The Best Years of Our Lives Reviews

  • Jun 03, 2019

    This is a film that's very much of it's time as you know that the themes of this film and the experiences depicted would have been extremely moving for the audiences of 1946 but it feels over long and slightly mawkish by today's standards. One of the stories in this ensemble drama was really touching and moving but it was drowned out amidst mishandled subplots and scenes that stretch on for far too long. This film did not deserve to win Best Picture when considering the fact that it was nominated against It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and it's not the best film directed by William Wyler as The Heiress (1949) and Ben-Hur (1959) are more entertaining by today's standards. Three men, disabled officer Homer, Harold Russell, successful bombardier Fred, Dana Andrews, and older sergeant Al, Fredric March, return home to their loved ones after World War II. Homer worries that his longtime sweetheart Wilma, Cathy O'Donnell, will be disgusted by his prosthetic hands and won't want to marry him while he struggles in his new job. Fred falls in love with Peggy, Teresa Wright, who is Al's daughter but his marriage complicates their burgeoning relationship as he begins to suspect his wife Marie, Virginia Mayo, of infidelity. Al watches over his daughter nervously while he and his loyal wife Milly, Myrna Loy, are against the new policies of the bank. The biggest selling point of this film is Wright in the role of the innocent but plucky Peggy who is conflicted over her feelings for a married man who is considerably older than she is. She imbues every scene she is in with a delicate touch that brings her relationships with her mother and her potential love interest to life. Quiet scenes of her and her mother simply talking about how to maintain a relationship are the best in the film as her parents affirm that while love is hard it's worth the effort, rather trite maybe but still a worthy message. I always feel troubled when I am asked to support infidelity between two characters in a film but here I was charmed because Wright and Andrews made their characters simply adorable and we spend enough time with the two of them that their connection is believable. Wright would have been deserving of a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in this film and she seems like one of the natural actresses of the 1940s that I have seen. Mayo also stands out as the shallow, bitchy wife who may have been a prostitute when her husband was away at war. The scenes of her impressing her views on marriage on the impressionable Wright have a touch of All About Eve (1950) and their cynicism is a welcome break from the rosy eyed view that the rest of the film takes. I wanted to see more of her running around occurring in the film and her talking back to her husband was gratifying in a movie where she is surrounded by women who worship the ground their husbands walk on. Had there been more of Mayo and Wright's characters in this film I would have found more to love as the balance between the two of them is the most exciting part of the film and while I relished the happy ending that Peggy and Fred get I equally wanted to see Marie swindling some poor men out of their money. My big issue is that about two thirds of the film isn't particularly engaging, unfortunately it's the plot concerning the disabled character, and even the fun scenes stretch on for too long. Had the other plotlines been cut out or just reduced in screen time then the film would have been undoubtedly stronger and more palatable to audiences who are not willing to watch a slow moving film that stretches to almost three hours. It's obvious that It's a Wonderful Life was the best film of 1946 and that it deserved Best Picture over this largely forgotten ensemble drama. It's not a terrible film but it's hardly gripping stuff and it presents too much dull content to keep the audience invested in the lives of the characters.

    This is a film that's very much of it's time as you know that the themes of this film and the experiences depicted would have been extremely moving for the audiences of 1946 but it feels over long and slightly mawkish by today's standards. One of the stories in this ensemble drama was really touching and moving but it was drowned out amidst mishandled subplots and scenes that stretch on for far too long. This film did not deserve to win Best Picture when considering the fact that it was nominated against It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and it's not the best film directed by William Wyler as The Heiress (1949) and Ben-Hur (1959) are more entertaining by today's standards. Three men, disabled officer Homer, Harold Russell, successful bombardier Fred, Dana Andrews, and older sergeant Al, Fredric March, return home to their loved ones after World War II. Homer worries that his longtime sweetheart Wilma, Cathy O'Donnell, will be disgusted by his prosthetic hands and won't want to marry him while he struggles in his new job. Fred falls in love with Peggy, Teresa Wright, who is Al's daughter but his marriage complicates their burgeoning relationship as he begins to suspect his wife Marie, Virginia Mayo, of infidelity. Al watches over his daughter nervously while he and his loyal wife Milly, Myrna Loy, are against the new policies of the bank. The biggest selling point of this film is Wright in the role of the innocent but plucky Peggy who is conflicted over her feelings for a married man who is considerably older than she is. She imbues every scene she is in with a delicate touch that brings her relationships with her mother and her potential love interest to life. Quiet scenes of her and her mother simply talking about how to maintain a relationship are the best in the film as her parents affirm that while love is hard it's worth the effort, rather trite maybe but still a worthy message. I always feel troubled when I am asked to support infidelity between two characters in a film but here I was charmed because Wright and Andrews made their characters simply adorable and we spend enough time with the two of them that their connection is believable. Wright would have been deserving of a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in this film and she seems like one of the natural actresses of the 1940s that I have seen. Mayo also stands out as the shallow, bitchy wife who may have been a prostitute when her husband was away at war. The scenes of her impressing her views on marriage on the impressionable Wright have a touch of All About Eve (1950) and their cynicism is a welcome break from the rosy eyed view that the rest of the film takes. I wanted to see more of her running around occurring in the film and her talking back to her husband was gratifying in a movie where she is surrounded by women who worship the ground their husbands walk on. Had there been more of Mayo and Wright's characters in this film I would have found more to love as the balance between the two of them is the most exciting part of the film and while I relished the happy ending that Peggy and Fred get I equally wanted to see Marie swindling some poor men out of their money. My big issue is that about two thirds of the film isn't particularly engaging, unfortunately it's the plot concerning the disabled character, and even the fun scenes stretch on for too long. Had the other plotlines been cut out or just reduced in screen time then the film would have been undoubtedly stronger and more palatable to audiences who are not willing to watch a slow moving film that stretches to almost three hours. It's obvious that It's a Wonderful Life was the best film of 1946 and that it deserved Best Picture over this largely forgotten ensemble drama. It's not a terrible film but it's hardly gripping stuff and it presents too much dull content to keep the audience invested in the lives of the characters.

  • Feb 12, 2019

    Classic post-WW II coming home to reality story couldn't be done better. The actors were all superb and were cast perfectly.

    Classic post-WW II coming home to reality story couldn't be done better. The actors were all superb and were cast perfectly.

  • Feb 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.

    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.

  • Jan 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!

    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!

  • Oct 14, 2018

    quite a few WW II vets in our small town that I grew up around..

    quite a few WW II vets in our small town that I grew up around..

  • Sep 07, 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.

    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.

  • Aug 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)

    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)

  • Jun 18, 2018

    One of the greatest films of all time.

    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.

    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.

    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.