The second film Spielberg released in 1989 was an update of the classic film A Guy Named Joe starring Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss, John Goodman, Brad Johnson, and Audrey Hepburn.
I was in a completely different place for this film than I was for Last Crusade, I was worlds away from where I was with Tracey. I was going to university in Halifax, and I returned to my parents in Kingston for the Christmas Break.
My mother had asked one of her co-workers who was close in age to me if she would mind me tagging along to the movie, she knew I was a Spielberg fan and honestly didn’t know anyone in Kingston. I feel sorry for this young woman, having been put in that position. I hadn’t quite figured out who I was yet and could be a little awkward.
Still, once the film started rolling it didn’t matter who I was, I was lost in yet another Spielberg film.
Pete (Dreyfuss) is a fire-fighter pilot who is happiest in the cockpit risking his life, and dropping water to put out flames. Dorinda (Hunter) is the love of his life, though he can never tell her the words. She’s also less than thrilled with the risky choices he makes in his flying and wants him to trade his job for a flight instructor position, something which their best friend, Al (Goodman), also a pilot lobbies for.
Unfortunately, before he can make the move, he dies in the course of saving a life, Al’s, and they have to go on without him, though Dorinda is having a really tough time of it.
But death isn’t the end. Pete meets Hap (Hepburn), who informs him that it is his turn to help others, by providing inspiration and guidance by being that little voice we all hear. Pete finds himself helping Ted Baker (Johnson) a pilot with dreams of fire-fighting and was lovestruck by Dorinda the first time he saw her.
It’s a story about love, loss, letting go, and seeing the ones we love happy, even if we’re already gone.
Is it overly sentimental? Hell yes. This viewing I got so into it, I was a wreck in a number of moments, but it’s Hollywood magic delivered in that beautiful Spielbergian way, John Williams score included.
For me, this one just works. I can relate to every single character in the film because I think at various times, I’ve felt like each of them. It’s not a big blockbuster of a Spielberg film, but it is special, romantic, and ultimately uplifting.
This one seems to get overlooked sometimes in Spielberg’s filmography, but it has always had a special place in my heart, not only for when it came along in my life, but the story it tells. And I loved seeing Spielberg’s stand-in for the everyman, Dreyfuss, back for another tale.
His chemistry with Hunter and Goodman feels pitch-perfect, and I love watching their scenes. This one sticks with me.