This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
The Best Years of Our Lives
Three wonderful loves in the best picture of the year!
The Best Years of Our Lives is a classic film from director Williams Wyler about three war veterans. The film earned seven Oscars in 1946.
Film #23 of Project 40
”I'd stand up for you, kid, til I drop.”
The Best Years of Our Lives has a special place among the movies made about WWII, you may expect to see some sort of a heroic movie celebrating the valor and sacrifice of those young men who went to the brutal battlefields of war but William Wyler’s film takes a totally different path. It might be one of the very earliest movies exploring the joyless and ruined lives of individuals who experience the horrors of war as Wyler zooms on a triangle of American war veterans who return home to continue their normal lives but soon realize that the experience they have gone through will cast…
The other day, I found myself watching a lovely episode of China Beach entitled "The Thanks of a Grateful Nation". The story follows Dodger as he returns home from Vietnam and struggles to reintegrate into everyday life. It reminded me that we have a lot of Vietnam-centric films on this topic. And it occurred to me I had never seen the granddaddy of all 'coming home' films; I decided it was time to fix that oversight.
Best Years of Our Lives is not the first 'coming home' film. (See the John Gilbert silent classic "The Big Parade" for a heartbreaking example from World War I.) But it's this film that to this day is one of the top 100 moneymakers…
Encapsulating the worrisome uncertainty of a post-World War II America, The Best Years of Our Lives is an albeit long-winded three-pronged romantic drama but with a realism. Which is a strange way to describe I suppose, since realism is constantly in flux - constantly changing alongside time and events and personal experience, but for its time - this film was considered a realistic portrayal of three veterans' and their return home to a fictitious town by the name of Boone City. They're all of different military rank, different class but become pals on their journey home.
When they arrive home: life has changed for them. They each have potential/current wives and must reintegrate into civilian life negotiating their love life…
I'm struggling to think of what a contemporary equivalent of this would look like.... Something from Hollywood with A-list actors that confronts the emotional and psychological toll of war on fully realized characters while still working as masterfully filmed melodrama... How mentally malnourished are people who hold the (demonstrably false) opinion that new Hollywood movies are somehow more sophisticated than "old ones?" We've been at war for over a decade and we get a few Lone Survivors a year, but where are the stories about soldiers at home? Too uncomfortable to confront, I suppose.
The perfect movie.
Mark Harris wrote a great book about the Hollywood filmmakers who went to WWII and shot all the footage we now know today. And then they had to come back to a Hollywood that had in many ways forgotten them. One of them, William Wyler, made this fantastic film, so I talked to him about his book and this masterpiece.
Three soldiers come back from war, all of them affected by what they saw.
The Best Years of Out Lives deep inside hides a psychological film about people suffering from PTSD and the struggles to live in a post-war world. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to have it center around the melodramas of their lives, with these other things being kept on the background. Adding to that is the film being quite overlong.
The reason this aproach works is the fact that the scars of the characters always seem to slowly be cracking through the melodrama. That brings in some amazing scenes, like when a veteran without hands shows his arms to his wife, or when an ex-air force office enters inside a B-17 and starts contemplating his situation.
A great film overall.
I avoided this film for a long time, intimidated by its three-hour running time and not very interested it its subject matter. I didn't know what I was missing, as not only is it far funnier than I expected it to be, but while it close to three hours long the film is so damn good the minutes fly by. Brilliant cast, beautiful cinematography by the great Gregg Toland and a perfect mix of drama and comedy make for a very entertaining and emotionally affecting movie. I was lucky enough to catch this on the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse, and damn am I glad I did.
Great picture. Wyler's eye for deep focus compositions is remarkable, especially in that last sequence. There's also a phone call that happens so deep in the background that it's almost off screen. It's an amazing moment.
Would have liked more of Homer's story. He disappears for big stretches.
I feel like we haven't gotten a proper version of this that deals with Iraq & Afghanistan vets, or maybe I just haven't seen it.
I watched it because of Paul Auster's Sunset Park. I'm not the one hunting down the movie, but that's off the topic.
Anyway, after the film, I did a quick flipping over again on Sunset Park, and was very bemused by Author's observation on the movie through various characters' voice and in turn carving even deeper impressions on them (for those who have watched the films apparently, a exclusive reward for them).
I was confined by my previous trading on the book, so I watched the movie with my already faltering impressions on the movie, trying to watch it with Auster's eyes but failed short on every bit for forgetting most of the plots, yet still intriguing.
The thing is, I don't have any feedback remotely original, damn it, but this kind of movie is hard to come by these days.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
As far as servicemen acclimating goes, I don’t think there exists as powerful a film as The Deer Hunter. Yes, the ending there was filled with misery and heartbreak, but from the accounts that I studied, that was the way soldiers were affected by war. That being said, The Best Years of Our Lives did a fantastic job including the hardships of acclimation. Yes, the ending felt too happy, but every time I thought they would forget to mention a potential experience the soldiers had, it would not only be mentioned, but explored in depth. The nightmares, the reliance on alcohol, the self-loathing, the inability to find a job in civilian life. It was spot-on.
I was also pleasantly surprised…
The war is over and times have changed. The Best Years of Our Lives shows what it's like to come home from the war and to get back into the world that has been left behind in order to start all over again. One of the best post-war films ever made and among the greatest films ever made.
A remarkably subdued, episodic look at the return of three soldiers from World War II. The segment that makes up nearly the first hour is really fantastic- the three fellows' first day home, which eventually leads to all three going to the bar. The second hour allows itself to be a bit of a Hollywood picture, and a decent one, but the plotting gets a little sloppy as one-dimensional characters are added to the mix. Then the film decides to make a political statement against a straw man, which kind of screws up the whole reason I liked this film in the first place, its avoidance of politics in favor of character study. Just as I was beginning to…
Three World War II veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.
Very long but a wonderful experience, films like this are why I got Mubi in the first place.
Typical of William Wyler's slow and steady pace but I'm not quite sure if the payoff is worth the nearly three hour wait.
The acting relies heavily on the sentimentality of WWII and for 1946, had good reason. That being said, Virginia Mayo is a real treasure and could have stood for a few more scenes; beautiful and talented!
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
A list that, if nothing else, proves the day-to-day usefulness of applied statistics.
Between 2015 and 2016, a series of…