Joe Versus the Volcano
Release: March 09, 1990
Release: March 09, 1990

Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley's first foray into the director's chair is a quirky romantic fantasy, featuring Bo Welch's signature production design. Tom Hanks plays Joe Banks, a man who hates his job, thinks the overhead fluorescent lights are making him sick, and quakes at the presence of his boorish boss Frank Watori (Dan Hedaya). He is attracted to the office secretary DeDe (Meg Ryan) but is afraid to speak to her. Then his life changes when he visits Dr. Ellison (Robert Stack). Dr. Ellison tells Joe that he has something called "a brain cloud" that is rapidly spreading throughout his brain. He will feel great, but he'll be dead within five months. Instead of being depressed at this bleak prognosis, Joe suddenly feels free. He quits his job, asks DeDe out, and is contacted by a rich millionaire named Graynamore (Lloyd Bridges). Graynamore owns an island named Waponi Woo, whose natives need to be placated. The natives require a sacrifice to their island volcano, the Big Woo, so that the island won't sink beneath the Pacific. Graynamore offers unlimited wealth to Tom in exchange for Tom's becoming the object of human sacrifice. Joe has nothing to lose, so he accepts the offer. As he heads out to the island, Joe meets Graynamore's daughters — Angelica, a Los Angeles socialite, and Patricia, Angelica's blonde half-sister (both roles played by Ryan). Joe arrives at the island, and as he stands at the lips of the Big Woo he has to decide whether he really wants to leap into the maw of the fiery volcano.

GRAYNAMORE: "Have I come at a bad time?"
JOE: "Yeah. No. I don't know how to answer that question."
DEDE: "Where are you?"
JOE: "I'm right here."
DEDE: "I wish I was where you are, Joe."
JOE: "What exactly is a typhoon?"
PATRICIA: "You know, Joe, I think you're going to find out."
Luggage Salesman: "Have you thought much about luggage, Mr. Banks?"
Joe Banks: "No."
Luggage Salesman: "It's the central preoccupation of my life."
GRAYNAMORE: "He told me your news. I hope you won't be angry with him. He thought you and I might be able to help each other. Got any whiskey? [Joe shakes his head. Graynamore produces a pipe.]"
GRAYNAMORE: "I want to hire you, Joe Banks. I want you... to jump into a volcano."
JOE: "I do have some whiskey."
Waponi Chief: "Do you want to marry him?"
Patricia: "Yes."
Waponi Chief: "Do you want to marry her?"
Joe Banks: "Yes."
Waponi Chief: "Good. You're married."
Angelica: "Would you like to hear one of my poems?"
Joe Banks: "Sure."
Angelica: "Long ago, the delicate tangles of his hair... covered the emptiness of my hand... Would you like to hear it again?"
Joe Banks: "Ok."
Angelica: "Long ago, the delicate tangles of his hair... covered the emptiness of my hand."
Joe Banks: "And Frank, the coffee. It stinks. It tastes like arsenic. These lights give me a headache; if they don't give you a headache, you must be dead, so let's arrange the funeral!"
An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss