Having just finished watching the first three Indiana Jones movies, for the first time in decades, by way of a box set my partner recently acquired, I currently find it impossible to decide which one is ‘the best.’
Raiders is, no doubt, the most epic – in the proper sense of the word. And the fact that it was the first of the movies gives it a special quality, particularly regarding reliving childhood memories. Also, given that it was the first, it is ironic that it features perhaps the strongest, toughest of female leads (Marion, the owner of a dive-like bar, who can give as good as she gets in a scrap).
Temple of Doom is the darkest, the most sinister, featuring the likes of human sacrifice and child slavery. And it has a satisfyingly smaller, more personal story, less to do with the hunt for treasure, more about saving a small Indian village (although there is the mention of ‘fortune and glory’).
The Last Crusade, which I finished watching yesterday morning, is better that I sort-of-remember. I say ‘sort of,’ as I’m pretty sure I only watched this one previously once or twice, so the minutiae of its plot are not ingrained in my mind, as per the other two. Until it started getting into its stride, on this latest viewing, talking about the Holy Grail and so on, I only really recalled that it had Sean Connery as Indiana’s dad, some horseback action and Nazis. Regarding Dr Henry Jones Senior, I would say that the witty father-son repartee is perhaps the best part of this film. That and the best line/mini-scene in the franchise:
“No ticket!” – after Indiana, dressed as a ticket officer on a zeppelin, threw the Nazi who was after them off the ship.
So… a favourite? Yep, still currently impossible. They’re all pretty formulaic – you know what to expect from an Indiana Jones film, which is as it should be. All have great, memorable action sequences, humour, a sense of magic and mystery, and a rugged self-deprecating hero, who, though old-fashioned in his ways (appropriately so, given the setting), is very root-for-able. Very little to choose between them, but all as much fun as I remember on first and subsequent viewings. So choose I shall not!
I may get around to watching Kingdom of the Crystal Skull again soon. I may, at that point, return herewith for a review…
PS. I have just discovered yet another Indy film is in the offing! He does look good for his age, but not sure if this is pushing the point…
Untitled Indiana Jones Project (2021)