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The kings of Hollywood, together again

'Terminal' is the third time around for Spielberg and Hanks

By Todd Leopold

Tom Hanks in "The Terminal."
"Eye on Entertainment" talks about the weekend's happenings on CNN's "Live Today" between 10 a.m. and noon ET Thursday.
Tom Hanks
Steven Spielberg
William Jefferson Clinton

(CNN) -- Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

When people think of Hollywood couples, they tend to think of actor partnerships. And yes, when two actors are "on" together, the results can be dazzling.

But director-actor partnerships have been just as important -- and just as magical.

Alfred Hitchcock helped Cary Grant and James Stewart find their dark sides, each in four pictures (including "Notorious" and "North by Northwest" for Grant, and "Rear Window" and "Vertigo" for Stewart). Frank Capra worked with Stewart on three -- "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "You Can't Take It With You" and "It's a Wonderful Life."

John Ford and John Wayne made more than 20 films together, including such classics as "Stagecoach" and "The Searchers."

More recently, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro have become frequent collaborators. De Niro won his best actor Oscar for his performance in Scorsese's "Raging Bull."

Nowadays, it seems like several actors and directors can't live without one another. Tim Burton often works with Johnny Depp; their fourth collaboration, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is due next year. Ben Affleck and Kevin Smith are good friends and frequent creative partners. George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh have a production company together.

Can we now add Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to the list?

The pair first worked together on "Saving Private Ryan," then co-produced "Band of Brothers" for HBO. In 2002, Hanks starred in Spielberg's "Catch Me If You Can."

Now comes "The Terminal," in which Hanks plays an Eastern European immigrant trapped in the United States when his country's government is deposed.

Eye on Entertainment takes flight.


According to one story, Spielberg was impressed by the set of the old TWA terminal at New York's Kennedy Airport for "Catch Me If You Can." Struck by the possibilities of a movie set at an airport, he decided to make it a future project. A script was written, Hanks signed on (or maybe vice versa), and here came "The Terminal."

Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a visitor from the country of Krakozhia. As Navorski lands at JFK, his country is taken over by an opposition group and its borders are closed. The U.S. won't recognize his entry visa. Navorski is left a man without a country, and he's not allowed to leave the airport.

So he makes his way, learning bits of English and getting to know the airport's denizens, including airport security chief Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), a Starbucks employee (Jessie Andersen) and several airport workers.

He also meets Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a flight attendant stuck in a long-distance affair, with whom he strikes up a romantic relationship.

Given Spielberg's incredible confidence with the camera -- who else could have made that stunning shopping mall scene with Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton in "Minority Report"? -- JFK will likely look as interesting as possible. And, judging from the previews, Hanks sinks his expertise into the role (and accent) of Navorski with relish.

Still, "The Terminal" isn't exactly slam-bang summer blockbuster entertainment. There are no gigantic explosions, no revolting toilet jokes, no computer-generated galaxies. Just a guy living in an airport, trying to get back home.

Thank goodness.

"The Terminal" opens Friday.

On screen

  • That spinning sound you hear coming from France is Jules Verne turning in his grave. "Around the World in 80 Days" takes the bare bones of his novel and turns it into a Jackie Chan fight fest. (Nothing wrong with a Jackie Chan fight fest, but why even bother with Verne?) Verne's probably twice as ticked off that he's not getting a cut of the gross. The film opened Wednesday.
  • "Dodgeball," starring Ben Stiller, could be silly fun. Or it could be silly dumb. Opens Friday.
  • On the tube

  • Clean your shoes and comb your hair: "Monk" is passing. The season premiere of the Tony Shalhoub detective show hits USA Network 10 p.m. Friday.
  • Maybe the third time will be the charm for "Salem's Lot," a TV miniseries based on the Stephen King vampire novel that's been made twice before. The program stars Rob Lowe and James Cromwell and premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday on TNT. (TNT is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN.)
  • Sound waves

  • A couple years ago, their own label didn't want them -- after all, their albums only sold a couple hundred thousand copies. (Anyone who can't go triple platinum gets dropped nowadays.) Now Wilco has the most eagerly awaited album in months, "A Ghost Is Born" (Nonesuch). It comes out Tuesday.
  • Brian Wilson's solo material has been an uneven affair -- a pretty good debut in 1988, a not-so-good "Imagination" in 1998. Now comes "Getting In Over My Head" (Rhino), with Andy Paley helping out. Due Tuesday.
  • Paging readers

  • Will it be a revelation or a bore -- or a little of both? Bill Clinton's autobiography, "My Life" (Knopf), comes out Tuesday.
  • Louise Erdrich's new novel, "Four Souls" (HarperCollins), is due Tuesday.

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