When you’re coming off the big disappointment of Larry Crowne, the simple idea of seeing Tom Hanks in another good movie is, in a slightly unfortunate way, all the more enticing. I’m fairly confident that Paul GreengrassA Captain’s Duty will fit the bill — but, if for some reason it doesn’t, THR has news of another strong possibility.

As they tell us, the actor plans to lead In the Garden of Beasts, a historical drama based on Erik Larson‘s non-fiction book; he’ll also produce through Playtone with Gary Goetzman. Set in the ’30s, this tells the true story of William Dodd, America’s “reluctant and mild-mannered ambassador to Berlin in 1933, and his daughter Martha, a vivacious socialite who had romantic affairs with a Gestapo official and a Soviet spy.” While they initially enjoy their time in Nazi Germany, he and his family “slowly gained awareness of the mounting brutality around them.” Sounds like perfect material for Hanks, as World War II is something the actor has tackled quite a bit in his storied career. And, best of all, this seems to be a different angle at which to approach the conflict — even if none existed at the time.

As already alluded to above, I’ve been missing Hanks for several years at this point. The Dan Brown adaptations are a waste of his talent, Crowne was a bust, and next month’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close looks like pure Oscar bait. But a straightforward, compelling story is the kind of fare he helped make his name with, and this sounds like it could fall into that category. Which, for yours truly, is perfectly fine.

Here’s Amazon‘s extended synopsis of the book:

“The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance–and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.”

Does this sound like a good starring role for Hanks? What have you thought of his recent films?

No more articles