A Guy Named Joe (1944)





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Movie Info

Opening in England during the middle of World War II, A Guy Named Joe tells the story of Pete Sandidge (Spencer Tracy), a tough, devil-may-care bomber pilot who's amassed an enviable record in combat, mostly by taking chances that give his C.O. (James Gleason) the shakes, much as he and the top brass appreciate the results. Pete lives to fly, but he also appreciates the fairer sex, which for the last couple of years means Dorinda Durston (Irene Dunne), herself a hot-shot air-ferry pilot. She's also worried about the chances he takes, even after Pete and his best friend, Al Yackey (Ward Bond), are transferred to Scotland and switched to flying reconnaissance missions. Pete finally agrees to take a training position back in the States, but he must fly one last mission, to locate a German force threatening an Allied convoy. He and Al do the job and have turned for home when the German fighter cover attacks; Pete's plane is damaged and he's wounded, and after his crew bails out he takes the burning ship down and drops his bomb-load on the main German attack ship (a carrier, which is totally inaccurate) at zero altitude. His plane is caught in the blast and destroyed, and that's where the main body of the movie begins.Pete arrives in a hereafter that's a pilot's version of heaven, including a five-star general (Lionel Barrymore). He doesn't even appreciate what's happened to him until he meets Dick Rumney (Barry Nelson), a friend and fellow pilot who was previously killed in action. It seems that the powers of the hereafter are contributing to the war effort, sending departed pilots like Pete and Dick to Earth to help guide and help young pilots; Pete himself discovers that he benefited from these efforts in peacetime. Pete ends up at Luke Field near Phoenix, AZ, where he takes on helping Ted Randall (Van Johnson), a young pilot who lacks confidence. By the time he's done, riding along while Ted "solos," Ted is a natural in the air and ends up as the star of his squadron when he become operational in New Guinea -- in a group under the command of Al Yackey -- and ends up taking over command when their own leader is shot down. Pete's like a proud teacher, and also enjoys his unheard ribbing of Al and his ex-C.O. to Rumney, over their promotions, but then Dorinda shows up, and suddenly Pete finds all of his unresolved feelings about her recalled, even as he sees that she's never gotten over losing him. And when, with Al's help, she and Ted meet and seem to fall for each other, Pete's jealousy gets the better of him. It's only when he is made to realize just how important life was to him, and how important the future is for those still living, that he begins to understand that he has to let go of his feelings, and let Dorinda and Ted get on with their lives. But first he has to help Dorinda survive a suicide mission that she's taken over from Ted, attacking a huge and heavily defended Japanese ammo dump. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Classics , Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment


Spencer Tracy
as Pete Sandridge
Van Johnson
as Ted Randall
Irene Dunne
as Dorinda Durston
Lionel Barrymore
as The General
Ward Bond
as Al Yackey
James Gleason
as Col. "Nails" Kilpatrick
Barry Nelson
as Dick Rumney
Esther Williams
as Ellen Bright
Henry O'Neill
as Col. Sykes
Don DeFore
as "Powerhouse" James J. Rourke
Charles Smith
as Sanderson
Addison Richards
as Maj. Corbett
Mary Elliott
as Dance Hall Girl
Earl Schenck
as Col. Hendricks
Maurice Murphy
as Capt. Robertson
Mark Daniels
as Lieutenant
Eve Whitney
as Powerhouse's Girl
Kay Williams
as Girl at Bar
Walter Sande
as Mess Sergeant
Gibson Gowland
as Bartender
John Whitney
as Officers in Heaven
Kirk Alyn
as Officers in Heaven
James Millican
as Orderly
Yvonne Severn
as Elizabeth
John Frederick
as Lt. Ridley
Irving Bacon
as Corporal
Peter Cookson
as Sgt. Hanson
Matt Willis
as Lt. Hunter
Bill Arthur
as Cadet
John Bogen
as Cadet
Johnny Dunn
as Cadet
Ken Scott
as Cadet
Louis Hart
as Cadet
Fred Coby
as Cadet
Charles King III
as Lt. Collins, Radio Operator
Eddie Borden
as Taxi Driver
Arthur Space
as San Francisco Airport Captain
Alan Wilson
as Sergeant in Jeep
Elizabeth Valentine
as Washerwoman's Child
Arthur Stenning
as Fisherman
George Kirby
as Fisherman
Aileen Haley
as Hostess
Oliver Cross
as American Major
Wyndham Standing
as English Colonel
Violet Seton
as Bartender's Wife
Rebecca Bohannen
as English Girl
Jean Prescott
as Mother
Richard Graham
as Crew Member
James Warren
as Irish Guard
Howard Davies
as Bartender
Carlie Taylor
as English Captain
Jack Saunders
as American Captain
Stanley Orr
as English Captain
Melinda Wood Allen
as Tough Corporal
Eddie Coke
as Corporal
Carey Harrison
as American Major in Red Lion Inn
Dora Baker
as Scrub Woman
Clarence Straight
as Flight Sergeant
Vernon P. Downing
as English Liaison Officer
William Manning
as Co-Pilot
Jessie Tai Sing
as Headwaitress
Martin Ashe
as Sergeant in Chinese Restaurant
Allen Wood
as Tough Corporal
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Critic Reviews for A Guy Named Joe

All Critics (4)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 1, 2008
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

What begins as a nice romantic fantasy turns into a schmaltzy melodrama about love and war, but it reflected the national mood and thus became a huge commercial hit.

Full Review… | June 18, 2009

No excerpt available.

May 31, 2005
International Press Academy

No excerpt available.

April 28, 2005
Boulder Weekly

No excerpt available.

November 12, 2004
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

Audience Reviews for A Guy Named Joe


This is a sweet story (later remade by Steven Spielberg with "Always") that has Spencer tracy playing a guardian angel to a young pilot who falls for his former lover. I also like the fact that there is no guy named Joe in the entire film. Grade: B+

Calvin Cajigal
Calvin Cajigal

Set during WWII this is a story about a group of American pilots with Dunne and Tracy being a couple, yes Dunne is a military pilot. Once again, as only few actors can do, Dunne can go from a tough as nails female military pilot to a giddy schoolgirl excited over a fancy dress in one scene. Tracy plays the bachelor pilot, flies alone for pleasure, who is the reckless pilot who only regard is to get the mission done. The always welcome Ward Bond plays the affable acquaintance, friend to both yet understanding to the situation. The twist in the plot happens when Dunne's premonition turns true and Tracy dies in combat and becomes a guarding angel, to protect the other pilots in the military, specifically Van Johnson. With the reluctant guidance of Tracy, Johnson becomes a pilot, and through Bond is introduced to Dunne who become romantically linked. I am always amazed at these war movies done during the period as the budget and time had to be tight and usually the quality is high, this is no exception. Lionel Barrymore plays the Almighty, or at least the top guarding angel of pilots and through his expressive eyebrows conveys a sense of calm and understanding to a new comer to the heavens. It's a long movie, that tends to wander and suddenly we realize where James Cameron got the story for Titanic, the strong female character, the supernatural, and the undying love. I liked the beginning but it became over long and seemed to lose its way and purpose.

Mike L
Mike L

I normally like old, nostalgic fantasy movies that include angels, ghosts, or spirits, but "A Guy Named Joe," fell into a typical romantic movie: melodramtic, a bit dull, and not very interesting by the middle of the film.

Cory Lynch
Cory Lynch

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