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TheRaider.net Films Last Crusade Production
 
The Making of
 

Chapter 3: Filming family bonds

 

Filming got underway on May 16, 1988 in Almeria, southern Spain. A dry riverbed was the site for an elaborate tank chase that afforded Spielberg ample opportunity to redisplay his cinematic prowess. "There was not much written on the chase in the script. It was a lot like what they had in the old Lawrence of Arabia script, 'And then they took Aqaba', without any description of how. We had one page written on the sequence, but I wanted it to be seven to ten pages long. I wanted it to be the centerpiece of the movie. So rather than writing it, I sat down with my two sketch artists, David Jonas and Ed Verreaux and I just sort of made the whole chase up on paper from frame 1 to frame 405. That was a great couple of weeks. I think I had more fun creating the chase on paper than I did shooting it in Spain."

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Spielberg and the script.

Inspired by a sequence in the original Chris Columbus script, Spielberg and his artists designed the tank chase to equal the impact of the truck chase in Raiders. "No action sequence that I will ever shoot will be as good as the truck chase in the first film - so I was not even trying to best that one. The truck chase is still my favorite. But the tank chase was different because it had more story to it. There is action inside the tank and outside the tank - and there is also humor. And within the chase itself certain characters evolve. Henry becomes strong in that scene for the first time in the movie. Indy becomes weak in that scene for the first time in the movie. Aside from the story elements, another difference between this and the truck chase was that the truck went really fast, or at least we made it appear to be going fast, but we could not do that with the tank because it was a lumbering mass of steel and it could only go about eighteen miles per hour. As a result, the pacing had to be different and shooting the sequence took a lot of time. It was still fun, but it was very slow."

The 'lumbering mass of steel' was a fully functional replica of a German 1917 International Mark 7 army tank used in World War I, designed and built by George Gibbs. According to Gibbs building this tank was the most difficult task of the film. These tanks were thirty-six feet long and weighed twenty-eight tons and only seven or eight of them were built for the First World War. The only one left in the world is located in the Tank Museum in Bovington Camp, England. Since both Spielberg and Lucas wanted the tank to look as realistic as possible, Gibbs built one on the chassis of an old excavator that also weighed twenty-eight tons. The tracks alone weighed seven tons and were driven by two Range Rover V-8 engines, which in turn powered two automatic hydraulic pumps - one to drive each of the two tracks. It also had big bulldozer motors in the back to power the whole tank and guns that actually fired blank charges. Overall, the tank was quite accurate. The only real difference between this tank and an actual World War I model was that the First World War tanks had extra eyeball guns on each side and they did not have a turret that turned around.

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Tank production illustration opposite to the fully functional replica.

For the construction of the tank Gibbs chose to use actual steel and not prefabricated materials such as aluminum or fiberglass. His goal was not only to enhance the tank visually, but also to help it withstand the abuse it would take during the intensive weeks of principal photography. "World War I tanks did not have suspension, so we build ours without suspension also. Because of that, I knew the vibration inside that tank would be absolutely tremendous and would shake a mockup vehicle to pieces. For that reason, I decided to build the tank from steel. Also, if any of it ever broke apart we could quickly weld it back together. As it turned out, the tank went down the sides of mountains and over really hard, rocky surfaces without any damage at all-and I knew then that I had made the right decision."

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The crew preparing to film some scenes on the tank.

The tank was built in four months and then flown to Almeria, in southern Spain, aboard a British Belfast plane - one of the largest aircraft in the world. To transport the monster tank from location to location, it was placed on the back of a low loader truck. "We were lucky," said Gibbs. "Shooting went smoothly and the tank only let us down twice. The first time was because the rotor arm in the distributor broke and it took us a day to get a new one from Madrid. The second time, it was so hot that the solder in the oil coolers actually melted and flowed around with the oil into the valves, shattering two of them to pieces. So we had to change one of the engines and that also took one day. I think everyone expected to lose a lot more time, but the tank worked really well." Driving the tank was effects technician Brian Lince, who had to weather the extreme heat and the torturous terrain. "Brian did an excellent job. Being in that tank was like being in an oven, and he was in there every day for nearly eight weeks. We had ten industrial electric fans inside to try and keep Brian cool, the engine cool and the hydraulic oil cool. Not only was it hot in there, but since the tank had no suspension, Brian got rattled around so much that when he came out and tried to take a cup of tea, he would spill it before he could get it to his lips."

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Between takes on location in Almeria, Spain.

To accommodate an elaborate fight scene on top of the tank, Gibbs duplicated the upper portion of the lumbering vehicle and mounted it on an ex-army searchlight trailer towed by a four-wheel drive truck. The eight-ton partial tank was identical in detail to its full-size counterpart except that it was constructed from lightweight aluminum and had tracks made out of rubber so the actors and stuntmen could fall on them without being injured. It also featured 'people catchers' on either end in the event anyone accidentally fell off. In total it took two weeks to film the ten minutes shot at a cost of $200.000 per day.

Ford, as in the previous films, did a certain amount of his own stunts. He was extremely active and willing to take greater risks with his own physical well being than the production could quite honestly allow him to do. "I know in making these movies I'm going to get dirty, bruised, and bumped around a lot," Ford admitted. "Bumps and bruises go wth the territory. It's what distinguishes an Indiana Jones movie from any other adventure film. You sit there in the theater and know I'm doing it."

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Armstrong and Ford.

Once again Vic Armstrong doubled for Ford and served as the film's stunt coordinator. He staged all the stunts the most dangerous of which was a heart stopping fourteen feet leap from a galloping horse on to the moving tank. "I had to travel ten or 11 feet sideways from a galloping horse, moving head first and landing on the back of the tank," said Armstrong. Though this was one stunt Ford didn't even bother to attempt, he did almost everything else, including hanging off a side canon as the vehicle ploughed through a rocky gorge. Armstrong did confessed that his "toughest stunt on any movie with Harrison Ford was talking Harrison out of doing it!" There was a little scene where Indy leaps off a sixteen-foot rock knocking an Arab and his horse down, punches the guy out, and then rides off on the horse. Ford approached Armstrong and proposed to do the stunt himself. Armstrong presented several reasons why the scene should be done by a stunt double but Ford insisted on doing the stunt. Seeing there was nothing that could convince Ford Armstrong used his secret weapon. He told Ford that if he continued to do so many stunts by himself he would put him out of commission. Ford realizing that it wasn't only a matter of safety retreated and Armstrong performed the stunt himself.

Unfortunately, stuntmen couldn't help poor John Rhys-Davies who at the time of filming suffered from acute sciatica. "Literally about three days before we started, I felt this slight pain down my leg. And I spent my entire damn film taking pain pills or finding some way to get rid of this damn sciatica. And riding a horse through that is not to be recommended. It's all right when you're actually up on these stirrups and you've in full gallop. It's the intervening. But the show goes on and we do it," aid Davies and continued, "The two that I've done with Spielberg, he must think I'm a terrible wimp. I've been terribly sick on both of them. On the one in Tunisia, we all went down with this damned bug that we had there. My God it was terrible!"

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Indy, Sallah and
Henry in action.

With the tank scene completed, the production moved to Majorca, where, on a long-abandoned airfield, scenes involving Nazi fighter planes were completed. Then it was on to Granada, where the railway sequences were shot at Gaudix Station, transformed into a replica of the Middle Eastern town of Iskendrun, complete with complete with camels, goats, market sellers, beggars, and women with yashmaks. A mosque had been built in the backyard for additional atmosphere rather than added later as a matte painting effects shot. The actual town of Iskenderun was part of a small sultanate that existed during the period of the film. It's a place located somewhere south of Turkey and north of Syria.

After three weeks in Spain, Spielberg moved his crew to England for an additional ten weeks on the soundstages at Elstree, where various interiors were completed.

To facilitate the action onboard a steamship off the Portuguese coast in a raging storm, a forty-foot-by-sixty-foot section of deck was constructed on large gimbals to produce the requisite rocking motion. "We also had wind machines blowing and a dozen dump tanks filled with water," said George Gibbs. "On this small piece of set, the actors and stunt people were trying to act while tons of water fell on them. It was a pretty shattering experience. One of our dump tanks held three hundred gallons - three thousand pounds of water-and when we let two of them go at once, it would knock people clear across the deck."

"The sequence on the boat seemed to be the toughest for everybody," George Lucas observed. "It was the scariest and the hardest to do. Everyone was thrown back and forth on the deck. Scenes like this are actually more difficult to do than dangerous stunts, because on the stunts you take so many precautions to make certain no one gets killed. But storm scenes like those on the boat you cannot really control. Everyone was getting battered around."

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Preparing a good shot.

"Nobody likes to be wet," Spielberg elaborated. "Plus, it was cold. We shot the sequence in what you could call wintertime -it was the coldest summer in London's history-and we did not have any water warmers, so the water was ice cold. Anyone who was not up before the first shot was definitely wide-awake afterwards. When we came to work in the morning, all of us got into out raincoats - except Harrison who couldn't wear anything but his fighting clothes. I just think it irritated everyone. Nobody wanted to be underwater for three days-and after Jaws, I hate water anyway."

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Spielberg and Lucas.

The interior of the Grail Temple was filmed on an elaborate 80 feet into the air set designed once again by Elliot Scott. Suddenly the whole temple begins to shake, the floor heaves up and splits and the Grail slips out of Elsa's hands and into the fissure. "The temple sequence was one of the reasons I told George Lucas that this movie was the hardest I had ever worked on," George Gibbs commented. "The set was about the same size as the one in The Temple of Doom and we only had about six weeks to build it. We had five main gimbals to make the floor split open and heave up. Then we had more gimbals to make columns fall down and open trapdoors - a total of about ten gimbals in all. Fortunately, resetting took only about twenty minutes. Since everything was hydraulic, we simply put the set back to the start position and filled up the cracks with plaster." One effect the filmmakers were unable to do on the full-scale set was the moment when the Grail falls out of Elsa's hands, strikes the temple floor and causes the stone surface to crack open. "The shot was attempted on location," noted visual effects supervisor Michael McAlister, "but it was a very difficult thing to accomplish. We did it about a thousand times ourselves. It was one of those shots where you say, 'Oh, yeah, cracking floor - that's easy,' and then it takes two months, off and on, to get it right. We actually built a full-size floor section about twenty feet square, prescored a crack and sealed it up with plaster and sand. Then we tossed an epoxy version of the Grail in from about six feet away. That turned out to be the most difficult part of the shot getting the Grail to land in precisely the right spot. Once we did, we pulled levers hooked to each side of the floor to literally separate the two halves of the set and form the crack."

Continuing the grand horror tradition from the previous two films the script featured a scene of Indy exploring catacombs beneath the streets of Venice that contained mummified bodies, channels filled with petroleum water and thousands upon thousands of rats, the grossest of all vermin. The production team made an order of 1000 sewer rats to Animal Actors in December 1988. The animal expert who had supplied the previous two Indiana Jones films with vast numbers of snakes and insects suggested that they should breed their own army of rodent extras. "Gray rats are hard to find," noted Robert Watts, "but they breed fast and we had plenty of lead time. It took us only about four or five months to get all the rats we needed." At the end they came up with 5000 rats. For the safety of cast and crew each of the rats had been certified free of disease. When the time came to film the scene every inch of the wonderful set created by Elliot Scott was covered with them. No stone was left uncovered. And as had happened on the proceeding two movies at least half of the crew hated rats and had to wait outside the stage until filming was completed. "Same thing happened with the snakes. We lost half the crew on the first movie, and we lost three-quarters of the crew with the bugs," recalled Spielberg. Although in start it was not an easy alliance soon cast and crew came to like to their fury co-stars. "That kind of stuff doesn't bother me at all," said Ford, who was seen playing with a rat during a break. "The rats didn't bother, the snakes didn't bother me. It's the people I'm scared of." Doody, too, appeared braver than Karen Allen and Kate Capshaw did opposite their animal co-stars, "Most of the creatures, and bugs, or whatever, that I was involved with I thought were more frightened of me than I was of them."

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Venice library and catacombs production illustrations.

Animal expert Mike Culling worked with wranglers and animal trainers to provide the right horses, lions, rats, and snakes for filming. "Harrison Ford is very good with animals and carefully prepares for working with them and handling them," animal consultant Mike Culling said.

"I found the rats easier to work with than the snakes and the bugs in the previous films," observed Frank Marshall, who doubled as second unit director for many of the action scenes. "Like the bugs, however, they had a tendency to go where we didn't want them to. Snakes move so slowly that it's easy to plunk them down in a place and then get a good shot. But rats and bugs swim fast and they move fast, and once you put them down on a set they immediately go away from the light. Still, I think we got some great shots." Concerned about the safety of several thousand four legged extras, the filmmakers opted to mass-produce a thousand artificial rodents, including a multitude of vermin mechanically articulated to swim, most of which were come to fiery end as the catacomb erupts into a subterranean inferno.

The atmosphere on the set was constantly light thanks to the production's two stars. One of the most serious scenes in the film was the one inside the zeppelin where Indy and his father discuss for the past trying to short things out. The temperature was in the hundreds and very uncomfortable, particularly for Connery, wearing a three-piece tweed suit, and Ford, sporting his standard leather jacket. Because the actors were only being shot from waist up Connery dropped his trousers. At first, Ford didn't like this but soon his face dripping with perspiration, he followed suit. They both sat there for the remainder of the serious father and son dialogue minus their trousers.

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Sean Connery, Ford
and Spielberg.

Connery is an actor with the belief of having fun at work and spreading that enjoyment to others. "I think the essence of the film for me is the pleasure," was Connery's point of view. "The greatest pleasure is when the whole team is working and then what you're all trying to do works. When a film set is harmonious and everybody has the same similar intention and goal, it's terrific. It's like a microcosm of a really good society. The nice thing about Indiana Jones is the humor and the fact that it's back to an older age, not an age of hardware and spacecraft, but cars and airplanes and trains and horses. I'm always looking for the humor in a situation and Harrison Ford has a nice sly sense of humor and sneaks up on you. I'm very impressed by Steven Spielberg; he's very inventive, very quick. We've built up the humor as much as possible in the relationship between Indiana and his father."

"We like to work fast and loose," explained Ford. "And we like to have fun." "Working with Sean was the pleasure that it looks to be. He's a great actor. I've learned from him."

"Sean was great fun on the set," observed Doody, although she had little screen time with him. "He used to joke around all the time. He came onto set one day, this huge man, and said [musically] 'Alison Doody, Doody, Doody, Doody, do,' and he's doing this little dance. And I'm thinking, 'Oh, if I only had a camera! He would joke around. He would look at me and say, [threateningly], 'I want to talk to you' - and then he wouldn't say anything. Frightened the life out of me. He would joke around in the middle of a scene or something like that, and make light of heavy moments."

Ford, also known as jokester at the set of his films, often joked around to relieve the tension. Before filming the love scene with Doody he noticed Doody's embarrassment and nervousness and tried to make her laugh. In one of his most efforts to do so he stood behind Spielberg, puckering up his lips and making silly kissing noises and he simpered, "Alison, I'm ready."

"Harrison would joke with me all the time," said Doody. "What would Harrison do? I can't think [especially], but there was a moment where I was tense or something, he would joke around, which is very nice because he would be doing it to try and ease the tension."

Ford made sure that Doody was not only entertained on the set. Many times they would also talk scenes through together, and Ford was always willing to sort out any problems the actress had. According to Ford's biographer Robert Sellers, when the british tabloids hounded Doody for quotations about what it was like to kiss Ford, she turned to her co-star for guidance. "Tell them," the actor advised, "that Harrison Ford is so famous he doesn't even use his own tongue."

"Working with Harrison was just such a pleasure. He's a great man to work with; he helped me a great deal in many scenes", acknowledged Doody. "He could have left me and just thought, 'Swim here,' but he would talk scenes through. And if I had a problem at, he was always there and willing to try and sort it out and my life on set was made much easier. So, working on those scenes with Harrison, I was only worried about my acting, because everything else was fine."

Doody had a nice word for her director too, "Steven knew what he wanted, yet he would let me explore and some of the things that you wanted to do. He was always open to suggestions. If you thought, 'Well, do you think this works, do it like this?' He would say, 'Yes that's great.' Or 'No, I think it's better the other way.' He really wasn't stuck with one idea, which is really nice. Direction-wise, he was excellent; he would come to you and say [whispering confidentially] 'How about doing this.' He gets so enthusiastic about it." And continued without hiding her remorse, "The only thing I'm sad over is that the chances of me working with all those people again are quite slim. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's wonderful that they've done so well, especially if they're that nice."

The lightness and good humor on set wasn't enough to prevent some mishaps from happening. During the filming of the scene in which the Joneses were tied up in a blazing room within a Nazi stronghold, a stunt backfired. While horrified technicians struggled to free them Ford and Connery were temporarily exposed to the deadly flames.

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Exploding ghost hull.

Right after escaping death in the inflamed catacombs Indy and Elsa are being pursued in the streets of Venice. In their efforts to get rid of their pursuers the couple employs a speedboat and the chase is carried on water. The filming of the scene was at the Tilbury Docks in Essex, near London and ultimately involved two major stunts. In the first, Elsa successfully pilots their craft in between two large ships that are being slowly pushed together by a tugboat. One of the pursuit boats following them is crushed and explodes violently toward camera. "Cuing the two big ships was very difficult," Marshall recollected. "They were really hard to move around, and we had to cable them off so they would be safe. When the speedboats were going in between the ships, they did not actually get crushed, of course, but we did have the ships as close together as possible. At one point, one of the speedboats was actually rubbing the sides of the two ships, and we had to make sure that between the time we rolled the camera and the time the boats went through, the ships did not drift in any closer and squish the boats. We had a floating platform in between the two ships and we used that to launch a ghost hull, some dummies and the fire and smoke. Before the shot started you could actually see the platform between the ships, but the instant the explosion went off the platform was obscured by smoke and the blast. We put the main camera on a floating platform about a hundred yards out into the harbor. We had to do the shot twice because on the first take the boat shell landed too short of the camera. When we repeated the stunt the next day everything worked great -the ghost hull exploded out so far that it actually blew past the camera a hundred feet away."

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Preparing and filming the speedboat/propeller scene.

After the boat explosion, Indy and Elsa are still pursued by one remaining speedboat. To make matters worse, their own craft is crippled by gunfire and begins to move slowly toward the stern of a large freighter whose spinning propeller protrudes out of the water. Indy jumps onto the enemy boat and as he and the driver engage in fisticuffs, the vessel drifts closer to the propeller until it is actually being chewed up in the huge steel blades. Filmed in a tank at Elstree, the scene made use of specially built speedboats constructed with rear sections made out of balsa wood and laced with explosives to simulate the boat's destruction by the ship's propeller.
Additional filming in England was made at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, which doubled as Indy's college.

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Lucas and Spielberg.

On August 7, the production moved to Venice for establishing shots of the boat chase in the vicinity of St. Mark's Square and the Doges palace. Watts, "Having shoot in Venice in August wasn't that easy, because it was the tourist season and it was extremely crowded. There was no way I could move it in the schedule, so I had to specify to the local people that, for the square we needed to shoot in, I had to have something we could control in August. That obviously knocks out certain places! All in all, we had very good cooperation and did manage to close of a section of the Grand Canal for a period. That was good, because the film as set in 1938 so, obviously, everything you see in front of the camera has to be pit in by us, so it's correct for the period." Filming in Venice was one of Alison Doody's most intense memories. "We did a lot of our own jumping about and running around. There was some stunt stuff that was tricky. Running around in high heels and Harrison Ford pulling you along might not seem to de [dangerous], but I was at such speed that they had three men standing there so I could crash into them. Because we were running around up and down these steps and things, and I was just running so fast with Harrison and it's very slippery - when we went past camera, that would be it, cut, we couldn't go any further. So, I had three men standing there so I could just go bowling into them and they could literally grab me. I was flying."

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The cast and crew on location in Petra.

Later that week, cast and crew flew to Jordan and shot scenes in the ancient city of Petra, which served as the Holy Grail's resting place. "Petra is a gorge," explained Elliot Scott, who first scouted the location with Robert Watts. "You reach it by going through a narrow corridor in a mountain of rock. This corridor is about a mile long and just wide enough to fit a small truck - although most people go through on horseback or on foot. When you emerge, you enter a little hidden valley, which is mountain-locked. Petra was a perfect location for us, in part because of its rich sense of history. It was famous around the time of Christ for being the only way through those mountains, and traders bringing back silk from China to Europe often traveled through there. Back then, the people of Petra charged a fee-and of course became quite rich. The valley is a mile long, and more than thirty temples line the canyon sides. The temple we used was right opposite the narrow opening. Many of these temples or tombs go back to about 600 B.C., but I think the particular one we used was built around the time of Christ. Nobody knows for sure what it was used for. Behind the temple face are a few small, square rooms, which are completely empty. Whatever they held was stolen long ago. It's quite an incredible place - like a tenth wonder of the world."

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Queen Noor visiting
the Petra set.

The production crew filmed outside the remote temple site for three days. "The cooperation in Jordan was fantastic," Spielberg recalled. "Queen Noor, who is American and the queen to King Hussein, was with us every day. As a matter of fact, she drove me to the set every day from the hotel with her children in the back seat. We would get to the set and shoot, and she and the kids would stay all day and watch. They had a wonderful time. They opened up their country to us and made us feel very welcome, and I am sure we'll go back there to make another movie someday."

The first scene to appear on film was actually filmed last and it was the one with River Phoenix as Young Indy. In this scene young Indiana Jones discovers a group of treasure-hunters unearthing a 16th century cross. The treasure-hunters are lead by a man who wears a fedora and leather jacket. Fedora, as Boam named the character, would inspire the adult Indy's appearance and was played by actor Richard Young. Realizing its significance, Indy grabs the cross and flees on his horse. The thieves pursue him in cars and Indy mounts a circus train and he finds himself being chased from boxcar roof to boxcar roof. In his effort to avoid being caught Indy comes across many representatives of the animal kingdom, some of which will mark him for the rest of his life.

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Filming the horse jump.

Originally, the sequence was to have been shot in the prehistoric cliff dwelling ruins of Mesa Verde National Park in neighboring Colorado, but when local Indian representatives cited religious objections to using the site in such a fashion, the production agreed to look elsewhere. Finally it was filmed in Arches National Park in Utah. A tourist conveyance plying a narrow gauge run between Antonita, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico served as a circus train for young Indy's first escapade. Working with the narrow gauge locomotive proved to be an adventure in itself. "You can't just stop a train," noted Michael Lantieri, supervisor of the stateside mechanical effects team. "If it misses its mark, it takes blocks and blocks to stop it and back up. We had to take a lot of safety precautions to make sure that people were aware of when the train was going to move or stop so that no one would try to board or step off at the wrong time. Since actors and stunt people were running on top of the cars and jumping between them, we made platforms to fit between the cars. These rode down below and served as a catch so that if someone slipped, they would not fall into the coupling and wheels. Also because the tops of the train cars were very smooth, we had to hide handles for people to grab onto during scenes where they had to leap from car to car." In addition to rigging the train, Lantieri and his crew were tasked with preparing two vintage cars for the sequence -a 1912 Model A and a 1914 Saxon. Each of the automobiles was retrofitted with a Pinto V-6 engine. To create a dustier desert environment, the physical effects crew hung sacks of dust under the cars so they would spew out as the vehicles drove along.

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Spielberg and River
Phoenix.

Though the New Mexico location served well for exterior shots of the circus train interiors were filmed on a soundstage at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Lantieri rigged train cars that featured wild sides and ceilings constructed on makeshift gimbals made from inner tubes that could be inflated and deflated rapidly to create a rocking motion. The first train car Young Indy stumbles into is filled with snakes. He tries to get through the car by traversing a catwalk above; but when the catwalk gives way, he falls into a pen filled with slithering serpents, a traumatic incident that establishes and motivates his later fear of snakes. "We had a few thousand real snakes and also some rubber ones for River to fall on," Lantieri commented. "There were five different types of snakes, including one huge boa constrictor that took three people to carry in. The snakes were in old wooden crates piled on top of one another, and some of the smaller snakes started sneaking out of the cracks once they arrived on the set -which freaked out some of the crew. At the end of the day, we had to dig through the sawdust on the floor to make sure we had all the snakes back in their crates so they could be put away for the night."

Leaving the boxcar with the snakes behind him Indy comes face to face with two irritable lions. "The lions did fine," Lantieri recalled, "although they were a little nervous the first day. After all, we were shaking the car and dust was falling. We also had lights rigged to flicker through the cracks in the walls of the car, so there was a lot going on that the lions had to get used to. Some of the shots called for River to be in the car with the lions; but for any dangerous scenes, like when a lion goes for his leg and he uses his whip to pull himself to safety, we used a stunt double." The bullwhip is established as Indy's weapon of choice when he spots one on the wall and uses it to keep the fearsome cats at bay. In his inexperience, however, he cracks the whip and it snaps him in the face, causing a gash on his chin that corresponds with Harrison Ford's familiar scar.

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Phoenix, Spielberg and Richard Young.

Young Indy gets pulled out of the lions' car by Fedora and for one moment stands to face his pursuer. He quickly slips away, however, and ducks inside 'Dr. Fantasy's Magic Caboose' - a tongue-in-cheek nod to co-executive producer Frank Marshall who for years has performed amateur magic shows using that pseudonym. Inside the caboose is a horde of magic paraphernalia. With Fedora on his heels, Indy steps into a box on the floor and closes the lid. Fedora enters a moment later and opens the box to find the youngster gone. Unlike the other interior shots, this disappearing trick was filmed on the real train and was suggested in part by production designer Elliot Scott. "I suggested to Steven that he do it in one shot," Scott remarked. "The idea was to see the boy run in and climb into the box. With the camera still rolling, the man comes in behind him, collapses the box and realizes the boy has disappeared. Then the camera pans up and through the back door and you see the boy running away behind the train. We did that by putting a trough under the boxcar so the boy could fall through, and then we had another boy on the tracks further back." With the shot of the resourceful Indy running off into the distance, the action-packed opening of the film concludes.

Ford was present for the duration of the Young Indy filming scenes and helped Phoenix understand the character better. Phoenix from his side found his days as Young Indy very entertaining, "I love the Indiana Jones films and being part of one was a lot of fun for me. It's all non-stop action: running and jumping, twisting and turning, fumbling, finding, keeping from the bad guys. It's only a small part - only ten minutes at the movie's beginning but I really enjoyed it," said Phoenix. "It's exciting to see how a dramatic and dangerous situation unfolds -- it's fun to witness it in a movie theatre and it's fun to make. I did a lot of the stunts because I felt so much of the character and what he had to do was physical. It would have been lying to have someone else do the stunts. I would just look at Harrison. He would do stuff and I would not mimic it but interpret it younger. Mimicking is a terrible mistake that many people do when they play someone younger, or with an age difference. Mimicking doesn't interpret true, because you can't just edit around."

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Spielberg and Slocombe.

The filmmakers did their work the hard way for the best results, filming stunts primarily without the blue screen process or traveling mattes. "It was like putting the clock back," Douglas Slocombe observed during the filming of the scene on the top of a train, "but it brings something extra to the movie."

"Stunts are an integral part of the Indiana Jones movies," Frank Marshall observes. "A great deal of the action derives from the stunts, so we take a lot of time to storyboard and plan them. The trick is to have them look dangerous and incredibly hard, but actually they're very safe. They're quite simple to do, they just require a lot of hard work."

The last to go before the cameras, the sequence was also the one Spielberg most enjoyed filming. "We shot it after a three-week hiatus and I was rested, which is part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. Also, I had Harrison there every day. He pretty much directed River, helping him with line readings and gestures, and talking with him about how Indy would move. That freed me to worry about sequencing the action, which made my job a lot easier."

With some additional shots in Colorado completed Indiana Jones' crusade had come to an end and everybody clinked champagne glasses together and toasted the end of the picture.

"What was nice about doing this particular film was that, because it was all the same people, we were able to avoid the feeling-out process that was necessary on Raiders," said Watts. "The first day on the set was like one big family getting back together. Everybody involved was well aware that there might not be another Indiana Jones movie. But I don't think that so much created a different mindset as it inspired us to think that, if this were to be the last one, let's make this a great one to go out on."

click to enlarge
The crew at airport set.

On the close of filming Last Crusade Ford felt as the loss of a friend. "I'll miss the whole thing. There is a lot of pleasure in this character for me. I enjoy the kind of humor that we have in those films and I love doing the physical stuff. It makes me feel like a kid. I'll miss the particular fun of playing the character, but I think three films is enough. I'll be in my fifties pretending to be thirty-five, and I'm afraid it's going to get to a point where it's too hard to get out of the bed in the morning. I just won't be able to do the things I used to do," he said. Spielberg from his side said that he would miss Harrison's funny look under the fedora, "it feels like the end of an era, and the end of a quest."

Next: A Quest's Completion >>

 

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