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The Best Years of Our Lives
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Best Years of Our Lives More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Intense and compelling. Kudos to Dana Andrews for an incredibly great performance.

10/10
Author: PWNYCNY from United States
4 November 2007

This is a great movie with outstanding performances by the entire cast, especially Dana Andrew's and Harold Russell's. Although released just after World War Two the movie has survived the test of time, principally because of the the nature of the story which deals with issues that are timeless in their relevancy. This movie is proof that "they don't make 'em like that anymore." It is hard to imagine Hollywood being able to recreate this movie today. The audience would be able to relate to the story - who couldn't?. But who'd play the roles? Could any actor today play Fred Derry without it becoming a laughable caricature of the returning war vet? Could any actor today play an Al Stephenson without coming off as being a bloated middle-aged phony? The trouble with Hollywood today is that when it tries to make a movie about a serious subject, especially one based on actual events, it usually becomes a confused jumble of special effects interspersed with inane dialogue which veers away from the actual historical event which is shunted to the background. There are exceptions. "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks and Gary Sinese deals in part with the subject of returning war vets, but that is not the main theme of the movie. "Saving Private Ryan" with Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel and Tom Sizemore must get high marks for its excellent portrayals of soldiers in combat, but this movie deals with soldiers who are still fighting, not the postwar aftermath. "Dear Hunter" with Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken, "Born on the Fourth of July" with Tom Cruise and "Coming Home" with Jon Voight and Jane Fonda, are about postwar adjustment issues and all three are very good, very powerful movies. But even these movies have certain melodramatic features that make them rather stagy, with more focus on interpersonal dysfunctionality than on the actual events that may have contributed to the problematic behavior. The closest that Hollywood comes to approaching Best Years in terms of artistic style and thematic content is "The Men" with Marlon Brando, made in 1950. Filmed in a film-noir style, Best Years is far more subdued, far more intense, far more sophisticated, far less hysterical and therefore far more compelling than the other aforementioned movies. Anyway, go watch the movie.

One other item. This movie is proof that Dana Andrews was one of the greatest actors ever in the history Hollywood. The entire movie centers around his performance as Fred Derry, a character which Mr. Andrews brings to life and which has become a symbol for all soldiers who return home.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Still a Great Movie

10/10
Author: mpercie (mpercie@yahoo.com) from United States
17 November 2005

"The Best Years of Our Lives" still remains a great film after sixty years. I used to work at a grade school in the early 1990's where the older teachers would weekly quiz each other about the film.

The acting with just a few exceptions is outstanding. Myra Loy is wonderful as the mother and wife. This despite the fact that she was only about thirteen years older then Teresa Wright, the actress that played her daughter. Fredric Marsh and Harold Russell deserved their Oscars for their performances of WWII "scarred" veterans. Russell is the only actor to receive two Oscars for the same role.

Teresa Wright as usual "the most beautiful image on any screen", is wonderful as Loy and Marsh's twenty-something daughter. She should have received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance. Wright and Russell gave the best performances in the film.

I recently gave my twenty-two year old student teacher the DVD of this classic film to watch. She told me she could only get through the first half hour before she would fall asleep. She felt that there was not enough "action" in the film. I told her that today they just don't make great movies like this anymore.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

An Excellent Film

10/10
Author: harry-76 from Cleveland, Ohio USA
22 December 2000

In a film as successful as this, it is difficult to single out any one factor. All departments work in perfect union to create on of the most moving human dramas ever put on film.

The production is a tribute to the ensemble efforts of the writers, producer, cast and crew. To name but a few, the magnificent score of Hugo Friedhofer is a subliminal marvel, the subtle yet striking photography of Greg Toland, and the unbelievably effective direction by William Wyler all combine with an ideal cast to create an American classic.

The DVD format version is a special treat to view. What a pleasure to see "The Best Years of Our Lives" so beautifully preserved for generations to come to enjoy.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"The Best Years of (Their) Lives..."

10/10
Author: gerrybob44 from Pacific Palisades, USA
5 December 2005

As a "cusp-pre-baby-boomer"...born in 1944, IN Los Angeles; thereby having the dubious distinction of having been alive while Hitler was still actively involved in his "Last Great Offensive; but also with our President Roosevelt still actively fighting the offensive...this was one of the most important "first films" of my young life. Having the opportunity to see it in "re-release," several years after the 1946 opening (a common studio custom in those years), answered (even to my very young mind)oh-so many questions I had...being surrounded by our returning Vet heroes. Ensconced in all the many of William Wyler's equanimity of subtle "multi-plots"...intentionally NOT "surrounding," "mini" or "sub" plots...in all their "colors and shades of intensity"...did more, than anything else I can recall, to provide to me some semblance of "reason" and "rational explanation" of what had been going on all around me...in REAL life. (My personal experience perchance being a "new" and "different" angle when looking at this classic film.)

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Still As Powerful By Todays Standards

10/10
Author: the_godfather424 from Canada
10 November 2004

"The Best Years Of Our Lives" is powerful, moving, poignant and sad at times. It's overlong but its worth it because their is no excess. Three men return from the war and rehabilitate in their civilian lives. Al Stephenson(Fredric March) returns home and is handling his life very well with his wife Milly(Myrna Loy). Fred Derry, another one of the men has returned home to his selfish wife Marie(Virginia Mayo) but is now falling in love with Al's daughter Peggy. Homer Parrish(Harold Russell) returns home without hands but with a bit of bad results with his relatives and thinks his girlfriend Wilma Cameron(Cathy O'Donnell) is a bit depressed without his hands but she doesn't mind because of his feelings and inspiration. This film has admiring characters and a great story. This film is no doubt a 10.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

My vote for best American film of all-time

10/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
11 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. I have a ton of reviews and never got around to reviewing one of my very favorite films. While I know you can't really say which movie is best, I really can't think of another film off the top of my head that is better. I can easily see how it made the top 250 and think it would probably be rated a lot higher if it had come out recently--as the 250 is very much skewed towards newer films.

I think the biggest reason I love the film is the casting. While Frederic March and Dana Andrews were genuine stars at the time, they were not huge names like Gable, Stewart or Grant. I love these three actors but think the film benefited from March (who was no longer the handsome matinée idol he'd been in the 30s) and Andrews (who played an "everyman"-type guy in most of his films). Plus, the genius of casting Harold Russell as the third returning serviceman cannot be minimized. While I hate movies that patronize the handicapped (I have a deaf daughter and cringe at patronizing), Russell's performance was anything but and was amazingly honest and powerful--earning him a very well-deserved special Oscar for his performance, not his disability. The family and friends of these men also worked out so very well. I just can't say enough positive about it.

And, of course, the choice of actors and the type performance they gave was due in large part to William Wyler--my vote as the greatest director ever. Why he is not recognized as every bit the genius that Fellini, Bergman, Hitchcock, Kurosawa or Kubrick were, I don't know (actually, I think he was far better than all these directors with the exception of Kurosawa, but that's a discussion for another place). If you don't believe me about his genius, do an IMDb search on the films he made--no other director comes close in the sheer number of great films. Plus, watch the film at least two or three times and you'll notice all the fantastic scenes--wonderful camera shots (like the ones in the nosecone of the airplane) or scenes involving real people (such as the one with Harold Russell with his fiancé as she tucks him into bed--I am fighting off tears now just thinking about it).

This film also has an unbelievable script--pure, real and captivating throughout! A film about returning war vets could have been trite or jingoistic, but this one maintains it dignity and humanity throughout. I challenge you to watch this and not be impressed. Unless you are a member or Al-Qaeda or a 100% America-hater, you will be hooked. And this means that French or British or Italians or those of any other nationality should be able to find so much to love and appreciate from this film than transcends nations.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Troops are Coming Home.....

9/10
Author: Tim Kidner (tim@kidnerpix.com) from Salisbury, United Kingdom
9 May 2012

Though we had a plethora of films about troops returning from the Vietnam war and trying to re-integrate back into their societies, most of which were hard-hitting, angry voices against War, here is arguably the original - and best.

Definitely a family orientated movie (Cert U) this will appeal to and find favour with all ages, but don't start thinking that this is all gooey, slushy nonsense. There's some quite hard-hitting topics covered, even by today's standards and of course, with our minds on our current troops in Iraq/Afghanistan, equally relevant.

Multi-stranded, which each of the three G.I.'s immediate and extended families and friends being examined, it's about them coping, with varying degrees of success, with home life and getting jobs, now that the War is ended. It's the little observations and stories around them that are so fascinating, as the Heroes of yesterday are now anything but when it comes finding new purpose in a changed world.

The cast is exemplary, not necessarily the biggest stars of the day but the most believable and natural for their roles. Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy and Fredric Marsh are the ones most easily recognisable and their appearances convey a sort of reassuring familiarity and normality. They're all excellent, of course.

Though long, at nearly 3 hours, William Wyler's easy going but assured and tight direction keeps things flowing nicely and it never drags. This, my second viewing, is an enjoyable one as the first and if anything I'm more at ease with it.

Though obviously not as exciting or dramatic as other 'normal' war films, it's a tragedy that it's not more well known. I've never seen it to ever have been on TV, or to my recollection, even Sky Movies, for that matter. Any movie that won 7 Oscars and is currently no. 180 in the top 250 IMDb's films of all time, voted by its voters (us, the public) is hardly one of minority interest.

A friend I lent my DVD to watched it with his family and normally they only go for current films, or ones they know, but they not only enjoyed it, but felt enormously moved by it, too.

If you haven't seen The Best Years... yet, make a mental note to do so. Your life won't change by doing so, but it really is worth the 3 hours of it that it will take. You certainly can't say the same about every film out there....

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Timeless Story of Soldiers Returning From War

10/10
Author: paulpsyche from United States
24 September 2005

I saw this movie on a fall day some twenty years ago and since that time I think of it often. It tells the story of three servicemen returning home after WWII. Today I work for the Department of Veteran Affairs and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the psychological trauma related to combat. An Air Force Officer having nightmares. An infantry NCO returning to the business world. A sailor disabled for life. Along with the emotional impact on family and friends. I recommend this movie to all generation of veterans as a means to normalize the bewildering experience of coming home. From WWII to Iraq all of these soldiers identify with the characters in this movie. It is a timeless story of soldiers coming home from war. A must see.

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15 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

all it's cracked up to be

7/10
Author: Robert D. Ruplenas
3 June 2003

Nothing to add, really, to the encomia of praise contained below. I had missed catching this iconic flick several times on TCM and finally caught up with it. I had feared it might be somewhat of a soap opera, but it is an exemplar of the type of film that is able to make the viewer care very deeply about the characters portrayed. The bond that is clearly shown between the three central characters - men who had not previously known each other, either at home or during the war - shows us what a powerful bonding experience fighting for one's country is. They clearly "know" each other in a way that transcends geography and class. In a certain way this movie tells us more about WWII than many of the overtly action flicks.

Another thing that this great movie brings home is the sad difference between moviemaking then and now. What we have here is clearly a powerful story about a shared national experience, with great relevance to people's lives and a strong social commentary, done up as a work of cinematic art, and Sam Goldwyn, William Wyler and all involved knew it. Compare this with the crass way that today's Hollywood churns out the dreck it calls "product", with its eyes on nothing else than the bottom line.

A note: those not familiar with the story of Harold Russell, the amputee who played Homer Parrish and went on to found AMVETS, would do well to look it up. His is a fascinating story. (And IMDB is just the place to look it up!)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

An Honest Review

10/10
Author: generationofswine from United States
3 April 2017

I was never censored as a child...but I was encouraged and Dad ALWAYS encouraged my little sister and I to watch AMC back when AMC was showing classic movies all the time.

MOST of the time. There were more than a few films that he would use the adult veto on because he hated them as a kid...

This was one of them.

I can't understand why. I remember watching this when I was around 7 and loving it. So involved in the banker's daughter and the old bomber and would they get together? Would he find a job? Would the guy with no hands make it out OK in the end? As a kid I was hanging on the edge of my seat watching the trio move through the transition from war to civilian life like your childhood babysitter watches a Soap Opera.

I was fixated then...now as an adult I unfortunately know how it ends, but am still mesmerized by the beauty of it all and how moving the story is.

There are few movies as beautiful and fulfilling as this.

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