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Tom Hanks May Take A Stroll ‘In The Garden Of Beasts’

Tom Hanks May Take A Stroll 'In The Garden Of Beasts'

World War, Tom Hanks and American heroism go together like peanut butter and jelly. The “Saving Private Ryan” star has also produced and directed an episode of “Band Of Brothers,” produced and narrated “The Pacific” and now has a new project that will allow him to face the horror of the Nazis from a completely different angle.

Hanks’ Playtone production shingle has teamed with Universal to pick up the rights to Erik Larsen‘s very well received non-fiction book “In the Garden of the Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” published earlier this year. Based on a true story, the book centers on American ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd, who arrives in the country in 1933 with his wife, son and daughter Martha. The latter gets swept up by the handsome young men of the Third Reich, dating a handful of them including Rudolph Diels, first chief of the Gestapo. However, Dodd soon becomes aware of the true intentions of the Nazi machine, witnessing an increasing persecution of the Jews, suppresion of the press, and more. When he transmits this information back to the authorities at home in the United States, they do no react with the outrage and horror he expects.

This is all very early days — there is no screenwriter attached yet — but Hanks is eyeing this as a starring vehicle, naturally. For Larsen, it’s another project that’s getting this high profile treatment in Hollywood, with his (excellent, must read) book “Devil In The White City” in development for years, and currently sitting with Leonardo DiCaprio at his Appian Way shingle. For Hanks, if he takes on ‘Beasts’, it’s likely another trip to the Kodak Theater; the material is great and would be fairly hard to screw up. But until then, you can next catch the actor in the Oscar contending “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” when it opens on Christmas Day. [THR]

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I don't know about this material being "great" and "fairly hard to screw up". Has anyone here read the book? I did, and found it tedious and disjointed. Dodd himself does virtually nothing over the course of it except meet with Hitler once or twice. His daughter Martha is the focus of the book, and all she does is go through a succession of lovers, one of whom is a Soviet agent. We never see any espionage though, just their endless long drives in the country. The whole book also takes place over a very brief period in 1933/1934, as the Nazis are only just beginning to rise to power. My problem with this pointless book can be encapsulated in one fact. Toward the beginning, Larsen mentions that Dodd rents the family mansion from a Jewish family and allows them to live on in the attic, so they'll be protected by his diplomatic immunity. Larsen then NEVER MENTIONS THEM AGAIN in the book. The book is fixated on Martha's busy lovelife to such an extent that it overlooks most everything else. Any film of this will have to be almost entirely fictional. DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY it ain't. (And of course even that brilliant book has proven impossible to adapt)


Hanks is about 15 years too young for the Dodd role, so it'd take some makeup if he wants to star.
(You know what I think would be really good casting, incidentally? Vincent Kartheiser for Rudolf Diels. Google-Image him.)

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