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
In the sequence where Homer discloses his stumps to Wilma, Robert Warshaw* attributes that sexual charge to "feminization [following that] he .. has lost his hands - and with them, his power to be sexually aggressive .. every night, his wife will have to put him to bed, and then it will be her hands that must be used in making love. Beneath the pathos of the scene .. feels a current of excitement, in which the sailor's misfortune becomes a kind of wish-fulfillment, as one might actually dream it. He must be passive .. therefore he can be .. without guilt. [and that overall] The asexual relations of the characters form an unusually clear projection of the familiar Hollywood (and American) dream of male passivity. The men are inept, nervous, inarticulate and childishly wilful." [*from 'Anatomy of a Falsehood'; '62.] See more »
The character played by Ray Teal (the Axis sympathizer whom Homer Parrish 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. See more »
The film was modified to play on a wide screen and reissued on February 3, 1954. See more »
Very glad to see that this excellent film gets such high marks from the users of IMDB. The Best Years of Their Lives remains the finest cinematic statement about veterans returning from war that I have come across. Easily the finest performance by the often overlooked Frederick March. In fact the entire cast shines, including music legend Hoagy Carmichael who treats us all with a subtle version of his classic Lazy River. I would recommend this excellent film to anyone who loves movies.
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