Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Going out of sequence for my next Hugo-winning film write-up; this was on TV the other day and I caught most of it, and then went back to watch the beginning on Netflix. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo in 1990; the other finalists were, in order, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Batman, and Field of Dreams, which I have seen, and The Abyss, which I haven't. I am pretty clear for myself that Batman is the best of these, but IMDB users are closer to Hugo voters than to me, rating …Last Crusade top on one ranking and third on the other (after National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Steel Magnolias). That year's Oscar winner was Driving Miss Daisy.

On returning stars: I've already written lots about Harrison Ford, who has been in five previous Hugo-winning films. Sean Connery, oddly enough, was in no previous Hugo or Oscar winners. Denholm Elliott and John Rhys Davies are back from Raiders in the same roles. There are loads of crossovers with Doctor Who, but I'll take the four who get major billing here, one of whom was also in a Star Wars film and a previous Oscar winner; I refer of course to Julian Glover, here the evil German Donovan, previously General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back and Northerton in 1963 Oscar-winner Tom Jones. In Doctor Who he was Count Scarlione/Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth in the great Fourth Doctor story City of Death, and also King Richard the Lion-Heart in the 1964 First Doctor story that we now call The Crusade.

I don't think I've reported this on LJ previously, but I actually met Julian Glover in February at the Brussels Comic Con (which as it turned out was the last big fannish event I was able to go to before the world came to an end) and sopke briefly with him.

The other three Doctor Who crossovers start with Julian Glover's wife, Isla Blair, credited here as a Bechdel-failing "Mrs Glover" in her role as spouse of her husband's character. She had been on Doctor Who as the lead female guest star in The King's Demons (Fifth Doctor, 1983), playing Isabella Fitzwilliam.

Better known for many other things, Alexei Sayle plays the Sultan here and four years earlier was the DJ in the funeral home that was a front for the Revelation of the Daleks.

My final Doctor Who crossover is a lot more obscure. Kevork Malikyan plays Karim here, and way back in 1968 played space tech Kemel Rudkin in the Second Doctor story, The Wheel in Space. He gets killed by the Cybermen.

Having said that, further down in the credits there are some more Who crossovers – Vernon Dobtcheff, Frederick Jaeger, and Adolf Hitler in his brief non-speaking appearance is played by Michael Sheard, who got more significant roles in more Doctor Who stories than anyone who was not in the regular cast (and indeed more than some of those). Apparently it was the fourth time Sheard had played Hitler. But it's Boxing Day and I'm pretty wiped out, so you can tracke them down yourself.

Well, I won't go on too much about the film. Total erasure of non-white people, and utter Bechdel fail, though 21-year-old Irish actor Alison Doody is pretty good as thirtysomething Austrian archaeologist Elsa Schneider, with her sudden yet inevitable betrayal.

The film is owned by Ford and Connery, though, and they are a great double act – it was a great idea to give Indiana Jones, so much an alpha male character, a father figure with whom he had unresolved conflicts.

The action and music are great fun, and there is some tremendous tension releasing as comedy – the Adolf Hitler scene being one of them. But the plot makes very little sense, and one of the major implausibilities (Jones senior sending Jones junior his diary) is simply lampshaded into the script. I watched it and enjoyed it, but I did not feel that this was cinema for the ages.

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