After Indy Jones turned off many critics with his last sequel - it got damned for its violence and lack of charm - the intrepid anthropologist may be rebounding: Exhibitor sources are saying that "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is hot.

Screened recently for exhibitors across the country, Paramount's big summer entry - due May 24 - got thumbs up from our sources for its "wall-to-wall action" and for being "nearly as good as the first."And, said one exhibitor, "Everyone's raving about Sean Connery (as Indy's dad). He really steals this one."

The plot has Indy (Harrison Ford) and his dad, Prof. Henry Jones (Connery), in search of the Holy Grail. Ditto some nasty Nazis. Indy, disguised as one, winds up face-to-face with Der Fuhrer himself. Chases abound, one involving a Zeppelin. There is romantic intrigue involving Indy, his beautiful blonde girlfriend (Allison Doody) and another prominent character we wouldn't dare disclose. Also, an encounter with rats - lots of 'em - in the sewers of Venice. And flashbacks with River Phoenix as a young Indy explain Indy's revulsion for snakes. - PAT H. BROESKE

- "Last Crusade" does not come cheap: Exibitor sources say that theater owners have already paid Paramount Pictures an estimated $40 million in non-refundable guarantees for the right to show the sequel. A head film buyer for a West Coast-based chain called the figure "the highest in movie history in certain markets, with the possible exception of `Return of the Jedi.' "

The studio also has negotiated a minimum run of 12 weeks in every theater, the source added: "Since Paramount's debuting the film Memorial Day weekend, it locks up those screens all summer - and keeps out the competition." - CRAIG MODDERNO

-`Star Trek V':

Not all the news from the summer picture front is so upbeat: Reports put "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" - due June 9 from Paramount - back in the editing room following recent test screenings.

A Paramount representative said the film that was screen-tested "was really a work in progress," and promised "a blockbuster."

A test-viewer we talked with reported "a lot of laughter and snickers" throughout a recent screening at the Paramount lot, attended by a recruited audience of more than 200 - along with star-director William Shatner, star Leonard Nimoy and producer Harve Bennett.

"There was only a little applause at the end," said our source. A sequence that "looked real fake" was set in Yosemite National Park. "There's this little tiny figure shown from a distance - scaling a massive, sheer-drop cliff. Then the camera zooms in real close, and you see it's Shatner. And he's sweating, and climbing free hand! No ropes, no nothing! The audience just cracked up."

Special effects got mixed marks. Some time warp scenes "are really neat." But there were also snickers, said our source, for "some real tacky effects," including one in which the Enterprise "looks like a cardboard cut-out" as it hovers against a planet. - PAT H. BROESKE

-Quibbles & Bits:

In Universal's "Field of Dreams," actor Ray Liotta - playing legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson - swings right-handed. The real Shoeless Joe was a lefty.


Films now going into production:

BAD JIM (Wouk-Ware). Shooting in Arizona and Montana. James Brolin, Richard Roundtree and John Clark Gable (you-know-who's son) star in this Western yarn spun around three honest cowboys who suddenly find themselves wanted with a price on their heads. They even bump into Billy the Kid's horse. Producer Joseph Wouk. Director-screenwriter Clyde Ware. Also stars Harry Carey Jr.

COUPE DE VILLE (Morgan Creek). Shooting in S. Carolina and Florida. It is a '60s period comedy with Patrick Dempsey, Arye Gross and Daniel Stern as three estranged brothers who are sent by their father from Michigan to Florida in a 1954 Cadillac. Secretly, it is an effort by the old man to get the boys to reconcile. Executive producers James G. Robinson and Joe Roth. Producers Larry Brezner and Paul Schiff. Director Roth. Screenwriter Mike Binder. Also stars Annabeth Gish, Alan Arkin and Joe Bologna. Distributor Universal.

HALLOWEEN 5 (Magnum). Shooting in Salt Lake City. Donald Pleasence reprises his loony Dr. Loomis role as the indefatigable Michael Myers returns yet again to slash up the screen. Executive producer Moustapha Akkad. Producer Rick Nathanson. Director Dominique Othenin-Girard. Screenwriters Michael Jacobs, Othenin-Girard and Shem Bitterman. Also stars Daniella Harris, Ellie Cornell and Wendy Kaplan. Distributor Galaxy. Halloween release, of course.