Thursday, 21 July 2016

LETTERS OF NOTE: Tom 'Bango' Hanks

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My first post back from honeymoon finds me returning to the deep well of inspiration that is Letters of Note, Shuan Usher's outstanding online library of correspondence which has already produced two highly compelling books (three if you count its sister website, Lists of Note). And what better way to kick things off again than with a huge dose of (over-)confidence on the part of a young Tom Hanks.

In 1974 Hanks was a 17-year-old unknown, still six years away from getting his first acting break on the low-budger slasher He Knows You're Alone. 1974 was also the year that The Sting, the renowned caper film which reunited Paul Newman and Robert Redford, won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (for George Roy Hill) and Best Original Screenplay (for David S. Ward).
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Hanks promptly wrote to Hill, with a precocious mix of self-confidence and self-deprecation, asking for the director's help in 'discovering' him - something which Hanks considered would be "all together fitting and proper". He speculates about being cast as a stand-in whose lucky break comes when the star of Hill's next picture (which would be The Great Waldo Pepper, also starring Redford) breaks his leg. He uses the word "bango" a surprising amount, and concludes (with some irony) that he doesn't want to be "some bigtime, Hollywood superstar".
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You can read Hanks' full letter to Hill here. You can find my thoughts on The Sting here, and can also check out my thoughts on Redford's career in this article I wrote for WhatCulture! back in 2014.

Daniel

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