Films are shot in segments. This may seem very obvious to you. And yes, it’s true that some directors shoot in relative form so that the actors keep their momentum and stay in the story. But other times, situations dictate that you shoot what you can, when you can, and hope that you can use the footage later. When it works, magic happens. And part of this magic, apparently, happened in Jonathan Demme’s film “Philadelphia”, which he shot back in 1992 with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
In the film, Tom Hanks plays a lawyer who is looking for legal help himself to sue his former employers, who, he claims, fired him as soon as they found out that he had AIDS. Hanks’ character, Andrew Beckett, turns to Denzel Washington’s character, Joe Miller, and eventually finds an ally in the fight against discrimination. Hanks recently talked about how he played a gay man on screen, and whether the role should have gone to a gay actor at the time. But when the actor sat down on the CinemaBlend ReelBlend podcast, he told more about the skill of shooting Philadelphia and how an ordinary frame became a cult episode.
As Tom Hanks says about it:
The power of cinema does not manifest itself until everything is united. And I don’t just mean the sound and the score, but everything that happened before the movie, and then everything that happens after the movie. And I’ll tell you one of the places where I come across this again and again and again — all I did was walk out the door, look up and down the street and walk away. That’s all I did that day. And this is the moment when I walk out of Denzel Washington’s office in Philadelphia, and a Bruce Springsteen song starts, and you know this guy can’t find a lawyer, and he’s dying of AIDS, and he’s all alone.
So much is conveyed through what could be considered a one-shot, a simple production of Tom Hanks leaving the office and looking around the street. The genius of the late Jonathan Demme is that he understood the humanity and emotional losses that are being sold at that moment. So does Hanks, even if it really didn’t hit the mark until later. Next he said ReelBlend:
Now when we’re shooting this in Philadelphia on a pretty cold day and they’re just trying to do it, they’re trying to keep moving in the right direction and talk to Jonathan Demme at this time, and I said, “Oh no, I know what’s going on here, I’m fine.” But the reality is, that it happens in real time and is done in 15 seconds. That’s all. This is the undeniable quality of a lightning strike in a movie.
Tom Hanks is a master storyteller, his incredible career is filled with stunning stories. Think about how hard it was for us to compile this list of the best Tom Hanks films. You need to listen to the full interview here:
The interview was taken on behalf of the new movie “Elvis”, in which Tom Hanks plays the manager of the singer Colonel Tom Parker. Some of the terrible things Parker did to Elvis didn’t make it into the movie, but audiences are still responding in kind, helping the biopic win the weekend box office while holding off Tom Cruise’s ruthless force, Top Gun: Maverick. In addition, the film has received the full support of the Presley family, which should be the only review you need to hear. As we speak, Elvis is in theaters, so grab your tickets and go ahead.