''The Best Years of Our Lives'' is a 1946 post-war drama directed by Creator/WilliamWyler and starring Frederic March and Harold Russell. It won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture of the Year.
Just after the end of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, servicemen Fred Derry, Homer Parrish, and Al Stephenson return home to Boone City to their loved ones. Their adjustment to post-war life is met with varying levels of success. Al, a banker, finds it difficult to reconnect with his family and even more difficult to be as stern as he was before. Homer, who lost both hands in a fire, can't stand the pity that he detects from others, including his fiancee. Meanwhile, Fred is infuriated that the only real job he can hold is a soda jerk, and discovers the woman he married before heading off to war wasn't worth it. Somehow, they are going to have to go on with their lives...
This movie is interesting (and this is probably the reason it was so well received) for being one of the first movies that showed war as it was, instead of romanticizing it like movies and books were prone to.
!!This film provides examples of:
* TheAlcoholic: Al turns to the bottle after his return home.
* BadDreams: Being a ShellShockedVeteran, Fred is consistently having bad dreams where he relives dramatic war scenes.
* BettyAndVeronica: Fred between Peggy (Betty) and Marie (Veronica).
* BreakHerHeartToSaveHer: Although he harbors feelings for her, Fred calls Peggy to tell her that it's over, in order to put her out of harm's way.
* ChildhoodFriendRomance: Homer and Wilma, having lived [[GirlNextDoor next to another]] since childhood.
* CobwebOfDisuse: Cobwebs and signs of dust inside the B-17 that Fred is checking out at the airplane graveyard.
* ComfortingComforter: A running theme. First it's Peggy covering Fred with a blanket, then it's Homer doing it to his little sister (or niece) and lastly it's Wilma doing it on Homer.
* EyeTake: Millie rolls her eyes as she listens in on Al's conversation with his boss.
* GirlNextDoor: Literally with Homer's girlfriend Wilma. Peggy could also count.
* HookHand: Homer Parrish -- played by real-life double amputee Harold Russell.
* InadvertentEntranceCue: At the pub, when Fred and Homer discuss Al's whereabout, the latter enters through the door.
--> '''Fred''': Oh, Al. He's home in the swankiest apartment house in town. We'll never see him again. [[Cue Al waling in]]
* LohengrinAndMendelssohn: The standard wedding song sung by the kids.
* ManlyTears: Homer sheds these in his bed after Wilma leaves.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: Homer writing a check at the bank. For a person with two working hands it's a simple task. For Homer to do it, it's an act so amazing it shames Al into giving another veteran a loan without sufficient collateral.
* NoRomanticResolution: The romance between Fred and Peggy [[UnresolvedSexualTension brews and brews]], only coming to a resolution with 45 SECONDS LEFT and the credits rolling.
* RemovedFromThePicture: At one point, Fred looks at the photograph taken at the double date dinner with his wife and Peggy. He first tears off the half showing his wife, then he also tears the other half with him and Peggy in two.
* RelationshipSabotage: Peggy intends to break up Fred's marriage to Marie. Lampshaded by her line "That's the end of my career as a home wrecker".
** Al can no longer relate to his wife or his children who grew up without him, and is turning into an [[TheAlcoholic alcoholic]].
** Fred, a retired bomber pilot, finds himself having BadDreams wherein he relives dramatic war scenes.
** Homer lost his hands in the war and is now ashamed of his [[HookHand artificial hooks]] which makes him feeling uncomfortable around his family or his girl-next-door sweetheart.
* SoWhatDoWeDoNow: All three have been so changed by their war experiences that they can't fit back into their old lives, and are forced to reinvent themselves ... with varying results.
* StrangerInAFamiliarLand: The central theme, examining the lives of three soldiers after they come home and struggle to readjust after the horrors of war.
-->'''Marie''': These are the best years of our lives, and we're wasting them!
* UnresolvedSexualTension: Between Fred and Peggy through most parts of the movie.
* WarIsHell: We don't see any battles on the screen. All we see is [[ShellShockedVeteran the damage each war veteran]] brings back with him.
* YourCheatingHeart: Both Fred and his wife are having flings as their marriage crumbles.