Blog Archive

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tom Hanks and The Wright Brothers Miniseries

An early script has been obtained of some scenes from the adaptation of  David McCullough's "The Wright Brothers", providing an early preview of Tom Hanks interpretation of this latest telling of the accomplishments of these two inventors from Dayton Ohio.......

Partial Cast Listing:
Tom Hanks- Wilbur Wright
Peter Scolari- Orville Wright
Jim Belushi- Charles E.Taylor
Daryl Hannah- Katharine Wright
Harrison Ford- Harry Haskell
Eugene Levy- Octave Chanute / Walter Kornbluth
Rowan Atkinson- Samuel Langley
Gary Sinise- Glen Curtiss
Tim Allen- Bishop Wright

Early September, the year of 1900. A close up of a man's hand with pen, writing a letter. Dipping the pen into the inkwell, and inscribing a message. Stopping briefly, as he looks up and out through the living room window sees his brother Orville ride by on a bicycle.
The scene follows Orville as he rides towards the Wright Cycle Shop. Small children play about the sidewalks, horse and carriages and motor cars share the streets. Orville reaches West Third Street, but waits for cross traffic, balancing in place on his bicycle, shifting the front wheel back and forth while both feet remain on the pedals, the cycle remaining at the curb and upright. Oddly, Orville wears one red shoe, and one dress shoe. Two pedestrians nearby observe Orville's balancing, and one asks the other "Can you do that? I can't do that."(1)  We hear Wilbur's voice dictating the words as he pens a note to his father, "I am intending to start in a few days for a trip to the coast of North Carolina in the vicinity of Roanoke Island, for the purpose of making some experiments with a flying machine. It is my belief that flight is possible..."

An amazing music score, as "The Wright Brothers" Miniseries is announced. Scenes of Wilbur traveling on train. Then awaiting a boat, he takes pen in hand again.
"I am at this place waiting for a boat to take me across Albemarle Sound to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which will be my address at present...."

The scene opens with a small boat far from the shore line, with two occupants. A rather heavyset salty old sea dog of a man, and a lone rather uncomfortable passenger, Wilbur Wright.

Fat Jack- "What's the matter? You look a little nervous."(2)
Wilbur- "The boat is smaller than I anticipated. My swimming skills, I fear, are not up to sufficient standards for these waters."
(Wilbur is distracted for a moment, as he stares at a volley ball floating by with an odd painted face.)(3)
Fat Jack- "Can't swim? Then you wouldn't want me to do this?"
At which point Fat Jack begins to rock the little skiff.
Wilbur-"Auughh, please Mr. Fat Jack, you're splashing water into the box of chocolates my sister Katharine gave to me."(4)
Fat Jack- "I'm just having a little fun!"
Wilbur- "Well, please don't do that."

The boat creaks to a halt, bobbing in the waves.
Wilbur- "What's the matter?"
Fat Jack- "I guess when I rocked the boat I must of got a little water in the engine. I can fix it, I'm mechanical."
At this point, Wilbur smiles when he realizes Mr. Fat Jack perhaps shares his brother Orville and his mechanical interests and skills. Fat Jack picks up a hammer from the bottom of the boat, and begins to pound dents into the boat engine.

Camera shot of hammer pounding engine transitions to hammer pounding boards of the small hangar and living quarters under construction by Wilbur and Orville on the sands of Kill Devil Hills. A vast wilderness of sand, wind, and isolation, the camera pans the landscape to some distant activity on the beach. Taking a break, the Brothers stroll along the shoreline of the Atlantic. They come upon several men carrying some crates.
Orville- "What is it you have there?"
Walter Kornbluth- "What? Why? Why do you ask?? I knew it! You're here to spy on me!"(5)
Wilbur- "No, really, we're just here to experiment with our flying machine."
Kornbluth- "I suppose you're just some harmless beachcombers who happen to wear tuxedos!
Other two men- Chuckling, snickers, making faces.
Orville- "Yes, we've built a glider and intend to glide down that large sand dune over there.
Kornbluth- "Ok, yeah, sure. And I was embarrassed to tell you I'm hunting for Mermaids!" 
All three men- Doubling over with laughter. "Going to fly over the sand dunes are they? Haaaaahhhh! Snort snort, haaaaaaahhhaaa"
Mermaid fins are seen in the waters just beyond the shoreline, and to the sound of an engine popping and propellers chopping, the scene changes to a cold December day in 1903, with Orville making the first 12 second flight of 120 feet.

Five witnesses cheer Orville on, as Wilbur runs along side the aeroplane. The men are yelling "Run, Wilbur, run!" Wilbur runs, and kicks off some curled driftwood branches that somehow became entangled on his legs.(6) Those 12 seconds pass by slowly, as Wilbur's heart beat grows louder and louder, close up of men cheering in slow motion, close up of Orville's face as he rides the wild beast, and then to Wilbur's face, and then to Wilbur's thoughts of the future, of the advancement of flight, the conquering of the skies, and eventually of outer space. Wilbur imagines himself in a spacecraft heading for the moon, the Apollo 13 mission, but Wilbur is suddenly snapped back to reality, as Orville lands the Flyer.(7) Wilbur takes a turn with similar results. Then Orville, and then Wilbur with the longest flight of 852 feet, 59 seconds. After these flights, a sudden gust of wind picks up the Flyer and begins to flip it. One of the five witnesses, John Daniels, jumps and grabs a strut, and is carried away with the aeroplane, as it rolls over and breaks apart, Daniels screaming as wires break and wood splinters and fabric tears. There would be no more flights that day.
Wilbur- (whispering to Orville) "Stupid is as stupid does".(8)

A year and a half later, Huffman Prairie, July 14, 1905-

Camera shot is from Orville's perspective, as he is manipulating the controls, flying the machine at Huffman Prairie, it begins to wobble and suddenly dives toward the ground. Orville loses control of the elevator and the craft smashes to earth, head first, at a speed of 30 miles per hour. What is left of the Flyer bounces three times down the field, upending on the front edges, catapulting Orville out of the cradle and through a broken section of the top wing. Charlie Taylor's whole body jerks and jumps slightly in the air upon seeing this (in classic Belushi style). He runs to the location of the wreck, and leaning over Orville, he declares, "This man has been badly beaned!"(9) It would not be the last time Orville would be hurt.......Sound of ambulance sirens coming from the distance, and odd monkey sounds, which transition to sounds of an incredible celebration on Main Street of Dayton Ohio, 1909 as the Wright's home town welcomes the Brothers home from their successful flights across the ocean. Scenes of the parade, and the fireworks that evening.

Wilbur and Orville at home; a knock at the door, and as the door is opened.....
Mailman- "You've got mail".
Wilbur- "Oh, this one isn't mine. To a Joe Fox..."
Mailman- "Sorry".(10)

Wilbur would have his revenge on Mr. Fat Jack in 1909 at Governor's Island. Having invited Fat Jack to the Hudson Fulton Celebration there, and having tied the little boat to the underside of his Flying Machine with Fat Jack inside, the two fly over the Hudson River steamboats as a million people watched.....
Wilbur- "Afraid of heights? Then you wouldn't want me to do this?"
Wilbur warps the wings and shifts the elevator heading the aeroplane toward the steamboat stacks.
Fat Jack- "Auughh, pleeeeease Mr. Wright! What a week I'm having!"

Hudson Fulton Event Sept/Oct 1909, Wilbur and Mr.Fat Jack having a little fun.
Turning the pages of the script through a number of scenes, the story takes a sad turn...

Very emotional scene of Wilbur fighting Typhoid fever in May of 1912. Difficult time for the family, and Orville and Katharine are hit hard by the loss.

Then, one chilly March morning of 1913 after days of heavy rain, the streets of Dayton are flooded this time not with its citizens celebrating the Wright's accomplishments, but with raging water as the levies can no longer hold back the rising rivers.
Major cool special effects and an even more amazing musical score, the City is flooded and on fire, Orville and Katharine fight to escape the rising flood waters. An unexpected plot twist occurs when Katharine (played by Daryl Hannah) is initially overcome and pulled under by  the waters, but then miraculously bursts upward from the depths with amazing swimming abilities, and rescues thousands.  Bishop Wright separated from the family, whereabouts unknown. As the water rises, the 1903 Wright Flyer is seen submerged under 12' of water and mud. The Wright's home is shown as water floods the first floor level. The glass plate negatives of the Wright's experiments at Kitty Hawk, and the first flight negative is seen as it goes under water stored in the storage shed behind the Wright home. Special guest appearances by  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in an amazing sideline story of heroism and romance as they fight to survive. (11)

Though Wilbur is gone, his words are heard through the wind and rain-
" Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. And no one can direct his life entirely as he would choose. And that's all I have to say about that."(12)


Scripts for "The Wright Brothers", "Splash", "Man With One Red Shoe", "Cast Away", "Apollo 13", Forest Gump" "You've Got Mail" intermingled.
(1) Man With One Red Shoe, Tom Hanks character, Richard Drew balancing on bicycle.
(2) Splash, Fat Jack and Tom Hanks character, Allen Bauer boat scene. Allen falls overboard and is saved by a mermaid.
(3) Cast Away, Wilson the volley ball.
(4) Forest Gump, a box of chocolates in lieu of a jar of jelly. Katharine had packed a jar of jelly for Wilbur, and it was all he had to eat, as he dared not touch the food offered on the rat infested boat owned by Israel Perry.
(5) Splash, Eugene Levy's character, Walter Kornbluth in search of mermaids with his two bumbling assistants. Tom Hank's character Allen comes across them and is thought to be there to spy on Kornbluth's research.
(6) Forest Gump, early scene where young Forest Gump runs from bullies, and braces on legs break apart and fly off.
(7) Apollo 13, Tom Hank's character Jim Lovell on board.
(8) Forest Gump, what his mother used to tell him, and his quote throughout the movie.
(9) Man With One Red Shoe, scene at softball field, Richard Drew gets beaned in the head with a softball, and his friend Morris (Jim Belushi) jumps and runs to his aid.
(10) You've Got Mail, Joe Fox is Tom Hanks character's name.
(11) Titanic, not a Tom Hanks movie, but had to throw it in.
(12) Forest Gump, and that is all I have to say about that.


For more Wright Brother humor and adventures, see blogs:
Great Scott! It's Wilbur Wright back in 1909!
A Journey back in time: An interview with Orville Wright
Orville Wright's sense of humor
The nine lives of Orville Wright
An alternate time line: The 1905 Wright Flyer III flies again!
What if the Wright Brothers had not experimented in flight in the early 1900's?
Connecticut, you have Gustave be kidding me!

Index of Topics