The story concentrates on the social re-adjustment of three World War II servicemen, each from a different station of society. Al Stephenson returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. Fred Derry is an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage. Having had both hands burnt off during the war, Homer Parrish is unsure that his fiancée's feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of the veterans faces a crisis upon his arrival, and each crisis is a microcosm of the experiences of many American warriors who found an alien world awaiting them when they came marching home.Written by
Only twelve cast members are listed in the opening credits. Cathy O'Donnell receives an "and introducing" credit before her name. Victor Cutler, who plays Woody, is listed last in the opening credits but does not appear in the cast list of 23 names in the end credits. See more »
The film was modified to play on a wide screen and reissued on February 3, 1954. See more »
Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Such a powerful film. At first the new lives of the soldiers seem to be facing small adjustments, such as their children's interest in "atomic energy" and "scientific efficiency". But soon we find that jobs are hard to find, and the wives and girlfriends sometimes met new people while the battles were fought.
Although a serious topic, the film has the right balance of entertainment and drama. It never gets outright depressing, and things like depression and suicide are overlooked. But it still remains a valuable lesson: as bad as dying in the war is, sometimes the transition back to normalcy can be just as damaging.
Although not one of the better known movies today (2014), "The Best Years of Our Lives" won seven Academy Awards in 1946, including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor (Fredric March), Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell), Best Film Editing (Daniel Mandell), Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert Sherwood), and Best Original Score (Hugo Friedhofer). It still sits on the IMDb Top 250, just as it should.
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