Has it really been 25 years since we first met Indiana Jones's father?
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," the third film in the globe-trotting series, opened on May 24, 1989, returning our favorite dashing archaeologist to fighting Nazis and searching for Biblical treasures. It was the second-highest grossing film of 1989 with $197 million in the U.S. alone, surpassing 1984's "Temple," which earned just under $180 million.
While we are all as much scholars of these films as Dr. Jones is of collectible relics, we've unearthed some details you might not have known about the making of the film, including its many James Bond connections and why Steven Spielberg was so reluctant to make a movie about the Holy Grail.
1. Although George Lucas and Spielberg had always intended to make the series a trilogy, Spielberg also wanted "to apologize for the second one" by returning to the spirit of the original, hence the welcome reappearance of John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott.
2. Spielberg opted to make "Last Crusade" instead of two other films he was offered, "Big" and "Rain Man."
3. Lucas's first idea was to make a "haunted mansion movie," but Spielberg didn't want to make anything too similar to "Poltergeist."
4. Christopher Columbus drafted a script for "Indiana Jones and The Monkey King," which had Indy fighting a ghost in Scotland before finding the Fountain of Youth in Africa. It surfaced online in 1997 and was mistaken as the long-in-the-works fourth film because it was inaccurately dated 1995. You can read the whole thing here.
5. Part of Columbus's script had Indy ending up in the Garden of Immortal Peaches, where anyone who is not pure of heart will die if they eat one of the peaches.
6. It was Lucas's idea to make the film about the search for the Holy Grail, but Spielberg was worried no one would take it seriously. "Of course, I was worried that people would hear ''Holy Grail," and they would immediately think about a white rabbit attacking Monty Python. My first reaction was to say, ''Everybody run away! Run away!,'" he told EW in 2008.
7. Sean Connery was always Spielberg's first choice to play Indy's father, Henry Jones. "Who else but Bond could have been worthy enough to play Indiana Jones's dad?" Spielberg told Empire. His backups were Gregory Peck and Jon Pertwee ("Dr. Who").
8. According to Julian Glover (Walter Donovan), Connery ad libbed the line "She talks in her sleep," in response to Ford's line, "How did you know she's a Nazi?" Glover told Empire, "They had to stop filming. Everybody just fell on the floor and Steven said, 'Well, that's in.'"
9. Besides Connery, "Last Crusade" has a number of James Bond connections:
- John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody, Julian Glover, Stefan Kalipha, Pat Roach, and Eugene Lipinski have all appeared in Bond films.
- Stuntman Vic Armstrong (who doubled Ford) also doubled three Bonds in "Live and Let Die," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," and "Never Say Never Again."
- The gun used to shoot Henry is a Walther PPK, the same model Connery used as Bond.
- The London docks used to film the Venice boat chase were later used (also with Armstrong on board) in "The World Is Not Enough."
10. Ford suggested that River Phoenix play young Indy; they had previously worked together on "The Mosquito Coast," where Phoenix played his son.
11. Laurence Olivier was briefly considered for the role of the Grail Knight, but he was too ill. (He died on July 11, 1989.) The role went to Robert Eddison, who was 81 at the time and died two years later.
12. Famed playwright Tom Stoppard ("Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," "Shakespeare in Love") rewrote all the dialogue between father and son under the name Barry Watson. He was paid $120,000 and received another $1 million after the film opened. Spielberg told Empire, "Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue [between Henry and Indiana]."
13. The temple housing the Grail was in Petra, Jordan. (The location was perviously used in "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger"). The cast and crew became guests of King Hussein and Queen Noor and the Queen and her children also visited the set.
14. The little girl who approaches Hitler at the rally is the daughter of stuntman Vic Armstrong and his wife, Wendy Leech, who doubled Alison Doody.
15. The uniforms worn by the Nazis in the Berlin book burning scene are authentic World War II uniforms: They were found in a cache in Eastern Europe.
16. Amanda Redman ("Sexy Beast') turned down the role of Elsa because of her fear of rats.
17. Two thousand rats were bred just for the Venice crypt scene because ordinary rats would carry disease. The Fireman's Fund underwrote the very first insurance policy with a 1,000-rat deductible, leaving 1,000 as back-ups. An additional 1,000 mechanical rats were used during the fire scenes.
18. A crew hand broke his arm and Ford's double, Vic Armstrong, seriously injured his knee when the tank flipped over and caught on fire. Armstrong, who was also the stunt coordinator, insisted on staying on for the remaining weeks of production, despite being in tremendous pain.
19. In 2011, Armstrong told Moviefone that the scariest stunt he ever did was leaping onto the tank from a horse. (At 1:26 in the trailer)
20. Many of the animals in the circus train crash scene in the prologue were animatronic, including the rhinoceros that goes after young Indy and the giraffes. Because filming with the steam engine was so noisy, the crew would have the giraffes nod or shake their heads in response to the first A.D.'s radio commands.
21. The seagulls would not fly up on cue during the scene where Henry scares them into flying into the path of the German plane, so "stunt birds," that is, doves, were used instead.
22. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford went pantsless while shooting the Zeppelin sequence because it was so hot.
23. The movie magic behind Henry's bubbling gunshot wound? Simply baking soda and vinegar.
24. According to Henry Jones's official backstory, he would have been 75 at the time of "Last Crusade." Connery was only 58 at the time and only 12 years older than Ford.
25. In the beginning of the film, when Indy is teaching his class, he says, "If it's truth you're interested in, Dr. Tyree's philosophy class is right down the hall." Ford is referring to his own professor, Dr. William E. Tyree, who taught at Ripon College in Wisconsin. (Did you know Ford majored in philosophy before dropping out of college?)