The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  17 June 1947 (Argentina)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 37,396 users  
Reviews: 234 user | 94 critic

Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.



(screen play), (from a novel by) (as Mackinlay Kantor)
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Top Rated Movies #198 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Stephenson (as Frederic March)
Roman Bohnen ...
Minna Gombell ...
Mrs. Parrish
Walter Baldwin ...
Mr. Parrish


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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

veteran | pity | love | marriage | banker | See All (312) »


Filled with all the love and warmth and joy. . .the human heart can hold! See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 June 1947 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Glory for Me  »

Box Office


$2,100,000 (estimated)


$23,650,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character played by Ray Teal (the actor that Harold Russell attacks at the soda fountain) is listed in the credits as "Mr. Mollett". However, the character's name is never mentioned or otherwise alluded to. It may be that Mr. Mollett is named in the book on which the film was based, "Glory for Me," by MacKinlay Kantor. See more »


Reflected on the car on the left side of the screen, when Fred kisses Peggy. See more »


[Homer has asked Wilma into his bedroom to see what happens as he prepares for bed. After removing his hooks and harness, he 'wiggles' into his pajama top]
Homer Parrish: I'm lucky. I have my elbows. Some of the boys don't. But I can't button them up.
Wilma Cameron: I'll do that, Homer.
Homer Parrish: This is when I know I'm helpless. My hands are down there on the bed. I can't put them on again without calling to somebody for help. I can't smoke a cigarette or read a book. If that door should blow shut, I can't open it and get out of this...
See more »

Crazy Credits

"and introducing Cathy O'Donnell" See more »


(1877) (uncredited)
Music by Euphemia Allen
Played on piano by Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Russell
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

What's Missing? Your Life Maybe!!
11 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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 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!!

58 of 96 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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