Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Let Sean Connery Do His Improvisations

The Indiana Jones film series is a trio of action-adventure classics that have stood the test of time. (The less said about the disappointing fourth installment, the better off we’ll all be.) The third film in the franchise, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” stands out as the funniest and lightest of the trilogy, with the series seemingly embracing the her character as a little campy and run with it.

The show’s humorous twist can be partially credited to the addition of legendary James Bond star Sean Connery as Indiana Jones’ father, Henry Jones Sr., who joins his son on his latest adventure. The on-screen chemistry between Connery and Harrison Ford gives the film more of a friendly adventure vibe than previous iterations, giving the film a tone that stands out from the rest of the series. This, along with more humorous characters from Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody and John Rhys-Davies as Sala, make this the most entertaining entry in the series.

Landing Sean Connery in the latter years of his career has been a difficult task at times, with the famous man turning down a role as The Architect in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ because he just “didn’t get it”. So everyone was excited to have Connery in “Last Crusade” as the famous adventurer’s father.

A blast to work with

Even with all his experience directing thrilling blockbusters with extraordinary casts, director Steven Spielberg revealed in a 2012 piece by Empire that his time with Sean Connery on “The Last Crusade” was some of the most fun he’s ever had on set. “Sean was in a great mood most of the movie because he could be funny,” said the legendary director. “He was able to use his comedic skills, and Harrison was in a fantastic mood, because he was able to be the foil for the father. He was the most fun we had among the actors in all those movies.”

It would make sense that Connery would enjoy a lighter film. As the star of so many ‘James Bond’ films during their heyday, Connery clearly had a knack for navigating adventure with interspersed jokes.

His co-star Harrison Ford, who was not interested in creating unusual action films, also enjoyed Connery’s presence on set:

“It was really great to work with an actor who doesn’t give an as**t. I don’t mean for the art, but for his ego. We just clicked.”

Gold off the cuff

Connery was even credited with coming up with one of the film’s funniest lines completely on the fly. When the father-son duo discovers that seemingly friendly art teacher Elsa Schneider is actually a Nazi, Jones Sr. boasts that he knew about her true faith all along. When asked how he knew, Connery quipped, off-script, “She talks in her sleep.”

“It was spot on,” said Julian Glover, who played nefarious businessman Walter Donovan. “Harrison said, ‘How did you know he’s a Nazi?’ And he said that, and they had to stop filming. Everyone just fell to the floor and Steven said, “Well, that’s in.”

Connery’s presence not only affects the film, but also the lives of those he worked with. After his death in 2020, Harrison Ford released a heartfelt statement looking back on his time with Connery. “You don’t know pleasure until someone pays you to take Sean Connery for a ride in the buggy of a Russian motorcycle that bounces along a bumpy, twisting mountain path and watches him squirm,” Ford said. “God, we had fun. If they’re in heaven, I hope they have golf courses.”

In the “Indiana Jones” franchise, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is the classic of the series, while “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” is the moody, if racist, middle child of the bunch. But if you want to watch Dr. Jones at his most fun and relaxed, it’s hard to go wrong with “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.”

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