Spielberg’s favourite installment in the Indiana Jones series, The Last Crusade, was released in 1989. This chapter sees Indy searching for his father, who has gone missing whilst nearing the conclusion to his life-long search for the Holy Grail. But Henry Jones Sr, played by none other than Sean Connery, isn’t the only party on the look-out for the Grail; given the promise that the Grail grants eternal life, Nazis are also on the hunt!
1) The name ‘Indiana’ comes from Lucas’ dog
At the end of the Last Crusade, much to Sallah’s delight, it’s revealed that the main character’s name is actually Henry Jones Jr, and that Indiana was the name of the Jones family’s dog. Indy loved the dog so much, he took its name. However, what you may not know is that this scene is actually very true to life. Lucas named the character after his own Alaskan Malamute, Indiana. As it turns out, this dog has been rather influential in the world of pop culture, as it was also the inspiration for Star Wars favourite Chewbacca!
2) The opening scene explains the character’s fears, clothes and scars
One of the most thrilling opening sequences in cinematic history, The Last Crusade opens with a young Indy, played by River Phoenix, being chased by a gang of grave robbers. But you might not have realised how cleverly the sequence sets up the character’s fears, dress sense and even his physical appearance.
Firstly, he falls into a pit of snakes, which explains why he’s so terrified of serpents. Secondly, he’s introduced to the bullwhip, which he uses to fend off the lion. Thirdly, whilst cracking the whip, he cuts his chin, in the exact same place that Harrison Ford has a scar – so the scar is still present when Indy is older. Fourthly, of course, he receives his famous fedora. ‘You lost today, kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it!’
3) Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford
Although the duo play father and son in the film, there actually isn’t a huge age difference between the two actors. Connery was born in 1930, and Ford was born just 12 years later in 1942. Connery’s grey beard and balding head offset again Ford’s clean-shaven jaw and full head of hair helped to carry the illusion that there was more age between the pair.
4) Real Nazi uniforms were worn
When Indy has to go into Berlin, the ‘lion’s den,’ to retrieve his father’s Grail diary, we’re shown a book burning party, packed out with nazis. If you’ve ever noticed how authentic the uniforms look, well, there’s a reason for that. Anthony Powell, who was a costume designer on the film, managed to get his hands on a trove of genuine Nazi uniforms, which had been found in Germany.
5) River Phoenix was suggested by Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford’s favourite movie from his enormous repertoire of roles is actually 1986’s Mosquito Coast, in which he starred alongside River Phoenix. So when the role came up for an actor to play a younger, mischievous version of Indy for the opening sequence of The Last Crusade, Ford put in a good word for River Phoenix with the bigwigs, saying that Phoenix looked a lot like him at that age, and the young actor landed the role.
6) Trouserless in the Zeppelin
The Zeppelin set was very hot. So hot, in fact, that when you see Indy and Henry Jones Senior talking at the table, they aren’t wearing any trousers, and are both sitting in their underwear! They didn’t want to sweat during the scene, so this was an attempt to keep cool.
7) Royal horses
The final scene in the film sees Indy, Henry Jones Sr, Sallah and Marcus riding away into the canyon, after bickering about Indiana’s real name. But what you might not know is that those horses are royal-owned. The last section of the movie was filmed in Jordan, and King Hussein personally loaned four of his horses to the production.
8) The Nazis all had to cross their fingers
During the book burning scene in Berlin, the Nazis give a salute. Steven Spielberg had them hide the other arm behind their back and cross their fingers, to show that they didn’t mean the salute, and that it was just fictitious.
9) Lucas wanted to set the film in a haunted mansion
Quite a few ideas floated around for the plot of this third installment in the Indiana Jones series, with Spielberg and Lucas bouncing them off each other. One idea that Lucus pitched involved the film being set entirely inside the confines of a haunted mansion. Spielberg shot down the idea because he had just spent a long time working on Poltergeist, and it had been quite a turbulent production.
10) The Imperial March is heard in the background
Eagle-eared viewers might have noticed a nod to Star Wars during the scene where Donovan’s wife enters the room to tell Donovan that he’s neglecting their guests. Out where the party is happening, over the chattering of the guests, you can hear a piano playing. And what tune is being recited? None other than The Imperial March!
There you have it – 10 things you probably didn’t know about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade trailer
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