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.
For his performance as Homer Parrish, Harold Russell became the only actor to win two Academy Awards for the same role. The Academy Board of Governors thought he was a long shot to win, so they gave him an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance." Later that ceremony he won for Best Supporting Actor.
According to his biographer A. Scott Berg, Samuel Goldwyn re-released The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) in a modified format to play on wide screens. It opened with all the hoopla of a new picture, including a gala premiere in Washington D.C. on February 3, 1954, with Sherman Adams, five Supreme Court justices, two cabinet members, and twenty-four senators in attendance. There was a quarter-million-dollar campaign advertising it as "The Most Honored Picture of All Time". The film grossed another $1 million.
During the wedding scene at the end, Harold Russell fluffed his lines during his vows. Rather than calling cut and ordering a re-take, William Wyler liked how natural it sounded and this was the take used.
William Wyler, who served as a major in the Army Air Force during World War II, incorporated his own wartime experiences into The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). Just as Fred Derry did in the movie, Wyler flew in B-17s in combat over Germany, although rather than being a bombardier, as Derry was, he filmed footage for documentary films. Additionally, Wyler modeled the reunion of Al and Milly, in which they first see each other at opposite ends of a long hallway, on his own homecoming to his wife, Talli.
The first movie recorded in Stereo using the Westrex Recording system. The Stereophonic version exists in the form of studio acetate masters but was never married to the picture. Only a handful of theaters were equipped for multi-channel sound at the time of its original release.
The airplane graveyard where Dana Andrews' characters finds his old bomber was a real graveyard for thousands of B-17 and B-25 bombers, along with numerous fighter planes. The crew washed down Andrews' bomber then hit it with dust to make it stick on the forward turret for a grittier look. Though the salvage crew scene was part of the movie, in real life such work crews did dismantle the old planes to make housing for returning veterans.