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. Written by
Harold Russell's character was originally written as a war veteran suffering from combat trauma. This was changed to a physical disability when Russell joined the cast. See more »
The scene at Butch's, when Al introduces his wife and daughter to Fred and Homer, he refers to Dana Andrews as Homer and Harold Russell as Fred. This was intended as a consequence of Al being drunk. See more »
What do you think I was doing all those years?
I don't know, babe, but I can guess.
Go ahead. Guess your head off. I could do some guessing myself. What were you up to in London and Paris and all those places? I've given you every chance to make something of yourself. I gave up my own job when you asked me. I gave up the best years of my life, and what have you done? You flopped! Couldn't even hold that job at the drugstore. So I'm going back to work for myself and that means I'm gonna live for...
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Blue ribbon banners, stars and stripes forever, decorated generals, and unconditional surrender from the enemies which required tons and tons of radiation, this was the summon substance of the United States victory in World War II!! The celebration on Times Square as well as everywhere else in the United States suggests a national zenith!!! America is on top right!! one thing, one agonizing and painstakingly perverse thing..The period of adjustment!!..The actual celebration ended when the bottle of champagne was finished..Now everyone needs to get on with their lives...only one problem though...they have to get new lives...the old lives are gone forever...Polite and pleasant smiles had a fragile facade with a longevity of ice cubes in boiling water!! Everyone of the characters in the movie is paraded by primal doubts, and unable to masquerade a pretense about how nothing was seriously wrong, for the simple reason that it was not true!!! Once sergeants, and generals, and their wives, and daughters, and sons and virtually all other Americans touched by World War II, were exposed to disabilities, nightmares and recriminations of World War II and what it really accomplished as well as negated, nobody was the same!! For now, social and moral issues had a self serving interest...Frederick March and Myrna Loy had to start over!! Dana Andrews realized that he should never have been married to Virginia Mayo in the first place!!! Theresa Wright has become painfully aware of the fact that she is constructively selfish!! Las but not least, the character, Homer, is about to get married and he thinks that everyone around him is as devastated by his injury as he is, basically in the sense that they are unable or unwilling to cope!!
The reason this film is so fabulous is because a happy ending was attained the hard way, once everybody recognized the new beginning of the new United States and the new world overall, tragedy from WWII was recognized, and things that were emotionally torn asunder were taken in stride, and dealt with accordingly!! Frederick March and Myrna Loy need to go back to chapter one in their marriage, Homer has apprised his new bride as to what it takes to be married to him (i.e. half the times, she will feel like a nurse) and Thresa Wright's involvement with Dana Andrews means that her entrance into adulthood has resulted in partial responsibility for breaking up a marriage...This is tantamount to learning how to drive a car to get your driver's license at the Indianapolis 500...The characters in the movie are the typical post WWII Americans in that they are stalemated by the rude awakening of coercive changes to their lives...Happiness no longer is afforded the luxury of the adjective cop-aesthetic...it is now about formidable conditions, and good winning out over evil by way of the less ugly choice!!...World War II did not just happen!! It will henceforth dominate the social patterns of American living!!!
The aggregate catastrophe of World War II has mirrored most Americans' feelings of personal human inadequacy as well!!I loved this film and so did AFI, probably for the reason that it brought out issues that were at one time unjustifiably taboo!!..Bottom line, see this movie!! Nightmares about combat, dilemmas about marital unhappiness and/or readjustment, coping with your life when stricken-ed by a disability and just basically acting human are portrayed constantly in movies and television today, HOWEVER!! this is 1946!! Very new to Americans then....REMEMBER THAT!! Director William Wyler has illustrated how Americans feel about the aftermath of WWII in the days when the movie industry has left him with one hand tied behind his back!!! Take that into account and you will probably realize just how sensational this movie really was!!
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