All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
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.
I came upon this film from my wife and she came upon it by reading about it in a Paul Auster book. Backstory!
Color me pleasantly surprised because I was immensely entertained and awestruck for the better part of 172 minutes, that's even with little droplets of melodrama sprinkled throughout, although not enough melodrama that the refreshingly natural and humanistic aspects couldn't overcome.
All the performances are fantastic while every character seems effortlessly multi-dimensional as Wyler brilliantly balances the three separate storylines that are both distinct yet comparable all at once. This 1946 gem is a perfect blend of emotional heart-wrenching, playful camaraderie, quick witted one liners, and above all honest, sincere depictions of the tribulations faced by all those…
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.
A little long, but it does a good job of telling the story of three WWII veterans attempting to readjust to civilian life.
Full of honest, touching, moments. William Wyler has really distinguished himself in my mind as one of the best directors of character-driven drama.
Remember that time when Hollywood produced a mature, emotionally rich, intelligent film for adults that went on to become the highest grossing feature in seven years and received an armload of Academy Awards? That was neat.
Becomes stronger every time, even though it takes so much out of me; tears still stream down my face at the final scene. You could write a book about pretty much any element of this: Toland's deep focus photography, the detailed manner in which every aspect of the life of returning veterans is examined, the sardonic wit, the progressive attitude toward disability, the astounding performances, the way you feel like you know these people, the realism and warmth in their relationships. And structurally, how…
I remember thinking, when I first watched this film, probably around 20 years ago, that it was a little square. I was young and just beginning my journey as a cinephile and I didn't really know what to look for in a film. So, essentially I was looking for a film that was obvious; obvious in its style, obvious in its efforts, obvious in its greatness. What I failed to realize then is that what makes The Best Years of Our Lives great is in its refusal to be obvious. Instead it's subdued, complex, understated, with characters that feel fully realized, and conflicts that eschew the heavy hand-wringing dramatics so common in films of its type. All that plus a couple tunes by Hoagy Carmichael. What more do you want in a film?
Getting into the post war life of three servicemen, The Best Years of Our Lives is a solid masterpiece with very nuanced performances and a beautiful score. It holds up as a fantastic piece of filmmaking.
Americana reframed, but unbroken. Some today may look upon the sentimental spirit of this film as inherent untrue. In practice, the promises of post-WWII America have curdled into deceit and discontent, but it might be that we simply lost sight of the feelings behind those promises. The Best Years of Our Lives is all about recapturing those feelings. It looks at the post-war experience as one of struggle breeding nobility. No need for bullshit proselytizing here, compassion is enough. Present real human beings with hopes and dreams and pain, and find in them something to root for, and in turn something to root for in all of us. What a wonderful, wonderful film.
A stirring drama from 1946 that depicts the lives of returning veterans in a realistic and still relevant way. Great performances elevate the derivative aspects of the story (especially by Dana Andrews and the always sexy Virginia Mayo) and the photography by Gregg Toland is superb. The three hours really fly by and all three interconnected story lines are given time to flourish. Direction is solid and the story has more than one powerful moment of veterans trying to adjust in a vastly different and changed world.
A fantastic film. It still feels relevant now.
William Wyler tackles the difficulties that returning veterans faced in The Best Years of Our Lives with the grand sweeping nature of melodramatic classic Hollywood. Right from early on as the three men journey back home speaking about their former lives and coming to an understanding how much things have changed and will continue to change there is a real tension and anxiety right when they are faced for what they have been speaking about for a long time. You do worry what would happen if things have changed as much as they fear. But there is also the feeling of unbridled joy when you see the outpouring of emotion when they are finally reunited with their families. But even…
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!