The Best Years of Our Lives - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Best Years of Our Lives Reviews

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½ March 17, 2019
Even generations not living in the immediate aftermath of war are sure to be moved by this portrait of soldiers readjusting to their old lives.
March 2, 2019
Classic post-WW II coming home to reality story couldn't be done better. The actors were all superb and were cast perfectly.
February 11, 2019
A memorable film about the aftermath of World War II in the United States., this film opens with the homecoming of three veterans to the same small town. The movie exposes the reality of altered lives and the inability to communicate the experience of war on the front lines or the home front.

The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the most timely and immediate Best Picture winners in Academy history.
Profoundly and sensitively balances the private demons of scarred veterans and the press of public policies that leave their mark on daily life.This movie is a masterpiece. The writing, the acting, the blending of several stories without being even the least bit choppy, everything about this movie is exceptional. Seven Academy Awards. No wonder, it certainly deserved them. The all star cast Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Harold Russell, Myrna Loy , Virginia Mayo , Teresa Wright , Cathy O'Donnell . Director 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.
It's a masterpiece, a combination of a genuinely felt emotional narrative and a microcosm of a country recovering from war.
January 26, 2019
The best, GREATEST inspiring movie ever made! With the best movie character ever portrayed: Harold Russell as Homer Parrish! And the best movie score ever composed!
October 14, 2018
quite a few WW II vets in our small town that I grew up around..
September 7, 2018
Tells a moral story with surprisingly good performances from Frederic March, Dana Andrews and Teresa Wright. Skip the melodrama, this is the electromagnet of wartime and what happens when the current is turned off.
August 26, 2018
The film mostly delivers with a minimally-entertaining post-WWII storytelling that was thoroughly represented with well-performed soulful characterization within enough substance to put up with worthwhile length. (A-)

(Full review TBD)
June 18, 2018
One of the greatest films of all time.
May 28, 2018
A great movie that more than stands the test of time. In most war movies directors shy away from going too far ove the top , obviously they want you to sympathize with the protagonist but they hold back, but here no punches are pulled, almost from the beginning when Fred has a problem in the Airport , can't get a seat on a airplane home while a rich man rudely interrupts him to ask about his own airplane seat, all of that is classic manipulation but we go along with it because unlike the rich man in the airport and his damned golf clubs, we the audience respect everything these returning war heroes have done and what they've been through. A similar thing happens to both Al and Homer, in fact you can say all three men live among the most insensitive people in the world. Fortunately for as many detractors, fascists and just plain awful people who surround them, each has their own guardian Angels, from loving parents to the women in their lives, each is saved, and we are rooting for them all the way. The movie has many powerful scenes made even more so by our emotional connection to each man. Each has to deal with a personal demon and people designed almost perfectly to break them, but through personnel courage as well as the companionship of each other, each makes it through. No movie has ever dealt with the problems of returning veterans as well as this one, and I doubt any ever will. Every person involved with the making of this movie gave their best effort. I knew many veterans of world war 2 , men who went through very similar things as the men in this movie, none of them would ever speak of their war experiences. This movie speaks for them...and says it all.
May 27, 2018
I remember watching this film at various times throughout my life. I always enjoyed it. But the film became truly personal after my return from deployment to Iraq with the UA Army. I was amazed at how much I had in common with the characters. From the PTSD suffered by Fred Derry to the impact of disability on Homer Parrish (I'm a 100% combat disabled veteran), my experiences virtually mirrored theirs. More than fifty years later "The Best Years of Our Lives" is still having an impact. The public could learn much about the difficulties that veterans, especially those disabled, have when returning home from war.
December 31, 2017
A very well done tear-jerker that follows the lives of three servicemen immediately after returning from World War II. All three men have inspiring stories. Their individual romances are tender, too, thanks in great part part to the leading ladies.
½ December 2, 2017
Mixed bag. Nice story about men coming home from the war and trying to pick up the pieces in differing circumstances. A lot of it is cornball now but I suspect it was considered edgy in its time. There is a frankness and astuteness that you don't see much of in oldies. PTSD is lightly touched on. Real life double amputee (i.e. hooks instead of hands) Harold Russell won the Supporting Actor Oscar (although his acting was painfully bad at times), but I give them credit for taking a chance on the concept.. Big thing for me unfortunately - like so many old movies - there are just a ton of scenes that don't ring true. I am too aware that I am being manipulated with dramatic devices rather than just seeing something organic. 6.8 out of 10
November 29, 2017
I first saw this movie in the early 1980s, as part of a program called "The Goldwyn Years". It shocked me, as the movies of that era that I grew up on concluded with the troops returning home to a "happily ever after". This one was the first movie I can remember that accurately depicted the struggles of the returning vet as they attempt to find their way back to some semblance of a peaceful civilian life and out from under the shadows of their war experiences. Powerful stuff, and remarkable performances from the entire cast.
October 9, 2017
William Wyler's engrossing masterpiece hits hard at every turn and crafts a story rife with exceptional drama, heartfelt emotion and underlying humour. A scene in particular, featuring Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) as he unveils the full extent of his disability to his wife-to-be, is like no scene I have ever seen, it was completely moving, I haven't felt so emotionally-affected by a film in quite some time, and then his everlasting smile as he sheds a single tear, powerfully complex in emotional value and extremely well-executed.

Films with near 3-hour running times can occasionally inadvertently become tedious and overblown in proportion, but never does Wyler's drama let up, not once did I feel the need to check my watch, I was completely engrossed by it throughout. The film plays as a character study, following our three leads, played brilliantly by a trio of fantastic talent (including a debut from Harold Russell), as they return from service during World War II, each brought together during their short stint on their flight home. The movie then develops into a series of intriguing stories, each connected by our leads, as they face romantic complications, financial struggles and alienation from the people in their hometown.

There was a time when I was completely shocked by what I would call an injustice to 'It's a Wonderful Life' for being "snubbed its win for Best Picture", and whilst I still personally prefer Capra's holiday classic, I am no longer in confusion as to why 'The Best Years of Our Lives' took home its 7 Oscars, it more than deserves the praise it receives. It is an exceptionally well-produced, personal study into the lives of three war veterans trying to adjust to normal life, and one of my new favourite films.
October 4, 2017
This is an engrossing, well acted and written classic that still holds up well today. It definitely verges on melodrama at times, but it's some brilliant melodrama at all times IMO.
½ August 27, 2017
A sobering look at the after effects of war. Incredible performances by real-life war survivor Harold Russell, Myrna Loy, Hoagy Carmichael, and Fredric March.
August 16, 2017
Love this movie. I watch at least a few x a year. This was the day of such an awesome group of movie actors/stars. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You will not be disappointed!
May 12, 2017
This film stands on its own merit. It's no surprise some viewers and critics are so obtuse and biased they lack the perceptual aptitude to become immersed in the multi-dimensional dynamics of every character in this film... experiencing the cruelty of war's after shocks at some recognizable level by everyone. No one catches a break in this movie - not even the charming and innocent little sister and her friends. Everyone feels the aftershock of three soldiers returning from war and trying to pick up the pieces and move on - confronting survivor guilt, ptsd, love's betrayal, family estrangement. The film has authenticity and pulls no punches, and the use of framing, deep focus and mirrors are used to full effect and for affect - the powder-room mirror scene being one of the most brilliant uses of a mirror shot in any film with no cuts. It's a scene even professional film critics miss. But the tools of direction, script and camera work are secondary to the performances and story line that provide a time machine-like view into the past. Indeed, some audiences of the 21st century will have trouble understanding without keeping in mind that this was a time when an entire country of citizens felt the reality of war with rationing, restrictions and blackouts after sundown with armed neighborhood escorts. Americans have forgotten. Every American felt WWII - not like it is in this century where soldiers return home from combat to see their fellow Americans completely detached from the hardships of war taking place abroad... but for them just another day like nothing traumatic ever happened. This movie reminds us of a time when everyone felt war, and the story offers its 1946 audience the thing it needed most in that year facing recovery - a hope of reconciliation.
April 20, 2017
A near perfect film; great in every way.
½ March 23, 2017
On the point important on the back-from-war issue, building up in a great classic way with real depth and strength around the story. As mentioned the movies takes a bite of a important question, not just for the time around WW2, but still significant for today.
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