The Hollywood Portfolio

Published on by The Inquirer

                                                RON HOWARD and TOM HANKS,
                                                                                                       The Classicists


Four films together: Splash (1984), Apollo 13(1995)The Da Vinci Code (2006), and the upcoming Angels & Demons (2009).

It’s hard to remember how much we underestimated Howard and Hanks when Splash came out. The former wasn’t long removed from TV life as Richie Cunningham and had but two modest features to his name as a director, Grand Theft Auto and Night Shift; the latter was the taller guy from Bosom Buddies,Splash changed everything, establishing the templates for both men’s careers: Howard as a mainstream maximalist, making big, bustling movies that don’t skimp on heart and humor, and Hanks as an eminently relatable-to leading man who is forever getting thrust, whether he likes it or not, into extraordinary situations. Apollo 13 ratified both reputations, its acutely American story—of how the astronaut Jim Lovell and his crew nobly averted disaster during an aborted NASA mission to the moon—reinforcing the acutely American, down-the-middle appeal of both men. Their Dan Brown diptych, The Da Vinci Code and the forthcoming Angels & Demons, has them wandering farther afield, to the corridors and catacombs of the Vatican and the Louvre. But, like Howard Hawks and Gary Cooper ranging freely across genres in Today We Live, Ball of Fire, and Sergeant York,Photographed in Los Angeles.

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