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Trivia / The Best Years of Our Lives

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Actor-Shared Background: Fredric March was a banker before he became an actor, just like his character Al.
  • Billing Displacement: Myrna Loy gets top billing, as she was the biggest star in the cast. However, Milly is entirely a supporting (though still important) character.
  • The Cast Showoff: Homer's uncle Butch is played by musician and songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, who gets several opportunities to display his piano-playing chops. There's even a bit where Butch is asked to play "Lazy River"... a song which was composed by Carmichael.
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  • Creator Backlash: Although Hugo Friedhofer's score won an Oscar, director William Wyler never cared for it.
  • Dawson Casting: Dana Andrews was 36 when he made this film, clearly playing someone in his mid-twenties. Also see Playing Gertrude.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Harold Russell, a drill sergeant during the war, lost his hands in a training accident involving a defective bomb. He did such a good job in the role of Homer Parrish he won an Oscar (plus a second honorary Oscar), despite never having acted before.
  • One-Hit Wonder: Harold Russell's film debut. It netted him two Oscars, the only time two Oscars have ever been awarded for the same performance.note  It would be 34 years before he had another film credit; his two remaining credits were very minor roles in since-forgotten movies.
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  • Playing Gertrude: Actress Myrna Loy (Milly Stephenson) was only 13 years older than Teresa Wright who played her daughter Peggy.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • The man Fred punches out at the drugstore is based on a man William Wyler had an argument with when he came home from the war.
    • Most of the crew were war veterans, and this was intentional to give the film a documentary style realism.
  • Throw It In!: Harold Russell, a real life veteran who never acted before, flubbed his lines during his character's wedding scene. William Wyler left it in, considering it natural.
  • What Could Have Been: Homer's disability was originally written as post-traumatic stress disorder, with frequent panic attacks, before William Wyler decided to cast Harold Russell, a real-life veteran who lost both his hands in the war, and the part was rewritten accordingly.
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