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
Director William Wyler was almost deaf from flying in a B-25 during the war. During filming, he sat beneath the camera with a large set of headphones that were connected to an amplifier so that he could hear the actors. See more »
When Fred and Al are talking in the nose of the B-17 while Homer is sleeping, the hair on Al's forehead changes twice during the same conversation--from a curl to a general muss and then back to the same curl again. See more »
[Al is speaking to the banquet]
I'm glad to see you've all pulled through so well. As Mr. Milton so perfectly expressed it: our country stands today... where it stands today... wherever that is. I'm sure you'll all agree with me if I said that now is the time for all of us to stop all this nonsense, face facts, get down to brass tacks, forget about the war and go fishing. But I'm not gonna say it. I'm just going to sum the whole thing up in one word.
[...] 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 »
Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Such a powerful film. At first the new lives of the soldiers seem to be facing small adjustments, such as their children's interest in "atomic energy" and "scientific efficiency". But soon we find that jobs are hard to find, and the wives and girlfriends sometimes met new people while the battles were fought.
Although a serious topic, the film has the right balance of entertainment and drama. It never gets outright depressing, and things like depression and suicide are overlooked. But it still remains a valuable lesson: as bad as dying in the war is, sometimes the transition back to normalcy can be just as damaging.
Although not one of the better known movies today (2014), "The Best Years of Our Lives" won seven Academy Awards in 1946, including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor (Fredric March), Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell), Best Film Editing (Daniel Mandell), Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert Sherwood), and Best Original Score (Hugo Friedhofer). It still sits on the IMDb Top 250, just as it should.
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