The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Critic Consensus: An engrossing look at the triumphs and travails of war veterans, The Best Years of Our Lives is concerned specifically with the aftermath of World War II, but its messages speak to the overall American experience.
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as Al Stephenson
as Fred Derry
as Homer Parrish
as Milly Stephenson
as Marie Derry
as Peggy Stephenson
as Wilma Cameron
as Butch Engle
as Hortense Derry
as Pat Derry
as Mr. Milton
as Mrs. Parrish
as Mr. Parrish
as Mrs. Cameron
as Mr. Cameron
as Luella Parrish
as Rob Stephenson
as Mr. Mollett
as Woody Merrill
as Construction Foreman
as Taxi Driver
as Tech. Sergeant
as Mr. Gibbons
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Critic Reviews for The Best Years of Our Lives
William Wyler's heartbreaking postwar ballad seems even more radical today than it did in its Oscar-thick heyday. It's as non-propagandistic as an unemployment line.
As far as this review is concerned, it is the best picture to come out of Hollywood since the end of the war.
Profoundly and sensitively balances the private demons of scarred veterans and the press of public policies that leave their mark on daily life.
Like most good mass entertainments, this picture has occasional moments of knowing hokum; but unlike most sure-fire movies, it was put together with good taste, honesty, wit -- and even a strong suggestion of guts.
Audience Reviews for The Best Years of Our Lives
A deeply touching and significant post-WWII classic that depicts the psychological trauma and several obstacles encountered by veteran soldiers of different backgrounds returning from war, and it does so with an expert use of deep focus and a wonderful mise-en-scène to create many meaningful visual compositions.
Patriotism and lenght aside, an evocative and passionate melodrama with soulful performances.
It definitely gets a little too syrupy at times, but William Wyler's ode to returning veterans is a remarkably bold and frank look at post-WWII America (especially brave, considering these were topics Hollywood avoided for years before its release). Fredric March is brilliant as always, and underrated Dana Andrews and Teresa Wright are terrific as well. It features Wyler's traditionally tight direction, and the legendary Gregg Toland shines by composing some truly stunning deep focus photography as well. In the end, The Best Years of Our Lives may be a little too conventional, but it's done well enough to draw you in and root for its characters.
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