Saturday, April 11, 2009

Always (1989) [PG] *****

Dorinda Durston (Holly Hunter) is, in the words of her friend and father-figure Al Yackey (John Goodman): the toughest little fire-fightin' babe you'll ever meet. Dorinda, Al and Dorinda's boyfriend Pete St. Clair (Richard Dreyfuss) are part of an aerial fire-fighting tanker detachment, dropping rust-red fire suppressant on forest fires out of a remote base in the mountains of Idaho. Dorinda knows that Pete loves danger, but it isn't until he overestimates his fuel reserve and is forced to land dead-stick, that she realizes he really could die in his airplane.

Then, during a dangerous drop, one of Al's engines catches fire. In an act of self-sacrifice, Pete turns his own tanker into a dive-bomber, and dumps his load of suppressant on Al's burning engine, to put out the fire. Tragically his own plane catches fire and explodes. In the aftermath of Pete's death, Al moves to Colorado to run a training school for fire-fighting tanker pilots, and Dorinda takes an air traffic controller job in L.A.

Because of his selfless act, Pete, now a spirit in the after-life is recruited by Hap (Audrey Hepburn) an angel, to provide unseen inspiration to Ted Baker (Brad Johnson) who wants to train at Al's school to become a tanker pilot. How Ted and Dorinda meet and fall in love, how Pete deals with this turn of events, and how he eventually matures into a true angelic guide form the third act of this wonderful story.

Screenwriting, directing, acting, cinematography, sets and music are all excellent. Holly Hunter has great chemistry with both Richard Dreyfuss and Brad Johnson. If you love romances with a supernatural element, films like Heaven Can WaitChances Are and Heart and Souls, then you won't want to miss Always. 

Labels: drama, fantasy, flying, romance, tragedy  
Internet Movie Database
Tomatometer (critics=64, viewers=61)

Not well known is the fact that Always is a faithful remake of A Guy Named Joe (1943) starring Spencer Tracy as Pete, Irene Dunne as Dorinda, Van Johnson as Ted, and Ward Bond as Al. Set in England early in WW II, Pete dies while dive-bombing a German aircraft carrier, and his spirit provides inspiration to Ted, who's a rookie pilot in training at Luke Field in Phoenix, AZ. Many of the scenes and much of the dialog in Always, has been taken directly from A Guy Named Joe.