Variety Magazine is reporting that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are contemplating doing a fourth collaboration in a Cold War thriller surrounding the U-2 Incident in which American pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down and captured in the Soviet Union.
Hanks would play James Donovan, a prominent attorney who was sent behind the Iron Curtain to negotiate for Powers’ release. If the movie is green lit, it will be written by Matt Chapman and, along with Spielberg, produced by Marc Platt.
Hanks and Spielberg have had a lucrative business relationship, having collaborated in three films with Hanks starring and Spielberg directing. The films are “Saving Private Ryan,” “Catch Me if You Can,” and “The Terminal.”
The U-2 Incident occurred on May 1, 1960 when a high altitude spy plane was brought down, it is reported, by a ground to air missile near the town of Sverdlovsk In the then Soviet Union. In an area before the use of satellites, the United States flew U-2 spy planes over Eastern Bloc territory like the USSR on photo reconnaissance missions. The missions were primarily designed to keep tabs on the Soviets’ nuclear arsenal. At the time it was thought that the U-2 flew at too high an altitude to be molested by enemy aircraft or missiles.
The U-2 Incident severely strained American/Soviet relations, which were in any case not all that friendly at the height of the Cold War. Powers was put on trial for espionage and was sentenced to three years imprisonment and seven years hard labor. Thanks to Donovan’s negotiations, Powers was released from his Soviet prison after a year, nine months, and nine days in exchange for a captured Soviet spy, Colonel Rudolph Ivanovich Abel.
The U-2 went on to be instrumental in detecting Soviet installations in Cuba that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite the advent of satellites and aerial drones, the U-2 remains in service to this day.
Donovan was a prominent lawyer in Democratic circles, having served in the Nuremberg trials and have helped draft the legislation for the creation of the CIA. He served as an unofficial diplomat for the Kennedy administration, helping to negotiate for the release of captured Cuban soldiers after the Bay of Pigs. He was the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate from New York in 1962, but was defeated by Republican Jacob Javits.