“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” may not be widely considered the best film in the franchise, but the opening sequence is definitely a contender for the top prize out of any beginning in the series. Dressed in their boy scout uniforms, Indiana and his buddy Herman discover a group of grave robbers stealing the famed Cross of Coronado, which Indiana subsequently snatches. One chase through a circus train later, Indy runs home thinking he’s won, only to have the gang arrive with the local sheriff to take the cross away from him. Their mysterious leader then gives Indiana his fedora saying, “You lost today, kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.”
River Phoenix becomes more and more like Harrison Ford as the sequence goes on and all of Indy’s famous traits are explained, from the bullwhip to the fedora and even the scar on his chin. The young actor already had a beat on Ford, having played his son in a film three years earlier. In the behind-the-scenes documentary for “Last Crusade,” Phoenix says he was already impersonating Ford back then:
“I kind of had some insight on Harrison’s way about him, being that I worked with him on ‘The Mosquito Coast.’ And while doing ‘Mosquito Coast’ I kept a close eye on Harrison, and I noticed some of his traits, and when he would turn around I would sometimes mimic him and get a few laughs.”
Coincidentally, “The Mosquito Coast” and “Last Crusade” are both about dealing with an overbearing dad. Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) never thinks Indy is good enough and Ford’s Allie Fox in “The Mosquito Coast” forces his son and entire family to abandon city life for the jungles of Central America.