DVD review from The Movie Snob
The Best Years of Our Lives (B+). This movie won the Best Picture Oscar (and several others) in 1946, and was probably seen as an unflinching portrayal of the problems of G.I.’s returning to their civilians lives after WWII. It is mild and overly sentimental by today’s standards, but very good nonetheless. It’s also very long, almost 3 hours, so I watched it in two sittings. In the first hour we meet our three protagonists, ex-servicemen who happen to meet on their way to their mutual home town of Boone City. There’s middle-aged Sergeant Al Stevenson (Fredric March, I Married a Witch), who’s returning to a comfortable job in banking and an established family. There’s youngish Air Force Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews, Laura), who’s returning to a wife he barely knows, having married impulsively just before shipping out. And there’s the youngest of the trio, Sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), who’s returning to a loving family and childhood sweetheart but is tormented by the fact that he lost his hands in the war. (Russell was a non-actor veteran who had lost his hands in a military training accident.) In the next two hours, we see how these three men adjust to their new situation. Old-fashioned in some respects but surprisingly up-to-date in others, this movie is worth seeing.