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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Passed | | Drama, Romance, War | 17 June 1947 (Argentina)
1:47 | Trailer

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Three World War II 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)
Top Rated Movies #222 | 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 ...
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


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Drama | Romance | War


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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
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


When Homer is talking to the obnoxious customer at the soda counter, Fred serves water at the customer's right hand, but in another shot, it's at his left hand side. See more »


[Mr. Thorpe has offered Derry a job as asst. floor manager and part-time soda jerk]
Fred Derry: At what salary?
Mr. Thorpe: Thirty-two fifty per week.
Fred Derry: Thirty-two fifty. I used to make over four hundred dollars a month in the Air Force.
Mr. Thorpe: The war is over, Derry.
See more »


Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo' Bye!)
(1922) (uncredited)
Music by Dan Russo and Ernie Erdman
Played on piano by Hoagy Carmichael
See more »

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User Reviews

Forgotten now that it was mildly controversial in its day
23 September 2004 | by (Columbia, South Carolina) – See all my reviews

My parents were of that generation, and the movie was cathartic for returning veterans and their families and friends; it's small wonder that it eclipsed <i>It's A Wonderful Life</i>, which arguably is a better picture. But at the time, the movie had some shocking elements to it. In fact, my mother (roughly the character Peggy's age then) saw it against her parents' wishes.

Back in 1946, it was a jaw-dropper to have a character in a movie utter the word "divorce" or to aver an intent to break up a marriage -- such ideas just weren't voiced in films then. To modern audiences, they come across as melodramatic, but I'm told they elcited genuine gasps from audiences then.

Even more astonishing was William Wyler's decision to cast real-life amputee Harold Russell in the key role of a returning Navy veteran. Until <i>The Battle of Britain</i>, in which an actual, disfigured RAF veteran made a cameo appearance, directors didn't make those sorts of courageous gestures. The intimate yet innocent scene in which Homer Parrish (Russell) demonstrates his helplessness to his fiancé Wilma Cameron (Cathy O'Donnell) is beautiful, heartbreaking and uplifting; later, during the wedding scene, Russell stumbled over a line in saying the vows, and Wyler left the humanizing mistake in, God bless him for it.

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