Last Crusade

Today in Movie History: May 24

It’s blockbuster season, so I’ll start with the biggest. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — widely regarded as the best of the series after the original — benefited from the genius pairing of Harrison Ford’s redoubtable archaeologist with Sean Connery as his fussy, disapproving father. It opened today in 1989.

Slightly further down the sequel list, we find Back to the Future III, which opened exactly one year after The Last Crusade and — unlike Indy — had the good sense to bring its story to an elegant conclusion. Though overly plotted and breathlessly paced, it maintained the charming relationship between Michel J. Fox’s twitchy teen and Christopher Lloyd’s eccentric inventor, and plopping them down in the Old West provided plenty of gags to throw at them.

And since we’re being thorough today, we should mention A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s ignominious final outing as James Bond. Embarrassingly old for the part, he sleepwalked through a movie that features one or two interesting moments (topped by a base jump off of the Eiffel Tower), but otherwise wastes countless how-could-they-blow-it assets like Christopher Walken as the villain and Grace Jones as his sinister right arm. At least there’s the Duran Duran song. A View to a Kill opened today in 1985.

Straying away from blockbusters, we find Belle du Jour, Luis Buunel’s surreal masterpiece about a sexually distant housewife (Catherine Deneuve) who begins moonlighting as a prostitute. In anyone else’s hands, it might have been sleazy and degrading. In Bunuel’s, it’s haunting, surreal and surprisingly pro-woman. It opened in France today in 1967.

Speaking of pro-women, we’ll close today with Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise, hailed as a groundbreaker for its depiction of a pair of good friends (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) who go on the lam to escape… well… everything to do with men. It opened today in 1991, and we’ve never looked at the Grand Canyon the same way again.

And I will note for the record that those last two pro-women movies were actually directed by men. Might be nice to let a few more women take a shot at directing movies like that…


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