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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Poster

Trivia

The first film recorded in stereo using the Westrex Recording System. The stereophonic version exists in the form of studio acetate masters, but they were never married to the picture. Only a handful of theaters were equipped for multi-channel sound at the time of its original release.
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Jump to: Spoilers (1)
Director William Wyler was furious when he learned that Samuel Goldwyn had sent Harold Russell for acting lessons; he preferred Russell's untrained, natural acting.
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To avoid awkwardness when he first met his fellow cast members, Harold Russell made a point of reaching out with his hooks and taking their hands, thus putting them at ease with his disability.
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William Wyler, who served as a major in the Army Air Force during World War II, incorporated his own wartime experiences into the film. 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, Wyler shot footage for documentary films (his hearing was permanently damaged when an anti-aircraft shell exploded near his plane while on a bombing raid). Additionally, he 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, Margaret Tallichet.
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Harold Russell was first discovered by William Wyler when he saw him in an army training film called Diary of a Sergeant (1945), about the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen.
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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.
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Harold Russell's character was originally written as a war veteran suffering from combat trauma. This was changed to a physical disability when Russell joined the cast.
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Myrna Loy receives top billing, as she was the most successful female star at the time.
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William Wyler wanted a completely unglamorous look, requiring all costumes to be bought off the rack and worn by the cast before filming, and making sure all sets were built smaller than life-size.
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In a scene at Butch's bar, Homer asks Butch if he would play a song for him. "How about 'Lazy River?'" Homer asks. "Remember that?" Hoagy Carmichael, who plays Butch, composed "Lazy River."
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In order to give the film a documentary-style realism, the director drew each member of the crew--props, grips, mixers, etc.--from the ranks of WWII veterans.
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Director William Wyler despised Hugo Friedhofer's Oscar-winning score for this film.
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This was the first time Myrna Loy had worked with William Wyler, and she was wary of his reputation as "90-Take Willy". As it turned out, the two got along very well.
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The airplane graveyard where Dana Andrews' character 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.
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In 1946 this became the most successful film at the box office since Gone with the Wind (1939), which was released seven years earlier.
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Cathy O'Donnell went on to marry William Wyler's brother, Robert Wyler.
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In the film, Fredric March's character Al Stephenson is a banker. Before becoming an actor, March had a career in banking.
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Virginia Mayo had read the novel "Glory for Me" and envisioned herself as Marie Derry. When producer Samuel Goldwyn refused to give her the part, she had pictures taken of herself at a local bar. That convinced Goldwyn, who was simultaneously working on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), to give her the part over the objections of director William Wyler. Mayo filmed both of the above movies simultaneously--sometimes shooting scenes from both on the same day.
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According to his biographer A. Scott Berg, producer Samuel Goldwyn re-released the film 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, DC, on February 3, 1954, with Sherman Adams, five Supreme Court justices, two cabinet members and 24 senators in attendance. There was a $250,000 campaign advertising it as "The Most Honored Picture of All Time". The film grossed another $1 million.
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William Wyler patterned the fictional Boone City after Cincinnati, OH.
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The scene where Fred Derry punches a loudmouth and loses his job for it was inspired by an incident that happened to director William Wyler during the war. He punched a doorman at the Statler Hotel for referring to someone with an anti-Semitic slur, and received an official reprimand for it.
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In 2007 the American Film Institute ranked this as the #37 Greatest Movie of All Time.
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The novel "Glory for Me" by MacKinlay Kantor, upon which Robert E. Sherwood based his screenplay, is written in blank verse.
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This is the first film role for which Cathy O'Donnell, in the role of Wilma Cameron, receives screen credit. Her film debut was in Wonder Man (1945) as an uncredited extra in a nightclub scene.
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This was William Wyler's last film for producer Samuel Goldwyn.
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Writer Robert E. Sherwood had been the head of the Office of War Information during the Second World War, one of the reasons why Samuel Goldwyn approached him to write the script.
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Al Stephenson is wearing a shoulder patch for the 25th Infantry Division, which fought in the Philippines.
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Was remade in 1975 as a TV movie called Returning Home (1975) with Dabney Coleman, Tom Selleck and James R. Miller as the returning soldiers and Whitney Blake, Joan Goodfellow, Sherry Jackson and Laurie Walters as the wives and sweethearts. Miller, like Harold Russell, was chosen to play Homer because Miller lost his hands fighting in Viet Nam.
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This is one of Francis Ford Coppola's favorite films.
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"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.
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"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 19, 1947, with Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo and Cathy O'Donnell reprising their film roles.
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"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on November 24, 1947, with Fredric March, Myrna Loy and Teresa Wright reprising their film roles.
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"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 17, 1949, with Dana Andrews reprising his film role.
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William Wyler's first post-war movie.
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Came sixth in the UK's Ultimate Film, in which films were placed in order of how many seats they sold at cinemas
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The film cast includes four Oscar winners: Fredric March, Teresa Wright, Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Russell; and one Oscar nominee: Blake Edwards.
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Ranked #11 on the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time (2006).
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The story grew out of a July 1944 "Time Magazine" story about a group of Marines taking a train back home to New York from San Diego, and growing more quiet and nervous the closer they got.
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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.
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Michael Hall (Rob Stephenson) is the last surviving cast member of the film.
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Harold Russell lived with his family in Wayland, MA.
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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.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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After Fred and Peggy's lunch, the waiter says it was 85 cents (each) plus tax for a total of $1.76. This means the meals were $1.70 and the tax 6 cents, or about 3.5%. $1.70 in 1946 had the same buying power as $20.66 in 2015, and for states that have a combined sales tax, rates ranged from 4.35% to 9.45%.
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The first Best Picture Oscar winner to also win an Academy Award for its score, which was in the category of Best Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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The base pay for a Captain with three years time in grade in 1945 was $210.00. But, that amount would be before combat pay, flight pay and any other allotments. Officers received flight pay of amount equal to half their monthly rate.
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Cathy O'Donnell receives an 'Introducing' credit.
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Harold Russell's Oscar winning performance in this film is his only acting Academy Award nomination, but along with it he was awarded an Honorary Oscar for his inspiring performance. He is still the only actor to ever receive two Oscars for the same role.
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Film debut of Michael Hall.
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The first film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards.
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The only film in which Fredric March won an acting Oscar for his performance in a film which won Best Picture.
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Opening credits: "All characters and events depicted in this photoplay are entirely fictional. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events is purely coincidental."
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for its Screenplay.
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In the closing cast credits Fredric March's first name is spelled "Frederic" with two "e's" instead of one. According to research this is a common mistake because when people see the name "Fredric" they get the impression the name is misspelled and will add the second "e".
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

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.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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