Always (1989 film): Wikis


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Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Jerry Belson and Diane Thomas
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
Holly Hunter
John Goodman
Brad Johnson
Audrey Hepburn
Music by John Williams
Editing by Michael Kahn
Studio Amblin Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
United Artists
Release date(s) December 22, 1989
(United States)
Running time 122 min.
Language English
Budget $29,500,000 (estimated)

Always is a 1989 romantic drama directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman and Brad Johnson. This is also Audrey Hepburn's final film appearance. The film was distributed by Universal Studios and United Artists.

The premise is based on the 1943 movie A Guy Named Joe and follows the same basic plot line.[1] with basic plot similarities in that one of the pilots dies and returns as a ghost to mentor a new pilot, only to find the new pilot falling in love with his former girlfriend. Spielberg did not treat the film as a direct homage to the earlier World War II melodrama.



Pete Sandich (Dreyfuss) is one of a group of aerial firefighters, who fly war-surplus aircraft dropping fire retardant slurry to put out forest wildfires. He and Dorinda Durston (Hunter), a pilot who doubles as a dispatcher, have an unusual relationship. After another of Pete's unnecessarily risky flying stunts, the pilots, mechanics and firemen are hanging out at the saloon. Pete surprises Dorinda with a stunning white dress for her birthday, although it turns out to be the wrong day. She puts on the dress anyway and all the guys rush to wash their hands so they get a turn dancing with her, to the lovely melody of the couple's song, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes".

Al Yackey (Goodman) is Pete's pal, a big trustworthy guy who really cares about Pete's well-being and is an enthusiastic booster of his relationship with Dorinda. He sits Pete down for a beer and likens their situation to wartime England (Quonset huts, warm beer, and hotshot pilots flying bombers) in order to emphasize the key difference:

Pete, there ain't no war here. And this is why you're not exactly a hero for taking these chances you take. You're more of what I would call a dickhead.

Al recommends Pete take a safer job which has just opened up, training firefighting pilots in Flat Rock, Colorado.

Dorinda reinforces the message, telling Pete:

I could at least understand how you fly if you were risking yourself for civilization. If you were putting your life on the line for another life, anybody's life. I love you, Pete, but I'm not enjoying it.

After deciding to take Al's advice, Pete risks his life one last time. While on a bombing run, one of the engines on Al's Catalina water bomber catches fire. In desperation, Pete makes a dangerously steep dive to extinguish it with slurry. He saves Al, but as a result of his steep dive, his A-26 bomber flies very low through the forest fire. Pete then flies through the forest fire, with Al watching the smoke cover and waiting for his friend to pull out of his dive. At the last minute, Pete does recover from the dive and climbs back up to a safe altitude beside Al. Both are quite happy and surviving the near death experience, and as Al is congratulating Pete, Pete feels the control column shake. Pete then looks over to port engine, to see a small flame appear. Pete smiles, points his head over to the very small - and, he assumes, minor fire - only to have his engines blow up and Al to watch in shock as the airplane vanishes in a puff of smoke and flame.

The next thing he knows, he is getting his hair cut in a beautiful forest setting, although six months have elapsed in the real world. His barber, Hap (Audrey Hepburn in her final screen role)—who is actually an angel—explains Pete's new role. Just as he was inspired when he needed it most, now he in turn is going to provide Spiritus ("the divine breath") to others. As she puts it, “They hear you inside their own minds as if it were their thoughts.”

Pete is promoted to guardian angel (“You're a good man, Pete. We don't send back the other kind.”) and is assigned to guide a true-hearted but awkward new pilot, Ted Baker (Johnson), who falls in love with Dorinda. This becomes Pete's biggest challenge: to say goodbye to Dorinda instead of selfishly hanging on to a love which can no longer be.

Ted volunteers for an extremely dangerous mission, one that is vital to save a crew of firefighters surrounded by flames. Unable to bear the thought of losing another loved one, Dorinda steals Ted's aircraft and completes the job with Pete's inspiration. On the way back, she sees his image one last time, and he tells her all the things he wanted to say but never got around to while he was alive. The engines on the aircraft then quit, and Dorinda is forced to make an emergency water landing on the lake, again with Pete's inspiration. As the aircraft sinks into the lake and the cabin fills with water, Dorinda appears reluctant to try to escape until Pete's image again appears, extending his hand to her. She takes his hand and they swim to the surface. As Dorinda wades ashore (now alone) to the waiting Ted and Al, Pete releases her heart so that Ted can take his place, saying “That's my girl… and that's my boy” and Pete finally enters heaven.


As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):[2]

Actor Role
Richard Dreyfuss Pete Sandich
Holly Hunter Dorinda Durston
John Goodman Al Yackey
Brad Johnson Ted Baker
Audrey Hepburn Hap
Roberts Blossom Dave
Keith David Powerhouse
Ed Van Nuys Nails
Marg Helgenberger Rachel
Dale Dye Don
Brian Haley Alex
James Lashly Charlie
Michael Steve Jones Grey

A full cast and production crew list is too lengthy to include, see: IMDb profile.[2]


During production, Spielberg confided that while making Jaws in 1974, he and Dreyfuss had traded quips from A Guy Named Joe, considered a "classic" war film that they both wanted to emulate.[3]. Dreyfuss had seen the 1943 melodrama "at least 35 times."[3] For Spielberg, who recalled seeing it as a child late at night, "it was one of the films that inspired him to become a movie director,"[3] creating an emotional connection to the times that his father, a wartime air force veteran had lived through.[4][5] The two friends quoted individual shots from the movie to each other and when the opportunity arose, years later, were resolved to recreate the wartime fantasy. A Guy Named Joe is aired in a scene in Poltergeist.[1]

The movie is set in Kootenai National Forest, Montana, with some scenes filmed in and around Libby, Montana. Some 500 people from nearby Libby, Montana were recruited for the movie as extras to act as wildland firefighters. Those scenes set in "Flat Rock, Colorado" were filmed at and around the Ephrata airport in eastern Washington.

In the opening scenes the forest fires were created by Pathfinder Helicopter Inc.. They were hired by the Forest Service to burn some clearcuts near Libby Montana that were filmed for the movie. Helicopter Pilot was Steve Tolle and Ground Crew Manager was Jim Leighty.

The Libby airport was used to double as the Forest Service Headquarters in the movie.

Two A-26 fire bombers (No. 57][6] and No. 59[7]) were prominently featured in the film, Always.[8] The flying for the movie was performed by well-known movie pilot Steve Hinton[9] and Dennis Lynch,[10] the owner of the A-26s.


The movie opened at #5 at that week's box office, grossing $3,713,480, competing with Christmas Vacation, Tango & Cash (opening the same weekend), The War of the Roses and Back To The Future Part II. Although now considered a "box office flop" when compared to other Spielberg properties, the movie brought back modest returns, grossing $43,858,790 in the U.S. and $30,276,000 on foreign territories, for a $74,134,790 worldwide total.[11] More importantly, Always was considered a departure from the usual Spielberg blockbuster magic and was not critically acclaimed. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times considered it "dated" and more of a "curiosity," calling it Spielberg's "weakest film since his comedy 1941".[3] while Variety gave it a more generous accolade: "Always is a relatively small scale, engagingly casual, somewhat silly, but always entertaining fantasy."[12] Today's modern viewers have been slightly more charitable and rank the movie as pleasant fare.[13]

Awards and nominations

Although commercially unsuccessful, Always was nominated in 1991 for the Saturn Award as Best Fantasy Film, while Jerry Belson was nominated for the Best Writing category of the award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films (USA). A number of critics have now considered the film as the progenitor of a new crop of "ghost" genre films including Ghost (1990).[14][15]

See also


  1. ^ a b " 'Always' (1989)." Quote: "His film is a remake of A Guy Named Joe (1943), which was watched on television in Poltergeist (1982), which was co-written by director 'Spielberg, Steven'."
  2. ^ a b Always (1989) Full credits
  3. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger. " 'Always' review" Chicago Sun Times, December 22, 1989.
  4. ^ "Steven Spielberg as a Role Model.", 2007. Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  5. ^ "Steven Spielberg." Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  6. ^ "N9425Z." Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  7. ^ "N4818Z." Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  8. ^ Farmer 1990, p. 35.
  9. ^ "Filmography - Steve Hinton." IMDB. Retrieved: March 13, 2007.
  10. ^ "Filmography - Dennis Lynch." IMDB. Retrieved: March 13, 2007.
  11. ^ Kurtz, Andy. "Directors Hall of Fame.", February 5, 2007. Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  12. ^ " 'Always' (1989) Review." Variety. Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  13. ^ " 'Always' (1989) Viewer reviews." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  14. ^ Jacobson, Colin. " 'Always' 1989 Review." Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  15. ^ " 'Always' (1989)." Retrieved: December 5, 2009.
  • Crawley, Tony. The Steven Spielberg Story. New York: William Morrow, 1983. ISBN 0-68802-510-2.
  • Dolan, Edward F. Jr. Hollywood Goes to War. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7.
  • Farmer, James H. "The Making of Always." Air Classics, Volume 26, No. 2, February 1990.
  • Freer, Ian. The Complete Spielberg. New York: Virgin Books, 2001. ISBN 0-75350-556-8.
  • Sinyard, Neil. The Films of Steven Spielberg. London: Bison Books, 1986. ISBN 0-86124-352-8.

External links



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