This is one of the important movies.
It was when it was first released in 1946, addressing as it did the issue of veterans returning from WW2, and the affect it had on them and their families. It focused on three men, all psychologically scarred, and one who has lost both arms. They return to a small city in the U.S., but the themes of the film were universal.
That was 70 years ago, and over the years, the movie has tended to move into the background - there have been more wars and more veterans returning with their own issues.
However, I think the importance of this movie can't be underestimated now that the WW2 generation is fading away.
WW2 was well covered; we have millions of feet of newsreel film as well as towering stacks of history books. However, movies from the era do something quite unique; they get inside the emotions and the feelings - they represent the mindset of the time. Audiences identified with the issues through the stars in a way that was very personal. Hollywood did this job best - it was entertainment, but it was also a commitment to a generation.
At the end of the war and into the 50's, Hollywood addressed the aftermath - "Till the End of Time", "The Men", "My Foolish Heart", "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit" and others, but "The Best Years of Our Lives" towers above them all.
The film could never really be remade. It was created by people who had experienced the war either in combat or on the home front. Many behind the camera had served including director William Wyler who had flown dangerous missions making documentaries about the U.S. Air Force; he was left nearly deaf from the experience.
The film tackled tough issues and attitudes. Sergeant Al Stephenson (Frederick March) returns from the Philippines, but he hasn't seen his kids for years and he seems out of step with them. Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) returns to an unfaithful wife and an uncertain future, he was good at war but what now? Real-life amputee Harold Russell plays Homer Parrish. He has much to overcome, but his girlfriend remains loyal, and he emerges as possibly the best adjusted of them all; he accepts what he can't change, and just gets on with it.
The film has a powerful score by Hugo Friedhofer. Friedhofer was not as famous as Newman, Korngold or Steiner but he was as good. He surpassed himself here; his music helped express the unspoken thoughts of the actors - there are sections of this score that bring a lump to the throat.
This was my parent's generation; my father was in the Australian army and fought in the war. And although this movie was about Americans, the story resonated far wider.
Of course you could argue that some issues were not tackled - and that also gives an insight into an era, but with that said, this film is a window on the ideas and forces that were shaping society at a critical time in modern history.
Seen that way, it's a movie that may never lose its relevance.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 720p YIFY Movie
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Best Years of Our Lives is a movie starring Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, and Fredric March. Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
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The Synopsis for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 720p
The story concentrates on the social re-adjustment of three World War II servicemen, each from a different station of society. Al Stephenson returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. Fred Derry is an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage. Having had both hands burnt off during the war, Homer Parrish is unsure that his fiancée's feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of the veterans faces a crisis upon his arrival, and each crisis is a microcosm of the experiences of many American warriors who found an alien world awaiting them when they came marching home.
The Director and Players for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 720p
The Reviews for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) 720p
Window on an eraReviewed bytomsviewVote: 10/10
This is one of the important movies.
One of the great things about The Best Years of Our Lives that even though it dates itself rather firmly in the post World War II era, the issues it talks about are as real today as they were on V-E or V-J day of 1945. The problem of how to assimilate returning war veterans is as old as the written history of our planet.
And while we don't often learn from history, we can be thankful that for once the United States of America did learn from what happened with its veterans after the previous World War. The GI Bill of Rights is mentioned in passing in The Best Years of Our Lives was possibly the greatest piece of social legislation from the last century. So many veterans did take advantage of it as do the veterans like Fredric March, Dana Andrews, and Harold Russell who you see here.
All three of those actors played archetypal veterans, characters that every corner of the USA could identify with. They all meet on an army transport plane flying to the home town of all of them, Boone City, Iowa.
War is a great leveler of class and distinction. Bank employee March, soda jerk Andrews, and high school football star Russell probably would never meet in real life even in a small town like Boone City. But they do meet and war forges indestructible bonds that can never be broken.
March is the oldest, a man with two children and Hollywood's perfect wife Myrna Loy. He settles in the first and the best. He has some wonderful scenes, getting cockeyed drunk on his return and later with a little bit of liquor in him, tells the bank officials at a banquet off in no uncertain terms.
I also love his scene where another returning veteran, a sharecropper wants to get a bank loan for his own piece of land. Watch March's expressions as he listens to the man's pitch for money. You can feel him read the man's soul. It's what got him his Second Best Actor Oscar for this film.
Harold Russell was a real veteran who lost both his hands during service in the Pacific. He got a special recognition Oscar for his performance. Because of that it was probably unfair to nominate him in the Supporting Actor category which he also won in. His performance, especially his scenes with Cathy O'Donnell as his sweetheart who loves him with or without his hands, is beyond anything that could be described as acting.
Dana Andrews is the only officer of the three, a bombardier in the Army Air Corps. Of the group of them, maybe he should have stayed in. He also comes from the poorest background of the group and he was an officer and a gentleman in that uniform. That uniform and those monthly allotment checks are what got Virginia Mayo interested enough to marry him. The problem is that he's considerably less in her eyes as a civilian.
While Mayo is fooling around with Steve Cochran, Andrews has the great good fortune to have March's daughter Teresa Wright take an interest in him. They're the main story of the film, Andrews adjustment to civilian life and adjusting to the fact he married the wrong woman. Not all veteran's problems were solved with GI Bill.
Myrna Loy gets little recognition for The Best Years of Our Lives. My guess is that it's because her role as wife was too much like the stereotypical wife roles she had patented over at MGM. Still as wife to March and mother to Wright she really is the glue that holds that family together.
The Best Years of Our Lives won for Best Picture for Sam Goldwyn, Best Director for William Wyler and a few others besides the two acting Oscars it got. It was a critical and popular success, possibly the best film Sam Goldwyn ever produced. It remains to this day an endearing and enduring classic and will be so for centuries. It's almost three hours in length, but never once will your interest wane.
The best tribute this film received came from Frank Capra who had a film of his own in the Oscar sweepstakes that year in several categories. In his memoirs he said that he was disappointed to be skunked at the Oscars that year, but that his friend and colleague William Wyler had created such a masterpiece he deserved every award he could get for it.
By the way, the film Capra had hopes for was It's A Wonderful Life. The Beat Years of Our Lives can't get better praise than that.
WWII veterans return home and find it hard to adjust to civilian life. This superb drama is expertly directed by Wyler and beautifully filmed by famed cinematographer Toland. Despite its near three-hour length, it does not drag for a minute. The script by Sherwood features very human characters and great dialog. Andrews has perhaps his best role as a man struggling to make ends meet. Also good are Wright as a love-sick young woman, Mayo as Andrews' trampy wife, and real-life veteran Russell as a man who lost both his hands. However, top honors go to March and Loy as a long-married couple facing challenges while getting reacquainted with each other.