Keeping Up With The Joneses, Part 3: The Last Crusade

Athena ScalziMany of you told me that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a better movie than its predecessors (especially Temple of Doom), and you were right! I liked this third installment much more than I did the first two. That doesn’t mean I loved it or anything, just that it’s a lot better than the other two.

For the first forty-five minutes, I was so uninterested and bored that I considered stopping and just giving up on watching any more Indiana Jones. But then it got going, and once it really got going, it was pretty enjoyable! It was just kind of a lot of set-up to get through.

One thing I’ve been surprised about through this series is how many people Indiana kills. Like, he is legit a murderer. In this movie, it felt like there was like a lot of death at the hands of Indy, but then I remembered that they were Nazis so it’s okay! He’s just doing his patriotic duty. I’m actually really glad that Nazis were the bad guy of this movie. It fits with the time period, and I’ll never not enjoy seeing Nazis get punched in the face.

Was I surprised that Elsa turned out to be in cahoots with the Nazis? Nope! I’m usually really bad at guessing plot twists and villain reveals, but I thought it was pretty obvious that she was the one that trashed their rooms looking for the diary, so I knew from the get-go she was bad news bears.

And you already know I’m gonna talk about the love interest aspect of this movie. It is hilarious that they had Elsa sleep with both Indy and his father. It makes their dynamic so hilariously awkward. Also can we talk about how Indy stole a flower for Elsa? He’s a thief! A murderer and a thief! Sheesh this guy is really the whole package.

Of course Indy pulled his usual aggressive “you love it” tactic (honestly it’s less of an Indy thing and more of a “any character Harrison Ford plays” cough cough Blade Runner). In Temple of Doom, Willie and him both said they weren’t that easy, and in this one, Indy tells Elsa he doesn’t like fast women. It’s actually kind of a funny schtick.

I am glad that they ended up killing Elsa off, though, because she was working with the Nazis and there’s really no way to come back from that, so she kind of had to die.

One thing I enjoyed about this particular quest of Indy’s was the riddles that went along with the booby traps. I like that there had to be some thinking involved in order to reach the grail. Plus, I love that the holy grail was not a super decked out golden bejeweled cup.

I liked the exploration of the relationship between Indy and his father, and Indy expressing his feelings honestly about him not making him feel loved and important as a kid. I thought it was really nice to see some other aspects of Indy’s character and see some of the trauma he carries with him. It makes him feel like a more fleshed out character. He’s not just a rugged playboy adventurer, he’s got daddy issues!

One thing I’ve come to expect from these movies is goofiness. There’s a lot of stuff that’s just kind of silly. For example, when Indy opens his eyes underwater in the oil-filled water that is literally on fire. How did he open his eyes without damaging them?! I know, it’s really nitpicky to complain about that, but like… his eyes would be so fucked!

Also, I was thinking about how interesting it would be to have Indy come face to face with Hitler at some point, and then it happened! I was actually kind of shocked they had Hitler make an appearance. I kind of hoped Indy would punch him or something, but obviously that would be a quick way to get killed, so I can’t blame him for having a deer-in-the-headlights moment as he signed the diary.

Yeah, I don’t know, it was a perfectly fine adventure movie with substantial goofiness and a bizarre romance and a whole lot of explosions and guns. What more could you ask for?

My number one spot for “searching for the holy grail” movies belongs to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but The Last Crusade can have spot number two.


24 Comments on “Keeping Up With The Joneses, Part 3: The Last Crusade”

  1. I didn’t even notice about the oil/fire thing the first time I watched this. Agree with you about Monty Python though.

  2. And just like that I have the Knights of the Round Table song stuck in my head for the foreseeable future. You know, their jokes are for-mid-able.

  3. Glad you liked this one more, and I 100% agree with you about punching or shooting Nazis.

    About the burning oil thing: oil floats, so if Indy was far enough under the surface, he wouldn’t be in it (I’ve read about sailors in WWII escaping burning oil slicks by swimming beneath them). However, they were in ganky old sewer water, so at the very least he’d have had conjunctivitis from hell and likely would’ve ended up blind anyway. The reason Katharine Hepburn had such rheumy eyes was that she had to “fall” into a Venice canal for a movie called Summertime. They dumped in a bunch of disinfectant, but she still ended up with an intransigent infection in one eye that plagued her the rest of her life.

  4. I still rank Lost Ark over Last Crusade. It was a better put-together movie, the characters felt richer, and the ending was absolutely fantastic.

    Last Crusade was funnier, but it felt a bit too formulaic.

    Temple Of Doom was crap, and fairly racist too.

  5. So minor item (Spoiler alert??) for Blade Runner: He’s a Replicant himself, so that scene where “you like it” comes into play, if viewed from the point of view of “first time showing feelings”, could be seen more like the fumblings of a first time lover, or someone that doesn’t really know the “right way” to treat a partner.

    Not saying that that makes that scene any better, just another way to view that part of that movie.

  6. thomas strittmatter:

    Deckard’s replicant status is highly disputed; some of the filmmakers say yes, others say no, and others (notably the screenwriters) say it’s not meant to be answered onscreen.

    That said, this should not be a thread on Blade Runner but on The Last Crusade, and Indy films generally.

  7. I was not surprised by Elsa being a Nazi either. She’s blonde, blue eyed, German, and living in the thirties. I hate to profile, but it would have been a bigger twist if she wasn’t. I figured we were supposed to know it.

  8. Purely by coincidence, another Indiana Jones link crossed my RSS feed this morning, and I think you’d really find this one interesting. It examines a personal project director Steven Soderbergh did – stripping color and sound from the original and presenting it as a black-and-white silent film, as an exercise in blocking and staging.

    The video is fascinating (link here: and well worth the 10 minutes.

  9. Fair warning, just in case it hasn’t already been drummed into your head: the Crystal Skull is very. Very. Very. bad. You will not like it.

  10. Thanks for your reviews, Athena. It’s refreshing to have a current view of Indy’s adventures.

    To take part of this ride with you, I decided to rewatch Crystal Skulls again (the next one) to remember why it was so ridiculously forgettable to me the first time. When I knew this was up next, my thoughts were just, “Oh dear…”

    Oddly, I liked it better with this viewing. The acting is terrible, of course, and the ending is baffling, but it does have some positive aspects.

    It leans heavily into Ford’s aging, taking place at least 15 years after the others, rewrites much of his legacy so far, and goes full on science fiction instead of vaguely paranormal.

    You might like it after all. Enjoy!

  11. For all its faults, this movie did have two of the most memorable lines of any movie I’ve seen in the past 30 years or so:

    “He chose . . . poorly.”

    and “We named the dog Indiana.”

  12. Personal ranking:

    Last Crusade
    874 (out of 4) Crystal Skull
    875 Temple of Doom

    It’s the racism and misogyny that puts Temple below Crystal Skull.

  13. Glad you hated this one less! It’s a plus when we consume pop culture for the sake of knowing what we’re bitching about and then don’t feel like we’ve completely wasted however many hours of our life.

    Going out on a spindly limb to say I hated ‘Crystal Skull’ a lot less than most people do. Not that it’s a terrific movie, because it isn’t, but it’s very much a 1930s swashbuckler + 1940s war thriller + 1950s SF mashup, which I think is as intended. It’s ‘The Librarians’ plus ‘Warehouse 13’ times ‘The X Files’ divided by ‘MASH’ … with an aging, disillusioned, lonely man at the center.

  14. @Logophage – OMG I had actually successfully managed to forget that The Crystal Skull existed until you mentioned it. Oh dear.

  15. Being the odd man out is familiar territory for me, but I actually liked them all and am looking forward to the next one. I will admit that #2 was my least favorite, but I remain puzzled that #4 gets so much negative feeling. I really enjoyed it , possibly since it was set within my lifetime, so some of the references were familiar. Finally, and please don’t take this personally, but it seems unfair to judge older works with contemporary values. They were a product of their time and should be judged by those standards, or simply ignored if they don’t resonate with one’s personal values.

  16. I think part of the reason Crystal Skull gets so much flack is a result of it being a sequel made 19 years later.
    In those cases people, having seen the original when they were younger, have a combination of nostalgia and inflated expectations going in, and don’t remember how “bad” the original was.
    When the Star wars prequels came out, and I went to see the first with friends at the theater, I said going in that a lot of people weren’t going to be satisfied unless George Lucas walked out of the screen and told them they were going to be a jedi. With all the complaints at the time, people forgot even the titles of the originals were things like “A New Hope” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”
    The sequels weren’t out of line with them at all.

  17. Dear Bxc53,

    “…it seems unfair to judge older works with contemporary values.”

    Unfair to who???

    Works don’t have feelings. The people who created them did so Way Back When. They’ve long moved on to other projects; they may even have changed with the times themselves, and agree with the more contemporary criticism.

    So long as a work exists in a contemporary context, it is 100% appropriate to evaluate it by contemporary standards. One might even argue that it’s necessary, if you’re reviewing for a contemporary audience.

    An exception would be if you have reason to be viewing a work in a specifically historical context. A film major or a historian of cinematography wants and needs to understand what the film means (or was meant to mean) within the milieu. The rest of us? Not so much!

    But fairness?! Not even on the table!

    pax / Ctein

  18. Here’s a fun factoid: Hitler was played by Michael Sheard, famous in the UK when I was a child for playing the tyrannical headmaster in a popular British children’s programme called Grange Hill.

    He lived in the same village as me me, and frequently opened the village summer fete. He would play up the terrifying aspect when opening the festivities but then break into a big grin and be a very charming, nice man and sign autographs etc.

    He was also in a Star Wars.

  19. For those who forgot how bad Crystal Skull was, two words:

    Shia LaBeouf

    Case closed. Next!

  20. I am likewise glad that you didn’t hate this one. The messed-up relationship Indy and his father have resonates with my own messed-up feelings about my own relationship (which is to say no contact) with my father (who himself is a total disaster of a person).

    More than anything else in the film I think that’s the thing that gets me.

    Crusade is where I got off the Indy bus, so I’ll be taking your word for it on these next two.

  21. Those movies were all about the nostalgia. Making more is nostalgia for nostalgia. yawn.

    Try ‘High Road To China’ instead.

  22. One small note which I didn’t think about posting earlier:
    The tagline found on the posters for this series is,
    “If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.”
    Stick in a “then” after the comma, and this works perfectly as lyrics to the start of the movie theme music. Try it.

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