Behind The Scenes Of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
June 1, 2022
“Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” drew the curtain on the ‘80s while reviving the beloved franchise. Even Director Steven Spielberg agreed with throngs of fans disappointed by the sequel, “I wasn't happy with the second film at all. It was too dark, too subterranean, and much too horrific. I thought it out-poltered Poltergeist. There's not an ounce of my own personal feeling in Temple of Doom."
Thankfully, the iconic director and creator George Lucas went the extra mile to deliver another classic Indiana Jones film. With four different writers and the crucial additions from the one and only Sean Connery, we could have ended up with a far different movie.
A Bevy Of Screenwriters
Normally, when a movie goes through multiple screenwriters, it spells disaster for the project. For “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade”, Chris Columbus, Menno Meyjes, and Jeffrey Boam all tried their hands at it. Not to mention, playwright Tom Stoppard also beefed up the father-son dynamic of the Jones boys, partly at the behest of Connery.
So many cooks in the kitchen along with Spielberg and Lucas throwing in their own ideas led to a Monkey King, Peaches of Immortality, 200-year-old cannibalistic pygmy tribes, and a penultimate chess game against said Monkey King. Amidst all those less than stellar ideas, there were kernels of the Holy Grail, a father-son relationship, and of course, Nazis.
Constructive criticism often yields great rewards, especially when it’s coming from the quintessential James Bond. As star Harrison Ford explained, Connery held some reservations:
“Well, Sean, at first, he resisted the idea of playing my father - he’s only 12 years older than I - and also felt that the character was too thinly drawn and he’s a student of history, Sean is. So, I think he brought a lot of ideas to George and Steven that were incorporated into his character. He is less Yoda-like than originally thought of and quite the match for his son in many ways, including the fact that the central heroine has had a physical relationship with him before she ever meets me.”
The best parts of “The Last Crusade” feature the undeniable chemistry of Connery and Ford, who played the slightly absentee father-son dynamic to perfection. Apparently, the fact that neither of them was wearing pants in a few of the scenes only added to the comradery.
Behind The Scenes Stories
No, Connery and Ford weren’t playing a prank by eschewing their trousers but rather just trying to beat the heat. During the scenes filmed on the blimp as the pair try to escape from the Nazis, the summer heat turned the set into a veritable oven. According to Connery, Ford followed his counterpart’s lead:
“We played one of the scenes in the zeppelin. The passengers were wearing fur coats and hats. It was supposed to be in the wintertime and I played it without my trousers. Harrison said, ‘You’re not gonna play the scene [with] your trousers?’ I said, ‘Well, if I don’t, I’ll be stopping all the time because I sweat enormously. I sweat very easily.’ Well, he did the same. [laughs]”
While the stars shed layers in the name of art, the producers went the extra mile on the film’s animal budget. For the rodent-infested catacomb scene, the production bred over 2,000 gray rats in order to ensure that all the furry vermin were disease-free. They also took out the only known 1,000 rat insurance policy, which paid out if more than 1,000 of them died. No word on how the American Humane felt about handing out their "No Animals Were Harmed" moniker for this film.
As if the rats weren’t enough, the production also required hundreds of trained pigeons for the scene where Jones Sr. takes down the Nazi plane by ushering a large group of “seagulls” into the propellers. For a movie that grossed over $197 million against a budget of $48 million, we’d say that was a good investment.