Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1.0 stars

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie poster

The third Indiana Jones adventure, and more or less what you'd expect. Perhaps a little less, in that this is the most blithely comical of them, with the hero's father filling the bill of comic-relief character actor. Of course we hardly needed any added relief in what is already an unrelenting spoof. And to see Sean Connery, no less, reduced to playing C. Aubrey Smith is not a happy sight. From one angle, it's hard to resent Steven Spielberg's regression to an earlier stage now that we've seen him take a couple of plunges (or belly-flops) into the deeper waters of The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun; now that he's shown us that all that technique in the service of higher causes is still just a lot of technique. At the same time, though, it's hard to respect him for regressing beyond Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and all the way back to Raiders of the Lost Ark; for knuckling under, it would seem, to the tongue-cluckings of a mixed chorus of critics and Concerned Parents. (Not just in the matter of violence, but in the matter of imputed racism too: what better, for that purpose, than to take your villains from among those obliging Master Racists: "Nazis," mutters our right-thinking hero. "I hate these guys!") An artist can never do his best work, can never properly do his work at all, if he's following the dictates of kibitzers. With Harrison Ford and Denholm Elliott. 1989.

Duncan Shepherd

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