Also, the opening sequence has Indy getting Harrison Ford's scar (which originated in an auto accident) when using a whip for the first time as a teen.
Donovan dies in the same manner as his character Scaroth killed Professor Kerensky in an episode of Doctor Who.
Indy telling his father that he can fly a plane but can't land one is hilarious knowing that Harrison Ford is an accomplished private pilot in real life. Well, for the most part (see "Funny Aneurysm" Moment).
Indy easily identifies the cup of a carpenter. Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter before becoming an actor.
In the opening sequence, Indy is a Life Scout, the rank right below Eagle. Harrison Ford was a Boy Scout in his youth, and attained the level of Life Scout.
Indy tells his class "If it's truth you're interested in, Dr. Tyree's philosophy class is right down the hall." When he was in college, Harrison Ford took a philosophy course taught by Dr. William Tyree.
California Doubling: Most of the movie was filmed in England and Spain, where precisely none of it takes place. The biggest exception is Venice and even then most of the Venice boat chase was filmed in England. Also, Petra in Jordan is apparently where the Grail resides.
Casting Gag: Sean Connery was cast because Steven Spielberg and George Lucas thought the only man who could play Indy's father was James Bond, and because the whole franchise was born out of Spielberg's desire to direct a James Bond movie — so in every sense of the word, James Bond is the father of Indiana Jones.
Not a gag, but Julian Glover (Donovan) and Michael Sheard (Hitler) were both in The Empire Strikes Back (also Lucasfilm, of course). Glover was General Veers, commander of the ground forces assigned to Vader's Super Star Destroyer Executor, who led the assault on Hoth. Sheard played Admiral "You Have Failed Me For The Last Time" Ozzel. The General tried to talk Vader out of killing him, so this is the second time that Glover had tried to prolong Sheard's life (well, save that Donovan wants the Grail for himself).
This isn't the first crusade that Julian Glover's character was involved in. He appeared in the Doctor Who episode aptly titled "The Crusade"
Dawson Casting: An inverted example. Allison Doody was 22 years old when Last Crusade was filmed, but she plays Elsa Schneider, who can be assumed to be at least around 30 years old considering that she's got a doctorate and she's a highly-respected art professor.
According to Jeffrey Boam’s script Indy was taken to Donovan’s apartment against his will. In this sequence Indy encounters Walter Donovan's henchmen, they pull a gun on him and Indy agrees to follow them because he doesn’t want to endanger students with a fight on campus. Some more footage of Indy's coerced trip to Donovan's penthouse apartment is also shown. In the finished film the scene was cut considerably and an artful cut between the men approaching Indy and Indy standing in Donovan's apartment leads the story.
Originally the film was to show more of Indy and Marcus on their flight to Venice. While studying his father's diary, Indy 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 Indy'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 Indy's route across the globe.
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.
When Indy and Elsa arrived at the Brunwald castle to free Henry from the Nazis Indy presents himself as a Scottish lord by imitating a Scottish accent. The suspicious butler who opens the door acknowledges Indy’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. Lucas and Spielberg changed the reference to Mae West, but decided again that modern movie audiences would miss the joke. So, 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 '30s. With his bluff called off Indy 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 closed its lid features a face similar to the butler’s face. In the finished film, we see Indy knocking off the butler and from there we witness Indy and Elsa wandering in the castle with no interest in the butler’s body.
Originally, the sequence in which Indy 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.
Indy is stopped by a Nazi wearing a long black overcoat who reprimands him for intruding on the procession. Much like the scene in 'Raiders', Indy knocks the bossy superior officer out cold and steals his clothing. This brief comedic scene explains where Indy 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.
More of Indy's unique brand of subterfuge was cut in the airport sequence. As Indy and father prepare to buy a ticket, Indy 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 Indy tells dad he "got the first available flight out of Germany" was filmed as an efficient substitute for this longer cat-and-mouse sequence.
There was originally 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 Indy and Dad over on the other side of the passenger lounge. After Indy and Dad head down below to the biplane, everyone in the passenger lounge is alerted to the presence of "spies" onboard. The drunken flying ace jumps up to help in catching these spies, and with several others he heads down below to find that Indy and Dad have already left in the biplane. Fortunately for Indy'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 features the appearance of Indy veteran Pat Roach as the black dressed Gestapo agent who follows the Flying Ace to death.
A brief scene showing Indy and Henry getting off the train at Iskenderun to meeting Sallah. It would have answered the question of how they got to Iskenderun and meet with Sallah. Again, this is a simple transitional scene without a great deal of importance to the storyline.
Kazim's death scene was originally much longer. He was to collapse into Elsa’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 recreation of David Gelin’s from The Man Who Knew Too Much.
After surviving the tank battle, Indy and co. 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. Indy 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 had the impact he was looking for and he came up with the chasm under the stone tablets.
Fake American: English Julian Glover plays Walter Donovan with an impeccable accent (but listen closely to when he talks about Hitler and the Nazis wanting "write themselves into the Grail legend. Take on the world" and you'll hear his accent slip a little).
Playing Against Type: Sean Connery, the original James Bond who spent most of his career playing tough, cunning heroes, here plays a squeamish "bookworm" who is not prepared for his son's rougher, tougher adventures - and he's absolutely hilarious in the part.
Real-Life Relative: Mrs. Donovan is played by Isla Blair, Julian Glover's wife in real life.
Reality Subtext: Sallah is quite surprised at Indy's true name and the origin of his nickname, "Dog? You are named after the dog!?". George Lucas indeed named Indy after his pet dog, who was also the inspiration behind Chewbacca.
Throw It In: "She talks in her sleep", was an ad-lib by Connery.
Sean Connery plays Dr. Henry Jones, Sr., father of Henry Jones, Jr., or Indiana Jones, who is played by Harrison Ford. However, Connery is only 12 years older than Ford (Connery was born in 1930, Ford in 1942).
In an early draft, the character of "Fedora" was going to be Abner Ravenwood, father of Marion Ravenwood, who was mentioned in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
It would appear that Sean Connery originally had a very different characterization in mind for Henry Sr., stating in a promo interview for the film that as Indy's father whatever Indy does "I did it first and I did it better." This initial characterization Connery pitched in the interview does not match up with the characterization in the film, where Henry Sr. is more of an Absent-Minded Professor and all around professional "bookworm", and while he does have his savvy moments, he spends much of the film fumbling and bumbling his way through the adventure.
Laurence Olivier was briefly considered to play the Grail Knight, but he was too ill to commit to the role.
George Lucas initially suggested making the film "a haunted mansion movie", for which Romancing the Stone writer Diane Thomas wrote a script. Spielberg rejected the idea because of the similarity to Poltergeist, which he had co-written and produced.
Chris Columbus—who had written the Spielberg-produced Gremlins, The Goonies, and Young Sherlock Holmes—was hired to write the script. His first draft, dated May 3, 1985, changed the main plot device to a Garden of Immortal Peaches. It begins in 1937, with Indiana battling the murderous ghost of Baron Seamus Seagrove III in Scotland. Indiana travels to Mozambique to aid Dr. Clare Clarke (a Katharine Hepburn type according to Lucas), who has found a 200-year-old pygmy. The pygmy is kidnapped by the Nazis during a boat chase, and Indiana, Clare and Scraggy Brier—an old friend of Indiana—travel up the Zambezi river to rescue him. Indiana is killed in the climactic battle but is resurrected by the Monkey King. Other characters include a cannibalistic African tribe; Nazi Sergeant Gutterbuhg, who has a mechanical arm; Betsy, a stowaway student who is suicidally in love with Indiana; and a pirate leader named Kezure (described as a Toshiro Mifune type), who dies eating a peach because he is not pure of heart.
Jeffrey Boam wrote a draft set in 1939. The prologue has adult Indiana retrieving an Aztec relic for a museum curator in Mexico and features the circus train. Henry and Elsa (who is described as having dark hair) were searching for the Grail on behalf of the Chandler Foundation, before Henry went missing. The character of Kazim is here named Kemal, and is an agent of the Republic of Hatay, which seeks the grail for its own. Kemal shoots Henry and dies drinking from the wrong chalice. The Grail Knight battles Indiana on horseback, while Vogel is crushed by a boulder when stealing the Grail. In his second draft, Indiana's mother, named Margaret in this version, dismisses Indiana when he returns home with the Cross of Coronado, while his father is on a long distance call. Walter Chandler of the Chandler Foundation features, but is not the main villain; he plunges to his death in the tank. Elsa introduces Indiana and Brody to a large Venetian family that knows Henry. Leni Riefenstahl appears at the Nazi rally in Berlin. Vogel is beheaded by the traps guarding the Grail. Kemal tries to blow up the Grail Temple during a comic fight in which gunpowder is repeatedly lit and extinguished. Elsa shoots Henry, then dies drinking from the wrong Grail, and Indiana rescues his father from falling into the chasm while grasping for the Grail.
Menno Meyjes submitted a script that depicted Indiana searching for his father in Montségur, where he meets a nun named Chantal. Indiana travels to Venice, takes the Orient Express to Istanbul, and continues by train to Petra, where he meets Sallah and reunites with his father. Together they find the grail. At the climax, a Nazi villain touches the Grail and explodes; when Henry touches it, he ascends a stairway to Heaven. Chantal chooses to stay on Earth because of her love for Indiana. In a revised draft dated two months later, Indiana finds his father in Krak des Chevaliers, the Nazi leader is a woman named Greta von Grimm, and Indiana battles a demon at the Grail site, which he defeats with a dagger inscribed with "God is King". The prologue in both drafts has Indiana in Mexico battling for possession of Montezuma's death mask with a man who owns gorillas as pets.
Written-In Infirmity: Harrison Ford's chin scar, originating from an auto accident, is explained as coming from Indy's first experience using a whip, slashing his chin accidentally.
You Look Familiar: Ronald Lacey, who played Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, appears uncredited as Heinrich Himmler at the book burning. Incidentally, Michael Sheard, who plays Hitler, was the runner-up to play Toht.