This is what I wrote for the AFI's 100 Years fan opinion survey:
I’d say that it’s a tie between two movies that are sequels to greater films.
I think that Indiana Jones is the classic American hero: he’s intelligent, reluctant to take responsibility but will do it if he has to, and because luck isn’t always on his side, he’s more vulnerable and more likeable than James Bond. I also think that the adventure/action epic is one of the best types of movie-making.
As for why I chose Last Crusade? While Raiders of the Lost Ark was more of a milestone in the genre, Last Crusade I liked more. I liked that the villaness’s allegiance was more ambigous, I found the Sean Connery/Harrison Ford chemistry touching and hillarious and I loved the opening scene which introduced us to Indiana’s childhood. I also found the historical context is richer and the beam of light that Indiana Jones walks on in the end is such a great twist: The scientist making a leap of faith when he absolutely has to.
Touch of Evil isn’t so much a sequel as a sort of swan song to what started as the most promising career of any Hollywood director and Orson Welles. People don’t give enough credit to Orson Welles the actor who is really brilliant here. I think the Henry Mancini score and the setting of the Mexican-American border really makes the story that much more invigorating and every frame of the film is so beautifully shot. The story, which delves into everything from drugs, police corruption, and racist politics, is so well-constructed and some of Marlene Dietrich’s lines are so profound (i.e. “Aren’t you gonna read my future?” “You haven’t got one.”)