Sandra P. Angulo
July 29, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

The bullet-crackling, decibel-popping sound effects in Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” may have left some viewers too shell-shocked to hear Tom Hanks’ momentous pronouncement to Matt Damon near the film’s end. At several recent New York showings, audience members told EW Online that they misheard Hanks’ utterance “Earn this, Earn this.” Viewers thought he said such things as “Call me Earnest,” “Live life to the fullest. Earn it,” and one moviegoer thought Hanks was quoting a Yeats poem.

New York audiences aren’t the only ones having trouble with the dialogue. “We’ve had complaints about the sound,” said Rana Pattie, senior manager of AMC’s Coco Walk 16 in Miami. “With all that loud background noise, it’s hard to understand the actual dialogue.”

As the only major success so far for DreamWorks, “Ryan” captured an impressive $30.6 million at the box office last weekend, despite a reported problem with 100 late prints that missed early Friday screenings. The film seems likely to keep drawing crowds, even if some people can’t hear a line or two. In fact, Hanks’ mystery line could add some comic relief to the gruesome film. As one viewer quipped, “What did he say? Earnest? Yeah right. Just call the movie ‘Earnest Goes to Omaha Beach.'”

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