Harrison Ford nominated River Phoenix to play him as a teenager. When describing how he prepared for playing the role, Phoenix explained that he didn't really base his portrayal on the Indiana Jones character, but on Harrison Ford. So he observed Ford out of character before acting his part.
For the DVD release, over 970,000 frames were cleaned up by Lowry Digital Images, the same company that cleaned up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), North by Northwest (1959) and Sunset Boulevard (1950) for DVD.
Steven Spielberg is on record as saying he made the film for two reasons: 1) to fulfill a three-picture obligation he had with George Lucas, and, 2) to atone for the criticism that he received for the previous installment, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Sean Connery was always Steven Spielberg's first choice to play Indiana Jones's father, as an inside joke to say that James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones. If that had failed, Gregory Peck and Jon Pertwee were back-up choices for the role. Spielberg had always wanted to do a Bond film but did Indiana Jones as a James Bond type character. In keeping with the James Bond theme, the movie has many Bond movie costars: John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody, Michael Byrne, Billy J. Mitchell), Vernon Dobtcheff), Julian Glover, Stefan Kalipha, Pat Roach, and Eugene Lipinski.
Steven Spielberg's favorite of the first three "Indiana Jones" films.
Both tanks (the hero tank for full shots and process tank for closeups of action) now reside at the Disney/MGM Studios in Disney World in Florida, although the process tank is no longer on display.
The music playing in the scene where Indy meets Adolf Hitler is adapted from the "Königgrätzer Marsch" by Johann Gottfried Piefke (1815-1884), combined with another song, "Hohen Friedsberg."
When it came to filming the rat scene, the producers inquired of their insurer, Fireman's Fund, whether they were insured if the animals were for some reason indisposed, due to illness, an accident, or simply because they refused to perform. This was a delicate issue, as one lost day of filming can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet the experts at Fireman's Fund were able to reach a compromise which pleased both sides. They asked the director what would be the least number of rats needed for a dramatic shot. If different camera angles were used, 1,000 rats would probably be sufficient, came the answer. Thus Fireman's Fund underwrote the world's first insurance policy with a 1,000-rat deductible. 1000 mechanical rats were also used in the scene. To help achieve the sound of thousands of rats, sound designer Ben Burtt actually used the higher registers of thousands of chickens.
Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Pat Roach (Gestapo) are the only actors to appear in all three films in the trilogy. Roach played Giant Sherpa/First Mechanic in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)' and Chief Guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
First Indiana Jones movie to receive a PG-13 rating by the MPAA. Although Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) was instrumental in the development of the PG-13 rating, the MPAA only gave it a PG-rating.
When George Lucas met with Steven Spielberg to discuss a third Indiana Jones movie, he wanted to have it set in a haunted mansion. Spielberg had just finished Poltergeist (1982) and decided that he wanted to do something different. Lucas then came up with the idea of the Holy Grail and Spielberg added the idea of a father/son sub-story.
Director Trademark: [Steven Spielberg] [music]
Director Trademark: [Steven Spielberg] [father] Henry Jones Sr. was never around after his wife died.
Sean Connery and Harrison Ford wore no trousers during the shooting of the entire Zeppelin sequence (mainly because it was filmed in a very hot studio and Connery didn't want to sweat too much).
When shooting in Venice, they were allowed to have complete control of the Grand Canal from 7am to 1pm for one day.
Most of the uniforms worn by the Nazis in the Berlin book burning scene are authentic WW2 uniforms and not costumes. A cache of old uniforms was found in Germany and obtained by costume designer Anthony Powell to be used in the film.
The production had two tanks for the tank chase scene; one of them was made of aluminum. The whole chase took about 10 days to film, instead of the projected two days.
There were several scenes that were shot but did not make it into the final film. To this day, it remains unreleased in all formats. Among the scenes cut out were: - 1. Indy saw a rubbing charcoal picture of the stained glass with numerals in the plane. Part of it was used in the plane montage scene. It shows his eagerness to rub the knight's shield in Venice. - 2. A longer scene at the entrance hall in Brunwald. After Indy knocks out the butler, both Indy and Elsa hid the body in a decorated sarcophagus nearby. - 3. Two alternate takes of the butler saying "Then I am ..." one take had him saying Jesse Owens while the other saying Mae West before settling for Mickey Mouse. - 4. The infamous scene in the parade of the director (Suzanne Roquette) filming the parade. - 5. After getting the diary back, Indy knocks out an officer with a long coat,thus it explains why he was wearing a long coat in the airport. - 6. A cat and mouse game between the Joneses and Vogel's gang. The Germans were guarding the plane ticket counters and Indy goes unnoticed of getting the zeppelin ticket in another counter. - 7. A longer Zeppelin scene where the drunken ace tells stories. It was intercut with the Jones' discussion. - 8. After the Joneses escape by the plane, the drunken flying ace with the Gestapo man tried to pursue them with another standby plane hooked to the zeppelin. But then they plunged to death because the pilot did not start the engine when disengaging. - 9. The Joneses meeting Sallah in Iskanderun's train station. - 10. Another German tank crew blowing the mouth hole of the canyon. - 11. A longer version of Kasim's death. Kasim held Elsa's hand with blood on her shirt as he slid down before he reading his lines. - 12. An alternate version of The Word of God scene. Indy steps on the J word only to have spiders crawling up to his necks. This shot appears in certain video covers. - 13. Indy was taken to Donovan's apartment against his will as Donovan's henchmen aimed guns at him.
The idea of an airplane being carried by an airship was actually taken from the U.S. Navy airships U.S.S. Akron and U.S.S. Macon. Each airship, slightly smaller than the Zeppelin shown in the movie, actually had a trapeze (also known as a "sky hook") under the belly of the airship, and hangar space inside for up to four small planes. The planes were intended to act as scouts that used the airship as a flying aircraft carrier. The builders of the Hindenburg also attempted, with help from the Navy, to install a similar trapeze on the Hindenburg shortly before her disastrous last flight in 1937. The idea was for the small plane to act as a mail courier. However, the pilot was unable to "hook on" to the trapeze consistently, the experiment was abandoned, and the trapeze was removed from the Hindenburg before she departed for her final flight. In The Great Waldo Pepper (1975), the character of Kessler was based on that pilot, WW1 German ace Gen. Ernst Udet.
The temple right at the end of the movie exists, but not in Alexandretta. It is in Petra, in Jordan. However, there is no inside to it - the doorway that can be seen on screen is huge, eight or nine people shoulder to shoulder can easily walk through it. It leads to a huge empty square room carved from the top down over two stories high. Similarly, they would be unable to get "lost" down the valley as the valley stretches for about a mile or so, and there is no other route but out. The filming at Petra was visited by Queen Noor and her children.
Begins with a shot of a rock in Utah which is reminiscent of the Paramount Pictures logo. See also Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Cameo: [Isla Blair] wife of Julian Glover plays wife of his character Donovan. Credits list "Mrs. Glover" as playing "Mrs. Donovan."
John Williams inserts the Ark of the Covenant's theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) when Indy and Elsa come across a representation of the Ark on a wall in the catacombs below Venice.
The character named "Fedora" in the credits (played by Richard Young) was in the script originally named Abner Ravenwood, Marion Ravenwood's father and Indiana's mentor who was mentioned in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Director Steven Spielberg included the opening scenes as a tribute to his own experiences as a Boy Scout.
Harrison Ford cut his chin in a car accident in Northern California when he was about 20. In the movie, this cut is explained by young Indiana Jones cutting his chin with a whip. See also: Working Girl (1988).
Unable to keep his hat on during the scene where he was chasing the tank on horseback despite trying glue, tape, and newspaper wedges, Harrison Ford pretended (in a "Making Of" special) to staple the hat to his head.
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. An early title indicates the movie's action takes place in 1938.
Chris Columbus wrote a rejected draft in which Indy traveled to Africa and dueled a Monkey prince, but the script was also rejected because of too many negative African stereotypes. However, the tank chase sequence in the film was taken from his draft.
Watching Indiana wrestle with a Nazi, the soldier at the periscope tells his teammates, in German, "The Americans! They fight like girls!"
Indy's trademark hat, jacket, and whip currently reside in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. These items remained on display during filming of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), as they used numerous duplicates for their prop costumes.
According to the address on the package he received from Italy, Indy teaches at Barnett College.
When Dr Jones Sr. scares the "seagulls" to fly up and stop the plane, they are in fact pigeons, and not seagulls, as seagulls are not trainable. If you look closely you can also see that there are a number of 'cut out' seagulls in the sand, which do not move as the others do.
The first Indiana Jones movie to receive an MPAA rating higher than PG; the recently created PG-13. This was the certificate that Steven Spielberg himself was partly responsible for (see Trivia for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)).
During the Castle Brunwald rescue, Dr. Jones Sr. expresses dismay at Indy inadvertently bringing the diary into enemy hands saying that he "should have mailed it to The Marx Brothers". Harpo Marx revealed in his autobiography that he once really had to smuggle a journal of important documents out of Russia to keep them from falling into enemy hands.
Henry Jones senior was, according to backstory material written but not presented in the film, born in the 1860s, and was a Scottish university professor before emigrating to Utah, where Indy was born. He was roughly 75 years old in 1938. Sean Connery was only 58 at the time of filming (and only 12 years older than Harrison Ford), hence the beard and general "old man" attire his character wears. Indy impersonating a Scottish lord at Castle Brunwald was a nod to this unspoken backstory.
Tom Stoppard did uncredited rewrites on the script.
Amanda Redman was asked to play the female lead but passed because of her fear of rats.
WILHELM SCREAM: after the first grenade has been thrown in the desert gunfight scene.
Two thousand rats were bred for the production (they had to be bred specially as ordinary rats would have been riddled with disease).
This was the last film for veteran cinematographer Douglas Slocombe.
When Tom Stoppard was brought in for rewriting the dialogue, specifically the lines for Henry and the Henry-Indy exchange. He was paid $120,000. After the film's release and success, he was paid another $1 million as a bonus. In "The Last Crusade: An Oral History," an article published in Empire magazine in 2006, Spielberg said about the Jr. and Sr. conversations, "It was an emotional story but I didn't want to get sentimental. Their disconnection from each other was the basis for a lot of comedy. And it gave Tom Stoppard, who was uncredited, a lot to write. Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue."
During pre-production, the character 'Donovan' was originally called 'Chandler'.
Denholm Elliott had been diagnosed with AIDS shortly before filming began, and was seriously ill on some days.
Cameo: [Alex Hyde-White] Henry Jones, Sr. in 1912. Hyde-White's face is never shown, his lines are dubbed by Sean Connery.
In the beginning of the film when Harrison Ford is teaching his class, he says, "...If it's truth you're interested in, Dr. Tyree's philosophy class is right down the hall." This is a reference to Ford's own professor (Ford was in fact a Philosophy major), Dr. William E. Tyree, at Ripon College, Ripon, WI.
Kevork Malikyan (Kazim) lost the role of Sallah in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) to John Rhys-Davies, but was remembered by Steven Spielberg for this movie.
Although all of the scenes involving the Frederick Jaeger character were cut from the film, he can still be seen in the background of one shot set inside the Berlin airport. Billy J. Mitchell and Jerry Harte, despite being credited in the end titles, were cut out of the final print.
In the scene where Indy has to choose which cup is the grail, he picks the right one by saying "That's the cup of a carpenter". It is said in the Bible that Jesus - like his mortal father Joseph - was a carpenter. Interestingly, as a struggling actor Harrison Ford used a book on carpentry from the library to start doing odd jobs and earn a living. He was working on George Lucas' house and the rest is history.
Harrison Ford and Sean Connery passed up three subsequent opportunities to work together. Connery accepted a role in The Hunt for Red October (1990), while Ford declined the role of Jack Ryan, which went to Alec Baldwin instead. Ford later took over the role in Patriot Games (1992). Ford and Connery both declined the roles of Alan Grant and John Hammond, respectively, in Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993). Connery declined to return to the role of Henry Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Sean Connery becomes the first of three Oscar winners to appear in the Indiana Jones film series. Jim Broadbent and Cate Blanchett would later appear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
St. Barnaba Church in Venice is an ordinary church. The huge indoor library shown, was filmed elsewhere.
Last cinema film of Paul Maxwell.
According to the comic book adaptation of this film, Colonel Vogel's first name was Ernst. Julian Glover was slated to play this role before being reassigned to the character Walter Donovan.
Director Trademark: [Steven Spielberg] [images shown from a side-mirror] The Nazis chasing Indy and Henry Jones.
After fleeing Castle Grunwald and eluding the Nazi soldiers on motorcycles, Indy and his father come to a fork in the road with a sign indicating left (North) to Berlin and right (South) to Venice. A third city is barely visible on that same sign, pointing at the direction the Joneses just came from, and it indicates the road to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics.
For the scene at the Nazi rally in Berlin (where Indy confronts Elsa and steals back the diary), Steven Spielberg had all the extras who did the "Sieg Heil" arm salute also put their other arms behind their backs and cross their fingers.
The Messerschmitt fighter planes that chase after Indy and Henry after they escape on the biplane from the Zeppelin are in fact Swiss-built Pilatus P-2 trainer planes, which were manufactured shortly after the end of World War II.
River Phoenix becomes the first actor to portray Indiana Jones as a teenager. He was later offered the chance to portray young Indy in "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" (1992), but turned it down, since he didn't want to return to television.
Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies make their last appearances in the Indiana Jones franchise as Marcus Brody and Sallah respectively. They were brought back to this film in order to give the film a lighter tone in contrast to the dark tone of the previous film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), and due to their absences in that film. However, both characters are acknowledged in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) (see trivia for that film).
The tank that Indy fights is a British Mark I, manufactured in 1916. Its armament consisted of two five-pound guns originally designed for naval warships.
The difficulties shown by the tank-driver in maneuvering the vehicle were very realistic. The Mark I tank was so unwieldy that its manufacturers rushed to produce an upgrade; the Mark IV was ready in only one year's time.
When Henry climbs into the tank to rescue Marcus, he taps Marcus on the shoulder (scaring him in the process), after which Henry says "Genius of the restoration...", to which Marcus replies with "...aid our own resuscitation!" That particular phrase was originally an old toast that was traditionally given at the University Club in Manhattan.
>>> WARNING: Here Be Spoilers <<<
Trivia items below here contain information that may give away important plot points. You may not want to read any further if you've not already seen this title.
SPOILER: At the climax when the temple first starts to split apart, one of the sounds employed is someone rubbing on a balloon.
SPOILER: Donovan's death sequence by rapid aging was the first all-digital composite. In previous films involving computer generated visual effects (i.e., Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) and Willow (1988)) CG elements were output to film and added to final film print using optical printers. For "Last Crusade" ILM scanned several filmed makeup transformations of "Donovan's demise" and "morphed" the elements together digitally. By doing this, film (was for first time) scanned, digitally manipulated, and output back to film rather than arranging film elements with an optical printer. It took a week to film this death scene.
SPOILER: Indy's true name is finally revealed in this movie: Henry Jones, Jr. In the previous two films (and in this film, up until the final minute), he has only been referred to as "Indiana Jones" and variations thereof. ("Dr. Jones", "Indy", etc.) The name Indiana came from a dog in both the movie and real life: George Lucas' Alaskan malamute dog who lived in the 1970s. A dog of this breed is seen in the film when young Indy (River Phoenix) returns home with the cross in his hand.
SPOILER: The gun used to shoot the Sean Connery character is a Walther PPK, the same model as Connery's James Bond gun.
SPOILER: Elsa is the only love-interest in an Indiana Jones movie who turns out to be a villain, and also the only love-interest who dies by the end of the movie
Don't care what anyone says, this is the best Indiana Jones film of the THREE Indiana Jones films that exist.