Most of the uniforms worn by the Nazis in the Berlin book-burning scene are authentic World War II uniforms, not replicas. A cache of old uniforms was found in Germany, and obtained by costume designer Anthony Powell to be used in this movie.
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 of the extras who did the Nazi salute simultaneously put their other arms behind their backs and cross their fingers.
Harrison Ford nominated River Phoenix to play him as a teenager, having worked with him before on his favorite of his many movies, 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.
As with the other Indiana Jones movies, Harrison Ford did many of his own stunts. According to stuntman Vic Armstrong, he had to pull Ford to one side and ask him to let him "do some work", 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."
Indiana's birth name was finally revealed in this movie: Henry Jones, Jr. For three movies, he had been addressed as "Indiana" or "Indy". The name "Indiana" came from a dog, in this movie and real-life: George Lucas' Alaskan Malamute, who lived in the 1970s. A dog of this breed is seen in this movie when young Indiana (River Phoenix) returns home with the cross in his hand.
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.
Tom Stoppard was paid $120,000 to re-write dialogue, specifically the lines for Henry and the Henry-Indiana exchange. After this movie's release and subsequent success, he was paid another $1 million as a bonus. In "The Last Crusade: An Oral History," an article published in Empire Magazine in 2006, Spielberg said about the "Junior" and "Senior" conversations: "It was an emotional story, but I didn't want to get sentimental. Their disconnection from each other was the basis for a lot of comedy, and it gave Tom Stoppard, who was uncredited, a lot to write. Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue."
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.
In the beginning of the movie when Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (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.
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 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 to earn a living. One of those jobs was working on George Lucas' house.
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 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 able 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.
During the Castle Brunwald rescue, Henry 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 twentieth century, was briefly considered to play the Grail Knight, but he was too ill to commit to the role and died shortly after this movie's release in 1989.
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 Professor Henry 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.
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.
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 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.
River Phoenix became 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. Sean Patrick Flannery was cast in his stead.
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.
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.
After having a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg on Gremlins (1984), Spielberg produced the next two movies 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 movies. Spielberg then wanted Columbus to script this movie, a big step for him as a writer. He accepted, and went to meet Spielberg and George Lucas, two men by whom he was very intimidated, 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 this movie 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 movie for all of 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.
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.
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.
The idea of an airplane carried by an airship was 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, 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 as scouts that used the airship as a flying aircraft carrier. The builders of the Hindenburg attempted, with help from the US 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.
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))
Chris Columbus wrote a couple of drafts. His first draft, dated May 3, 1985, was tentatively called "Indiana Jones and the Monkey King", and revolved around the Garden of Immortal Peaches as the main plot device. It begins in 1937, with Indiana on vacation in Scotland, where he battles the murderous ghost of Baron Seamus Seagrove III. Indiana then 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 named Tyki Tyki. The pygmy possesses a scroll with directions to the lost city of the Monkey King, Sun Wu Kung. The Monkey King's orchard reportedly grows fruit that grants eternal life, so the Nazis, led by a hulking officer called Lieutenant Werner Von Mephisto, are also interested to find this city. On the way over by boat, the pygmy is kidnapped by the Nazis lead by Mephisto's subordinate, Sergeant Helmut Gutterburg, who has a machine gun for an arm and escapes in a three-story-tall tank. Indiana, Clare and Scraggy Brier (an old native friend of Indiana) travel up the Zambezi river and rescue him. When they arrive at the gates of the lost city, they find it defended by gorilla guardians, but Tyki is able to reason with them before they can harm anyone. When the Nazis arrive, a large battle ensues between them and the gorillas, in which the gorillas commandeer a tank and Indiana attacks while riding a large rhinoceros. Indiana is shot dead in the climactic battle by Mephisto, who gets knocked into a pit of tigers, and Indiana is saved by the Monkey King (a skeletal being, half man and half monkey) through a piece of fruit from his garden. Indiana finally leaves with Dr. Clarke and a shape-shifting staff he received from the Monkey King. Other characters include a cannibalistic African tribe; Betsy, a stowaway student who is suicidally in love with Indiana; and a band of pirates led by Kezure (described as a Toshirô Mifune-type), who dies eating a peach because he is not pure of heart. Columbus' 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 ultimately 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 this movie was taken from one of his drafts, as well as the theme of an object that grants eternal life. 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.
George Lucas first introduced the Holy Grail in an idea for the prologue, which was to be set in Scotland. He intended the Grail to have a pagan basis, with the rest of this movie 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.
Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Pat Roach (Gestapo) are the only actors to appear in the first three movies. 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 franchise 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 movie in the franchise with Roach, who died in 2004.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Industrial Light & Magic. 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 Industrial Light & Magic 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.
This movie has the most chase sequences of any Indiana Jones movie, with six different types of chases: (foot, train, boat, motorcyle, plane, and car). This is also the only movie in the franchise to have a boat chase or a train chase.
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.
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).
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.
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 when solder melted and mixed with the oil. Despite the installation of ten fans it was very hot in the tank, and the lack of suspension meant the driver was unable to stop shaking during filming breaks.
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.
Henry Jones, Sr. notes to Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. 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.
Several hundred tim-birds were used in the background shots of the seagulls striking the plane. For the closer shots, Industrial Light & Magic dropped feather-coated crosses onto the camera. These only looked convincing because the scene's quick cuts merely required shapes that suggested gulls.
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 movie roles before his death in 1991.
Because Professor Henry Jones, Sr. was introduced as an older mentor figure for this movie, 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.
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 Industrial Light & Magic's parking spaces for two months. It was built in eight-foot sections, with hinges allowing each section to be opened and filmed through. Harrison Ford and Sir Sean Connery were filmed against bluescreens. 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.
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.
Henry Jones, Sr. calls Indiana "Junior" sixteen times. He calls him "Indiana" only twice. He also calls Indiana "son" four times, and "boy" three times. Indiana tells his father not to "call him Junior" (or "that") three times, and almost does a fourth, but is interrupted. Indiana calls his father "dad" a total of fifty-four times, four times when Henry, Sr. isn't in the scene.
The scene where Marcus Brody is taken inside a fake storefront that turns out to be a nazi truck is reminiscent of a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) where Marion Ravenwood is brought inside a space where a fake door is closed to make it look like a storefront in order to hide from the Nazis.
The Sultan's line "and I even like the color" is said as a tongue-in-cheek joke on account most of the older cars at the time were made "in any color so long as it is black." Meaning it didn't matter if the sultan didn't like the color, nothing could've been done about it.
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.
Goof, not a point of trivia. 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 kicking up the dust that you see. In the shots filmed from the side, there is (tellingly) no dust.
Scenes cut from this movie: According to Jeffrey Boam's script, Indiana was taken to Donovan's apartment against his will. When he 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. Some more footage of Indiana's coerced trip to Donovan's penthouse apartment was also shown. In the finished movie, 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, this movie 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. Many websites claim 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. But the butler doesn't appear to mouth "Jesse Owens". The Indiana Jones wiki notes that in the graphic novel of Last Crusade, Indy introduces himself as Bob Falfa, the character he played in Lucas' American Graffiti (1973). In this movie, it does appear that the butler mouths this name, not Jesse Owens. If so, the filmmakers surely decided the in-joke was too obscure for viewers and instead looped "Mickey Mouse" in post-production. 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 movie, 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 of the Lost Ark (1981), 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 featured 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 meet Sallah. It would have answered the question of how they got to Iskenderun and met 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.
Mechanical effects supervisor George Gibbs said this movie 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.
In the scene where Indy and his father try to escape in the zeppelin, Indy throws Vogel (Michael Byrne) out of a window. Vogel lands on a pile of suitcases. As he gets up, he stands behind a suitcase with a sticker on it that reads "HOTEL SCHÖNEGG GRINDELWALD". Michael Byrne appeared as Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 1 (2010).
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 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.
This was the last movie for veteran cinematographer Douglas Slocombe. Towards the end of production, Slocombe was going blind in his right eye, which became permanent (evident when he appeared in the making-of documentaries for the 2003 DVD collection) .
The tank 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 this movie 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.
Jeffrey Boam wrote a draft set in 1939. The prologue had adult Indiana retrieving an Aztec relic for a museum curator in Mexico, and featured the circus train. Henry and Elsa (who was described as having dark hair) were searching for the Grail on behalf of the Chandler Foundation before Henry went missing. The character of Kazim was named Kemal, and was an Agent of the Republic of Hatay, which sought the grail for its own. Kemal shot Henry and died drinking from the wrong chalice. The Grail Knight battled Indiana on horseback and Vogel was crushed by a boulder while stealing the Grail. In his second draft, Indiana's mother, named Margaret in this version, dismissed Indiana when he returned home with the Cross of Coronado, while his father was on a long distance call. Walter Chandler of the Chandler Foundation was featured, but was not the main villain. He plunged to his death in the tank. Elsa introduced Indiana and Brody to a large Venetian family that knew Henry. Leni Riefenstahl appeared at the Nazi rally in Berlin. Vogel was beheaded by the traps guarding the Grail. Kemal tried to blow up the Grail Temple during a comic fight, in which gunpowder was repeatedly lit and extinguished. Elsa shot Henry, then died drinking from the wrong Grail, and Indiana rescued his father from falling into the chasm, while grasping for the Grail.
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, like the tank scene in this movie or the bobsled scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
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.
The steamship fight in the prologue's 1938 portion was filmed in three days on a sixty-by-forty-foot 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.
Although all of the scenes involving the Frederick Jaeger character were cut from the movie, 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.
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.
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.
Two scenes in this movie recall similar scenes in the classic North by Northwest (1959): Indy and his father being chased by the airplane, and the first appearance of Walter Donovan. The latter scene mirrored the introduction of the villain in the earlier movie, who was played by James Mason. Julian Glover and Mason appeared in Ivanhoe (1982). Also appearing in that movie was Mason's protégé, Sam Neill, who was once considered for the role of Indy, and who worked with Spielberg on Jurassic Park (1993) and Jurassic Park III (2001).
River Phoenix and Bradley Gregg appeared in Stand by Me (1986). In this movie, Phoenix steals a treasure from Gregg. In the previous movie, Gregg attempts to steal the treasure (the dead body) from Phoenix.
Menno Meyjes submitted a script that depicted Indiana searching for his father in Montségur, where he met a nun named Chantal. Indiana travelled to Venice, took the Orient Express to Istanbul, and continued by train to Petra, Jordan, where he met Salalah and reunited with his father. Together, they found the Grail. At the climax, a Nazi villain touched the Grail and exploded. When Henry touched it, he ascended a stairway to Heaven. Chantal chose to stay on Earth, because of her love for Indiana. In a revised draft dated two months later, Indiana found his father in Krak des Chevaliers, the Nazi leader was a woman named Greta von Grimm, and Indiana battled a demon at the Grail site, which he defeated with a dagger inscribed with "God is King". The prologue in both drafts had Indiana in Mexico battling for possession of Montezuma's death mask, with a man who owned gorillas as pets.
One of Indy's most iconic lines, which he says to Elsa in this movie, 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.
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.
In the Venice library, Indy opens his father's notebook to match the stained glass window to a drawing in the book. The piece of paper under Indy's right thumb contains several lines of text describing the decline in marriages rates during World War I, and projections about the marriage rate returning to normal after the war.
Although it makes for a great fiction, the name of this movie is actually a misnomer. The Crusades were a series of holy wars between Muslims and Christians to secure control of holy ground sites in the Middle East between 1096 and 1291 and there was no mission or crusade to find the Holy Grail. Also in Christianity, the concept of "Eternal Life" doesn't mean you become immortal on Earth, but instead means after you die and are judged by God, your soul goes to Heaven to live with Jesus in paradise.
The novelization for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) mentioned 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 mentioned the word "nazil", almost like "Nazi", the villains of both movies.
While filming at Elstree Studios, the cast and crew were visited by Michael Jackson, who was in London during the European leg of his 1988-89 "BAD" concert tour. In the controversial HBO documentary film Leaving Neverland (2019), it was revealed that Jackson's visit to the set was accompanied by Jimmy Safechuck, a former child actor who later claimed to have been sexually abused by singer. Safechuck claims that while visiting the set, he hung out with Harrison Ford, who let him crack Indy's bullwhip in-between breaks from filming.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Donovan's death sequence by rapid aging was the first all-digital composite. In previous movies involving computer generated visual effects (for example, Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) and Willow (1988)), CGI elements were output to film and then added to the final print using optical printers. For this movie, Industrial Light & Magic scanned several filmed make-up transformations of "Donovan's demise" and "morphed" the elements together digitally. By doing this, film was (for the first time) scanned, digitally manipulated, and output back to film, rather than arranging film elements with an optical printer. It took a week to film this death scene.
Steven Spielberg wanted Donovan's death shown in one shot, so it would not look like an actor having make-up applied between takes. Inflatable pads were applied to Julian Glover's forehead and cheeks that made his eyes seem to recede during the character's initial decomposition, as well as a mechanical wig that grew his hair.
Early ideas were to end this movie with an elaborate escape from the temple and valley. However, Steven Spielberg later reconsidered, when he realized that the movie had already reached its emotional climax in the previous scene where Henry saves Indiana and the two men finally find what they were looking for.
When Donovan says that his team is just one step away from the Grail, Indiana comments: "That's usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet." Ironically, this is exactly what happens twice at the end. The first time, when Indiana has to traverse the "Word of God" challenge, and nearly falls through the floor. The second time, when the Grail Temple starts to shake violently, and the floor collapses.
The shot of Donovan's death was created over three months by morphing together three puppets of Donovan in separate stages of decay, a technique Industrial Light & Magic mastered on Willow (1988). A fourth puppet was used for the decaying clothes, because the puppet's torso mechanics had been exposed. Complications arose because Alison Doody's double had not been filmed for the scene's latter two elements, so the background and hair from the first shot had to be used throughout, with the other faces mapped over it. Donovan's skeleton was hung on wires like a marionette. It required several takes to film it crashing against the wall, because not all the pieces released upon impact.
Julian Glover's character, Walter Donovan, is at first presumed to be a good guy, but turns out to be the villain. His character Kristatos, in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only (1981), also performs this rarely seen character twist.