Always (1989): Spielberg’s Middling Romantic Melodrama, Remake of the 1943 Blockbuster Classic

Always, Spielberg’s remake of the 1943 romantic melodrama, A Guy Named Joes, is arguably one of his weakest films, due to the outdated material, excessively sentimental nature, and lack of emotional affinity between director and text.

The triangle played in the original WWII melodrama, which was a blockbuster, Tracy, Irene Dunne, and Van Johnson, is now cast with Richard Dreyfuss (Spielberg’s alter-ego), Holly Hunter, and John Goodman.

The new movie is now best known for offering the lovely Audrey Hepburn her last screen role before untimely death.

The main departure from the 1943 film is the altering of the setting from WWII to that of a modern aerial firefighting. But the film follows the same basic plot line, of the spirit of a recently dead expert pilot mentors a newer pilot, while watching him fall in love with the girlfriend he left behind.

The names of the earlier film’s four principal characters are the same, except of the Ted Randall character, who is called Ted Baker in the remake, and Pete’s last name is Sandich, instead of Sandige.

While making Jaws, Spielberg and Dreyfuss traded quips from A Guy Named Joe, which they both admired and wanted to remake. A clip from the 1943 picture is included in a scene in  Poltergeist (182), which Spielberg produced. Dreyfuss had seen the earlier melodrama numerous times and knew it by heart. Spielberg had seen it as a child late at night, and he considers it one of the films that inspired him to become a director; his father was a wartime air force vet