A Guy Named Joe (1944)

118 or 120-121 mins | Romance | March 1944

Director:

Victor Fleming

Producer:

Everett Riskin

Cinematographers:

George Folsey, Karl Freund

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The film's working titles were Three Guys Named Joe , and Flyers Never Die . The film ends with the following written inscription: "To Families and Friends of Men and Women in Our Armed Forces. The picture you have just seen is being shown in combat areas overseas with the compliments of the American Motion Picture Industry." The title A Guy Named Joe was taken from a phrase used by General Clair Chennault, who formed the American Volunteer Group, nicknamed "The Flying Tigers," in 1941. Chennault used the phrase to refer to any member of his flying squadrons. In the film, the term is further explained by an English boy who says that to Americans any "right chap" is "a guy named Joe."
       HR news items offer the following information about the production: M-G-M sought actor Brian Donlevy from Paramount for a "co-starring" role in the film. Actors Richard Carlson, Phillip Terry and Richard Whorf were cast, but none appeared in the released film. HR news items include Bill Sloan , David Thursby, Rex Evans, Will Stanton, Harry Cording, George Magrill, Nelson Leigh, Ted Billings, Peggy Maley and Charles Bimbo in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. In late Dec 1942, Hal Rosson was announced as the cameraman, but he apparently did not work on the film. Although Colonel Ross G. Hoyt was announced as the film's technical advisor in Jan 1943, only Major Edward G. Hillary is cited as an advisor in the screen credits.
       Actor Van Johnson, who portrays "Ted Randall" in the film, was seriously ... More Less

The film's working titles were Three Guys Named Joe , and Flyers Never Die . The film ends with the following written inscription: "To Families and Friends of Men and Women in Our Armed Forces. The picture you have just seen is being shown in combat areas overseas with the compliments of the American Motion Picture Industry." The title A Guy Named Joe was taken from a phrase used by General Clair Chennault, who formed the American Volunteer Group, nicknamed "The Flying Tigers," in 1941. Chennault used the phrase to refer to any member of his flying squadrons. In the film, the term is further explained by an English boy who says that to Americans any "right chap" is "a guy named Joe."
       HR news items offer the following information about the production: M-G-M sought actor Brian Donlevy from Paramount for a "co-starring" role in the film. Actors Richard Carlson, Phillip Terry and Richard Whorf were cast, but none appeared in the released film. HR news items include Bill Sloan , David Thursby, Rex Evans, Will Stanton, Harry Cording, George Magrill, Nelson Leigh, Ted Billings, Peggy Maley and Charles Bimbo in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. In late Dec 1942, Hal Rosson was announced as the cameraman, but he apparently did not work on the film. Although Colonel Ross G. Hoyt was announced as the film's technical advisor in Jan 1943, only Major Edward G. Hillary is cited as an advisor in the screen credits.
       Actor Van Johnson, who portrays "Ted Randall" in the film, was seriously injured in an automobile accident on 31 Mar 1943, about three weeks after he began shooting his scenes. A news item on 1 Apr 1943 reported that Johnson, who was then in critical condition, was to be replaced in the production. On 21 Apr 1943 it was reported that Johnson was recovering very quickly and would soon return to his role, but he did not resume work until the first week of Jul, more than three months later. According to modern sources, M-G-M executives had wanted to replace Johnson but Spencer Tracy, who had become a close friend and mentor to Johnson, insisted that they shoot around the injured actor during his convalescence.
       Although reviews, such as those in the NYT and Var , panned Johnson's performance in A Guy Named Joe , the age difference between him and Irene Dunne, who was eighteen years his senior, was not emphasized, as it has been in modern sources. Johnson's role in the film was his most important to date and, according to modern sources, did much to increase his popularity, especially among young female "bobby soxer" audiences. Because of the extensive injuries he suffered in the automobile accident, Johnson was ineligible for the draft and made a number of popular films during World War II. He was ranked second among the top-ten money-making stars in Quigley publications' 1945 list, third in 1946 and continued as a popular M-G-M star throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s.
       A Guy Named Joe had a very long shooting schedule, about five months, due in part to Johnson's injuries, but also to extensive location shooting that had to be pieced into principal photography and necessitated two or three interruptions in the production schedule. According to news items, location shooting took place at Luke Field, Arizona and Randolph Field, Texas, with additional second unit work being done at Drew Field in Tampa, FL and Columbia Air Base, South Carolina. The South Carolina and Florida footage was used for air scenes, backdrops and process shots.
       According to information in a file on the film in the National Archives (NARS), the U.S. War Department, Bureau of Public Relations, was unimpressed with the script submitted by M-G-M under the title "Three Guys Named Joe." A memorandum by Falkner Heard, chief of the office's review branch, stated "A review of this manuscript indicates that no degree of supervision could make this picture a contribution to the war effort....It is suggested that Hollywood be told that the War Department recommends it not be produced." A revised script also failed to receive the War Deparment's approval. An information action sheet written by Edward L. Munson, Jr., Chief of the Information Branch, stated that production of the script "in its present form would be unwise because of the psychological effect it [the film] would have on potential fledgling and experienced pilots as well as their parents. The presence of hovering ghosts of deceased pilots, and the unreal, fantastic, and slightly schizophrenic character of the scenario hardly combine to produce a sensible war-time film diet."
       Another revision of the script was submitted to the War Department and was finally accepted on 24 Nov 1942. At that time, cooperation of the War Department was promised, pending further developments in the production. A memo in the NARS describes an extensive location scouting trip and second unit shooting that was done at various air bases including those mentioned above. The amount of footage shot at these bases used in the released film has not been determined, but evidence within the memo suggests that much of the footage was not in the completed picture.
       According to information in the file on A Guy Named Joe contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA objected to the ending of the film. In the original ending, the character "Dorinda" died during the climactic mission to destroy the ammunition dump and was reunited with the ghost of "Pete." This was objectional to the PCA because of the implication that Dorinda's death would be, in effect, suicide. To address this objection, additional scenes and retakes were shot in mid-Nov 1943 to change the ending so that Dorinda would live and be reunited with "Ted" with Pete's approval. Some reviewers expressed disappointment at this ending, as exemplified by the comments of NYT critic Bosley Crowther, who stated, "And they let go in a finish that is as foolish as anything we've seen." Despite some negative reviews, the film was very successful, and was among the top ten box office films of 1944. The film received one Academy Award nomination, for Chandler Sprague and David Boehm for Best Original Story. According to M-G-M studio records at the AMPAS Library, the film had a negative cost of $2,627,000 and took in $5,363,000 at the box office. When the picture was re-issued for the 1955-56 season, it took in an additional $150,000.
       A HR news item on 8 Jun 1944 noted that a plagiarism suit by Adelyn Bushnell and Marshall Bradford, authors of a story entitled "And From the West," had been filed against Loew's Inc., parent company of M-G-M, the film's screenwriters and producers. The disposition of the suit has not been determined, but it is unlikely that the plaintiffs were successful in their case. A Guy Named Joe was the last film collaboration of Tracy and director Victor Fleming, with whom he had worked on Captain's Courageous (1937), Test Pilot (1938) (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0595 and F3.4505); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941, see above) and Tortilla Flat (1942, see below). A Guy Named Joe was remade by director Steven Spielberg in 1989. Spielberg's film, entitled Always , starred Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and Brad Johnson in the principal roles. The setting of that film was updated to the present and centered on the activities of forest fire-fighting pilots. Spielberg also included a clip from A Guy Named Joe in his 1982 film Poltergeist . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Jan 1944.
---
Daily Variety
24 Dec 43
pp. 3-4.
Film Daily
24 Dec 43
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 42
p. 2, 6, 9
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 43
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 43
pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 43
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 43
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 44
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 44
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Dec 43
p. 1686.
New York Times
24 Dec 43
p. 17.
Variety
29 Dec 43
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Johnny Dunn
Ken Scott
Fred Beckner
Gertrude Hoffman
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Victor Fleming's production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir at Luke Field
2d unit dir at Drew Field
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir at Luke Field
Asst dir at Luke Field
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From an orig story by
From an orig story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Loc cam
Loc cam
Loc cam op
Loc asst cam
Loc asst cam
Loc asst cam
Loc stills
Loc stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
Loc props
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Loc ward
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Unit mgr
Loc scr clerk
Loc scr clerk
Loc grip
Loc grip
Loc painter
Loc painter
Loc painter
Loc nursey man
Loc nursey man
Loc nursey man
Loc nursey man
Loc nursey man
Loc nursey man
Loc plasterer
STAND INS
Double for Spencer Tracy
Double for Barry Nelson
SOURCES
SONGS
"I'll Get By," music by Fred E. Ahlert, lyrics by Roy Turk
"I'll See You in My Dreams," music by Isham Jones, lyrics by Gus Kahn.
COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Flyers Never Die
Three Guys Named Joe
Release Date:
March 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 24 December 1943
Production Date:
15 February--late September 1943
addl scenes and retakes 10 November--late November 1943
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 January 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12564
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
118 or 120-121
Length(in feet):
10,939
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
9727
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

During World War II, Pete Sandridge, an American pilot stationed in England, is as well known for his skill as his reckless disregard for his own safety, much to the chagrin of his commanding officer and friend, "Nails" Kilpatrick, and his girl friend, cargo flyer Dorinda Durston. After one particularly dangerous mission, Nails decides to transfer Pete and his best friend, pilot Al Yackey, to a relatively safe reconnaisance base in Scotland. The independent Dorinda is angry over the transfer and playfully asks Pete to marry her. Some weeks later, Pete and Al are bored with their staid assignment and delighted when Dorinda flies in for a brief leave. Her joy at being reunited with Pete is cut short, though, when she is enveloped by a sense that Pete's "number is up." Although Al warns her that such things can never be changed, she begs Pete to accept Nails's offer to accompany him to the States and become a flying instructor. When Pete initially rejects the idea, she promises that she will give up flying, something that he has always wanted, if he goes home, otherwise she will get a transfer to Australia. Finally realizing how much Dorinda loves him, and how much he loves her, he agrees to go back home. A moment later, Al informs Pete that they must leave immediately for a flight to reconnoiter a large German aircraft carrier. On the flight, Pete goes by the book and does not take unnecessary chances, but is attacked by a German plane. After being wounded, he orders his crew to bail out, then dives onto the carrier. ... +


During World War II, Pete Sandridge, an American pilot stationed in England, is as well known for his skill as his reckless disregard for his own safety, much to the chagrin of his commanding officer and friend, "Nails" Kilpatrick, and his girl friend, cargo flyer Dorinda Durston. After one particularly dangerous mission, Nails decides to transfer Pete and his best friend, pilot Al Yackey, to a relatively safe reconnaisance base in Scotland. The independent Dorinda is angry over the transfer and playfully asks Pete to marry her. Some weeks later, Pete and Al are bored with their staid assignment and delighted when Dorinda flies in for a brief leave. Her joy at being reunited with Pete is cut short, though, when she is enveloped by a sense that Pete's "number is up." Although Al warns her that such things can never be changed, she begs Pete to accept Nails's offer to accompany him to the States and become a flying instructor. When Pete initially rejects the idea, she promises that she will give up flying, something that he has always wanted, if he goes home, otherwise she will get a transfer to Australia. Finally realizing how much Dorinda loves him, and how much he loves her, he agrees to go back home. A moment later, Al informs Pete that they must leave immediately for a flight to reconnoiter a large German aircraft carrier. On the flight, Pete goes by the book and does not take unnecessary chances, but is attacked by a German plane. After being wounded, he orders his crew to bail out, then dives onto the carrier. When Al returns to the base, a shattered Dorinda has already sensed what happened. Meanwhile, in the clouds, Pete walks toward another flyer and recognizes an old friend, Dick Rumney. Suddenly becoming ill-at-ease after remembering that Dick went down with his plane in a fiery crash, Pete says "either I'm dead or I'm crazy," and Dick answers, "You're not crazy." Soon Pete is introduced to The General, a long-dead pioneering flyer, who gives him the assignment to return to earth and share his knowledge to help young flyers become better pilots. Pete and Dick then go to a military flying school in Arizona, where Pete becomes a subconscious tutor to Ted Randall, a young millionaire. At first Pete is not impressed with Ted, but as he guides him through training, becomes fond and proud of him. When the flyers under Dick and Pete's care are sent to the South Pacific, their heavenly guardians go along, hoping to keep the men safe through combat. When they arrive, Ted goes to the local officers' club, with Pete as his unseen companion. Sensing Dorinda's presence, Pete turns around and sees her sitting at a table. He goes to talk with her, but Ted soon follows and starts to flirt. She at first turns down Ted's invitation to dinner, but encouraged by Al, who is worried that even a year after Pete's death, Dorinda is still deeply grieving, she accepts. A few weeks later, Dorinda is enjoying her deepening relationship with Ted but finds odd similarities between Ted and Pete unsettling, as does Al, who dismisses them as mere coincidence. When Ted is promoted to captain, he proposes to Dorinda and she accepts, much to Pete's aggravation. A short time later, Ted is asked to take a very dangerous assignment to destroy the largest Japanese ammunition dump in the South Pacific. Just before he goes to see Dorinda that night, she is visited by Pete, who knows that she must no longer grieve and advises her, through her subconscious, to marry Ted. When Ted arrives, though, she suddenly tells him that she cannot marry him. When she later learns from Al that Ted will be on an extremely dangerous mission, she guesses the target, based on her own experience flying in the area, and rushes to the airbase. As Ted is being briefed, Dorinda sneaks into his plane and takes off for the munitions dump. Realizing what she is planning, Pete sits behind her during the mission and helps her decide to fight off the enemy and fly safely home. Before returning to the base, Pete tells Dorinda that he is leaving her heart and setting her free. When she lands, she and Ted rush to each other and embrace, as Pete walks off toward his next assignment. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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