The Best Years Of Our Lives

1946, Movie, NR, 172 mins


The best coming home movie ever made. "I don't care if it doesn't make a nickel," Sam Goldwyn reportedly said of THE BEST YEARS, "I just want every man, woman, and child in America to see it." The colorful producer got the idea for the film after reading a Life article about WWII veterans and their difficulties in adjusting to civilian life. With a brilliant script by Robert E. Sherwood, effective direction by William Wyler, masterful photography by Gregg Toland and excellent performances by the entire cast, this film about returning American servicemen is justifiably considered a classic.

Three servicemen--Al Stephenson (Fredric March), Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell)--are shown returning to their hometown, plagued by memories of war and doubts about their future in a country they have difficulty remembering. After sharing space on board the bomber that flies them home, the three take a cab to their separate addresses. The sailor Homer comes home to his girl with a pair of hooks where his hands once were (Russell, the only nonprofessional in the cast, lost his hands in a training accident while in the service); middle-aged Al returns to his loving wife (Myrna Loy), children, and old job as a banker; Fred finds a spouse who has more or less abandoned him, and no prospects for a job.

Although everyone in Hollywood thought Goldwyn would lose his shirt on THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, it was a massive hit. Russell won a special Oscar for bringing hope to servicemen. leave a comment

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