Welcome to a special week of Buried Credits, a column that dives deep into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits. This week, in honor of the upcoming Halloween holiday, instead of just looking at one person’s early or forgotten work, we’re looking at famous firsts in horror movies.
Today’s “frightful first” is….
By now, everybody knows who Tom Hanks is. From his rom-com movies with Meg Ryan like You’ve Got Mail, to Forrest Gump, Splash, Saving Private Ryan and about a million other memorable flicks (Big, Dragnet, Apollo 13, ad infinitum), his films have made nearly $9 Billion worldwide. He’s won numerous awards, is an outspoken activist for numerous causes like equality and environmentalism and is an avowed supporter of NASA, even having an asteroid named for him.
But Tom wasn’t always a big star. Before Bachelor Party and Bosom Buddies, Tom got his start in a movie called:
He Knows You’re Alone (1980)
Directed by Armand Mastroianni
Written by Scott Parker
He Knows You’re Alone is a serviceable entry in the slasher roll call, but some slack needs to be given as its 1980 release date puts in clearly in the early days of the horror movie sub-genre. It’s a bit predictable at times which isn’t helped by the fact that there’s no mystery as to who the killer is, but there are some fun and creepy moments that offset those quibbles. But we’re not really here to look at the pros and cons of He Knows You’re Alone, no sir – we’re here to take a look at and examine Tom Hanks in his first credited role.
In He Knows You’re Alone, Hanks plays Elliot, a guy that Amy (the lead character) and her best friend Nancy meet while out jogging. Aside from this appearance, we get about five minutes of Elliot as he, Nancy, Amy and Amy’s little sister wait on line for a ride at a rubbish carnival. Amy starts talking about how she’s afraid that some dude is stalking her (he is). At this point, it becomes Tom’s movie. Still greener than a beautiful lawn, Hanks out acts the rest of the group as he practices a little armchair psychology and gets all meta by explaining to the girls about horror and why we like to be scared. He then tells Amy that this stalker is a figment of her imagination because she only sees him when she is alone. Turns out Elliot is taking Psych 101, so obviously he’s an expert. After the ride is over, Elliot and Nancy run off, leaving Amy and her kid sister behind (nobody likes a third wheel and a tween tagalong).
We never see Elliot again.
However, we SHOULD have. There was a scene that had Elliot getting offed, but those few minutes on screen were enough for a test audience to apparently fall so madly in love with Hanks that they freaked out when he was killed which ended up in the producers having his death scene removed from the movie.
Since it’s such a small role we may as well go ahead and at least watch a little history. Ladies and gentlemen, here is Tom’s very first scene ever! Behold!
Fans of Hanks owe it to themselves to check out his first role. While his on-screen time is maybe five minutes, his charm and charisma are on display. Follow this up with something like Philadelphia or The Green Mile to see how much he’s grown as an actor while retaining the charm that was on display in his first role.