Sunday, March 08, 2009

MOVIES: #24 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Betcha you were expecting to see Indiana Jones sometime later this month. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not the biggest Indiana Jones fan out there. AND, adding fuel to your surprise, my favourite of the lot was 1989's third installment of the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Fundamentally, Indiana Jones was the earth-based answer to Star Wars in the race to revive the Saturday afternoon serial. The problem with the Indiana Jones series is the fact that all the movies are really set pieces with a little inter-connecting plot to drive things along. Not bad movies per se, but really just stunt after stunt. We all remember the rolling ball, the close-up with the snake and Jones bringing the gun to the whip fight in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Last Ark. We all remember the careening trolley ride through the mine in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Most of us can't remember individual stunts all that well from The Last Crusade, yet we remember laughing harder and longer in that one.

Which is why I find third time's the charm. Besides, how can't you love a movie where Sean Connery plays Harrison Ford's pops?

The object of obsession in the third outing was the Holy Grail. And given the Arthurian attachment to the Grail, it was natural to get a British actor involved. Three in fact. We have Connery. And then Denholm Elliott as Dr. Brady, returning after a one-film hiatus. As does John Rhys-Davies playing the empire's non-native son, Salah. Indiana is at his best when he has somebody to rail against. The ubiquitous Nazis provide some of that source of griping inspiration. But it's good to have good guys that rub him wrong to rail against too.

The villains are Nazis, some more obviously than others. Plus we get an interesting performance out of Allison Doody as a character right out of the The Spirit comic book script. She's good at being bad. Or is she good with a bad streak. Or just misunderstood. As the token female in the movie, Doody does her role proud.

Like I say, I'm not an Indiana Jones devotee. None are bad time-wasters. Any could have made the Top 25. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade did.

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