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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 29 May 1947 (Mexico)
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Airs Sun. Dec. 16, 1:00 PM on TCM

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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.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Robert E. Sherwood (screen play), MacKinlay Kantor (from a novel by) (as Mackinlay Kantor)
Top Rated Movies #243 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Myrna Loy ... Milly Stephenson
Fredric March ... Al Stephenson (as Frederic March)
Dana Andrews ... Fred Derry
Teresa Wright ... Peggy Stephenson
Virginia Mayo ... Marie Derry
Cathy O'Donnell ... Wilma Cameron
Hoagy Carmichael ... Butch Engle
Harold Russell ... Homer Parrish
Gladys George ... Hortense Derry
Roman Bohnen ... Pat Derry
Ray Collins ... Mr. Milton
Minna Gombell ... Mrs. Parrish
Walter Baldwin ... Mr. Parrish
Steve Cochran ... Cliff
Dorothy Adams ... Mrs. Cameron
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Most Honored Picture of All Time (1954 widescreen reissue) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 May 1947 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Glory for Me See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,100,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$23,650,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$44,309,982
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Hedda Hopper Show - This Is Hollywood" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 15, 1947, with Dana Andrews and Harold Russell reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

Although Boone City is obviously some Midwestern city, Homer Parrish, who supposedly lived his entire civilian life there, speaks with a noticeable Boston accent. See more »

Quotes

Fred Derry: I dreamed I was gonna have my own home. Just a nice little house for my wife and me out in the country... in the suburbs anyway. That's the cock-eyed kind of dream you have when you're overseas.
Peggy Stephenson: You don't have to be overseas to have dreams like that.
Fred Derry: Yeah. You can get crazy ideas right here at home.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

The film was modified to play on a wide screen and reissued on February 3, 1954. See more »

Connections

Referenced in 21 Jump Street: Best Years of Your Life (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Forgotten now that it was mildly controversial in its day
23 September 2004 | by bill_mcclainSee 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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