The Best Years of Our Lives Review
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The Best Years of Our Lives is loaded with star power and a message thatís still important to understand today. Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo, and Gladys George all give stellar performances as families who were separated for almost five years during World War II and now have to get used to each other and normal lives.

The story follows three returning soldiers from the same small town. Al Stephenson (Fredric March) was a banker who fought his way across the Pacific. His daughter and son have now both grown up, and he finds he can barely find anything to talk to them about. When he returns to the bank, his new view on life makes it hard for him to work within a system that was once second nature to him.

The second of the returning soldiers, CPT Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) had lived in the slums and had run the soda fountain at the local drugstore before he left to become a bombardier in Europe. He had gotten married before he went overseas, and he returns to find his wife wanting a lavish lifestyle that he canít afford. While he was gone, the drug store was bought out by a national chain, and one of the janitors had been promoted to assistant manager.

The third veteran in this drama is Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), a sailor who lost his hands in a fire aboard his ship. He comes home to a family that has never been exposed to anyone with a handicap. His girlfriend lived next door to him and wants to continue the relationship, but he canít find the ability to let her.

This is a long movieólonger than some people may be willing to sit through. Still, itís one that we all need to watch. Itís one of the few films that deals with what veterans have to deal with when they come home. Director William Wyler does a masterful job of showing the distance these men developed not only with their families but with the rest of society, too. He shows the problems they have with work, with the men who didnít fight in the war, and with themselvesóand he shows the closeness they feel toward each other, even though they didnít serve in the same unit.

I could go on for hours about how good this movie isóabout the scenes that are dead on target emotionally or about the quality of the actorís performances. In scene after scene you feel like youíre watching a black and white version of real life. Every line has a meaning, and each camera angle is framed to near perfection. And itís no surprise that the movie went on to win the 1946 Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actor, to name a few.

This movie is just as good today as it was in 1946, right after the war itself. I recommend this movie to everyoneóbut especially to anyone who has a family member or friend whoís away from home serving our country. No matter how hard they try, none of them can come back to the world they left.

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