Always (1989)

PG | 123 mins | Drama, Fantasy, Romance | 22 December 1989

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writer:

Jerry Belson

Cinematographer:

Mikael Salomon

Editor:

Michael Kahn

Production Designer:

James Bissell

Production Companies:

Universal Pictures , United Artists , Amblin Entertainment
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HISTORY

       As noted in a 4 Apr 1989 L.A. Herald-Examiner , Always , a re-make of the 1943 film A Guy Named Joe (see entry), involved multiple writers and re-writes over nearly a decade. Jerry Belson scripted the first version in 1981; this was followed by a version written by Diane Thomas in 1983. After Thomas’s draft, Belson re-wrote the film in 1988 when Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter became attached to the project. Ron Bass, who was not credited, did an additional re-write. A Screen International news item later reported on 26 Aug 1989 that playwright Tom Stoppard was rumored to have contributed to the script as well, without taking a credit. According to the Var review, Thomas, who died in October of 1985, prior to the film’s release, was credited as writer in certain publicity items, but did not receive screen credit.
       Principal photography began 15 May 1989, the 2 Jun 1989 DV reported. Production notes in the AMPAS research library state that the film was shot on location in Montana, WA, and on sound stages at Universal and Lorimar Studios. The air attack base shown in the film’s opening was located in Libby, MT, and selected for its “remoteness” and lack of existing air traffic. Ephrata, WA served as the location used for the Flat Rock training school, where a World War II training base had been converted into the local airport. Also left over from World War II, according to production notes, were the aircraft used in the film, namely A26 tanker bombers, commonly used by the U.S. Forest Service, and a PBY Catalina, a ... More Less

       As noted in a 4 Apr 1989 L.A. Herald-Examiner , Always , a re-make of the 1943 film A Guy Named Joe (see entry), involved multiple writers and re-writes over nearly a decade. Jerry Belson scripted the first version in 1981; this was followed by a version written by Diane Thomas in 1983. After Thomas’s draft, Belson re-wrote the film in 1988 when Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter became attached to the project. Ron Bass, who was not credited, did an additional re-write. A Screen International news item later reported on 26 Aug 1989 that playwright Tom Stoppard was rumored to have contributed to the script as well, without taking a credit. According to the Var review, Thomas, who died in October of 1985, prior to the film’s release, was credited as writer in certain publicity items, but did not receive screen credit.
       Principal photography began 15 May 1989, the 2 Jun 1989 DV reported. Production notes in the AMPAS research library state that the film was shot on location in Montana, WA, and on sound stages at Universal and Lorimar Studios. The air attack base shown in the film’s opening was located in Libby, MT, and selected for its “remoteness” and lack of existing air traffic. Ephrata, WA served as the location used for the Flat Rock training school, where a World War II training base had been converted into the local airport. Also left over from World War II, according to production notes, were the aircraft used in the film, namely A26 tanker bombers, commonly used by the U.S. Forest Service, and a PBY Catalina, a plane first employed by the Navy and later re-appointed to fight fires due to its capacity to pull water from lakes and drop it on fires. The secluded locations and WWII planes helped director Steven Spielberg achieve the “timeless feeling” he wanted in the film despite its modern-day setting.
       Also mentioned in the production notes was the difficulty of producing forest fires for the shoot. Special effects supervisor Mike Wood and his crew fabricated trees that had the capacity to “burn on cue.” In addition to created fires, Var noted that the filmmakers shot footage of the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fires. These fires, which burned throughout the summer and affected sixty-three percent of the park’s total acreage, prompted Yellowstone’s largest fire-fighting effort to date, according to the U.S. National Park Service’s website.
       Always opened as a Christmas release in 1989 to tepid critical reception. Some reviewers, such as LAT and HR , complained of the length, uneven performances, and old-fashioned dialogue, pointing to the original, A Guy Named Joe , as a far-superior film with a more believable urgency coming from its World War II setting, although technical aspects of the film were generally lauded. A 25 Feb 1990 Newsday article reported that the film had earned an unimpressive $39 million in box-office receipts.
       Audrey Hepburn made her final onscreen appearance in the film as "Hap," Pete's guardian angel.

      The end credits contain a written statement, reading, “Caution: Inhaling of helium from balloons is dangerous, and can cause serious injury or death”; the reference is to a sequence in which “Pete” and “Al” suck helium from balloons. The end credits also contain a written statement, in which producers thank the following organizations and individuals: Montana Film Office; Montana Department of Highways; Kootenai National Forest; United States Forest Service, Lincoln County, Montana; Libby Area Chamber of Commerce, Libby Montana; Missoula Smoke Jumpers; Alaska Airlines; Hoffman Travel, Frank Baquero, Maria Morales; Keith Kinden; Dave Arnold & Al Lundbeck; Curt Orde; U. S. Forest Service; Chapman Crane; Bridger-Teton National Forest; Boise National Forest; Fishlake National Forest; Shasta-Trinity Forest; Ephrata Washington and Port of Ephrata.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1989
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1989
p. 4, 22.
LAHE
4 Apr 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1989
p. 1.
New York Times
22 Dec 1989
p. 12.
Screen International
26 Aug 1989.
---
Variety
20 Dec 1989
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Steven Spielberg Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir, Montana unit
Addl aerial seqs dir by, Aerial unit
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, Aerial unit
Dir of photog, Aerial unit
Addl photog, Montana unit
Addl photog, Montana unit
Cam op
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
1st asst cam, Aerial unit
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Video assist op
Video asst op
Elec best boy
Elec
Elec, Montana unit
Key grip
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip
Grip
Grip, Montana unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, Montana unit
Art dir, Washington unit
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Leadman
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman, Montana unit
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Painter
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Const gang boss
Plaster foreman
Greensman
Greensman
Greensman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Men's cost
Women's cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Mus contractor
Mus rec at
SOUND
Sd des/Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer/Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Asst sd eff ed
Apprentice sd eff ed
Foley artist
Foley rec
Re-rec in a
sound system theatre
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman, Forest fire spec eff unit
Spec eff gang boss
Titles and opticals
Spec visual eff prod by
Marin County, California
Visual eff prod, ILM
Project mgr, ILM
Dir of photog, ILM
Opt supv, ILM
Model supv, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Art dir, ILM
Cam op, ILM
Key grip, ILM
Gantry rig des, ILM
Key pyrotechnician, ILM
Gaffer, ILM
Key sets, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Const chief, ILM
Cam asst, ILM
Cam asst, ILM
Cam asst, ILM
2d cam asst, ILM
Visual eff coord, ILM
Miniature unit coord, ILM
Best boy grip, ILM
Grip, ILM
Best boy rigger, ILM
Rigger, ILM
Best boy pyrotechnician, ILM
Best boy pyrotechnician, ILM
Elec, ILM
Elec, ILM
Chief modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Model aircraft eng, ILM
Model aircraft eng, ILM
Model aircraft eng, ILM
Model aircraft eng, ILM
Set dresser, ILM
Set dresser, ILM
Transportation capt, ILM
Miniature underwater photog, ILM
Asst eff ed, ILM
Opt lineup, ILM
Opt cam, ILM
Lab tech, ILM
Rotoscope supv, ILM
Key prod asst, ILM
Exec in charge of post prod, ILM
Gen mgr, ILM
Forest fire plates dir by, Aerial unit
Spec eff, Forest fire spec eff unit
Spec eff, Forest fire spec eff unit
Spec eff, Forest fire spec eff unit
Spec eff, Forest fire spec eff unit
Spec eff, Forest fire spec eff unit
Spec eff, Forest fire spec eff unit
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Local extra casting
Central Casting, Local extra casting
Extras casting, Montana unit
Aerial seq des
Loc mgr - Los Angeles
Loc mgr, Montana unit
Loc mgr, Washington unit
Scr supv
First aid
Nurse, Montana unit
Craft service
Projectionist
Process coord
Post prod provided by
A Division of Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Amblin post prod supv
Amblin post prod coord
Amblin post prod asst
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Physiotherapist
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst, Montana unit
Prod asst, Montana unit
Prod asst, Montana unit
Prod asst, Washington unit
Prod asst, Washington unit
DGA trainee
Unit pub
Asst to Mr. Spielberg
Asst to Mr. Marshall
Asst to Ms. Kennedy
Asst to Mr. Vane
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Animal trainer
Caterer
Loc security
Prod liaison, Montana unit
Prod liaison, Washington unit
Prod secy, Montana unit
Prod secy, Washington unit
U. S. Forest Service coord, Montana unit
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
Picture plane pilot
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the film A Guy Named Joe written by Dalton Trumbo, adaptation by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan, story by Chandler Sprague and David Boehm (MGM, 1944).
SONGS
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, performed and produced by J. D. Souther
"Nick of Time," written and performed by Bonnie Raitt, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Boomerang Love," written and performed by Jimmy Buffett, courtesy of MCA Records
+
SONGS
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, performed and produced by J. D. Souther
"Nick of Time," written and performed by Bonnie Raitt, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Boomerang Love," written and performed by Jimmy Buffett, courtesy of MCA Records
"Give Me Your Heart," written by Phil Marshall, performed by Denette Hoover and Sherwood Ball
"Matzoh Balls," written and performed by Slim Gaillard, courtesy of Hep Records
"Cowboy Man," written and performed by Lyle Lovett, courtesy of Curb/MCA Records
"A Fool in Love," written and performed by Michael Smotherman
"Yakety Yak," written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by The Coasters, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Crazy Love," written and directed by Van Morrison, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," written by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach, performed by The Platters, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 December 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 22 December 1989
Production Date:
began 15 May 1989
Copyright Claimants:
Universal City Studios, Inc. U-Drive Productions, Inc.
Copyright Dates:
19 March 1990 19 March 1990
Copyright Numbers:
PA456607 PA456607
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
DeLuxe®
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision® camera & lenses
Duration(in mins):
123
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30126
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Pete Sandich and Al Yackey are tanker pilots who fight forest fires. In the air over a raging fire, Pete, an expert but daredevil flier, angers Dorinda, the dispatcher who is also in love with him. When Dorinda orders Pete to return to the air attack base and re-fuel, Pete refuses, pushing his luck by dropping another load of flame retardant on the fire. Pete later glides his plane to a landing with no fuel left. Meanwhile, on the runway, Ted Baker, a delivery pilot, presents Dorinda with a birthday present from Pete. Pushing Ted out of the way, Dorinda ignores her present as she boards a plane and recklessly takes off. Dorinda’s shaky flying causes Pete to worry, and she accomplishes her goal of repaying him for his previous stunt. Later, at a party, Pete re-delivers Dorinda’s birthday gift. She rejects the present until he throws it and the box bursts open to reveal a dress and high heels. As Dorinda goes to change, Al reprimands Pete for being a daredevil. Al believes that Pete should settle down and become an instructor at a new flight school in Flat Rock, Colorado. Pete rejects the idea and welcomes the interruption of Dorinda, dressed in her new gown. Dorinda tells Pete that she loves him and begs him to tell her the same, but he makes a toast instead. Pete and Dorinda dance to their song, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” while Ted, the delivery pilot, watches. That night, Dorinda awakens to see Pete eerily bathed in the blue light of the refrigerator. Suddenly alert, Dorinda proposes that she also become a tanker pilot so that they can take turns ... +


Pete Sandich and Al Yackey are tanker pilots who fight forest fires. In the air over a raging fire, Pete, an expert but daredevil flier, angers Dorinda, the dispatcher who is also in love with him. When Dorinda orders Pete to return to the air attack base and re-fuel, Pete refuses, pushing his luck by dropping another load of flame retardant on the fire. Pete later glides his plane to a landing with no fuel left. Meanwhile, on the runway, Ted Baker, a delivery pilot, presents Dorinda with a birthday present from Pete. Pushing Ted out of the way, Dorinda ignores her present as she boards a plane and recklessly takes off. Dorinda’s shaky flying causes Pete to worry, and she accomplishes her goal of repaying him for his previous stunt. Later, at a party, Pete re-delivers Dorinda’s birthday gift. She rejects the present until he throws it and the box bursts open to reveal a dress and high heels. As Dorinda goes to change, Al reprimands Pete for being a daredevil. Al believes that Pete should settle down and become an instructor at a new flight school in Flat Rock, Colorado. Pete rejects the idea and welcomes the interruption of Dorinda, dressed in her new gown. Dorinda tells Pete that she loves him and begs him to tell her the same, but he makes a toast instead. Pete and Dorinda dance to their song, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” while Ted, the delivery pilot, watches. That night, Dorinda awakens to see Pete eerily bathed in the blue light of the refrigerator. Suddenly alert, Dorinda proposes that she also become a tanker pilot so that they can take turns flying, but Pete tells her no. Dorinda responds with an ultimatum, commanding Pete to take the flight instructor job or she will leave. Dorinda insists, “your number is up,” and details her constant agony over his well-being. Pete finally agrees to go to Flat Rock, but he receives a call moments later that another fire has broken out. Before Pete takes off, Dorinda meets him at his plane for a passionate goodbye. Pete calls after Dorinda that he loves her, but she cannot hear him. Flying through the flames, Al clips a tree with his wing and his engine catches fire. Al tries to extinguish it to no avail. Pete dives down to catch up with Al’s plane and drops flame retardant on top of it, putting out the fire. Momentarily relieved, Al realizes that Pete’s plane has dipped low into the blaze. Pete manages to pull out and level off with Al, smiling at his friend before he realizes his own engine has caught fire. Pete makes a funny face, resigned, as his plane explodes. At the base, Al joins Dorinda, and they hold hands but do not speak. Later, Pete walks through a smoking forest and comes upon Hap, an older woman clad in white. Hap informs Pete that he is dead, and though it seems like a day, six months have gone by. Hap and Pete walk through a field where he spots the first plane he flew and recalls how natural it felt. Hap explains that young Pete had a spirit mentor on his first flight, and now Pete must mentor another pilot in the same way. Pete asks how he will be able to do this, and Hap assures him that people will be able to hear Pete as if they are hearing their own thoughts. Suddenly Pete is in Flat Rock where he recognizes his mentee, Ted, the pilot who delivered Dorinda’s birthday present. Ted lands his plane at the Air Attack Training Base, and Rachel, a mechanic, directs Ted to the back office. Pete, invisible to those around him, finds that Al has taken the job that was supposed to be Pete’s, as Al questions Ted about his background. Pete enjoys his newly found abilities, encouraging Al to wipe his face when his hands are covered in grease. Al assumes Ted is toying with him, but Pete plants the idea in Al’s head to give Ted a chance. Later, from a hillside, Al watches trainees practice. Pete mischievously guides Ted to drop his flame retardant over Al instead of the fire target. In response, Al orders Ted off the base. Later, at the local bar, Pete coaxes Ted to flirt with Rachel, but, instead, Ted confesses to her that he fell in love with a girl he met last summer and that’s why he came to Flat Rock. Al flies to San Diego to check out a plane and hears Dorinda on the dispatch. Al discovers that Dorinda is in San Diego working a temporary job, and he visits with her later at her apartment. There, Al realizes Dorinda is depressed and continues to mourn Pete’s death. Because he wants to help her move on, Al packs Dorinda’s bags for Flat Rock. The next day, having been ordered away by Al, Ted leaves Flat Rock, but he grounds his plane in a storm soon after. Ted exits the plane to explore a ramshackle building and, inside, finds a ranting hobo who can hear Pete. Though the hobo repeats most of what Pete says, he picks and chooses words, altering Pete’s pep talk to become an insistent message to Ted that Dorinda is his true love and he must go back for her. Determined to try again, Ted returns to Flat Rock the next day. On the runway, the tow vehicle used to lead planes to the hangar has run away from Rachel. Unmanned, the vehicle, displaying a “Follow Me” sign, leads Ted off the base and into the front yard of Dorinda’s newly rented home. After assessing the damage from her porch, Dorinda goes inside and calls in a complaint to Al. Pete finds Dorinda there and confirms that she can hear him in her thoughts by encouraging her to brush her hair back. Ted comes and interrupts Pete’s sentimental speech. Ted informs Dorinda that she is the reason he has come to Flat Rock. Al shows up to reprimand Ted but stops when he sees Dorinda is charmed by Ted’s laugh, which sounds, to her, exactly like Pete’s. Describing Ted as a promising student, Al encourages the potential romance. Leaving the house, Pete whispers to Dorinda that she is still his girl. At a subsequent flight exercise, Pete helps Ted hit his targets. Later, upon Al’s suggestion, Ted drives Dorinda into town for supplies. Ahead of them on the road, a school bus swerves wildly then stops. The bus driver staggers into the street and collapses, and Ted administers CPR. The driver’s ghost briefly meets Pete before Ted brings him back to life. Dorinda observes Ted, impressed. Later, Dorinda has Ted over for a romantic dinner but nervously regales him with stories about Pete. After dinner, they dance and kiss; however, Dorinda ends the date abruptly when “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is played. Afterwards, Dorinda changes into the dress Pete bought her and dances, with Pete, although she cannot see him. That night, Pete watches Dorinda sleep, then wakes up in a meadow with Hap who tells him that he needs to set Dorinda free. Later, Ted fights a forest fire while Dorinda dispatches. After Ted lands his plane, low on fuel, Al tells Dorinda that Ted is the best flier he has seen since Pete. The fire continues into the night, and Pete convinces an exhausted Ted to answer the next call for help himself. After Al phones Dorinda to tell her of Ted’s plans, Dorinda rushes back to the base where she steals Ted’s plane before he can take off. Al panics and orders her back, but Dorinda removes her headphones. Pete tries to stop Dorinda but relents once she takes off. Pete helps her perform two dangerous drops, and the second one saves a group of trapped firefighters. After Dorinda pulls out, Pete tells her he loves her, and promises she will be happy. The plane begins to lose pressure, and Dorinda crash-lands onto the river. The plane sinks with Dorinda trapped inside. When the plane fills with water, Pete pulls Dorinda out and saves her. Pete accompanies her back to the base, where, soaked, Dorinda embraces Ted on the runway. Having completed his mission, Pete’s spirit walks off into the night. +

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

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