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Film: The Best Years of Our Lives

After that, I had it easy... That's what I said. They took care of me fine. They trained me to use these things. I can dial telephones, I can drive a car, I can even put nickels in the jukebox. I'm all right, but... well, you see, I've got a girl.
Homer Parrish

The Best Years of Our Lives was a 1946 film directed by William Wyler and starring Frederic March and Harold Russell. It won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture of the Year.

Just after the end of World War II, 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 work features examples of:

  • Betty and Veronica: Fred between Peggy (Betty) and Marie (Veronica).
  • Bittersweet Ending: the three war veterans are slowly returning to normal lives, with Homer marrying Wilma, and Fred getting divorced from his unloving wife freeing him to court Peggy. But all three acknowledge they still have tough roads ahead of them.
  • Eye Take: Millie rolls her eyes as she listens in on Al's conversation with his boss.
  • Girl Next Door: Literally with Homer's girlfriend Wilma. Peggy could also count.
  • Hook Hand: Homer Parrish — played by real-life double amputee Harold Russell.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: 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.
  • Relationship Sabotage: Peggy intends to break up Fred's marriage to Marie.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran:
    • Al can no longer relate to his wife or his children who grew up without him, and is turning into an alcoholic;
    • Fred dismisses the war medals he's earned, and finds himself climbing into the remains of a bomber plane that are getting taken apart now that the war's over;
    • Homer is ashamed of his artificial hooks and can't keep himself around his family or his girl-next-door sweetheart.
  • Title Drop:
    Marie: These are the best years of our lives, and we're wasting them!
  • War Is Hell: We don't see any battles on the screen. All we see is the damage each war veteran brings back with him.

The Bridge on the River KwaiAFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies ( 10 th Anniversary Edition)The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Midnight CowboyAFI's 100 Years... 100 MoviesDouble Indemnity
La Belle NoiseuseRoger Ebert Great Movies ListBicycle Thieves
SpellboundAcademy AwardHenry V
Beauty and the BeastFilms of the 1940sThe Big Sleep
CasablancaNational Film RegistrySunset Boulevard

alternative title(s): The Best Years Of Our Lives
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