CINEMA: Hollywood's Last Decent Man

In the sprawling Forrest Gump, Oscar winner Tom Hanks again displays his quiet magnetism

Forrest Gump is nobody special, but he meets special people. In his 30-year odyssey through recent American history, this crippled Alabama lad with a 75 IQ bumps into Elvis and John Lennon, J.F.K. and L.B.J., Nixon and Mao. Forrest is an innocent on loan to a cynical world, and in the movie bearing his name he would make little sense if he were played by anyone but Tom Hanks.

Hanks, 38 this week, is the actor who takes dangerous themes or recycled plots and, with his craft and decency, makes them esteemed hits. The rare flops (Punchline, The Bonfire of the...

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