Always, the 1989 remake of A Guy Named Joe, is little seen but quintessential Spielberg. Chocs away for an insider's guide to the behind the scenes info, cameos, references to the original and in-jokes that make up a hidden treasure in the director's vault.
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00.14 Over the classic ‘70s Universal Logo, the sound of chirping crickets builds on the soundtrack. As the white-on-black credits play, the chirruping sounds are enriched by eerie birdcalls. It is weirdly reminiscent of the foreboding start to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
01.05 One of the fisherman caught unawares by the aircraft landing on the lake is played by actor/stuntman Ted Grossman. Grossman has had bit parts in many Spielberg films including The Sugarland Express, Jaws (he plays the guy who loses a leg in the estuary), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (a government official) and all the Indiana Jones movies: he is a Peruvian Porter (Raiders) a stunt player (Temple Of Doom), a Deputy Police Chief (Last Crusade) and a Peruvian Porter again (Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull).
04.06 The Irish jig-like tune that Pete (Richard Dreyfuss) whistles to keep calm is called Garry Owen. It was the official song of the General Custer’s Seventh Cavalry of the US Army. It is a song for doomed men, so particularly apt for Pete.
09.51 As Pete and Al (John Goodman) walk away, Pete can be heard to be doing a Woody Woodpecker impression. References to cartoons abound in Spielberg’s work from the Wile E. Coyote watched in The Sugarland Express to Duck Dodgers In The 24th ½ Century in Close Encounters to General Stillwell watching Dumbo in 1941.
11.29 The scene where Pete gives Dorinda a dress as a present — “Girl’clothes!” she exclaims — is a verbatim replay of the corresponding scene from A Guy Named Joe, the 1944 Victor Fleming wartime fantasy that Always is based on.
15.19 In Spielberg’s version, Dorinda is watched by a canteen full of men as she sports her new dress. In Victor Fleming’s film, Irene Dunne’s Dorinda is watched by a single pilot.
17.50 Spielberg originally wanted the Irving Berlin song Always to be Pete and Dorinda’s song. But when the director contacted the composer, then 94, he was told Berlin had future plans for the tune. Spielberg subsequently tried the song I’ll Be Seeing You but it tested poorly in previews. Ultimately the director made witty use of the Jerome Kern song Smoke Gets In Your Eyes — the version by The Platters turns up in another Richard Dreyfuss film American Graffiti.
20.30 Trademark John Goodman dancing. Prior to Always, he had played the “Best Friend” role in The Big Easy (opposite Dennis Quaid) and Sea Of Love (opposite Al Pacino). During filming Spielberg suggested to Goodman he’s make the perfet Fred Flintstone — five years later Goodman starred in The Fintstones for produced by ‘Steven Spielrock’.
22.15 Hello John Williams! The score makes its first appearance some 20 minutes in.
33.42 Two years before Always was a greenlit project, Spielberg sent film crews out to capture footage of fires that devastated Yellowstone National Park. Much of the footage that was back projected behind Pete and Al during the flying sequences was footage from the Yellowstone catastrophe.
34.06 Dale Dye, who plays the fire boss, is an ex military man who created the company Warriors Inc., that specialises in training actors in military procedures for movies. He worked with Spielberg again in Saving Private Ryan, Band Of Brothers, The Pacific and Falling Skies.
37.39 As Al watches Pete’s plane explode, his breathe appears on the cockpit window. This is similar to moments in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Elliott breathes on E.T.’s glass container) and Jurassic Park (the Raptor breathes on a small portal).
39.05 The tune Pete is whistling here is the theme tune from US sitcom Leave It To Beaver. Leave It To Beaver also turns up in the Spielberg produced Back To The Future — Marty McFly admits to seeing it as a rerun when he is having dinner at Lorraine’s house in 1955.
39.33 Working on the burnt-out forest location, Audrey Hepburn had to be carried onto the grass patch so as not to get her ultra-white costume dirty — the slacks came from her own wardrobe. She was reportedly paid $1 million for the role. She donated her fee to UNICEF.
44.22 Spielberg originally wanted Sean Connery to play Pete’s angel on Earth, Hap. When he proved unavailable, Spielberg cast Audrey Hepburn in want proved to be her last film.
46.29 Marg Helgenberger plays the mechanic Rachel who crushes on Ted (Brad Johnson). 12 years later Helgenberger reteamed with Brad Johnson on an episiode of CSI in which Johnson played a love interest for Helgenberger’s character Katherine.
59.10 Dan Aykroyd is playing US cookery legend Julia Child in a sketch from Saturday Night Live — Aykroyd previously worked with Spielberg on 1941, The Blues Brothers (Spielberg makes a cameo at the end) and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (Aykroyd helps Indy onto the plane at the beginning).
1.06.36 The old timer who is the only person who can tune into Pete’s thoughts is played by Roberts Blossom. Blossom also played a farmer in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind who tells a UFO conference he once saw Bigfoot. In a distinguished career, he starred in Deranged, Home Alone, Doc Hollywood and The Quick And The Dead. He sadly passed in 2011.
1.17.15 Dorinda mistakes Ted’s John Wayne impression — “Well, little missy, you like mighty pretty when you are angry, wah-hah” — for Henry Fonda. This is something that happened between Holly Hunter and Brad Johnson. It tickled Spielberg so he decided to keep it in.
1.32.04 As Dorinda dances alone to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, this is the most pronounced use of Spielberg’s so called God Light cinematography tic.
1.45.56 Under Spielberg’s guidance, the aerial sequences in the film were directed by Joe Johnston, a former ILMer who drew storyboards for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, then went on to direct Honey I Shrunk The Kids, The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park III and Captain America The First Avenger.
The woodlands depicted in the daytime sequences were created in miniature at an abandoned airstrip. The Woodlands were 500ft long by 300ft wide, with hundreds of Christmas trees set on fire doubling for the Montana location.
1.48.38 For this shot where Dorinda’s plane — an Invader — flies straight at the camera, the crew filmed the action in a mirror as flying a miniature aircraft directly into a camera was unsafe. Being super-smart, ILM remembered to reverse the aircraft’s numbers and letters so it reads correctly in the reflection. Genius.
1.52.53 This is a favourite Spielberg visual conceit — putting a frame within the frame. Here we see Dorinda’s angst, amplified by the multiple reflections in the cockpit’s gauges.
1.49.21 In A Guy Named Joe, Irene Dunne’s Dorinda stole an aircraft and dive-bombed a Japanese ammunitions factory. In Spielberg’s version, Dorinda flies to rescue trapped fire fighters. Spielberg’s original conceit was to have Dorinda’s flight to be more stylised — her descent into the fire was to resemble a plunge into Hell, her subsequent ascent was more like a flight into heaven, all serene and calm. Ultimately Spielberg went a more naturalistic route.
1.56.03 In early versions, Pete was due to walk away from Dorinda and Ted and then rise into the night sky as if walking up a stairway to heaven. Spielberg dropped the idea after it previewed badly. He fixed it by taking the shot of Dreyfuss walking away and compositing it onto a background plate of the runway.