Thursday, May 30, 2013
the best years of our life"

One of the great great films of all time.

On Monday, in Honor of Memorial Day, Turner Classic Movies  showed this spectacular film, once again, along with many other films to do with War and War Hero's.
A lot of the films they showed took place during World War 2, and were really wonderful.
"The Best Years Of Our Life' represented the first post-war film made by Hollywood.

 
The War ended in 1945, and this film was released in 1946. It was important on so very many levels but I think it's great impact had to do with the fact that it was so well written, and had a stellar cast, and top notch direction, and it was a story that many people were 'living', right then and there.It touched people because it was about three regular guys returning home and how they dealt with the aftermath of their War experiences and the adjustments of being home again.

Something a great many people were going through at the time. It is cast so beautifully----Dana Andrews, Frederick March and Harold Russell were the three returning men. 
Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo and Cathy O'Donnell, were the women they returned to.....All the smaller parts were cast with superb actors, as well---every one of them bringing especially heartfelt performances to this stunning film.
William Wyler, was the Director, and he won the Academy Award that year, and the film won Best Picture! Robert E. Sherwood won for Best Screenplay, and the great Frederick March won for Best Actor, and well deserved, indeed.

Above, Frederick March with Teresa Wright, Myrna Loy and Michael Hall.

Harold Russell won for Best Supporting Actor. The film garnered a number of other Oscars, too-----Best Musical Score by Hugo Friedholder, and Best Editing by Daniel Mandell.

The picture was Produced by the great Samuel Goldwyn----Goldwyn being the same "Goldwyn" as in Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Goldwyn was known for Producing First Class Blue Chip films. (The list is quite extraordinary---to name just a few: "Wuthering Heights"; "The Little Foxes"; "Pride Of The Yankees", all Film Classics, along with "Best Years"....)

Everyone connected to this film was a true Professional---all of them came with a great 'pedigree', down to the last man and woman.....
The exception to this was the really inspired casting of Harold Russell, who was the only person, not a professional actor. 
What he was, was the 'real' deal.
A man who had gone through the war and came out of it having lost his hands. Casting him in the role of "Homer" was a stroke of genius, and he brought an authenticity to the film that was deeply touching---his performance was amazing---it was memorable in every way. His winning the Oscar was incredibly meaningful because his 'acting' was astounding in
 it's simplicity and it's realness. The Academy, not knowing that he would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, awarded him a 'special' Oscar: "For Bringing Hope And Courage To His Fellow Veterans Through His Appearance In The Best Years Of Our Lives"



I have seen this film, many many times, and it never fails to hold my complete interest in every way, and it never fails to move me.

We never see any War scenes....we are just witness to the aftermath of these three men who lived through those war scenes that we never see. We also see a lot of indifference to these men and what they have been through by the people who stayed at home.
The film is so real, without hitting us over the head with all of this reality----it just "is".  It is never heavy handed, which is one of it's great strengths as a film.
I don't know how younger people view this film today. It had special meaning for those of us who lived through WW2---the only War in my lifetime that seemed to be one that most Americans really got behind. At least that is how I viewed it from my own young perspective---I was 14 going on 15, when "The Best Years Of Our Lives" came out. 
Watching it all these years later, this film still makes me feel all the same things I felt back in 1946.
I think that is remarkable!
If you have never seen this picture, I highly recommend it, if for nothing else than it's great story and it's stellar performances. But also, on a much greater scale, it truly represents a very specific time in our nations history and beyond that, one can certainly relate to all the Veterans of all the wars our country has lived through right up to today---and it gives one pause as to how we care for our returning Veterans, all of whom were and are wounded in one way or another.
"The Best Years Of Our Lives" makes me proud to be a part of a community that can and did produce such a wonderful piece of "Art". It has more than stood, the test of time!




More To Come.......








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17 Comments:
had this to say:

Wow. How is it I never heard of this film, or only vaguely. I love the fact that it portrays the aftermath of war without showing the scenes. I'd love to sit and watch it with you, Naomi!

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 6:10:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I've seen this movie several times and I always see something new to appreciate

hugs from me and Hope

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 8:09:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I LOVE that film. I've watched it a number of times. They just don't make movies like that anymore.

I had a conversation with a coworker once in which he told me that the young Hoagy Carmichael was supposedly the model for James Bond in the Ian Fleming novels. I told him that Hoagy Carmichael was in The Best Years of Our Lives and brought him my taped copy of the movie so he could see HC. He agreed what a great film that is.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 8:46:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Once again you inspire me to add another film to my Netflix queue...and I had never heard of this one. I'm not of fan of war films due to all the gore and violence but this doesn't appear to be the focus of the movie, and I think it'd be interesting to see what the aftermath was like during that time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Naomi. I know you know a good film when you see one.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 3:10:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I saw this film a long time ago and sometimes wondered what happened to the young man who won the supporting actor Oscar. I had forgotten his name and thanks to you, I can now Google him.
Thanks for that review and reminder, I will go put it on my queue.

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 4:45:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

we sure don't find movies today with a cast like that! It would be interesting if younger people would watch that movie and then tell you what their thoughts are on it. Of course they could never feel the connection to the story that you do. But those coming home "today" minus limbs and such sure could connect...

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 5:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I first saw this film as a young child in the early 70s. You are correct, it is a wonderful movie, great story and great acting. I've seen it countless times now and every time, I stop to watch it, it's that good. The personal note of this move for me is, I grew up around one of my great-grandmother's farm hands. He had a gripping hook in place of one of his hands. His prosthesis scared me, until I saw this movie. Watching what happened to the returning soldier and how he was treated by others, made me examine my own behavior toward old Carl (the farm hand). He was still scary to me, but I stopped running away, and knew not to stare at his prosthesis.

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 9:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

hi there. long time no post on my end. hope all is well otherwise. I think I have seen a few of these. my mom loves black and white movies and i think she might have a few some where in her stash of movies. its a great way to remember what memorial day is suppose to be about other than seeing people get drunk at festivals like i saw Sunday afternoon.

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:11:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I'm trying to work out if I've seen this one or not. Dad often has war films on if they're on on a Saturday afternoon. I'm sure I'll have seen it.

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 1:52:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Great review and background on the mood at the time! My grandfather is a WWII vet...that is the only war I have heard people talk about where it seems to be unanimous that there was/is support.

Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 11:01:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I've heard of the film but never seen it, but I will now. My parents were evacuated in the second world war and they have talked a great deal about it to me and my brother. My Dad went to visit the concentration camps as a young man and it still makes him cry now when he tells me about them.

Saturday, June 1, 2013 at 10:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I thought I'd seen all the WWII movies but don't recall this one if I did. I'll keep my eyes open for it in the future.

Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 7:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Heard of it, never seen it, will look for it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 7:46:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I look forward to watching it with fresh eyes. Both my parents were active duty in WWII- and not every veteran in our family came home with all their limbs. But their misfortune brought them home with something else- an appreciation for life those who have not faced loosing it have.

God bless you for this post.

Monday, June 3, 2013 at 12:45:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I never seen this film before but I've heard about this film many times. What a coincidence, Naomi, because I just finished to read a book of Paul Auster, "Sunset Park" and one of the character talk about this film all the time.
I look forward to watching it for sure.
Thanks for the good review!
Many hugs!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 9:22:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

I loved this film and re-watched it in my mind's eye many times.
As for Dana Andrew's I'm afraid I lusted after him as a teen ager:)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 5:02:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

This has always been one of my favorites -- required viewing, I should think.

Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 8:06:00 AM PDT 

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