A Guy Named Joe


2h 1944
A Guy Named Joe

Brief Synopsis

A downed World War II pilot becomes the guardian angel for his successor in love and war.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Flyers Never Die, Three Guys Named Joe
Genre
Romance
Drama
War
Fantasy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Dec 1943
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Columbia--Columbia Air Base, South Carolina, United States; Luke Field, Arizona, United States; San Antonio--Randolph Field, Texas, United States; Tampa--Drew Field, Florida, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,939ft

Synopsis

During World War II, Pete Sandridge, an American pilot stationed in England, is as well known for his skill as his reckless disregard for his own safety, much to the chagrin of his commanding officer and friend, "Nails" Kilpatrick, and his girl friend, cargo flyer Dorinda Durston. After one particularly dangerous mission, Nails decides to transfer Pete and his best friend, pilot Al Yackey, to a relatively safe reconnaisance base in Scotland. The independent Dorinda is angry over the transfer and playfully asks Pete to marry her. Some weeks later, Pete and Al are bored with their staid assignment and delighted when Dorinda flies in for a brief leave. Her joy at being reunited with Pete is cut short, though, when she is enveloped by a sense that Pete's "number is up." Although Al warns her that such things can never be changed, she begs Pete to accept Nails's offer to accompany him to the States and become a flying instructor. When Pete initially rejects the idea, she promises that she will give up flying, something that he has always wanted, if he goes home, otherwise she will get a transfer to Australia. Finally realizing how much Dorinda loves him, and how much he loves her, he agrees to go back home. A moment later, Al informs Pete that they must leave immediately for a flight to reconnoiter a large German aircraft carrier. On the flight, Pete goes by the book and does not take unnecessary chances, but is attacked by a German plane. After being wounded, he orders his crew to bail out, then dives onto the carrier. When Al returns to the base, a shattered Dorinda has already sensed what happened. Meanwhile, in the clouds, Pete walks toward another flyer and recognizes an old friend, Dick Rumney. Suddenly becoming ill-at-ease after remembering that Dick went down with his plane in a fiery crash, Pete says "either I'm dead or I'm crazy," and Dick answers, "You're not crazy." Soon Pete is introduced to The General, a long-dead pioneering flyer, who gives him the assignment to return to earth and share his knowledge to help young flyers become better pilots. Pete and Dick then go to a military flying school in Arizona, where Pete becomes a subconscious tutor to Ted Randall, a young millionaire. At first Pete is not impressed with Ted, but as he guides him through training, becomes fond and proud of him. When the flyers under Dick and Pete's care are sent to the South Pacific, their heavenly guardians go along, hoping to keep the men safe through combat. When they arrive, Ted goes to the local officers' club, with Pete as his unseen companion. Sensing Dorinda's presence, Pete turns around and sees her sitting at a table. He goes to talk with her, but Ted soon follows and starts to flirt. She at first turns down Ted's invitation to dinner, but encouraged by Al, who is worried that even a year after Pete's death, Dorinda is still deeply grieving, she accepts. A few weeks later, Dorinda is enjoying her deepening relationship with Ted but finds odd similarities between Ted and Pete unsettling, as does Al, who dismisses them as mere coincidence. When Ted is promoted to captain, he proposes to Dorinda and she accepts, much to Pete's aggravation. A short time later, Ted is asked to take a very dangerous assignment to destroy the largest Japanese ammunition dump in the South Pacific. Just before he goes to see Dorinda that night, she is visited by Pete, who knows that she must no longer grieve and advises her, through her subconscious, to marry Ted. When Ted arrives, though, she suddenly tells him that she cannot marry him. When she later learns from Al that Ted will be on an extremely dangerous mission, she guesses the target, based on her own experience flying in the area, and rushes to the airbase. As Ted is being briefed, Dorinda sneaks into his plane and takes off for the munitions dump. Realizing what she is planning, Pete sits behind her during the mission and helps her decide to fight off the enemy and fly safely home. Before returning to the base, Pete tells Dorinda that he is leaving her heart and setting her free. When she lands, she and Ted rush to each other and embrace, as Pete walks off toward his next assignment.

Cast

Spencer Tracy

Pete Sandridge

Irene Dunne

Dorinda Durston

Van Johnson

Ted Randall

Ward Bond

Al Yackey

James Gleason

"Nails" Kilpatrick

Lionel Barrymore

The General

Barry Nelson

Dick Rumney

Esther Williams

Ellen Bright

Henry O'neill

Colonel Sykes

Don Defore

James J. Rourke

Charles Smith

Sanderson

Addison Richards

Major Corbett

Mary Elliott

Dance hall girl

Earl Schenck

Colonel

Bill Arthur

Cadet

John Bogden

Cadet

Harold F. Landon

Cadet

Herbert Gunn

Cadet

Robert Sully

Cadet

Johnny Dunn

Cadet

James Martin

Cadet

Richard Woodruff

Cadet

Ken Scott

Cadet

Louis Hart

Cadet

Fred Beckner

Cadet

Becky Bohanon

English girl

Elizabeth Valentine

Washerwoman's child

Arthur Stenning

Fisherman

George Kirby

Fisherman

Maurice Murphy

Captain Robertson

Jean Prescott

Mother

Simon Olivier

Boy

Gertrude Hoffman

Old woman

Richard Graham

Crew member

James Warren

Irish guard

George Atkinson

Waiter

Edward Davies

Bartender

Gibson Gowland

Bartender

Violet Seton

Bartender's wife

Carlie Taylor

English captain

Stanley Orr

English captain

Wyndham Standing

English colonel

Oliver Cross

American major

Jack Saunders

American captain

Mark Daniels

Lieutenant

William Bishop

Ray

Eve Whitney

Powerhouse girl

Kay Williams

Young woman at bar

Walter Sande

Mess sergeant

Mary Mcleod

Hostess

Aileen Haley

Hostess

Allen Wood

Tough corporal

Eddie Coke

Corporal

Irving Bacon

Corporal

Carey Harrison

American major in Red Lion Inn

Dora Baker

Scrub woman

John Whitney

Officer flyer, Heaven

Kirk Alyn

Officer flyer, Heaven

James Millican

Orderly

Ernest Severn

Davy

Edward Hardwicke

George

Raymond Severn

Cyril

Yvonne Severn

Elizabeth

Christopher Severn

Peter

John Frederick

Lieutenant Ridley

Clarence Straight

Flight sergeant

Vernon Downing

English liaison officer

William Manning

Co-pilot

Bernie Sell

Co-pilot

Frank Faylen

Major

Paul Van Zandt

Major

Craig Flanagan

U.S. lieutenant

Melvin Nix

U.S. lieutenant

Earl Kent

U.S. lieutenant

Michael Owen

U.S. lieutenant

Robert Lowell

Flyer

Marshall Reed

Flyer

Stephen Barclay

Flyer

Neyle Marx

Flyer

Blake Edwards

Flyer

Charles King Iii

Radio operator/Lieutenant Collins

Peter Cookson

Sergeant Hanson

Leslie Vincent

Sentry

Matt Willis

Lieutenant Hunter

Jacqueline White

Helen

Joan Thorsen

Girl in Chinese restaurant

Leatrice Joy Gilbert

Girl in Chinese restaurant

Mary Ganley

Girl in Chinese restaurant

Jessie Tai Sing

Headwaitress

Martin Ashe

Sergeant in Chinese restaurant

Eddie Borden

Taxi driver

Alan Wilson

Sergeant in Jeep

Arthur Space

S.F. Airport captain

Stafford Quartet

Background singers, "I'll See You in My Dreams"

Crew

Fred E. Ahlert

Composer

Frank Bjerring

Loc stills

David Boehm

From an Original story by

Frederick Hazlitt Brennan

Adaptation

Sam Browning

Loc stills

John Burch

Assistant Director at Luke Field

Ralph Ceder

2d unit Director at Luke Field

Richard Chaney

Loc Wardrobe

Walter Decker

Loc nursey man

William Doran

Loc Screenplay clerk

Hal Dumas

Loc props

Bert Eason

Loc Assistant Camera

Carl Feist

Loc props

Victor Fleming

Company

George Folsey

Director of Photography

Karl Freund

Director of Photography

Cedric Gibbons

Art Director

Arnold Gillespie

Special Effects

George Green

Loc props

William Greenwalt

Loc grip

Richard Hendrickson

Loc props

Major Edward G. Hillary U.s.a.a.c.

Technical Advisor

Horace Hough

Assistant Director

Winfield Hubbard

Loc props

Ralph Hurst

Associate (Sets)

Irene

Costume Supervisor

Donald Jahraus

Special Effects

Lou Jarrard

Loc Screenplay clerk

Isham Joens

Composer

Gus Kahn

Composer

William Kaplan

2d unit Director at Drew Field

Millard Kaufman

Screenwriter

Jerry Kelley

Loc props

Herman Kirchner

Loc nursey man

Matt Klosnick

Loc Assistant Camera

Gil Kurland

Unit Manager

Lynn Leishman

Loc plasterer

Jay Marchant

Unit Manager

Joe Mckinnon

Loc props

Johnny Menta

Loc nursey man

Jack Myron

Loc painter

Richard Neblett

Loc props

Warren Newcombe

Special Effects

Luther Newman

Loc props

Joe Popkin

Assistant Director at Luke Field

Don Pringle

Loc nursey man

Jasper Queen

Loc painter

Karl Reed

Loc grip

Harry Reid

Loc grip

Everett Riskin

Producer

Thomas Rockwell

Loc nursey man

Douglas Shearer

Recording Director

Abe Siegel

Loc nursey man

Jack Smith

Loc Camera

Chandler Sprague

From an Original story by

Glen Stephens

Double for Barry Nelson

Herbert Stothart

Music Score

Walter Strenge

Loc Camera op

Frank Sullivan

Film Editor

Roy Turk

Composer

George Vertafeville

Loc props

James Vesey

Loc painter

Harry Warren

Double for Spencer Tracy

George Webber

Loc Camera

Charles Wecker

Loc Assistant Camera

Lyle Wheeler

Associate (Art Direction)

Roy Whitcomb

Loc props

Edwin B. Willis

Set Decoration

Dolph Zimmer

Assistant Director

Photo Collections

A Guy Named Joe - Publicity Stills
Here are a few stills taken to help publicize MGM's A Guy Named Joe (1943), starring Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
A Guy Named Joe - Behind-the-Scenes Photo
Here is a photo of Spencer Tracy, taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's A Guy Named Joe (1943).

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Flyers Never Die, Three Guys Named Joe
Genre
Romance
Drama
War
Fantasy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Mar 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Dec 1943
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Columbia--Columbia Air Base, South Carolina, United States; Luke Field, Arizona, United States; San Antonio--Randolph Field, Texas, United States; Tampa--Drew Field, Florida, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,939ft

Award Nominations

Best Original Screenplay

1944

Articles

A Guy Named Joe


"In the American Air Forces, anybody who's a right chap is a guy named Joe," explains an admiring young boy at the beginning of A Guy Named Joe (1943), a World War II romantic fantasy. Spencer Tracy stars as devil-may-care fighter pilot Pete Sandidge who dies and comes back to earth as a guardian angel for novice flyer Ted Randall (Van Johnson). Things get complicated when the young pilot on earth falls for Pete's girl Dorinda (Irene Dunne), teaching all three about love, friendship and letting go.

A Guy Named Joe put Van Johnson on the Hollywood map, but it was a role that he almost didn't live to play. Shortly into production Johnson was in a terrible automobile accident that crushed part of his forehead and nearly killed him. The studio wanted to replace him, but Spencer Tracy, who was a top MGM star at that time, threatened to walk out if they didn't wait for Johnson's recovery. Tracy and MGM reached a compromise where the studio would push the shooting schedule back several months to accommodate Johnson. In return, Tracy and director Victor Fleming agreed to stop giving co-star Irene Dunne a hard time on the set. Apparently Tracy and Fleming had taken an instant disliking to Dunne and teased her relentlessly, sometimes driving her to tears. Dunne later recalled A Guy Named Joe as a difficult shoot full of tension before Johnson's accident. She heard rumors of being removed from the picture altogether before she, her co-star and the director worked things out. While Johnson recuperated in the hospital with a metal plate in his head, Tracy and Dunne used the time to re-shoot several scenes since earlier rushes showed their visible tension onscreen. Van Johnson, who went on to become a big MGM star, remained forever grateful to Spencer Tracy for influencing the studio to wait for him to complete the picture. "Without Tracy," he later stated in an interview, "my career could have ended then and there." Ironically, it was Johnson's injuries sustained on this movie that prevented him from serving in the real World War II, leaving him to rise to fame during the 1940s in the absence of many of Hollywood's established leading men. For Irene Dunne, who was already obligated to work on her next picture The White Cliffs of Dover(1944), the delayed filming schedule of A Guy Named Joe meant working double duty as an actress on both.

Despite its production problems, A Guy Named Joe became one of the most popular movies of 1943 and was nominated for a Best Writing Academy Award. Special effects wizard A. Arnold Gillespie showcases his talent with impressive WW II visual effects, and he went on to win Academy Awards for his work on such films as Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo(1944) and Ben-Hur(1959). The movie also briefly features Esther Williams in one of her first movie roles before she became MGM's first musical swimming star.

Dunne and Tracy never worked together again in a movie, but Tracy and Van Johnson remained lifelong friends. Director Steven Spielberg's love of this wartime fantasy inspired him to remake the film in 1989 as Always with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and Brad Johnson as the romantic triangle and Audrey Hepburn in her last film role as the heavenly angel who brings pilot Dreyfuss back to earth.

Producer: Everett Riskin
Director: Victor Fleming
Screenplay: David Boehm (story), Frederick Hazlitt Brennan (adaptation), Chandler Sprague (story), Dalton Trumbo
Cinematography: George J. Folsey (as George Folsey), Karl Freund
Costume Design: Irene
Film Editing: Frank Sullivan
Original Music: Alberto Colombo (uncredited), Herbert Stothart
Principal Cast: Spencer Tracy (Pete Sandidge), Irene Dunne (Dorinda Durston), Van Johnson (Ted Randall), Ward Bond (Al Yackey), James Gleason (Lt. Col. W.D. 'Nails' Kilpatrick).
BW-120m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

by Andrea Foshee

A Guy Named Joe

A Guy Named Joe

"In the American Air Forces, anybody who's a right chap is a guy named Joe," explains an admiring young boy at the beginning of A Guy Named Joe (1943), a World War II romantic fantasy. Spencer Tracy stars as devil-may-care fighter pilot Pete Sandidge who dies and comes back to earth as a guardian angel for novice flyer Ted Randall (Van Johnson). Things get complicated when the young pilot on earth falls for Pete's girl Dorinda (Irene Dunne), teaching all three about love, friendship and letting go. A Guy Named Joe put Van Johnson on the Hollywood map, but it was a role that he almost didn't live to play. Shortly into production Johnson was in a terrible automobile accident that crushed part of his forehead and nearly killed him. The studio wanted to replace him, but Spencer Tracy, who was a top MGM star at that time, threatened to walk out if they didn't wait for Johnson's recovery. Tracy and MGM reached a compromise where the studio would push the shooting schedule back several months to accommodate Johnson. In return, Tracy and director Victor Fleming agreed to stop giving co-star Irene Dunne a hard time on the set. Apparently Tracy and Fleming had taken an instant disliking to Dunne and teased her relentlessly, sometimes driving her to tears. Dunne later recalled A Guy Named Joe as a difficult shoot full of tension before Johnson's accident. She heard rumors of being removed from the picture altogether before she, her co-star and the director worked things out. While Johnson recuperated in the hospital with a metal plate in his head, Tracy and Dunne used the time to re-shoot several scenes since earlier rushes showed their visible tension onscreen. Van Johnson, who went on to become a big MGM star, remained forever grateful to Spencer Tracy for influencing the studio to wait for him to complete the picture. "Without Tracy," he later stated in an interview, "my career could have ended then and there." Ironically, it was Johnson's injuries sustained on this movie that prevented him from serving in the real World War II, leaving him to rise to fame during the 1940s in the absence of many of Hollywood's established leading men. For Irene Dunne, who was already obligated to work on her next picture The White Cliffs of Dover(1944), the delayed filming schedule of A Guy Named Joe meant working double duty as an actress on both. Despite its production problems, A Guy Named Joe became one of the most popular movies of 1943 and was nominated for a Best Writing Academy Award. Special effects wizard A. Arnold Gillespie showcases his talent with impressive WW II visual effects, and he went on to win Academy Awards for his work on such films as Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo(1944) and Ben-Hur(1959). The movie also briefly features Esther Williams in one of her first movie roles before she became MGM's first musical swimming star. Dunne and Tracy never worked together again in a movie, but Tracy and Van Johnson remained lifelong friends. Director Steven Spielberg's love of this wartime fantasy inspired him to remake the film in 1989 as Always with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and Brad Johnson as the romantic triangle and Audrey Hepburn in her last film role as the heavenly angel who brings pilot Dreyfuss back to earth. Producer: Everett Riskin Director: Victor Fleming Screenplay: David Boehm (story), Frederick Hazlitt Brennan (adaptation), Chandler Sprague (story), Dalton Trumbo Cinematography: George J. Folsey (as George Folsey), Karl Freund Costume Design: Irene Film Editing: Frank Sullivan Original Music: Alberto Colombo (uncredited), Herbert Stothart Principal Cast: Spencer Tracy (Pete Sandidge), Irene Dunne (Dorinda Durston), Van Johnson (Ted Randall), Ward Bond (Al Yackey), James Gleason (Lt. Col. W.D. 'Nails' Kilpatrick). BW-120m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video. by Andrea Foshee

TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON


Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23rd with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note.

The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be:
8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime
9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe
12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris
4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance


Van Johnson (1916-2008)

Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92.

He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939.

Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands.

It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946).

Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor.

After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON

Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23rd with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note. The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be: 8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime 9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe 12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo 2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris 4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance Van Johnson (1916-2008) Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92. He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939. Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands. It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946). Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor. After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's working titles were Three Guys Named Joe, and Flyers Never Die. The film ends with the following written inscription: "To Families and Friends of Men and Women in Our Armed Forces. The picture you have just seen is being shown in combat areas overseas with the compliments of the American Motion Picture Industry." The title A Guy Named Joe was taken from a phrase used by General Clair Chennault, who formed the American Volunteer Group, nicknamed "The Flying Tigers," in 1941. Chennault used the phrase to refer to any member of his flying squadrons. In the film, the term is further explained by an English boy who says that to Americans any "right chap" is "a guy named Joe."
       Hollywood Reporter news items offer the following information about the production: M-G-M sought actor Brian Donlevy from Paramount for a "co-starring" role in the film. Actors Richard Carlson, Phillip Terry and Richard Whorf were cast, but none appeared in the released film. Hollywood Reporter news items include Bill Sloan, David Thursby, Rex Evans, Will Stanton, Harry Cording, George Magrill, Nelson Leigh, Ted Billings, Peggy Maley and Charles Bimbo in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. In late December 1942, Hal Rosson was announced as the cameraman, but he apparently did not work on the film. Although Colonel Ross G. Hoyt was announced as the film's technical advisor in January 1943, only Major Edward G. Hillary is cited as an advisor in the screen credits.
       Actor Van Johnson, who portrays "Ted Randall" in the film, was seriously injured in an automobile accident on March 31, 1943, about three weeks after he began shooting his scenes. A news item on April 1, 1943 reported that Johnson, who was then in critical condition, was to be replaced in the production. On April 21, 1943 it was reported that Johnson was recovering very quickly and would soon return to his role, but he did not resume work until the first week of Jul, more than three months later. According to modern sources, M-G-M executives had wanted to replace Johnson but Spencer Tracy, who had become a close friend and mentor to Johnson, insisted that they shoot around the injured actor during his convalescence.
       Although reviews, such as those in the New York Times and Variety, panned Johnson's performance in A Guy Named Joe, the age difference between him and Irene Dunne, who was eighteen years his senior, was not emphasized, as it has been in modern sources. Johnson's role in the film was his most important to date and, according to modern sources, did much to increase his popularity, especially among young female "bobby soxer" audiences. Because of the extensive injuries he suffered in the automobile accident, Johnson was ineligible for the draft and made a number of popular films during World War II. He was ranked second among the top-ten money-making stars in Quigley publications' 1945 list, third in 1946 and continued as a popular M-G-M star throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s.
       A Guy Named Joe had a very long shooting schedule, about five months, due in part to Johnson's injuries, but also to extensive location shooting that had to be pieced into principal photography and necessitated two or three interruptions in the production schedule. According to news items, location shooting took place at Luke Field, Arizona and Randolph Field, Texas, with additional second unit work being done at Drew Field in Tampa, FL and Columbia Air Base, South Carolina. The South Carolina and Florida footage was used for air scenes, backdrops and process shots.
       According to information in a file on the film in the National Archives (NARS), the U.S. War Department, Bureau of Public Relations, was unimpressed with the script submitted by M-G-M under the title "Three Guys Named Joe." A memorandum by Falkner Heard, chief of the office's review branch, stated "A review of this manuscript indicates that no degree of supervision could make this picture a contribution to the war effort....It is suggested that Hollywood be told that the War Department recommends it not be produced." A revised script also failed to receive the War Deparment's approval. An information action sheet written by Edward L. Munson, Jr., Chief of the Information Branch, stated that production of the script "in its present form would be unwise because of the psychological effect it [the film] would have on potential fledgling and experienced pilots as well as their parents. The presence of hovering ghosts of deceased pilots, and the unreal, fantastic, and slightly schizophrenic character of the scenario hardly combine to produce a sensible war-time film diet."
       Another revision of the script was submitted to the War Department and was finally accepted on November 24, 1942. At that time, cooperation of the War Department was promised, pending further developments in the production. A memo in the NARS describes an extensive location scouting trip and second unit shooting that was done at various air bases including those mentioned above. The amount of footage shot at these bases used in the released film has not been determined, but evidence within the memo suggests that much of the footage was not in the completed picture.
       According to information in the file on A Guy Named Joe contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the PCA objected to the ending of the film. In the original ending, the character "Dorinda" died during the climactic mission to destroy the ammunition dump and was reunited with "Pete." This was objectional to the PCA because of the implication that Dorinda's death would be, in effect, suicide. To address this objection, additional scenes and retakes were shot in mid-November 1943 to change the ending so that Dorinda would live and be reunited with "Ted" while Pete goes off alone. Some reviewers expressed disappointment at this ending, as exemplified by the comments of New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, who stated, "And they let go in a finish that is as foolish as anything we've seen." Despite some negative reviews, the film was very successful, and was among the top ten box office films of 1944. The film received one Academy Award nomination, for Chandler Sprague and David Boehm for Best Original Story. According to M-G-M studio records at the AMPAS Library, the film had a negative cost of $2,627,000 and took in $5,363,000 at the box office. When the picture was re-issued for the 1955-56 season, it took in an additional $150,000.
       A Hollywood Reporter news item on June 8, 1944 noted that a plagiarism suit by Adelyn Bushnell and Marshall Bradford, authors of a story entitled "And From the West," had been filed against Loew's Inc., parent company of M-G-M, the film's screenwriters and producers. The disposition of the suit has not been determined, but it is unlikely that the plaintiffs were successful in their case. A Guy Named Joe was the last film collaboration of Tracy and director Victor Fleming, with whom he had worked on Captain's Courageous (1937), Test Pilot (1938) (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0595 and F3.4505); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941, ) and Tortilla Flat (1942, see below). A Guy Named Joe was remade by director Steven Spielberg in 1989. Spielberg's film, entitled Always, starred Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and Brad Johnson in the principal roles. The setting of that film was updated to the present and centered on the activities of forest fire-fighting pilots. Spielberg also included a clip from A Guy Named Joe in his 1982 film Poltergeist.