Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are a match made in cinema heaven. The actor’s everyman quality meshes perfectly with Spielberg’s old-fashioned magic, resulting in fanciful films that charm and delight audiences. While the pair haven’t collaborated since 2017’s The Post, we still thought it would be fun to look back at the movies they teamed up on, if only to remind our readers not to take these two talented artists for granted.
The Money Pit (1986)
Surprisingly, Hanks and Spielberg first teamed up in the mid-80s on The Money Pit, which chronicles a couple’s disastrous attempts to renovate a house. Hanks and co-star Shelly Long are saddled by a cookie-cutter script but still manage to squeeze out a few laughs via some well-executed physical comedy. Director Richard Benjamin keeps the film moving at a decidedly fast pace but loses his grip on the material in a third act that nose dives into unnecessary melodrama.
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Spielberg’s fingerprints are all over this quirky, surprisingly deep John Patrick Shanley-directed production about a man suffering from a terminal disease (a brain cloud) who agrees to perform one last act of heroism by jumping into a volcano to save the tiny island of Waponi Woo. Goofy comedy abounds, but Shanley dives deeper and delivers a whimsical fantasy adventure that simultaneously touches the heart and soul. Meg Ryan (in the first of three team-ups with Hanks) co-stars as three very different women who each impact Hanks’ character in their own unique way. The movie features a terrific score by Georges Delerue.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Steven Spielberg’s powerful epic lacks the intricacy of better war films — like Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, for example — but remains a visceral cinematic experience nonetheless. The opening D-Day sequence that kicks off the action is 30-minutes of pure terror and as fierce a sequence as Spielberg has ever produced. But it’s the finale, during which Captain John Miller (Hanks) and a ragtag group of battle-hardened soldiers defend a bridge from German troops, that makes the biggest impact — a stunningly executed set piece that’s as harrowing as it is thrilling. Saving Private Ryan is a technical tour de force, and one hell of a film.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks shine in Steven Spielberg’s breezy comedy about real-life con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., who ran away from home at age 17, forged millions of dollars in checks, and masqueraded as a pilot, doctor, and lawyer in the 1960s. Co-starring Christopher Walken (in one of his best roles) and Martin Sheen, Catch Me If You Can ranks amongst Spielberg’s finest works thanks to its perfect blend of warm-hearted comedy and intimate drama. As such, it remains his best collaboration with Hanks to date.
The Terminal (2004)
The Terminal means well and boasts plenty of heart but gets stuck in a thick layer of cheesy Hollywood schmaltz. Tom Hanks stars as Viktor Navorski, a mild-mannered traveler from the fictional country of Krakozhia, who gets stuck at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. During his prolonged stay in the terminal, Victor meets new people, learns new skills, finds love with Catherine Zeta-Jones’ flighty flight attendant, and fends off grumpy Acting Field Commissioner Frank Dixon (played by a terrific Stanley Tucci). One of Steven Spielberg’s lesser efforts, The Terminal is an enjoyable, albeit sentimental, slice of entertainment.
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Bridge of Spies sees Tom Hanks caught up in an espionage tale involving a Soviet Union spy named Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Abel, you see, was captured by authorities and charged with spying on America for his homeland. Hanks’ character, James B. Donovan, is given the unflattering task of defending him. The two men form an unlikely friendship that hits a wall when Donovan is asked to negotiate a trade with the Soviets for an American pilot in exchange for Abel. Well-acted and written, Bridge of Spies is a handsome production that leans more on smarts than thrills to tell its fascinating true-life tale.
The Post (2017)
Meryl Streep is outstanding in Steven Spielberg’s captivating retelling of The Washington Post’s race to expose government secrets about the Vietnam War. Tom Hanks shines as editor Ben Bradlee, while Bob Odenkirk and a terrific ensemble offer strong supporting work. Still, Streep’s performance, Spielberg’s solid direction, and Liz Hannah and Josh Singer’s sharp screenplay raise The Post to extraordinary heights.
Bonus: Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010)
Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg teamed up for HBO’s terrific miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific, which both delivered an emotional look at the horrors of WWII, replete with shocking violence and intense realism. It’s possibly one of the most captivating look at WWII ever produced and is not to be missed.