Apologies are due to democracy here, but when it comes to best onscreen dads there can really only be one winner. That title surely goes to Dr. Henry Jones, archaeology professor, Nazi-botherer, Sean Connery-lookalike and illustrious father of the mighty Indiana Jones (except that’s not his real name, is it?).
As odd as it may seem to say in the context of such a purposefully silly and light-hearted adventure film, the role of Henry Jones may well be the finest performance of Sir Sean Connery’s acting career. Here he steps out of his usually reserved role – be it suave in his younger days or quietly intimidating in his latter – and displays a range and animation that we have come to categorically not expect when we see his name on the posters. The accent and thick sibilant Ss are still there, but the usual face and hairpiece are gone and replaced with the sharp visage and glossy dome of a man we barely recognise. Connery launched himself into the role with so much enthusiasm that, despite his being only twelve years older than Harrison Ford, we would never question that they are in fact father and son. The dynamic between them is flawless, the frustrated dialogue seemingly almost improvised.
Then, of course, there are his solo moments – particularly during the stock Nazi officer’s attempted interrogation of him in a moving tank and his bringing down of a fighter plane using only an umbrella and a flock of birds – that have led to The Last Crusade becoming the most quotable Sean Connery flick ever filmed. That’s no mean feat.
Just as well he passed his name on to his son. And named the dog Indiana.