Winston Groom's tale of a simple, truthful man and his accidentally adventure-filled life immediately struck a chord with producer Wendy Finerman, who was convinced of the novel's potential as a motion picture when she first read it shortly after publication. Years of failed screenplay attempts, a change in studios (the property was traded from Warner Brothers to Paramount for Executive Decision in 1988) and false starts ended when screenwriter Joe Roth brought the love story to the forefront instead of the book's emphasis on Gump's history-making adventures. Soon, a director was attached to the project and casting began. The second director that signed on left to make Addams Family Values and Robert Zemeckis joined the project.
Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and John Travolta passed on the titular lead character role while Ice Cube, David Alan Grier and Dave Chappelle turned down the role of Gump's friend "Bubba Blue" with both Travolta and Chappelle expressing regrets over their decisions with the benefit of hindsight. Robin Wright was the only actress to read for "Jenny", Forrrest's life-long love. Tom Hanks eventually signed on to play "Forrest" on two conditions: 1) that the story's historical accounts remain accurate and 2) his compensation would consist entirely of percentage points of the film's profits - a decision that reportedly earned Mr. Hanks $40 million simoleons when all was said and done. And despite a 10 year age difference between her and Hanks, Sally Field was cast as Gump's ever-loving mama.
Released near the July 4th Holiday in 1994, the film immediately found an audience among movie-goers of all ages, going on to become the highest grossing movie of the year, the fourth highest-grossing movie up to that time and it currently ranks in the Top 30 of highest-grossing films of all-time BEFORE adjusting for inflation. The film won six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor. In 1996, "Weird" Al Yankovic would record a parody song titled "Gump" set to the music of The Presidents Of The United States song "Lump":
The movie was an instant hit with HERC and he purchased it when it was first released on VHS on his birthday in 1995, later acquiring the DVD when it was released some years later. HERC read the book after seeing the movie (which is usually NOT how he does things) and was surprised just how much the character and the story had been reworked for the screen. The book is cruder and rougher, filled with enough sex and language to easily earn an "R" rating. A second book was published in 1995 - Gump & Co. - which follows Forrest and his son's adventures through the 1980s and early 1990s. HERC enjoyed that book as well, maybe more than the first one.
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More so than any other film featured here on the Friday Film Fest thus far, the soundtrack to Forrest Gump helps establish the historical timeline, from the 50s to the 60s, then the 70s and finally, the 80s. As originally released shortly before the film, the soundtrack is a double disc collection of 32 tracks featured in the film, presented in chronological order as they were in the movie. In 2001, a Special Collector's Edition of the soundtrack was released with two additional songs from the movie that had not been on the original soundtrack release. A song from the soundtrack - "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" - which had been a #1 hit in 1969, was issued as a Johnny Vicious remixed single and managed to climb onto the Dance Charts where it cracked the Top 30.
By HERC's count, there are 50 songs featured in the movie (most of which are gathered in the Spotify playlist above) including a song performed by the "Jenny" character (a cover of Bob Dylan) and an edited version of John Lennon's "Imagine" lyrics used in an interview sequence. Here are a few videos featuring songs from the soundtrack and a few featuring scenes from the film - HERC strongly recommends the one at the bottom of the pile: