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Always"Always" on DVD

Romance is in the Air

Steven Spielberg's warmhearted fantasy is a remake of the old WWII movie "A Guy Named Joe." The war here, however, is the battle against forest fires, with Richard Dreyfuss' Pete Sandich being a hotshot douser of hotspots.

Pete loves Dorinda (Holly Hunter) who, along with their buddy Al (John Goodman), is trying to convince Pete to take fewer dumb chances in the air - or better still retire from waterbombing and take up a teaching position instead.

Naturally, Pete won't listen and it ends up being his undoing - though through a selfless act rather than his usual risk taking. Next thing he knows, he's dead and learning the facts of afterlife from the angelic Audrey Hepburn.

Those facts tell him he has to mentor another soul just as his was mentored (unknown to him) years before. This turns into a larger task than he expected because his student is a big lunk with designs on Dorinda.

The movie's full of good humor and romance - and some terrific flying scenes and aviation special effects - and is a real treat for aviation fans. Plane nuts will enjoy seeing such old crates as the "Flying Boxcar" and A-26 in action again.

Fans of old fashioned romance movies will also enjoy Spielberg's homage to that kind of film. He's updated it and pulled it off well.

The widescreen (non-anamorphic, alas, so 16x9 TV owners will have to stretch it) DVD is dual layer, and while this doesn't usually cause a problem, it did on our reference system. As with Spielberg's Amistad, though not nearly as bad, the layer change caused our player to pause noticeably for a few seconds before continuing on its merry way.

We wonder if the DVD format has something against Steven Spielberg?

Other than that, the picture and sound quality are, as usual, terrific - and the movie is encoded in Dolby Digital, too.

Extras include production notes, cast/filmmakers bios, theatrical trailer, and chapter stops. There are virtually no liner notes beyond the back of the package, though there are a few stills thrown in.

"Always" is a guilty pleasure around TechnoFILE, for our love of aviation and for a good, old fashioned story. Spielberg has given us both with this movie, and other than the glitch with the layer change it has made a perfect, three point landing onto DVD.

Always, from Universal Home Video
123 minutes, widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital
starring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Introducing Brad Johnson and with a special appearance by Audrey Hepburn.
Screenplay by Jerry Belson, Produced by Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, and Kathleen Kennedy.
Directed by Steven Spielberg.


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Updated May 13, 2006