Best Years of Our Lives (1946) [VHS]
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Product Description

Winner of seven Academy Awards, including best picture, director, actor, and screenplay, William Wyler's brilliant drama about domestic life after World War II remains one of the all-time classics of American cinema. Inspired by a pictorial article about returning soldiers in Life magazine, the story focuses on three war veterans (Fredric March, Dana Andrews, and Harold Russell in unforgettable roles) and their rocky readjustment to civilian life in their Midwestern town of Boone City. Capturing the contradictory moods of America in the mid to late 1940s, this three-hour drama spans a complex range of honest emotions, from joyous celebration and happy reunion to deep-rooted ambivalence and reassessment of personal priorities. A movie milestone when released in 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives still packs a punch with powerful, timeless themes. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • a nice start
    what happens after the war...the post-effects of war in the lives of everyone, not only the soldiers.

    great film...more info
    The Best Years Of Our Lives received 7 oscars, including Best film for 1946. William Wyler gives us a masterpiece about 3 war veterans returning home after WW11. The script is so good and the acting and direction so poignant that each scene is so memorable and tells a story all it's own.
    The film is a timeless classic that still holds up today; in fact, as long as there are wars, this story will always be true.

    The 3 sevicemen, (air force pilot, army sergeant, and sailor), face the anxieties of coming home to families they haven't seen for awhile and to an America that has changed while they have been gone. It is an honest telling of a story that so many servicemen faced, but also, in the end, an uplifting story filled with love, warmth and joy. In 1989, the National Film Registry selected this film for preservation in the U.S. Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

    The powers that be at MGM, should really be ashamed of themselves for not treating this FINE FILM with the RESPECT it deserves. The picture quality is not very good and should be remastered; and there are no special features on the 2000 version DVD. You mean to tell me, that with a film that received 7 oscars, they couldn't come up with any special features? I hope one day, MGM or maybe some other studio, will do this great classic justice and give it the respect and fine treatment it deserves. How about Criterion? They do good jobs with their DVD releases.
    MGM should take note as to how 20th Century Fox treats their classic films; they do their classics proud....more info
  • poignant and timely
    two comments about this film:
    1. just try to watch it without shedding a tear
    2. think of the soldiers in iraq while you watch...more info
  • 3.5 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    An affecting and touching story or three soldiers returning from WWII to a country that has changed profoundly since they've been gone, The Best Years of our lives has lost little of its power over the years; though at times the movie feels overly melodramatic, it's a very worthy and well-acted tale....more info
  • Great Movie But Too Bad About the DVD!
    This movie is almost 3 hours long but as a testament to how good it is you don't really feel it. From the beginning you can tell you are watching a classic; from the great score to the excellent script and cast it's hard not to be caught up in the story and to be touched by it as well. Despite its age, the film ages well because it covers themes that are still relevant today such as loyalty, adapting to new environments, self-sacrifice and lack thereof etc. This movie stands the test of time and despite repeated viewings will still amuse, entertain and touch most of us to the core.

    Unfortunately, this DVD version of this great film is an unworthy version to pay any respect to this classic. It hasn't been restored well and so many picture quality imperfections exist and the sound quality is just Dolby Digital Mono which should be improved. There are no Special Features to speak of as well making you wonder if you are better off getting the VHS. Here's hoping that they will consider another restoration project for this film to vastly improve the picture quality and the sound quality by adding Dolby Digital 5.1 or THX Surround options plus some Bonus Features worth shouting about.

    In the meantime, while this film is a true classic, you may want to wait for an improved DVD to surface so as to get the most enjoyment that you can from your viewing experience. Perhaps a Blu-ray version may be just the excuse to restore this film to the quality that it surely deserves. As for me I'll be keeping a lookout for a well-restored version and perhaps you should too....more info
  • Brilliant Film
    If you want to know what people exerienced coming back from World War Two, no other film captures the essence of the realities of the immediate days just after the war than this, period.

    The inclusion of an actor who really suffered injuries during the war makes it all the more authentic and relevant... even today.

    Buy it and prepare to be hit with some clever writing, acting and also some sobering realities of America at the end of the Second World War.

    It stands up very well for a sixty year old film.
    ...more info
  • Top of My Movie List
    Just like you, in many conversations I'm often asked what my favorite movie of all time is? A hard question for the celluloid set indeed.

    But without a pause, doubt or breath I always reply "The Best Years of Our Lives".

    William Wyler's epic deals with the assimilation of 3 main characters into the new America at the end of World War II. They left for war when the US economy was down, see death and destruction in Africa, Europe and the Pacific and come home to a different economy, mindset and world.

    I was born about 20 years after the end of the Second World War, yet this movie encompasses our current society as well as it did two generations before me.

    You've read about the Academy Award Nominations (7) and are familiar with the cast. The entire cast is exceptional including Hoagie Carmichael.

    This movie is as poignant and important today as it was 60+ years ago....more info
  • Deeply Moving American Masterpiece
    Although this movie was made in 1946, it is still fresh, real, and deeply moving today. The story involves the adjustments military men have to make when they come home. (This was before we knew about post-traumatic stress disorder.) Surely the men and now, women, who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will each have their own stories.

    William Wyler must have been a terrific director for actors because he got such spontaneous, naturalistic moments from this cast. I found this quality of acting unusual in a film of that time. The cast is terrific--each one gives a deeply moving performance. Myrna Loy is so charming and at once sophisticated and sweet, tender and tough. She makes you think about what the wives who were left at home to raise their children alone had to cope with. Harold Russell's performance, as others have said here, is worth the price of the DVD. I knew nothing of him, if he was a real amputee, a professional actor, or what, until I read the reviews. He has an amazingly open, beautiful face and the sunniest smile you'll ever want to see. The marriage scene which shows each detail of the hands, clasping each other, giving the ring, brought tears to my eyes!

    Dana Andrews is great as the young, carefree, ex-soda jerk who married a blonde bombshell but comes to realize he may have made a mistake. Frederick March is wonderful, too, as the ex-banker who returns to face a wonderful family, but there are still problems. We see that he drinks too much and this is probably the only problem that isn't spelled out and resolved. Teresa Wright is luminous as his grown daughter who falls in love with Dana Andrews. I have found her acting a bit sappy in other films but here it rings true. Virgina Mayo is gorgous and certainly convincing as the girl who just wants to have fun.

    I really enjoyed the appearance of Hoagy Carmichael, a very cool guy, who gives additional class to this film.

    It plays for three hours and I was glued to the screen for the entire time. As a snapshot of a moment in America's history and as a universal human picture, it has great value....more info
  • Great Movie and Interesting Social Histoy
    This film is one of my favorites and stands the test of time. It's good to know that it was appreciated when it was released, over 60 years ago, winning so many Oscars. A great and moving story (it's schmatlz only adds to it). For the most part it's very well acted too, creating great sympathy for the characters.

    The plot is well described elsewhere here, but there were several things in it I found very interesting pieces of social history.One is the information regarding some actual salaries of 1946. These included the wages of an Air Force bombadier, a bank VP and soda jerk. I was amazed at how high the first two were. Another notable thing is the general tone of worry about the future with high unemployment, economic worries and a dread of the "next war when we'll all be killed". The opinion was also voiced that "we just fought the wrong enemy". This at a time when the US was the sole possessor of nuclear weapons and about to start the biggest economic boom in it history. But the best was the bank president lecturing on bank policy with regard to risky loans to men with no collateral and "never gambling with investor's money"! ...more info
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
    Its a great movie filled with love, friendship, and family. Its a great World War II movie that shows what people had to go through to find jobs and get around. ...more info
  • Still the greatest movie about The Greatest Generation.
    Much has been made recently about "The Greatest Generation," the generation that came of age during the deprivation of the Great Depression and the horrors of World War II. (Having parents who were both born in 1920, and who both served their country during WWII, I believe the title of "The Greatest Generation" is utterly appropriate.) It may have been "Saving Private Ryan" that brought that generation's struggles to the forefront of their children's and grandchildren's minds; but, for my money, the best film about those who fought WWII came out only one year after the war's end. "The Best Years of Our Lives"--directed by William Wyler, that sanest and most humane of directors--is the deeply moving story of an infantry sergeant, an Air Force pilot and a sailor returning to their Midwestern home town from the war, and how the war changed them for better and for worse. Al (Fredric March), the sergeant, is a well-to-do bank executive who finds that his Army experience has greatly changed his perception of the people who come to his bank for a loan. Fred (Dana Andrews) finds life at home stultifying after service in a combat squadron, stuck in his old dead-end job as a soda jerk with a wife who has grown away from him. Most poignant of all is Homer, a young sailor who lost his hands in combat. Homer is played by Harold Russell, a real-life double amputee, who gives Homer's feelings of loss and displacement a you-are-there immediacy that is truly heartrending. Giving performances of equal excellence to the three male leads are Myrna Loy and Teresa Wright as March's wife and daughter; Virginia Mayo as Andrews' faithless wife; and Cathy O'Donnell as the girl Russell left behind. (The look on Loy's face when she first sees her husband home safely makes for one of the most moving scenes in all American cinema.) Literate and character-driven, "The Best Years of Our Lives" never tries to dazzle us; it just brings home the reality of these characters and their predicaments with quietly devastating force. This film won seven Oscars and deserved every last one of them, including Best Picture, Best Director for Wyler, Best Actor for March and Best Supporting Actor for Russell. It is amazing that so measured and insightful a film about the plight of returning GIs could have been filmed so soon after the war; but "The Best Years of Our Lives" is an enduring and fitting monument to America's servicemen and servicewomen, the sacrifices they make for their country, and the debt their country owes them....more info
  • Great Classic movie!!!
    If you are a veteran, especially one that served in combat, you will truly be able to relate with this movie. I'd highly recommend it for all veterans and lovers of classic b&w movies!! :)

    ...more info
  • A Hollywood summit
    Sometimes the studio system awes one with its ability to have everyone work together in harmony to create something unforgettable. Producer Samuel Goldwyn and director William Wyler collaborated with writer Robert E. Sherwood to make THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946). All three won Oscars. The film is a towering masterpiece set in small town America (actually Cleveland) right after World War Two ends. Returning home are Al Stephenson (Fredric March) of the Army, Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) of the Air Force, and Homer Parrish (real-life double amputee and non-professional Harold Russell) of the Navy. Al has wife Milly (Myrna Loy) and two kids, while Homer has a family and sweet girl friend Wilma (Cathy O'Donnell). Luckless Fred has a newlywed wife (Virginia Mayo) who was unfaithful while her husband was overseas.

    THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES burned up the 1946 Oscars, winning Picture, Director, Screenplay, March as Actor, and two for Russell. Hugo Friedhofer's legendary score also won a richly deserved trophy. It is a long film, 170 minutes, but beautifully paced and leisurely, capturing the slow tempo of a more quiet time. Those wanting something fast and flashy should rent THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971). The performances are superb down to the bit roles.

    THE BEST YEARS captures to perfection the way that returning veterans wanted their old jobs back--Al at the bank, Fred in a drugstore--when other people now had those jobs and resented the vets. The guys all keep gathering at Butch's (Hoagy Carmichael) bar to rap about life. Meanwhile, Fred has a frustrating dilemma besides losing his drugstore job. With an unfaithful wife who insists that her husband wear a uniform he no longer wants to wear, he finds himself drawn romantically to the Stephenson daughter (Teresa Wright). The Stephensons do everything to stop that, partly to placate the censor board.

    The movie has vignettes more than a strong plot--Al being quizzed by his bank boss on why a particular loan was made, Homer and his father taking off his artificial limbs in a night bedroom, Al wandering through a field of airplanes about to become scrap metal for homes, and an especially lovely reel one scene in a plane cockpit with all three men looking down on their town. Backing everything are Gregg Toland's stunning deep focus B&W photography and Hugo Friedhofer's magnificent music score.

    The DVD transfer seems excellent, even with minimal bonuses, for one of the greatest films ever made. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. Treat yourself to it when you have a three hour time slot and want to know authentically what post-World War Two small town life was like. (Reviewed from new DVD.)

    ...more info
  • Trenchant commentary on the post-WWII mood in America
    "The Best Years of Our Lives" is a very calculated comment on post-WWII USA. The film follows the lives of three serviceman - one from the army, one from the air force, and yes another from the navy. The film explores just about every facet of the returning veteran: How tables can be turned from what you did during the war to what you return to in civilian life - Dana Andrews plays a highly ranked and decorated officer who lands with a thud on his return while Frederic March plays a lowly sergeant who comes bank to his job as a wealthy banker. Also on the same theme - how people who were below you when you left for the war are now your boss, how the people who were left behind don't understand you, and how the terrible memories of the war still haunt you. Even the isolationist policies of some Americans are criticised in the form of an agitator who gets his "just desserts". Disabled veterans are represented by the navy man who struggled to feel whole again.

    The cast is excellent - save for the gooey-eyed overacting of Cathy O'Donnell. The music is overly sweet and intrusive but overall "The Best Years of Our Lives" captures the cynical post-WWII mood nicely and still resonates many years later.
    ...more info
  • Gem of American Film
    This deeply moving, beautifully written and performed film, was a long-planned tribute by director William Wyler to veterans of World War II, whose heroic service Wyler witnessed first-hand. Posted overseas himself during the war, Wyler vowed that when he returned to Hollywood, he would make a film that paid some sort of tribute to the men he worked with. "The Best Years of Our Lives" is the fulfillment of Wyler's promise. Released in 1947, the film won seven Oscars (it was nominated for eight) including Best Picture and Best Director.

    "The Best Years of Our Lives" tells the stories of three veterans returning home to their small midwestern city from active service in WWII: Fred, a much-decorated Air Force pilot (Dana Andrews) from a poor background who, before the war, worked as a soda jerk at a drugstore lunch counter; Homer, a Navy sailor (Harold Russell) and former high school football star who has lost both arms; and Al, an army sergeant who, in civilian life, is a successful banker with two teenaged children.

    As the veterans return to homes and wives and/or family (only Homer is not married, although waiting anxiously for him is his high school sweetheart, Wilma, played by Cathy O'Donnell), they confront difficulties reintegrating themselves into ordinary life, and re-establishing emotional contact with those who have been waiting at home. The men carry horrifying war memories that have changed their values and outlook on life, yet also experience disorientation going back to an existence that lacks the immediacy of life lived at the edge of survival.

    Al Stevenson finds himself initially shy and reluctant to resume intimate relations with his strong-willed wife (Myrna Loy) - he has to realign the parameters of their relationship with her and their two children who in his absence have blossomed into adulthood. Fred Derry, the Purple Heart pilot, finds that Marie, his lively blonde bombshell of a wife (Virginia Mayo), whom he married without knowing her well just before being sent overseas, has left his parents' home and gotten an apartment and a job of her own; Homer, the disabled sailor, cannot cope with his family's well-meaning but pitying response to his disfigurement, nor can he believe or trust that Wilma still loves him.

    The film traces each man's response to the placid pace of civilian life, and to the readjustment he must make to the societal and economic changes of the post-War era that are already spreading across the country. As a disabled veteran, Homer does not have to worry about re-entering the work force, but he feels like a freak and resists Wilma's attempts to reassure him that the loss of his arms has not changed her feelings toward him - he withdraws from his family into a painful depression. Fred is plagued by nightmares about being shot down in his plane, and finds that while his old job behind a five-and-dime lunch counter is now inadequate for a man with his experience, his lack of higher education or other training leaves him few options. Moreover, Fred finds that his pretty wife is unsympathetic to his issues and self-involved, interested only in having a good time. Al finds that although he is welcomed back into his fine job at the bank, his desire to approve loans to returning veterans who haven't much collateral to back them up are challenged by his higher-ups, to whom he must explain why he trusts these men to honor their debt, and to whom the country owes a debt.

    As Homer tries to drive Wilma away, because he does not want her to marry him out of pity, Fred's and Al's lives overlap. Fred finds himself unable to function at his old job or take orders from a fresh-faced college grad who did not serve in the war, and loses the job when he slugs a man at the lunch counter who insinuates that the war was an unnecessary one foisted on America by Roosevelt. Marie is unwilling to adjust her lifestyle downward to accommodate only his service benefits and resents not being able to go out and enjoy life, and eventually she leaves him for another ex-serviceman who is doing better. At the same time, through his friendship with Al, Fred has met Peggy, Al's daughter (Teresa Wright), who is charming, intelligent, and virtuous, and falls in love with her. Touched by Fred's struggles, and by the innate qualities that she discerns in him, Peggy is equally attracted to this diamond in the rough. But Al, much as he admires and likes Fred, cannot approve of his cherished daughter's relationship with the drifting, still-married Fred, and tells Fred to stay away from Peggy.

    Finally, in one of the most tender scenes ever filmed, Wilma one evening helps Homer remove his prosthetic arms and get ready for bed in his parent's home. Homer realizes that Wilma truly loves him and tells her that he has always loved her and will never love anyone else. In another wonderful scene, the disrupted relationship between Al and his wife moves into calmer waters as they relate to the confused Peggy the emotional hardhips of the early years of their marriage, and how they moved forward, anyway, committed to their lives together as a family. And, in what is perhaps the film's most famous scene, Fred exorcises some of his wartime demons in the cockpit of a B-52 that is about to be dismantled, needed for materials to fulfill the demand for inexpensive housing in post-War America. Fred persuades the boss of the outfit performing the work to give him a job.

    At the end of the film, the three veterans gather for Homer's wedding in Wilma's parent's house. Marie is divorcing Fred, who is living with his father and stepmother. During the touchingly home-made parlor wedding (compare it to the luxurious church wedding of the spoilt Kay Banks in "Father of the Bride" just three years later), Fred and Peggy, at opposite ends of the parlor, gaze at each other during the simple service and silently commit themselves to each other. While the other guests are congratulating the newly married Homer and Wilma, Fred takes Peggy in his arms and as he does so, her hat falls off as she embraces him, a charming symbolic reference to surrender and the move from girlhood to womanhood.

    "The Best Years of Our Lives" is a long film, nearly three hours, but is worth every moment of your time as Wyler, whose love for his protagonists shows in every frame, portrays their shifting relationships and the adjustment both they and America make as they move into the new environment of post-World War II America.

    The performances are sensitive and heart-felt, with special mention going to Dana Andrews as Fred Derry, the tormented air force hero from the wrong side of the tracks who finds himself adrift in a new world. Harold Russell, who plays Homer, was, in fact, a disabled veteran who had never acted when he was selected for this role. While clearly the work of an amateur, his (wisely) unadorned performance works well and garnered a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Frederic March has never been one of my favorite actors, but his undeniable gifts bring Al Stevenson to life, and won for March the Best Actor Oscar. Cathy O'Donnell (who would later appear as Charlton Heston's young sister in "Ben-Hur") gives an affecting, low-key performance as the patient, loving Wilma. Myrna Loy and Teresa Wright are perfect as, respectively, the classy, forthright Mrs. Stevenson, and as Peggy Stevenson, who shows her mother's backbone in her determination to stand by and help the man she has chosen.

    Virginia Mayo, a highly under-rated actress, is marvellous as the high-spirited, "selfish" Marie. Mayo has a thankless role here as the one woman in the film who is unwilling to sacrifice her own interests to support her man, but she makes the most of it and gives the role bite and life. The role of Marie brings me to the one quibble I have with this otherwise flawlessly conceived and delivered film, of which I am deeply fond, and which never fails to reduce me to tears.

    Wyler draws what is, in my opinion, far too sharp a distinction between the "good" and "bad" women in this film. It is notable that Marie, the one woman in the film who is overtly uninterested in making sacrifices for the returning soldier, is also the only woman in the film who is overtly sexual. Marie's curvaceous figure, blondeness, provocative clothes, and love of a good time stand in contrast to the rather extreme asexuality of Peggy and Wilma, the two young virgins, who are both very thin, dress plainly, and are constantly seen happily performing routine household tasks such as cooking breakfast and washing dishes. They appear to have no individual cores whatsoever that do not revolve around Homer and Fred. The climate of the post-War era must be taken into account here, as a time when women were being heavily pressured to give up the jobs they had held during the war in the men's absence (and consequently, give up their taste of economic independence) so that returning veterans could have the jobs; women were also being heavily pressured to take up lives centered wholly on homemaking - the result, of course, was the post-War "baby boom".

    Fred Derry is a sympathetic character with legitimate issues, but it is not as if Marie is entirely wrong to be disappointed at how things seem to be turning out when he returns. Fred IS a difficult package, and he and Marie married without knowing each other at all. Marie loves her independent life and that she should be demonized (that is the only word for it) for preferring to move on and enjoy life, rather than staying home with a brooding, troubled husband who refuses to let her augment their slender income with a job, begs some questions of the ideals women were expected to fulfill in the post-War era - ideals which led to the first wave of feminism as the 1950s closed and the 1960s opened. As Marie storms out of their small apartment, she shouts, "I'm going to live for myself!". No sentiment could have been less appreciated in American women after the war, and Marie's declaration is meant to demonstrate the height of unwomanly behavior, particularly compared to the purity, selflessness, and curious asexuality of Peggy and Wilma, as they commit themselves to men with notable problems. Only Myrna Loy, among the "good" women, is allowed to show a bit of pepper and curve, but then, she has been proven as the faithful matron and mother. In this reviewer's opinion, the contrast Wyler draws between the openly sexual and independent Marie and the two selfless, asexual younger girls, is unfair and, as history proved over subsequent decades of social upheaval, unrealistic.

    That issue aside, my respect and affection for this exceptional film has remained undimmed over the years.
    ...more info
  • I was shocked!!
    I would say I am a pretty harsh movie critic. I have not seen many older films before this one, because I'm only 21. But this movie would have to go on my list as one of the best movies of all time. The Actors, the story line, is just pheonominal. I was in utter shock and amazed at what caliber this movie was. A great love story, with many twist and the characters are so real you really hope everything works out! MUST SEE!!!!! MUST OWN!!!! I dont see how you couldn't love this movie!!...more info
    For me, one of the BEST movies ever - this is one of thsoe films where they seemed to mix a great story with perfectly cast actors. I have seen all of these great actors (except Harold Russell - I belive this is the only film he starred in) in many other films but they seemed to gel together here and create a better film than the story alone would have resulted in. This is just a great, great film. ...more info
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
    Each character is subtly drawn under William Wyler's expert direction, evoking the complex challenges that confront veterans of all ranks - making sense of their own war experiences while readjusting to a changed America. Even with the requisite dose of sentimentality and romance, the film never strays far from its central premise that no matter what you return to in a time of peace, war changes you forever. Oscar-winner for Best Picture, Best Actor (March) and Best Supporting Actor (Russell, an amputee veteran)....more info
  • AFI 100 Best Movies
    Since I have seen almost all of the American Film Institutes'' 100 Best Movies, I used the library and Intelliflix to scout out the dozen or so films that I have not seen.

    So far, I have not been disappointed. A Place in the Sun with Shelly Winters and Montgomery Cliff, The Third Man in Orson Welles' style, An American in Paris with Gene Kelly, The Wild Bunch with William Holden, Cleopatra with Richard Burton, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover with Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) and Helen Mirren have all provided an evening's worth of top notch entertainment.

    Some of the old Chaplin stuff is next.

    Watched Best Years of Our Lives (1946) with Myrna Loy last night. Long, but excellent film about three WWII veterans returning home to their women and jobs.

    Considering that this was made a year after WWII ended, and one of the soldiers is severally maimed, this is an excellent portrait of people's real day-to-day lives. Winner of seven Academy Awards, including best picture, director, actor and screenplay, William Wyler's brilliant drama about adjustment is one of the all-time classics of American cinema. It spans a complex range of honest emotions, from joyous celebration and happy reunion to deep-rooted ambivalence and reassessment of personal priorities.

    In vivid contrast to the gorgeous lighting, which decorates The Cook et, all as if every scene is a carnival show, this B&W movie illuminates every nook and cranny. All the rooms are sunny and happy, as if it is always mid-day: even the closet is lit, casting shadows into the room. The effect is the raw wood of truth; unvarnished reality for those three men and the women who love them.

    Deus ex machine is a Greek and Roman dramatic trick, where a god/person/machine suddenly resolves the plot, extricating the protagonist from a difficult situation: in Westerns, the cavalry arrives to save the day. In a brilliant reversal of deus ex machine, the director shows just how much he really was involved in every nuance of this personal story.

    Long before special effects, Hollywood relied more on dialogue, emotional acting and sheer entertainment talent to tell a story. Here the director changed the script to employ a severally disabled non-actor, Harold Russell (in his one and only film role) as a sailor who lost both hands in an explosion. During the film, you marvel as Russell uses his metal hooks, but never see his arms without them. The director wisely keeps this for the end.

    In a pivotal scene, the maimed Russell removes the machinery (his hands) from the plot, revealing his all too human self.

    I hate when great books are made into mediocre movies (even though I have to see them). I hate when great movies are redone into mediocre ones. Yet I think this movie needs to be redone. If Dracula can be on stage, this movie might even be possible to reprise on the stage.

    This movie needs to be redone because:

     as a war movie without violence, it is real and relevant today
     history has forgotten the actors
     the vintage small town footage is quaint, but outdated
     it needs updating: the risqu¨¦ of divorce for example is gone
     the lighting makes it look as if the whole thing was shot on a sound stage
     it needs color
     it needs a new war
    ...more info
  • Surprised. . .
    I was very surprised to see a relationship between a girl and a married man included in a film made during an era where innocence was still reigning. The story line is good, the acting is great, but I wish that whole relationship would have been different....more info
  • The Greatest Generation Comes Home.
    There are very few movies which capture the drama of an entire generation. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, directed by William Wyler, is one of those movies. Its graceful examination of three returning World War II veterans to small-town America captures the essence of the "Greatest Generation."

    Almost everyone of that generation with whom I have spoken, including my parents and their friends, agree that the film accurately depicts the challenges of returning veterans, seeking to reenter previous jobs, recover from devastating injuries and move in different directions, never anticipated in pre-war lives.

    Stellar performances abound with accomplished actors such as Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Virginia Mayo and musician Hoagy Carmichael. Teresa Wright (a/k/a Lou Gehrig's wife in THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES) offers a fresh innocence representative young women at the time. But the greatest performance (in my opinion) is from Harold Russell, a veteran and double-amputee, who plays Homer Parrish, the former small-town football hero who seeks to cope with his handicap as well as his own insecurities. Mr. Russell won two Academy Awards, one honorary award for his inspiration to returning vets, and a Best Supporting Oscar. The latter was often considered by some to be the result of a sympathy vote. However, his portrayal of the young Homer is heartbreakingly brilliant by any standard.

    There are some who have lamented the poor DVD quality. I do not know if this was a comment on a previous release or a problem with individual DVDs. I found both the visual and audio quality of the movie to be excellent; it was as if I were watching the film in the theater for the first time.

    This is one of those rare films that can be watched over and over again. It is one of the best films of all time....more info
  • Goldwyn Oldie
    One of the best of the post-war American classics, perhaps the best until Coppola's "The Godfather." The film is as serious as they get, but there is a lot of "The Thin Man" kind of 1930's humor in the bedroom scenes, particularly between the married couple, played by Myrna Loy and Fredrick March. The humor does a lot to balance what is the somber theme of the returning soldiers whose lives will never be the same. The cast is superb, of course, topping the list is Myrna Loy, whom I adore, and Dana Andrews, a leading man type whom, with the coming of James Dean and company, history left behind. The film, however, had enormous influence on the shaping of the post-war hero who never again is all good and all pure. From then on, as with these three heroes, the good guys are only good part of the time. Think of "Shane," for example, and all the post-war Western heroes: they too are twitchy, nervous, with something in their pasts that's eating at them. Dana Andrews can't sleep; this vulnerability is key to the shaping of the new hero type. He is damaged goods, and that's what makes him attractive to the ladies. Actually, that's what makes all post-war men attractive, that is, their suffering, not their heroics. The film lays the groundwork for all this, exposing the underbelly of the hero-myth. It is a stupendous film, beautifully directed and acted. ...more info
  • "I'm glad to see you've all pulled through so well."
    The world changed as a result of WWII, and it directly affected many people's lives. The soldiers that returned home faced a similar situation as the veterans from WWI. They found their jobs had been taken, their outlook on life had changed, and sometimes their families had been dismantled. The Best Years of Our Lives addresses the return home from war and the affects combat had on their daily lives. We follow Al Stephenson (Frederick March) home to his wife (Myrna Loy) and daughter (Teresa Wright). Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) returns to his new wife (Virginia Mayo). Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) comes home without hands and startles his family and fiancee Wilma (Cathy O'Donnell).

    This film is a long and indepth look at the readjustment from a soldier's life to a civilian's life. We see the men returning to work, the disappointments that they face, and the changes they make. The movie has romance, heartache, and comedy which makes it appealing to a variety of audiences. This is one of those movies that was obviously made to contend for the Oscars; it won Samuel Goldwyn his first for best picture. It features a talented cast and well-written characters, and the direction is supurb. One will recognize many scenes from various film compilations and homages....more info
  • Superb Film, but Which Copy to Buy
    To start out, just so there is no confusion, this is a GREAT film. It is one of my favorites.

    But I'm not writing this review to gush about the film itself. Many people have already done that here and quite a few have done a better job than I can do. I am writing this to (hopefully) clear up some confusion about which DVD version to buy.

    There were a few negative comments about the film itself, but those people are probably the kind of morons who think an interesting film has to have car chases and lots of explosions. I guess we should feel sorry for them and their pathetic lives.

    Virtually all of the other negative comments were praising the film but grousing about the quality of the DVD transfer. The contrast was low (muddy grays instead of blacks and whites) and excessive noise on the video and audio. But, strangely enough, others were saying that their DVD was fine. All of the reviews about this movie were lumped together, but none of these reviewers mentioned exactly which version they were writing about.

    A number of people (including myself) wanted to purchase this film, but we did not know which one to order. It turns out that my local library had a copy on hand, so I checked it out this morning. We didn't have time to watch the entire film, but we did jump to various chapters to see how it looked.

    Apparently, we found the good version. The blacks were black, the whites were white, and there were many shades of gray in between. There was a little noise at the beginning during the opening credits, but otherwise the transfer was surprising clean for a movie that's over 60-years old.

    And now (drum roll please) the copy to buy is:

    The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
    * Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
    * DVD Release Date: July 18, 2000
    * ASIN: 0792846133

    It's the one with the red cover and the MGM logo at the top.

    This is the version Amazon is currently selling and they have a great price. Go for it! I'm going to order a copy right away.
    ...more info
  • Coming home after WWII
    I delayed seeing this film for years thinking it would be cloyingly sentimental. Was I wrong! This is a beautiful film. It tells the story of 3 servicemen coming home after the war and the adjustments they faced as they tried to resume life with their family, friends and employment. The pacing of the film is relaxing, allowing for ample character development. The viewer is willingly drawn into the film by such methods as real town street scenes taken from the taxi window as the men share their first ride home after years of being away and also by the use of a non-professional actor as one of the main characters. I am surprised the dvd didn't have any supplemental features regarding the making-of, etc. as this is a major American classic but maybe in the future. Highly recommended. ...more info
  • MNReview
    Great review (of course - this is one of my all time favorite movies). Super different story lines of veterans returning home, back to work, etc. ...more info
  • Truly In A League of It's Own
    This epic should be required viewing for all US Citizens, as it is one of the truest portraits ever made of the immediate Post World War 2 America. Too often the WW II pictures that were made in the Post War years of the 1950's whitewashed the many issues that returning veterans, their famalies, and for that matter the entire nation faced as the war ended.

    This movie was made just after the war ended, and it was probally made just in time to have kept it so real.

    A trio of returning Vets comes back to their mid-western "any town USA" to start their lives anew. Fredrich March as the returning banker questions where his priorities should be almost from the day that he lands back at work. Dana Andrews, the highest ranking amoung them made a name for himself in the military, but is faced with a less than ideal work situation back home, and has a very indifferent wife played by Virginia Mayo. Harold Russell plays the amputee of the trio (he lost his hands in the war), and faces life in a nation without any of the protections that the disabled now have.

    Meanwhile the tale is woven with everthing from jealousy expressed about the Vets from those who remained at home and now fear loosing their jobs to them, to the anxiety that a new war could break out any day. This era in US history was hardly ideal and this movie is brutally honest as few Hollywood epics are.

    Myrna (Thin Man) Loy and Teresa Wright round out the oustanding cast.

    True this movie does have the Holloywood Happy Ending, but it still left enough unanswered questions to keep people thinking.

    A truly worthy Oscar Winner!

    ...more info
  • Perhaps the Best Movie about World War II
    "The Best Years of Our Lives" aired every Decoration Day - or Memorial Day as it is called in most of the U S - on one of the three TV stations that was available in my small hometown in rural Arkansas. Memorial Day is a day dedicated to the dead, it would have been better to have aired this movie on Veteran's Day - the day dedicated to the survivors of war.

    Fundamentally, this is a tale about war survivors. The pain that they bear in missing limbs, broken hearts, and lost dreams is the real story. As the movie starts, we see three veterans returning to their hometown. These are three men with nothing in common other than their service. They each have been touched by the war and are trying to find a new way forward.

    Homer Parrish (real-life double amputee Harold Russell) of the Navy is the one who bears the physical effects of the war. Of note, Harold Russell lost his hands in a training accident when he was in the Army Airborne. He never saw combat and spent the war providing training to other amputees on how to use prosthetics. In fact, his role in such a training movie talking about how to use prosthetics resulted in him earning this role. In many ways, Homer has the easiest transition. He has a wonderful family waiting for him. He receives generous veterans and disability benefits. However, he doesn't know how to react to how others react to his disability. In the end, he shows his girlfriend just how helpless he really is, when she reacts with kindness and love, the journey to happiness can begin.

    Al (Fredric March), the sergeant, is a well-to-do bank executive. He has the most difficult transition. First, his children grew up while he was gone. He finds a daughter is a young woman and a son who is smarter and more observant than his father - at least in terms of science and politics if not human behavior. Additionally, he finds that he has become what we today would call an adrenaline junkie. Without the constant excitement in war, he finds that he needs alcohol and constant involvement from his family. Additionally, years of making snap judgments in combat have made him a little more impulsive than his bank might enjoy. Al has one of the best stories about not taking a hill and losing the war that I've ever heard.

    Air Force Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), a soda jerk, is a man who married a girl he hardly knew two weeks before he left for war. He returns to find his wife did not share any allotment money with his dirt poor family. He also finds that she has been somewhat less than the perfect wife. War was a chance for this handsome, charming man to become a natural leader. Peace has a dead end job and a loveless marriage. To my mind, Fred is a lot like the folks from my part of rural Arkansas who lived in a more equitable and opportunity filled world when in combat than existed when they returned home at the end of their service.

    There is a lot of star quality in this movie. Either you will recognize the names or you won't, but the script obviously attracted big names to take bit parts.

    The title is very meaningful. What were the best years of these men's lives? Was it during the war or has the best yet to come?
    ...more info
  • My new favorite old film
    This is an absolutely tremendous motion picture about guys returning from WWII, focusing on the scars they carry both inside and out. Fredric March earned a Best Actor Oscar in the role of a banker who served as a sergeant in the infantry and has a drinking problem; his boss and his family are incredibly supportive, yet he just can't stop fighting the war in some ways. True war casualty Harold Russell, who lost his hands in a training accident, was not a professional actor, yet he creditably portrayed a sailor who can deal with having hooks but can't deal with the way other people treat him as a man with no fingers; he was, after all, essentially portraying himself. (Mr. Russell is now one of my heroes; he went on after his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this film to form the AMVETS organization.)

    Dana Andrews portrays the other returning soldier and, while he was the odd man out at award time, his part as the captain flyboy from a poor background is equally well drawn and played. Turning his whirlwind wartime wedding into a happy marriage to a beautiful blonde (Virgnia Mayo) is just one of the challenges he must face; the others include returning to his humble drugstore job after the glamour of piloting, and the fierce temptation of the attraction he feels to the banker's daughter (Teresa Wright).

    Seldom does a film from this era (1946) have this kind of depth of characterization and fully fleshed-out situations. This is no pretty-boy movie star vehicle; this is as close to "Band Of Brothers" type reality as the studios could get in those days of the Hays code. Add in the terrific camera work by the man who photographed "Citizen Kane" and you've got a tremendous film with an awesome cast. If you haven't seen it, you've missed out on a very special piece of Hollywood history and American history all at the same time....more info
  • About Manly Character
    The men in this movie remind me of my own father who was a WW II vet. It is about character and making ones own way. The best line in the movie for me was the simple 'thanks' as Feddy gave as he walk away from the guy at the airport who just hired him. No nothing, but a quick 'thanks' as he takes off to work after all the humiliation after humilation he had gone through yet, with unspoken citations for heroism during the war left with his father.

    That is the kind of character that an enduring life is built on. ...more info