Van Johnson was critically injured in an automobile accident on 31 March 1943 and MGM was set to replace him, but Spencer Tracy insisted that they shoot around him during his convalescence. Johnson didn't return to work until the first week in July of 1943, more than three months later.
Actors Richard Carlson, Phillip Terry and Richard Whorf were originally cast in the movie but were not seen in the released version. Actors announced by news items to be cast in the movie, but who were not seen in the print include David Thursby, Rex Evans, Will Stanton, Harry Cording and George Magrill.
Along with Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne insisted the film's production be halted until Van Johnson was well after his auto accident, in which he was seriously injured. During this period, MGM snatched Dunne up to make The White Cliffs of Dover, released the following year as the MGM 20th Anniversary film. As a thank you for her gratitude, Johnson appears in a small role in 'Dover.'
Fillm debut of Edward Hardwicke.
Reportedly Steven Spielberg's favorite movie, he remade it in 1989 as Always. The remake included the three main characters (Pete Sandich, Durinda Durston and Al Yackey), plus the characters of "Ted" and "Nails."
The General, played by Lionel Barrymore, wears the Medal of Honor ribbon on his uniform, but the ribbon is displayed upside down (the five stars forming a "W" instead of an "M"). Interestingly, James Doolittle also wore the Medal of Honor ribbon upside down, leading some to ask if there might be an aviation connection .
The Production Code Administration (PCA) objected to the original ending, where Dorinda dies during her mission to destroy an ammunition dump, and is reunited with Pete in heaven. They considered this to be be a suicide. Script revisions were made and retakes shot for the current ending, which was panned by most critics. Still, the film was among the top 10 box office hits of the year.
The War Department initially did not approve the script, fearing psychological damage to new and experienced pilots and their parents. It relented after 2 revisions and promised full cooperation.
There was no way to composite Spencer Tracy's image into the scenes where Van Johnson is flying, so he actually had to be standing behind Johnson and, later, Irene Dunne for the filming of these scenes. The same approach was used for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (techniques for superimposing one image onto another were not invented until much later).
This picture was featured as MGM's big Christmas spectacular of 1943.