nuremberg Lawes were in effect and they would have seized much Jewish gold. (It is also possible his hesitation stems from him noticing that the Sultan isn't actually paying attention to him but instead wandering over to the Rolls-Royce.)
- When Indy "escapes" from his students at Barnett College, he is surrounded by (for those who saw Raiders,) a group that would appear to be Nazi agents, one of which wears his coat in a similar fashion to Arnold Toht. Those who guessed it was Toht would be inaccurate, as he died in 1936. We shortly find out after that it was a gag and the group was just an escort.
- The car that is given to the Sultan of Hatay is not, in fact, a Rolls-Royce Phantom II, but instead a Rolls-Royce 20/25. It seems odd that the Nazis would have a British staff car (the novelization calls it a Daimler-Benz, at any rate).
Home video releases
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released on laserdisc and VHS in 1990 and on DVD in October 2003 and again in 2008. The 1990 home video release actually came in seven formats: VHS, Beta, 8 mm and Spanish-subtitled VHS, Laserdiscs in both pan-scan and letterbox formats; and letterboxed Super-VHS. The VHS release in 1999 (as part of The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones) and the DVD release was packaged with the previous two theatrical films in the series: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Raiders of the Lost Ark. A second release of the DVD in 2008 allowed the film to be purchased individually, as well as in a four-movie box set.
There was no toy line originally released for Last Crusade when it hit theaters in 1989. However, leading in to the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, toys based on Last Crusade were released by Hasbro and LEGO in 2008 and 2009.
In 1989, Lucasfilm Games released two video games for home computers based on the film:
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game
There are also two completely different games for the NES called "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", with no subtitle to differentiate the two versions. The newer game of that title is a port of the action game, while the older game was a different action game. A port of the action game was later released for the Sega Genesis.