Best Years of Our Lives
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The Best Years of Our Lives

4.6 18
Director: William Wyler

Cast: Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews

     
 

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The postwar classic The Best Years of Our Lives, based on a novel in verse by MacKinlay Kantor about the difficult readjustments of returning World War II veterans, tells the intertwined homecoming stories of ex-sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March), former bombadier Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and sailor Homer Parrish (Harold

Overview

The postwar classic The Best Years of Our Lives, based on a novel in verse by MacKinlay Kantor about the difficult readjustments of returning World War II veterans, tells the intertwined homecoming stories of ex-sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March), former bombadier Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell). Having rubbed shoulders with blue-collar Joes for the first time in his life, Al finds it difficult to return to a banker's high-finance mindset, and he shocks his co-workers with a plan to provide no-collateral loans to veterans. Meanwhile, Al's children (Teresa Wright and Michael Hall) have virtually grown up in his absence. Fred discovers that his wartime heroics don't count for much in the postwar marketplace, and he finds himself unwillingly returning to his prewar job as a soda jerk. His wife (Virginia Mayo), expecting a thrilling marriage to a glamorous flyboy, is bored and embittered by her husband's inability to advance himself, and she begins living irresponsibly, like a showgirl. Homer has lost both of his hands in combat and has been fitted with hooks; although his family and his fiancée (Cathy O'Donnell) adjust to his wartime handicap, he finds it more difficult. Profoundly relevant in 1946, the film still offers a surprisingly intricate and ambivalent exploration of American daily life; and it features landmark deep-focus cinematography from Gregg Toland, who also shot Citizen Kane. The film won Oscars for, among others, Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary William Wyler, Best Actor for March, and Best Supporting Actor for Harold Russell, a real-life double amputee whose hands had been blown off in a training accident.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Regina Raiford
The winner of seven major Academy Awards, this powerful classic explores the cynicism and despair underlying the nation's prevailing optimism and prosperity following World War II. Inspired by a Life magazine article, The Best Years of Our Lives interweaves the tales of three returning servicemen (Fredric March, Dana Andrews, and Harold Russell), each of whom has been drastically altered by his war experience and has difficulty adjusting to small-town civilian life. All three actors give legendary performances: March won the Oscar for Best Actor, and Russell, a real-life veteran who lost both his hands in a military accident, won a special Oscar for bringing "hope and courage" to other veterans. Stunning deep-focus cinematography by Gregg Tolland (Citizen Kane) and director William Wyler's subtle direction heighten the poignancy and depth of this unsurpassed social drama. A panoramic view of postwar American family life, The Best Years of Our Lives remains as relevant today as it was in 1946.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
When Samuel Goldwyn decided to make The Best Years of Our Lives, Hollywood was running away from World War II-related scripts as though the subject itself had the plague -- movies about men in uniform had been box-office poison since early 1945. The assumption was that returning veterans would be even less willing than those who'd stayed on the home front to shell out money to be reminded of their service. Goldwyn, director William Wyler, and screenwriter Robert E. Sherwood (working from MacKinlay Kantor's blank verse novel Glory for Me), and a cast from heaven (some of them, like Dana Andrews and Virginia Mayo, giving the greatest performances of their careers) proved the industry wrong, and they opened up a whole new subject area by focusing on the men giving up their uniforms, the women and children around them, and even the men who hadn't served. They ended up with a 170-minute movie whose every shot was dramatically and psychically spellbinding, embracing the relief, anxiety, pain, joy, and doubts that Americans could now express. The setting of the movie in a small city somewhere in the middle of the country gave it a Norman Rockwell veneer, while the script melded that background with some healthy cynicism and emotional honesty borne out of the movie world's new awareness of modern psychology. Thus, the film had its feet in both pre-war and post-war consciousness, appealing to two generations of filmgoers (or even three, as the World War I-era audience was still around and had hardly been served well in its own time). It not only set new standards for maturity in mainstream moviemaking, showing that you could please crowds even as you showed a few unpleasant truths about who and what we were, but also did a lot to ease audiences into the Hollywood era that produced such serious, topical dramas as Gentleman's Agreement, Crossfire, City Across the River, Home of the Brave, The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me), The Wild One, On the Waterfront, and Goldwyn's own Edge of Doom.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/15/2013
UPC:
0883929280049
Original Release:
1946
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:50:00
Sales rank:
354

Special Features

Introduction By Virginia Mayo; Interview With Virginia Mayo And Teresa Wright; Theatircal Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fredric March Al Stephenson
Myrna Loy Millie Stephenson
Dana Andrews Fred Derry
Harold Russell Homer Parrish
Virginia Mayo Marie Derry
Teresa Wright Peggy Stephenson
Dorothy Adams Mrs. Cameron
Don Beddoe Mr. Cameron
Walter S. Baldwin Mr. Parrish
Cathy O'Donnell Wilma Cameron
Roman Bohnen Pat Derry
Hoagy Carmichael Butch Engle
Howland Chamberlain Thorpe
Steve Cochran Cliff
Ray Collins Mr. Milton
Victor Cutler Woody Merrill
Gladys George Hortense Derry
Minna Gombell Mrs. Parrish
Michael Hall Rob Stephenson
Charles Halton Prew
Erskine Sanford Bullard
Pat Flaherty Construction Foreman
Ray Teal Mr. Mollett
Dean White Novak
Bert Conway ATC Sergeant
Clancy Cooper Taxi Driver
Blake Edwards Corporal
Teddy Infuhr Dexter
Robert Karnes Tech. Sergeant
Norman Phillips Merkle
Ralph Sanford Mr. Gibbons

Technical Credits
William Wyler Director
Perry Ferguson Art Director
Hugo W. Friedhofer Score Composer
Samuel Goldwyn Producer
Julia Heron Set Decoration/Design
George Jenkins Art Director
Dan Mandell Editor
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Robert E. Sherwood Screenwriter
Gregg Toland Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Best Years of Our Lives
1. Chapter 1 [1:06]
2. Chapter 2 [4:45]
3. Chapter 3 [6:09]
4. Chapter 4 [3:17]
5. Chapter 5 [1:52]
6. Chapter 6 [5:40]
7. Chapter 7 [2:20]
8. Chapter 8 [6:25]
9. Chapter 9 [2:29]
10. Chapter 10 [3:50]
11. Chapter 11 [2:12]
12. Chapter 12 [4:21]
13. Chapter 13 [5:41]
14. Chapter 14 [3:39]
15. Chapter 15 [6:34]
16. Chapter 16 [2:29]
17. Chapter 17 [5:05]
18. Chapter 18 [4:55]
19. Chapter 19 [6:20]
20. Chapter 20 [3:51]
21. Chapter 21 [8:03]
22. Chapter 22 [3:14]
23. Chapter 23 [5:30]
24. Chapter 24 [4:15]
25. Chapter 25 [3:08]
26. Chapter 26 [4:39]
27. Chapter 27 [3:58]
28. Chapter 28 [4:58]
29. Chapter 29 [4:44]
30. Chapter 30 [3:43]
31. Chapter 31 [3:23]
32. Chapter 32 [4:37]
33. Chapter 33 [11:15]
34. Chapter 34 [6:00]
35. Chapter 35 [5:43]
36. Chapter 36 [9:24]

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The Best Years of Our Lives 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Almost 60 years old, this absolutely timeless and very human film brilliantly demonstrates the effects of war on those who served and those who stayed at home and waited, while time ruthlessly marched on and the world kept spinning. Poignant and sad in spots, yet with a surprising underlying optimistic message that life is not about what we've lost, but what we have left. Superb performances by the main cast with some amazing supporting work. Pay particular attention to Roman Bohsen as Dana Andrew's father. Gets me every time! Five Stars are not enough.
Boonierat More than 1 year ago
This film deals effectively with the return of three men; a soldier, an airman, and a sailor who has lost both hands, from WWII and their trials as they attempt to reintegrate into a, not always welcoming, society. Although, the men ultimately overcome the handicaps the war has left them with and the film ends on a happy note for all, this is one of the few WWII films that deal with the aftermath of war in a relatively realistic way. PTSD, though not called by that name, is evident in all three men but especially the airman. Though, as I said, the men return to their lives in a happy way, with apparent complete resolution and "closure" of their war experience (not a reality for most of those who served in any of our wars) there is a nod to what will in 1980 be officially named PTSD. If you are looking for the "nitty gritty" of a warrior's reintegration back into society, you will not find it here. But it is a good attempt to acknowledge that warrior's sacrifice the "Best Year's" of their lives under tragic and horrible circumstances. I have enjoyed this film many times and the acting is made believable by an outstanding cast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best movies I've ever seen
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all time favorite films. The story is smartly written, It is both hugely funny at times but also addresses extremely important issues that are so relevant to our time. The first time I watched this film after it ended I watched it again. It made me laugh a lot and cry at times. It is like the MASH Series with respect that while it is wildly funny There is an underlying tension which is affecting the main characters the film addresses some very important issues which are still very relavent. James Garner is terriffic, It won for best supporting actor by a non actor veteran who was a double amputee who gave a wonderful performance. All the acting was superb. Watch this movie is my recommendation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best WW2 movies, especially if you want to see the emotional side of what effect war has on everyone. I have it on VHS (almost new); am looking for DVD now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny how some movies become kind of your best friends. I've watched this film about dozen times and it's always as good as I saw it the first time. When I'm down and little depressed this movie always lifts me up. It's so full of warmth and human sympathy......And "Let's hope Wilma is a swell girl." Timo (from Finland)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I NEVER CEASE TO ENJOY WATCHING '' THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES''!! IT IS ONE OF THE BEST PICTURES MADE IN REGARDS TO THE AFTERMATH OF WORLD WAR II. I AM A HUGE FAN OF CLASSIC MOVIES AND THIS ONE RATES RIGHT ABOVE THEM ALL.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this movie for the first time this week. This movie is one of the most realistic classics because it portrays life in a way that many Americans could relate to at the time, and while being realistic, it was entertaining and thought provoking, not boring. The actors chosen were just right, all played their parts excellently. My favorite being Fredric March's character; he was just wonderful. I don't approve of drunkeness, but the scenes of him going out on the town with his family and getting drunk were very amusing and even sweet, as were the morning after scenes. Myrna Loy was wonderful as his loving and patient wife. Never a nag; loved the scene where she tallied the number of his drinks with her fork on the tablecloth at the business dinner party! Their daughter was impressive as well; very mature. Dana Andrews played well; we could really feel for him. Here he was a captain in the army and comes back to no greater prospect than resuming his pre-was sodajerk job at the drugstore. His wife was so selfish and shallow. She was not there for him as Myrna Loy was for Fredric March. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys classics that are well acted and tell a good story. Wish they still made movies as wonderful as this!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
With America at war once again, this movie reflects the soul of Americans. The story, the character and the players make this film one of the five best movies ever made.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Truly one of the classics. The experiences of the returning WWII veterans depicted in the film are as accurate now as they were then. The final wedding scene never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Don't miss this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The sound quality of this dvd was perfect. I fully enjoyed watching this timeless classic. Thank you, Barnes & Noble for the great price, too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie continues to be my all time favorite. The story line, acting and timely depiction of post WWII America is outstanding. The all star cast includes Teresa Wright who has appeard in many all time classics including Mrs. Miniver and The Pride of the Yankees. Harold Russell is a true American hero. This is a must buy and must see.
JCWilkerson More than 1 year ago
After World War II three military men, Al Stevenson (Fredrich March) Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), return to their lives in Boone City after stints in Europe. Adjusting to life at home isn't as easy as one would think as Homer has lost his hands, Fred goes from being a Captain to being relegated to being a soda jerk in a drug store, and Al goes back to his bank job where he has to turn down loans for fellow former soldiers. As they try to adjust to their new old lives they learn things may never be the same again. William Wyler was already a famous filmmaker before going into the military for World War II, having made films such as Wuthering Heights, Jezebel, and Dodsworth. Incorporating his own experiences as a combat filmographer into the film, Wyler made what is arguable his most successful film with The Best Years of Our Lives. After it's release it went on to win 7 Academy Awards beating out It's a Wonderful Life for Best Picture, and Harold Russell won not just one but two Academy Awards (one for Best Supporting Actor, and an honorary award "For bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance"), the only actor to ever win two Academy Awards for the same performance. The Best Years of Our Lives is a film that has a lot of pertinence in today's world with so many troops overseas making their way back, and it's still the best film on the subject. Wyler's attention to detail, choosing not to make things over lavish as most films in the 1940's did, and to give it more of a documentary flair help give the film more of a real world feel. And while the subject matter might seem like the film would be a darker affair, there are moments that would still make you genuinely laugh out loud, as well as other lighter more tender moments. The acting is superb from all involved. The two actors that truly stand out in my mind watching this are Harold Russell and Al Stevenson. Harold Russell, an actual physically disabled military man, shows great depth in his performance as Homer Parrish dealing with love and the notion that he needs to drive his girl away because she deserves better. Al Stevenson, also does a superb job as a former sergeant who feels guilty for having come home to find himself a good job while also dealing with family issues and his feelings toward having to away loans for former GI's who feel they deserve better. I highly recommend this movie, this is one of those rare perfect movies and to be honest, it deserved it's best picture nod over It's A Wonderful Life. Even with it's ranking on AFI's top 100 films at #37, these days this film is still criminally overlooked and underrated. If you like films dealing with WWII, great dramas, and superb acting, you should definitely give this film a shot. 5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Best Years of Our Lives' is a sobering depiction of lives forever changed by WWII. When returning soldiers, Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Al Stephenson (Frederic March) and Homer Parrish (real life amputee, Harold Russell) return from the battlefield, they find a society that has moved on without them. Fred¿s high stepping girlfriend (Virginia Mayo) is on the cusp of liberating herself in the arms of another man, Al¿s children are all grown up and Homer¿s fiancée (Cathy O¿Donnell) must readjust to the fact that her one time lover no longer has the use of his hands. The re-assimilation of these men into their former lives is genuinely poignant, heart-breaking, yet ultimately, life affirming. But the DVD transfer is an absolute travesty. Not only is the gray scale poorly rendered, with insufficient black levels and low contrast, but there is so much film grain and age related artifacts present that the film is virtually un-viewable. Worse, digital anomalies; aliasing, shimmering, edge enhancement, abound and are thoroughly distracting. The audio - remixed by CHACE sound is amply presented. A previously available version of this film distributed by HBO had a documentary on the making of the film (though there too the transfer of the film was pure junk). The re-released transfer from MGM does not include the documentary. This film will get a better transfer somewhere down the road. On this journey however, the wise DVD consumer would do best to steer clear!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don¿t believe a finer movie has ever been made! Even though I¿ve seen this one many times, I still can¿t watch this powerful and moving film without choking up. Everything about this one is just perfect. The writing, directing, and acting is legendary. Its hard to believe that Fredric March and Harold Russell were the only actors who walked away with Oscars. And Russell wasn¿t even a professional! Dana Andrews and Myrna Loy, as well as Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O¿Donnell, and Roman Bohsen were equally compelling. The story is full of so many gripping and touching moments that you can¿t watch the events unfold without being affected emotionally in a major way! I once saw an interview with Bette Davis concerning her film career. She was of the opinion that William Wyler was the best director she had ever worked with. She attributed her Oscar for ¿Jezebel¿ to his stunning talents, not hers. She also said that ¿the Best Years of Our Lives¿ was the best movie ever made! Many other fine actors attributed their Oscar successes to Wyler¿s fine direction (Greer Garson, Charleton Heston, Burl Ives, and Barbra Streisand, among others). Hugo Friedhofer¿s Oscar-winning musical score is icing on the cake! Mark this picture as a must-see film! One of my personal top-ten favorites. Absolutely unforgettable!