The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

I’ve been slowly making my way through the movies on Tuner Classic Movies that I wanted to tape in the month of February during their annual Oscar month broadcast. The most recent film that I watched was The Best Years of Our Lives. It won seven Oscars they were for Best Picture, William Wyler won for Best Director, Fredric March won Best Actor, Harold Russell won Best Supporting Actor, they also took home awards for film editing, adapted screen play and score. Harold Russell was also awarded an honorary Oscar for “bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.” Harold was a veteran who lost both of his hands and was given hooks to serve as hands. Harold is one of a few non-professional actors to win an Oscar and the only individual to win two Oscars for the same performance.

The Best Years of Our Lives is about soldiers returning home from World War II and their struggle to adjust to civilian life. It is a good film since most of the time we don’t think about the adjustments that are made when soldiers return to civilian life. One of my first responses to the film is why doesn’t Hollywood remake this film or do a film similar to it but talking about the struggle that coming home is for many of the veterans today. American Sniper approaches the topic but doesn’t really go that far into the topic. This is as important a topic for films to cover as war itself is, and especially today when less than one percent of the population serve in the military there seems to be a disconnect between what the general public think about those who serve, we hear through the media about the wounded and the killed but hardly ever about those who came back alright.

In the film all three men, Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), and Al Stephenson (Fredric March), have trouble adjusting to life. Al has been married for like twenty year and comes home to grown children he doesn’t really know. Al worked at the bank and he is called to return to work where he now overseeing loans to servicemen. Fred was married just days before leaving and comes back to a wife who he never knew. Fred and his wife run into hard times after Fred’s money from the military runs out and he reluctantly return to the drug store he worked at before the war, although he yearns for more. Homer was the star athlete and engaged before he left for the war and he returns without hand. Homer has a heck of a time trying to adjust as does his family and Homer ends up pushing his fiance away.

If you haven’t seen this movie take some time to check it out.

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