Thankful Thursday XXX – Netflix Shows Nothing Came Easy To Forrest, Forrest Gump

This Thankful Thursday, which is to say “yesterday”, I thought of a show I saw on TV the night before that : The Movies That Made Us. It’s a semi-regular show made for Netflix that looks at how movies we loved came together… often not as easily as it might seem! This week I’d watched the one concerning Forrest Gump. I’ve seen several other instalments, including recently Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing, all movies I like or love. They have movies chronicled that I don’t care for too, but it’s not as interesting watching what almost went wrong on a movie I wish had gone south, is it?

Dirty Dancing was a small budget feature that couldn’t find anyone interested in buying the script until a direct-to-video company that seemingly operated out of a small office bought it for a pittance. It didn’t go direct-to-video and made more money than pretty much everything else the company did combined. Pretty Woman‘s creators wanted Richard Gere to be the leading man all along, and got him, and Julia Roberts to be the heroine, the “hooker with a heart of gold.” Only at the time, Roberts was an almost-unknown quantity, a co-star of the B-movie Mystic Pizza and not much else, and Gere was holding out for a known superstar to drive people to the box office to see him. Once he was convinced Julia had screen appeal, it still took weeks to find the right fabric and right designer to assemble her style metamorphosis. Oh… and in the original script, Vivian, (Roberts) was a druggie prostitute who was left behind after her whirlwind week of the high life with him. Not exactly the romantic fairytale, “Cinderella” people dream about or pay money to see. Re-write!

Then there’s Forrest Gump – the all-American unlikely hero movie that was the third-biggest money maker ever for Hollywood at the time and took home a cart of Academy Awards big enough to carpet Alabama. It starred Tom Hanks, already a solid, A-list actor, and Sally Field, one of America’s sweethearts. Seemed like a can’t miss, right? Of course, it was far from it. The orignal novel which it was based on is vaguely similar in outline … to put it impolitely, “idiot savant stumbles onto great deeds accidently”. But the author’s Gump was rather a rude, unlikeable sod with a pet monkey. Hardly anyone to get the masses cheering on. So, new writers came in to revise his character and it got bought by a biggish studio. But people changed desks there and soon the studio was telling the director, Robert Zemeckis, to cut back, it was costing too much. They wanted no shrimp story in the movie – filming on a boat on water costs more than on land -, wanted no part of the Vietnam saga… costs money to ship people overseas and some of the shots might be expensive, and if he had to run across the country, couldn’t they shoot all the shots in an L.A. city park instead of all across the country? And don’t even get us started on the complications of superimposing Hanks into historical footage of JFK and so on. Thankfully, Zemeckis stood his ground and he and Hanks ended up pitching in some of their own cash to get it completed.

Now, the reason I’m telling you all this isn’t to make you turn on the TV or pitch myself for a Cinema 101 tutoring job. It is instead to point out that things that things that work out great and seem easy are actually quite problematic and often require many hurdles to be jumped. If it took Tom Hanks and Richard Gere so much to get their classics completed, why should we think it’s got to be a lot easier for any of us to see anything we care about through to completion?

Greatness of any sort requires a lot of work and patience… and a little luck. I’m thankful to Netflix and their series for reminding me that.

5 Replies to “Thankful Thursday XXX – Netflix Shows Nothing Came Easy To Forrest, Forrest Gump”

  1. Wonderful post, Dave. You’re right, darkness will always try to sidetrack light, I’ve seen it too many times to believe otherwise. I love all of those movies, and I thank God the people who needed to stand strong did. Forrest Gump really is one of my favorite movies of all time. You know how Forrest has his box of chocolates on the park bench? I reach for my box of kleenex every time I see it. It’s a film of so much raw emotion it’s impossible not to cry while watching it. I’m glad they decided to go a different direction from the novel with it! I saw the banner for that series on netflix and wondered if it was any good. If I can ever get through everything else on my to-watch list I’ll give it a look.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Forrest still ranks high on my all-time list too. Was so blown away by it the first time I saw it, at the theater (which even then was something I didn’t go to regularly) from the time that feather began floating down to the end. Certainly a good thing Hanks and Zemeckis were stalward to do it the way they wanted, even to the music which Zemeckis picked, the studio thought too expensive but he made a demo with it and basically defied the studio bosses to take it out.
      The show’s interesting, and fairly witty…. of course, like I said, it’s of more interest when it’s about a movie you like.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That is a great philosophy Dave. Everything worth something is worth fighting for. I didn’t know they put their own money in…or forgot about it. I bet their share in the profits were huge but that is not the point. They believed in it and it paid off artistically and financially.

    I love the movie…when the John Lennon part comes on I almost always tear up…but my wife probably wishes I never heard the phrase “run Jen-ny run” lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet a lot of Jenny’s got tired of that! And before that, the Tommy Tutone song! A great movie though. The philosophy reminds me of one random Bob Mould line in a solo song that I love “there’s a price to pay for a wish to come true/trade a small piece of your life.” That really jumped out at me when I first heard it, it seems so true but so rarely understood.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s