Harrison Ford nominated River Phoenix to play him as a teenager, having worked with him before on his favorite of his many films, The Mosquito Coast (1986). 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.
Most of the uniforms, worn by the Nazis in the Berlin book burning scene, are authentic World War II uniforms, and not replicas. A cache of old uniforms was found in Germany, and obtained by Costume Designer Anthony Powell to be used in the film.
Steven Spielberg is on record as saying he made the film for two reasons: 1) to fulfill a three-picture obligation he had made 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).
Two thousand rats were bred for the production (they had to be bred specially, as ordinary rats would have been riddled with disease).
Harrison Ford cut his chin in a car accident in Northern California when he was about twenty years old. In the movie, this cut is explained by young Indiana Jones cutting his chin with a whip.
For the scene at the Nazi rally in Berlin (where Indiana (Harrison Ford) confronts Elsa (Alison Doody), 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.
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).
The four horses used in the final scenes outside the temple were loaned to the film personally by King Hussein of Jordan.
Sean Connery was always Steven Spielberg's first choice to play Indiana Jones' 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 co-stars: John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody, Julian Glover, Stefan Kalipha, Pat Roach, Eugene Lipinski, Michael Byrne, and Vernon Dobtcheff.
Watching Indiana wrestle with a Nazi, the soldier at the periscope tells his teammates, in German, "Der Amerikaner, er kämpft wie eine Weibe!" ("The Americans! They fight like girls!")
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).
Henry Sr. and Jr. note that in Latin, Jehovah begins with an I, not a J. This is quite correct, especially given that the knight who recovered the Grail acquired it during the First Crusade. The First Crusade ended in 1099. In the time of the Roman Empire, J was merely a variant of an I, hence the resemblance between their lower case forms i and j. The original pronunciation was very much like an I or Y. Its use as a soft g sound dates to no earlier than the fifteenth century.
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.
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 a Philosophy major), Dr. William E. Tyree, at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin.
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". The Bible never says outright that Jesus was a carpenter, but since His Earthly "father" Joseph was, in that culture, Jesus would have been raised learning the trade. Interestingly, as a struggling actor, Harrison Ford, used a book on carpentry from the library, to start doing odd jobs, and earn a living. One of those jobs was working on George Lucas' house.
As with the other Indiana Jones movies, Harrison Ford did many of his own stunts. According to Stuntman Vic Armstrong, on this movie, he had to pull Ford to one side, and ask him to let him do some work on the movie, because he was been paid to double for him, because Ford was doing so much of the action himself. Armstrong later said "If he wasn't such a great actor, he would have made a really great stuntman."
The temple at the end of the movie exists, but not in Alexandretta. It is in Petra, 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 wouldn't be unable to get "lost" down the valley, as it stretches for about a mile or so, and there is no other route, but out. Steven Spielberg, and his crew, were guests at the Royal Palace of King Hussein and Queen Noor during the shoot in Jordan, and Spielberg was even brought to the temple by Queen Noor and her children.
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 and son substory.
When shooting in Venice, they were allowed to have complete control of the Grand Canal from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. for one day.
River Phoenix becomes the first actor to portray Indiana Jones as a teenager. The prologue sequence, featuring young Indy, inspired George Lucas to create the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992). Phoenix was asked to play young Indy in that series, but turned it down, since he didn't want to return to television.
Indiana'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.
During the Castle Brunwald rescue, Dr. Jones, Sr. expresses dismay at Indiana 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 actually had to smuggle a journal of important documents out of Russia, to keep them from falling into enemy hands.
Laurence Olivier, widely considered to be the greatest British actor of the 20th century, was briefly considered to play the Grail Knight, but he was too ill to commit to the role and died shortly after the film's release in 1989.
Chris Columbus wrote a couple of drafts. His first draft, dated May 3, 1985, changed the main plot device to a Garden of Immortal Peaches. It begins in 1937, with Indiana battling the murderous ghost of Baron Seamus Seagrove III in Scotland. Indiana travels to Mozambique to aid Dr. Clare Clarke (a Katharine Hepburn type, according to George Lucas), who has found a two hundred-year-old pygmy. The pygmy is kidnapped by the Nazis during a boat chase, and Indiana, Clare, and Scraggy Brier (an old friend of Indiana) travel up the Zambezi river to rescue him. Indiana is killed in the climactic battle, but is resurrected by the Monkey King. Other characters include a cannibalistic African tribe; Nazi Sergeant Gutterbuhg, who has a mechanical arm; Betsy, a stowaway student who is suicidally in love with Indiana; and a pirate leader named Kezure (described as a Toshirô Mifune type), who dies eating a peach, because he is not pure of heart. His second draft, dated August 6, 1985, removed Betsy and featured Dash, an expatriate bar owner, for whom the Nazis work, and the Monkey King as villains. The Monkey King forces Indiana and Dash to play chess with real people, and disintegrates each person who is captured. Indiana subsequently battles the undead, destroys the Monkey King's rod, and marries Clare. Location scouting commenced in Africa, but Steven Spielberg and Lucas abandoned "Monkey King", because of its negative depiction of African natives, and because the script was too unrealistic. Spielberg acknowledged that it made him "...feel very old, too old to direct it." However, the tank chase sequence in the film was taken from one of his drafts. Members of the Chicago-based podcast Alcohollywood began periodically releasing an early draft of the script as an episodic audio play at the beginning of 2017.
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.
John Williams inserts the Ark of the Covenant's theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) when Indiana and Elsa come across a representation of the Ark on a wall in the catacombs below Venice.
FRANCHISE TRADEMARK: Begins with a match cut 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).
When Indiana's bag is caught on the gun, and is being dragged along the wall, no stuntman was used, Harrison Ford did it himself. The crew just went along with shovels, tipping dirt and clay on him, from above.
When Donovan's wife comes into the study to tell him he's neglecting his guests, the Imperial March (Darth Vader's theme) from Star Wars can be heard playing on the piano in the background.
The production had two tanks for the tank chase scene. One of them was made of aluminum. The whole chase took about ten days to film, instead of the projected two days.
When Professor Jones, Sr. scares the "seagulls" to fly up and stop the plane, they are in fact pigeons, and not seagulls, as seagulls cannot be trained. Looking closely, one can also see that there are numerous "cut-out" seagulls in the sand, which do not move as the others do.
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 in this film, in order to give it a lighter tone, in contrast to the dark tone of the previous film, as well as their absences from that film. However, both characters are acknowledged in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
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 Spielberg what would be the least number of rats needed for a dramatic shot. If different camera angles were used, one thousand rats would probably be sufficient, came the answer. Thus Fireman's Fund underwrote the world's first insurance policy with a one thousand-rat deductible. One thousand mechanical rats were also used in the scene. To help achieve the sound of thousands of rats, Sound Designer Ben Burtt used the higher registers of thousands of chickens.
The difficulties shown by the tank driver in maneuvering the vehicle were very realistic. The Mark I tank, or any World War I tank, was so unwieldy, that its manufacturers rushed to produce an upgrade. The Mark IV was ready in only one year's time.
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.
Baking soda was applied to Sean Connery to create Henry's bullet wound. Vinegar was applied to create the foaming effect, as the water from the Grail washes it away.
After having a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg on Gremlins (1984), Spielberg produced the next two films Chris Columbus scripted, The Goonies (1985), based on an idea Spielberg had, and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), which was Columbus' idea, which altogether was two years working on three films. Spielberg then wanted Columbus to script The Last Crusade, a big step for him as a writer. He accepted, and went to meet Spielberg and George Lucas, two men he was very intimidated by, even though he had worked with Spielberg three times, and they were two of his cinematic heroes. Columbus acted as Spielberg and Lucas' secretary on the film for five days, taking down all of their ideas. Lucas dictated the screenplay to Columbus, making him fearful of changing any of it, and it went against what Columbus had learned at film school. To him, the script seemed lifeless, and without energy, and there was nothing of Columbus in it. Columbus assumed Spielberg hired him for that last reason, and when Columbus turned in the script, he was fired from the picture for all the above flaws in the screenplay. It was a defining moment in Columbus' career, to never again ignore his base instincts on a movie, or to be intimidated by the people, with whom he worked.
Denholm Elliott had been diagnosed with AIDS shortly before filming began, and was seriously ill on various production days.
St. Barnaba Church in Venice is an ordinary church. The huge indoor library shown, was filmed elsewhere.
Ben Burtt wanted an echoing gunshot for Donovan wounding Henry, so he fired a .357 Magnum in Skywalker Ranch's underground car park, just as George Lucas drove in.
Steven Spielberg devised the three trials that guard the Grail. For the first, the blades under which Indiana ducks like a penitent man were a mix of practical and miniature blades created by Gibbs and ILM. For the second trial, in which Indiana spells "Iehova" on stable stepping stones, it was intended to have a tarantula crawl up Indiana after he mistakenly steps on "J". This was filmed and deemed unsatisfactory, so ILM filmed a stuntman hanging through a hole that appears in the floor, thirty feet above a cavern. As this was dark, it did not matter that the matte painting and models were rushed late in production. The tarantula version is used in a comic book adaptation of the movie. The third trial, the leap of faith that Indiana makes over an apparently impassable ravine, after discovering a bridge, hidden by forced perspective, was created with a model bridge and painted backgrounds. This was cheaper than building a full-size set. A puppet of Harrison Ford was used to create a shadow on the nine-foot-tall by thirteen-foot-wide model, because Ford had filmed the scene against bluescreen, which did not incorporate the shaft of light from the entrance.
The temple in Petra, Jordan (which doubled for the Grail Temple in Alexandretta) was only visited by several thousand people each year, but became a very popular tourist destination after the film.
When it was still only three Indiana Jones movies, there was a fan theory that Indiana's adventures, are merely a series of dreams that Han Solo is having while still frozen in carbonite. Several examples can be produced to lend some credence to this. In Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), a carving of C-3PO and R2-D2 can be seen behind Indiana in the well of souls, and when Indiana faces the swordsman in the town, he "shoots first". In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), the name of the club in Shanghai is "Club Obi-Wan". In this movie, the characters of Donovan and Hitler are portrayed by two actors who have also played Imperial Officers in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Also, there are several sounds throughout the movies, that sound like the Millennium Falcons engines, and even sounds that were also sounds from the carbonite freezing chamber. All this could be occurring in Solo's mind, as a way of his subconscious trying to wake him up, or making sure he remembers people and things from his life.
Indiana's leap from horse to tank was performed by legendary British Stuntman Vic Armstrong.
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.
Both tanks (the hero tank for full shots, and the process tank for close-ups of action) now reside at the Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly the Disney/MGM Studios) in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, although the process tank is no longer on display.
According to the address on the package he received from Italy, Indiana teaches at Barnett College. The name of the school, was adopted and more prominently used in later media (for example, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992))
Anthony Powell found it a challenge to create Sean Connery's costume, because the script required the character to wear the same clothes throughout the movie. Powell thought about his own grandfather, and incorporated tweed suits and fishing hats. Powell felt it necessary for Henry to wear glasses, but did not want to hide Connery's eyes, so chose rimless ones. He could not find any suitable, so he had them specially made.
It is quite fitting that the city built on the ruins of Alexandretta should be called Iskenderun. Like many other cities he conquered, Alexandretta was named for Alexander the Great. Translated into Arabic, Alexander would be Al-Iskenderun. By itself, "al" translated as "the," hence it would be omitted from the name of a city.
Due to his commitment to the film, Steven Spielberg had to drop out of directing Big (1988) and Rain Man (1988).
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, World War I German ace General Ernst Udet.
Because steam locomotives are very loud, Michael Lantieri's crew would respond to First Assistant Director David Tomblin's radioed directions by making the giraffes nod or shake their heads to his questions, which amused the crew.
Amanda Redman was asked to play the female lead of Elsa, but turned it down because of her real-life fear of rats.
George Lucas first introduced the Holy Grail in an idea for the film's prologue, which was to be set in Scotland. He intended the Grail to have a pagan basis, with the rest of the film revolving around a separate Christian artifact in Africa. Steven Spielberg did not care for the Grail idea, which he found too esoteric, even after Lucas suggested giving it healing powers, and the ability to grant immortality.
Steven Spielberg included the opening scenes as a tribute to his own experiences as a Boy Scout.
Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Pat Roach (Gestapo) are the only actors to appear in the first three films. Roach played Giant Sherpa and First Mechanic in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Chief Guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). A scene was filmed where Indiana Jones knocks him unconscious aboard the zeppelin, extending a running joke in the series of Ford's character knocking down Roach's characters in every movie. However, the scene was not used in the final cut, so the only presence of Roach remaining in the movie is the shot of him running behind Vogel toward the zeppelin. This is also the last film in the franchise with Roach, who died in 2004.
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.
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 Jurassic Park (1993). Connery declined to return to the role of Henry Jones, Sr. in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Several thousand snakes of five breeds, including a boa constrictor, were used for the train scene, in addition to rubber ones onto which River Phoenix could fall. The snakes would slither from their crates, requiring the crew to dig through sawdust after filming, to find and return them.
After Indiana and Elsa kiss and hit the bed, he looks up and says, "Ahh, Venice", which is a nod to Author Thomas Mann, who wrote the line in his 1912 book, "Death in Venice".
A sign leading up to the tribune at the rally says "Staff Officers only" ("Nur für Stab(s)offiziere", which, in German, means the rank of Major, or higher), which is probably why Indiana chose the rather conspicuous uniform of a Colonel.
For the close-up of the rhinoceros that strikes at (and misses) Indiana, a foam and fiberglass animatronic was made in London. When Steven Spielberg decided he wanted it to move, the prop was sent to John Carl Buechler in Los Angeles, who resculpted it over three days to blink, snarl, snort, and wiggle its ears. The giraffes were also created in London.
On the insert of this movie's soundtrack album, Steven Spielberg wrote that this film was the tenth project, on which he and Composer John Williams had worked together.
When Henry expresses surprise that Indy can fly a plane, Indiana responds with "Fly, yes. Land, no". This may be a nod to Indiana's improvisational piloting in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
WILHELM SCREAM: After the first grenade has been thrown in the desert gunfight scene.
Ben Burtt recorded chickens for the sounds of the rats, and digitally manipulated the noise made by a Styrofoam cup, for the castle fire. He rode in a biplane, to record the sounds for the dogfight sequence, and visited the demolition of a wind turbine, for the plane crashes.
The temple set, which took six weeks to build, was supported on eighty feet of hydraulics and ten gimbals for use during the earthquake scene. Resetting between takes took twenty minutes, while the hydraulics were put to their starting positions, and the cracks filled with plaster. The shot of the Grail falling to the temple floor, causing the first crack to appear, was attempted on the full-size set, but proved to be too difficult. Instead, crews built a separate floor section that incorporated a pre-scored crack, sealed with plaster. It took several takes to throw the Grail from six feet onto the right part of the crack.
The tank broke down twice. The distributor's rotor arm broke, and a replacement had to be sourced from Madrid. Then two of the device's valves, used to cool the oil, exploded, due to solder melting, and mixing with the oil. It was very hot in the tank, despite the installation of ten fans, and the lack of suspension, meant the driver was unable to stop shaking during filming breaks.
The first Indiana Jones movie to receive an MPAA rating higher than PG: the then-recently created PG-13. This was the certificate for which Steven Spielberg himself was partly responsible.
The shot of the boats passing between two ships was achieved by first cabling the ships off so they would be safe. The ships were moved together while the boats passed between, close enough that one of the boats scraped the sides of the ships. An empty speedboat containing dummies was launched from a floating platform between the ships amid fire and smoke that helped obscure the platform. The stunt was performed twice, because the boat landed too short of the camera in the first attempt.
The tank only moved at ten to twelve miles per hour, which Vic Armstrong said made it difficult to film Indiana riding a horse against the tank, while making it appear faster.
Two lions were used. They became nervous because of the rocking motion and flickering lights.
Stop motion animation was used for the shot of the German fighter's wings breaking off as it crashes through the tunnel. The tunnel was a two hundred ten foot model, that occupied fourteen of ILM's parking spaces for two months. It was built in eight-foot sections, with hinges allowing each section to be opened, through which to film. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery were filmed against blue-screen. The sequence required their car to have a dirty windshield, but to make the integration easier this was removed and later composited into the shot. Dust and shadows were animated onto shots of the plane miniature, to make it appear as if it disturbed rocks and dirt before it exploded.
Indiana tells his father that he can fly a plane, but can't land one. Harrison Ford is an accomplished pilot in real-life.
Several hundred tim-birds were used in the background shots of the seagulls striking the other plane. For the closer shots, ILM dropped feather-coated crosses onto the camera. These only looked convincing, because the scene's quick cuts merely required shapes that suggested gulls.
Jeffrey Boam wrote a draft set in 1939. The prologue has adult Indiana retrieving an Aztec relic for a museum curator in Mexico and features the circus train. Henry and Elsa (who is described as having dark hair) were searching for the Grail on behalf of the Chandler Foundation, before Henry went missing. The character of Kazim is here named Kemal, and is an Agent of the Republic of Hatay, which seeks the grail for its own. Kemal shoots Henry, and dies drinking from the wrong chalice. The Grail Knight battles Indiana on horseback, while Vogel is crushed by a boulder when stealing the Grail. In his second draft, Indiana's mother, named Margaret in this version, dismisses Indiana when he returns home with the Cross of Coronado, while his father is on a long distance call. Walter Chandler of the Chandler Foundation features, but is not the main villain. He plunges to his death in the tank. Elsa introduces Indiana and Brody to a large Venetian family that knows Henry. Leni Riefenstahl appears at the Nazi rally in Berlin. Vogel is beheaded by the traps guarding the Grail. Kemal tries to blow up the Grail Temple during a comic fight, in which gunpowder is repeatedly lit and extinguished. Elsa shoots Henry, then dies drinking from the wrong Grail, and Indiana rescues his father from falling into the chasm, while grasping for the Grail.
The music playing in the scene, where Indiana meets Adolf Hitler, is adapted from the "Königgrätzer Marsch" by Johann Gottfried Piefke (1815-1884), combined with another song, "Hohen Friedsberg".
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 of Walter Donovan.
Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, and Kathleen Kennedy interrupted the shoot to make a plea to the Parliament of the United Kingdom to support the economically "depressed" British studios.
Steven Spielberg originally had planned the tank chase to be a short sequence shot over two days, but he drew up storyboards to make the scene an action-packed centerpiece. Thinking he would not surpass the truck chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (because the truck was much faster than the tank), he felt this sequence should be more story-based, and needed to show Indiana and Henry helping each other. He later said he had more fun storyboarding the sequence than filming it.
After fleeing Castle Brunwald, and eluding the Nazi soldiers on motorcycles, Indiana 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, from which the Joneses just came, and it indicates the road to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics.
Steven Spielberg used doves for the seagulls that Henry scares into striking the German plane, because the real gulls used in the first take, did not fly.
A quarter-scale model of the tank was driven over a fifty foot cliff on-location; Industrial Light & Magic created further shots of the tank's destruction with models and miniatures.
Four of the stars in this film have starred in James Bond films; John Rhys-Davies (Pushkin in The Living Daylights (1987)), Julian Glover (Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only (1981)), Alison Doody (Jenny Flex in A View to a Kill (1985)), and Sean Connery (James Bond, 1962 - 1967, 1971 and 1983). However, none of the former three had starred with Connery.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Steven Spielberg): (father): Henry Jones, Sr. was never around after his wife died.
Sean Connery becomes the first of three Oscar winners to appear in the Indiana Jones film franchise. Jim Broadbent and Cate Blanchett appeared in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
Ronald Lacey, who famously played Gestapo agent Major Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), played the minor role of Heinrich Himmler in the Berlin scene, where Adolf Hitler autographs Indiana's diary. This was one of his last film roles before his death in 1991.
Scenes cut from the film: According to Jeffrey Boam's script, Indiana was taken to Donovan's apartment against his will. When encounters Walter Donovan's henchmen, they pull a gun on him, and Indiana agrees to follow them to avoid endangering students with a fight on campus. Somemore footage of Indiana's coerced trip to Donovan's penthouse apartment is also shown. In the finished film, the scene was cut considerably, and an artful cut between the men approaching Indiana, and Indiana standing in Donovan's apartment, leads the story. Originally, the film was to show more of Indiana and Marcus on their flight to Venice. While studying his father's diary, Indiana finds a charcoal rubbing of Donovan's Grail tablet, and sees the stained-glass window sketch above Roman numerals. This foreshadows the discovery of the secret passage in the Venice library, and sets up Indiana's interest in making a rubbing of the knight's shield. What remains of this footage, was incorporated into the montage, as the familiar red line traces Indiana's route across the globe. When Indiana and Elsa arrived at the Brunwald castle to free Henry from the Nazis, Indiana presents himself as a Scottish Lord, by imitating a Scottish accent. The suspicious butler who opens the door, acknowledges Indiana's skim, and answers by saying, "If you are a Scottish lord, then I am Jesse Owens." The reference to the black Olympic runner who defeated Nazi Germany at the Olympic games of 1936, was appropriate for the time and place, but might have gone over the heads of many viewers. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg changed the reference to Mae West, but decided again that modern movie audiences would miss the joke. So, they settled on Mickey Mouse, something everyone young and old can relate to, even though it wouldn't be the first thing to come to the mind of an elderly German butler from the 1930s. With his bluff called, Indiana knocks the old butler unconscious, takes him on his back, and starts looking for a place to hide the body, while Elsa congratulates him for his accent. Finally, they hide the butler in a sarcophagus, that once its lid is closed, features a face similar to the butler's face. In the finished film, we see Indiana knocking out the butler, and from there we witness Indiana and Elsa wandering in the castle, with no interest in the butler's body. As Marcus and Sallah tried to run from the Nazis at the Iskenderun train station, there was originally two additional actions, one of Sallah slapping a camel, and causing it to spit mucus all over the Nazis nearby, and another of Sallah fighting the Nazis. Originally, the sequence in which Indiana recovers the Grail diary, and gets it signed by Hitler, was longer. Before the book burning rally started, Hitler was seen marching with his Lieutenants, while a woman was filming the scene. Although her name was not mentioned, the woman was assumed to be Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's official biographer. Indiana is stopped by a Nazi wearing a long black overcoat, who reprimands him for intruding on the procession. Much like the scene in "Raiders", Indiana knocks the bossy superior officer out cold, and steals his clothing. This brief comedic scene explains where Indiana got the disguise he wears at the Berlin airport in the following scene. Possibly it was cut, to avoid repeating the same joke too many times. As Indiana and Henry prepare to buy a ticket, Indiana spots Vogel and other Nazis standing guard at the plane ticket lines. He rushes Henry back through the crowd to hide him, then goes to the only unguarded ticket line. This explains why they ended up using as unorthodox means of travel as a zeppelin. It seems like the scene where Indiana tells his dad he "got the first available flight out of Germany" was filmed as an efficient substitute for this longer cat-and-mouse sequence. Originally, there was a German World War I flying ace trying to impress fellow zeppelin passengers with his spectacular war stories. This scene would have probably cut back and forth between the flying ace and the conversation between Indiana and his Dad over on the other side of the passenger lounge. After Indiana and his Dad head down below to the biplane, everyone in the passenger lounge is alerted to the presence of "spies" on-board. The drunken flying ace jumps up to help in catching these spies, and with several others, he heads down below to find that Indiana and his Dad have already left in the biplane. Fortunately, for Indiana's pursuers, there is another plane attached to the bottom of the zeppelin. Without thinking, the flying ace hurriedly jumps into the plane's cockpit, along with a young pilot that tagged along. In his drunken state, the flying ace forgets to start the plane's engine before detaching it from the zeppelin, therefore causing the plane to plummet to the ground. This scene also features the appearance of Indiana Jones veteran Pat Roach, as the black dressed Gestapo Agent who follows the Flying Ace to death. A brief scene, showing Indiana and Henry getting off the train at Iskenderun to meeting Sallah. It would have answered the question of how they got to Iskenderun and meet with Sallah. Kevork Malikyan spent hours with Steven Spielberg staging his death scene. He was to collapse into Alison Doody's arms and slide down her body. After grabbing him, she pulls her hands back to find them covered with blood. The shot never managed to achieve the impact Spielberg wanted, and he finally dropped it. The scene was actually a re-creation of David Gelin's death from The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). After surviving the tank battle, Indiana and company witness an explosion in the distance. The Nazis are blasting a wider entrance through the canyon. This scene was part of a larger cut story element, about the Grail Temple being hidden past a narrow chasm. This also explained how it could go undiscovered for so long. Since Henry has a copy of the map to the canyon in his diary, this transitional scene was considered unnecessary. The second challenge in the Grail Temple was first planned to have tarantulas hidden under each wrong letter. Indiana is shown being menaced by a tarantula crawling up his body, after stepping on the "J". While in post-production, Spielberg decided the scene didn't have the impact, for which he was looking, and he came up with the chasm under the stone tablets.
Michael Lantieri, Mechanical Effects Supervisor for the 1912 scenes, noted the difficulty in shooting the train sequence. "You can't just stop a train," he said, "If it misses its mark, it takes blocks and blocks to stop it and back up." Lantieri hid handles for the actors and stuntmen, on which to grab, when leaping from carriage to carriage. The carriage interiors, shot at Universal Studios Hollywood, were built on tubes that inflated and deflated to create a rocking motion.
It's no coincidence that Sean Connery was cast as Indiana's father. One reason is, because the Indiana Jones franchise borrows a lot from old adventure movies, much like a son will gain traits from his father. The trait passed down from Connery, is that of James Bond, in that James Bond is always finding ridiculous ways to escape life threatening situations, this is seen in many Indiana Jones movies, like in the tank scene in this movie, or the bobsled scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Three cast members have played King Richard I, a.k.a. the Lionheart. Julian Glover played the part in Doctor Who: The Lion (1965) and Ivanhoe (1982) (both for director Douglas Camfield), John Rhys-Davies in Robin Hood (1984), and Sean Connery in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).
This was the last film for veteran cinematographer Douglas Slocombe. Towards the end production, Slocombe was going semi-blind with a failing eyesight on his right eye, which became permanent evidently when he appeared in the making-of documentaries for the 2003 DVD collection.
Before this film, Sean Connery appeared in Marnie (1964), as the love interest for Tippi Hedren. Just the previous year, Harrison Ford appeared in Working Girl (1988) as the love interest for Hedren's daughter, Melanie Griffith.
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.
The Nazi costumes were genuine, and were found in Eastern Europe by Anthony Powell's co-Designer Joanna Johnston, to whom he gave research pictures and drawings for reference.
A smaller section of the tank's top, made from aluminum, and which used rubber tracks, was used for close-ups. It was built from a searchlight trailer, weighed eight tons, and was towed by a four-wheel drive truck. It had safety nets on each end to prevent injury to those falling off.
During the chase scene, when you see Henry and Indiana riding on the motorcycle in Germany, after Indiana rescues Henry, you see dust flying in their faces, even though there is not supposed to be anybody in front of them. This is because the vehicle carrying the camera is in front of them, therefore kicking up the dust that you see. During other shots, when you see the side of them, there is no dust, and nobody in front of them.
Henry Jones, Sr. notes to Indiana that they named their dog Indiana. George Lucas had a dog named Indiana, that inspired Indiana Jones' name. Due to its appearance and size, the dog also inspired the character of Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga. Chewbacca, of course, was the sidekick of Han Solo, also portrayed by Harrison Ford.
Three of the lead actors in this film have shared a film role with their own real-life sons. Harrison Ford's son, Ben, was used for a digital face replacement for the 30th anniversary version of Blade Runner (1982). He also shares his own role in this film with River Phoenix, who played his son in The Mosquito Coast (1986). Sean Connery played Robin Hood in Robin and Marian (1976), a role that Jason Connery would play in Robin Hood (1984). John Rhys-Davies also appeared in that series, as King Richard, a role played by Connery in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). Julian Glover previously appeared (with Ford) in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). His character, General Veers, was later voiced by his son, Jamie Glover, in the Star Wars video games.
Lowry Digital Images, the same company that cleaned up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), North by Northwest (1959), and Sunset Boulevard (1950), cleaned up over one hundred thousand frames for two versions of each film in the trilogy, for DVD release.
The tank that Indiana fights, is a replica of a British and American Mark VIII, manufactured in 1918. Its armament consisted of two six-pound guns and seven machine guns. Only one hundred seven were produced, due to the end of the war. The tank shown in the film, has a turret, replacing the large cupola for the commander and driver, and no machine guns. It is also much faster than the real Mark VIIIs.
George Gibbs used Swiss Pilatus P-2 Army training planes to stand in for Messerschmitt Bf-109s. He built a device, based on an internal combustion engine, to simulate gunfire, which was safer, and less expensive than firing blanks.
The steamship fight, in the prologue's 1938 portion, was filmed in three days on a sixty-by-forty-feet deck built on gimbals at Elstree. A dozen dump tanks, each holding three hundred sixty U.S. gallons (three thousand pounds) of water, were used in the scene.
For the villains' cars, Michael Lantieri selected a 1914 Ford Model T, a 1919 Ford Model T truck, and a 1916 Saxon Model 14, fitting each with a Ford 2.8 liter V6 engine. Sacks of dust were hung under the cars to create a dustier environment.
Mechanical Effects Supervisor George Gibbs said the film was the most difficult one of his career. He visited a museum to negotiate renting a small French World War I tank, but decided he wanted to make one. The tank was based on the tank Mark VIII, which was thirty-six feet (eleven meters) long, and weighed twenty-five tons. Gibbs built the tank over the framework of a twenty-five ton excavator, and added 6.4 ton tracks, that were driven by two automatic hydraulic pumps, each connected to a Range Rover V8 engine. Gibbs built the tank from steel, rather than aluminum or fiberglass, because it would allow the realistically suspensionless vehicle to endure the rocky surfaces. Unlike its historical counterpart, which had only the two side guns, the tank had a turret gun added as well. It took four months to build, and was transported to Almería on a Short Belfast plane, and then a low loader truck.
At least one reproduction Kubelwagen was used during filming, despite the film being set two years prior to manufacture of said vehicles.
Throughout the film's development and pre-production, Steven Spielberg admitted he was "consciously regressing" in making the film.
Menno Meyjes submitted a script that depicted Indiana searching for his father in Montségur, where he meets a nun named Chantal. Indiana travels to Venice, takes the Orient Express to Istanbul, and continues by train to Petra, Jordan, where he meets Sallah, and reunites with his father. Together they find the Grail. At the climax, a Nazi villain touches the Grail and explodes. When Henry touches it, he ascends a stairway to Heaven. Chantal chooses to stay on Earth, because of her love for Indiana. In a revised draft dated two months later, Indiana finds his father in Krak des Chevaliers, the Nazi leader is a woman named Greta von Grimm, and Indiana battles a demon at the Grail site, which he defeats with a dagger inscribed with "God is King". The prologue in both drafts has Indiana in Mexico battling for possession of Montezuma's death mask, with a man who owns gorillas as pets.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Steven Spielberg): (images shown from a side-mirror): The Nazis chasing Indiana and Henry Jones, Sr.
The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Sean Connery; and three Oscar nominees: Harrison Ford, Denholm Elliott, and River Phoenix. The four actors received only one Oscar nomination (as of 2015 in the case of Connery and Ford, both still living) and that nomination came in the 1980s.
River Phoenix and Bradley Gregg previously co-starred in Stand by Me (1986). In this film, Phoenix steals a treasure from Gregg. In the previous film, Gregg attempts to steal the treasure (the dead body) from Phoenix.
Sean Connery (Professor Henry Jones, Sr.), Denholm Elliott (Marcus Brody), Michael Byrne (Vogel), and Paul Maxwell (Panama Hat) had appeared in A Bridge Too Far (1977).
Michael Byrne's character is named Vogel. "Vogel" is the German word for bird. "Vogel" is also a common name in many of Ingmar Bergman's films.
Despite being the first Indiana Jones film to be rated PG-13, this is by far the most mild and family friendly film in the franchise.
The BBC's film critic Barry Norman described Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as "easily the best of 1989's adventure capers".
Julian Glover's death scene is very similar to his death scene in Doctor Who: City of Death: Part Four (1979).
A biplane model with a two-foot wingspan was used for the shot of the biplane detaching.
Sean Connery was born August 25, 1930, and played the father of Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford was born July 13, 1942, and is twelve years younger than Connery in real-life.
During the chase scene in Venice, flags on the boat are of Germany and Austria, not Italy (which would indicate Italy's alliance with Nazi Germany at that time).
The motorcycles used in the chase from the castle were a mixed bag. The scout model with sidecar, in which Indiana and Henry escape, was an original Dnepr, complete with machine gun pintle on the sidecar, while the pursuing vehicles were more modern machines, dressed up with equipment and logos to make them resemble German Army models.
Harrison Ford and Michael Byrne (Vogel) appeared together in Force 10 From Navarone (1978), Ford as American Colonel Barnsby, and Byrne as Major Schroeder, a Nazi prison camp Commandant.
One of Indy's most iconic lines, which he says to Elsa in Last Crusade, is "Nazis, I hate these guys." Harrison Ford has German and Russian-Jewish ancestry, which connects him firsthand to the Nazis' persecution of Jews in Europe.
Because Professor Henry Jones was introduced as an older mentor figure for this film, a decision was made to change Marcus Brody, who had appeared to be an older mentor figure in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), into a complete buffoon to provide comic relief. At one point it is mentioned that he had once gotten himself lost in his own museum.
This was the fourth motion picture to feature both Sean Connery and Denholm Elliott in its credited cast.
The novelization for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) mentions the Ten Commandments, and the one and only God, which recalls the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The book also mentions the word nazil, almost like Nazi, the villains of that film and this film.
ILM built an eight-foot foam model of the Zeppelin to complement shots of Indiana and Henry climbing into the biplane.
Ronald Lacey: Played Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi Berlin parade. Lacey previously played Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He is seen behind his friend, Michael Sheard, who plays Adolf Hitler in this film.
Alex Hyde-White: Henry Jones, Sr. in 1912. Hyde-White's face is never shown, his lines are dubbed by Sir Sean Connery.