The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)


index“All marriages don’t have to be like that one. There’s nothing wrong except on slight detail. They just don’t like each other” – Woody Merrill

Number of Times Seen – At least 10 (21 July 2001 on TV, DVD, 16 Jun 2013)

Brief Synopsis – Three WWII veterans return home from war and must deal with how the war has changed their lives

My Take on it – I had avoided seeing this movie for so many years and then somehow in 2001, I sat myself down to watch it and was amazed at how well it was done.

This movie came out one year after WWII and it correctly portrayed the hardships veterans encountered after returning from the war.  They were looked down upon by those who didn’t go off to fight; they were discriminated because they had not moved along with society for the period of the war years and coming home, they needed to deal with the mental and physical wounds that they received abroad.

Society on a whole didn’t know how to treat them properly and that caused the veterans even more problems because they didn’t know what to do in order to fit in.  Life continued it’s natural course in the US while they fought the enemy abroad.  Upon their return, they also has problems finding employment that they were qualified for and many went jobless for a long time.

William Wyler (himself a veteran) understood this and convinced screenwriter Robert Sherwood to write a script based on these ideas. When making the movie, Wyler hired many veterans to work on the movie in order to try and help with the problem.

Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Victoria Mayo, Teresa Wright and first timer Harold Russell (himself a disabled veteran) led the cast.

This movie won 7 of 8 Oscars it was nominated for and Russell even won a honorary Oscar  “For bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance in The Best Years of Our Lives.”

It won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (March), Best Supporting Actor (Russell), Film Editing and Music.  The only award it didn’t win was Best Sound Recording.

Most of this review can be said for the veterans who came home from Vietnam, The Gulf and most recently Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s amazing that a movie made almost 70 years ago would be so poignant and realistic for veterans today.

Actually that not amazing, it’s very sad 😦

Bottom Line – Worth seeing this timeless film on the hardships veterans have reconnecting with their old lives and with society that has moved on without them. Highly recommended!!!

Rating – Oscar Worthy

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