Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946)

Watched The Best Years Of Our Lives a few weeks ago. W-O-W. It was just wonderful in every aspect. The direction was great (from none other than my main man, William Wyler) and all the performances were so touching. Weep-worthy for sure :'-(

This picture is perfect. Completely. This is William Wyler on a bike/scooter thing. Best picture. Ever.

The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) Dir. William Wyler


Plot Summary:

Three WWII veterans return home after the end of the war on a plane together to the same town, all to very different lives. Technical Sergeant Al Stephenson is returning home to his wife of 20 years, Milly and his two children, Peggy and Rob. As soon as he returns it is evident that he needs to take time to gell back in with them all, but they love him none the less. He was a banker before the war.

Captain Fred Derry returns home to his house to find out from his parents, who are living there, that his wife of only a few months had moved out and was working in a nightclub, last time they heard from her. He goes out searching for her and finally finds her in a new, considerably smaller apartment. She wishes he was still his "Glamourous Army Self" and their marriage is drifting d-o-w-n h-i-l-l... (first pic is of him and wife, the other is Al's daughter with him...)

Petty Officer 2nd Class, Homer Parish lost both of his hands in an incident whilst in the navy and now has special hooks that he has been trained to use as his hands. When he gets home, his girlfriend Wilma and Homer's own family find it hard to accept the fact that he has no hands and cannot adjust to the way he uses the hooks. Wilmer really does love Homer, but he finds it hard to believe that she would ever want him now that he has these hooks. {Just thought I'd mention that... HIS UNCLE IS HOAGY CARMICHAEL AND HE EVEN PLAYS "LAZY RIVER" ON THE PIANO IN HIS BAR!!!! OMG!}

Their lives become intertwined though, and they all soon come to realize that they have come back to a world very different from the one they were living in for the past few years...

The Verdict:
I have only ever seen Myrna Loy in The Thin Man and I completely thought that she was just amazing! The whole film was constructed very well and I always enjoy films like this where the whole family of the characters is brought in and introduced. And (to please my drama student-ness), it's such a great ensemble! I really love watching, and being, in ensemble pieces. It means that the whole cast has to work really hard together to make a winning combo and everyone in this cast certainly did! Yay!

Harold Russel who played Homer Parish is amazing too! He really was a war veteran and he used those hooks as hands always. He wasn't actually a professionally trained actor, and he became the only actor ever to win two academy awards for the same performance. How about that! But after the academy award buzz, William Wyler told him to go back to school and get an education because there, "weren't many roles for actors without hands." It seems he had a bit of a turbulent personal life, with his son ending up with a life sentence in jail.

The two other men in the movie, Frederic March and Dana Andrews are very good too. Particularly Frederic March, whose speech scene with Myrna Loy where he tells his bank that he wants to give out as much help to war veterans as possible was so amazing :'-). Yes. Happy tears. Dana Andrews was great too, but I think Frederic March and Teresa Wright upstaged him just a little.

Hoagy Carmichael. "Up a Lazy River". He can act too?!?! His album is played weekly (just on my iPod, not including my parents playing it, which happens a lot). How much cooler could Hoagy be? Really?

The camera guy who filmed the movie did the filming for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane too! How cool is that?

This is a definite must see for everybody. Particularly war movie-phobes. This could be a great intro to them, without all the war-talk. So glad we ordered it! Made a super-great evening family watch :-)



Jacqueline T Lynch said...

So glad you enjoyed this wonderful film.

Meredith said...

Definitely a favorite film. And always good to see others enjoying Myrna performances outside of the thin man! One of her best.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is such a beautiful film and weep worthy :) No one dies or anything, there are just such sweet parts that make you want to cry:
-Wilma helping put Homer to bed
-Frederic March coming home
-Teresa Wright and Dana together at the end.

So glad you loved it. A favorite of mine :)

Steve Branum said...

Been trying for years to get the sound track from the scene where Dana Andrews and Cathy O'Donnell are in the Italian restaurant and the mandolin music is playing. I know it's a famous lullaby or possibly Austrian.

Any help

Steve Branum said...

make that Dana Andrews and Teresa Wright.

Steve Branum

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