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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Passed  -  Drama | Romance | War  -  3 October 1947 (France)
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 33,003 users  
Reviews: 226 user | 88 critic

Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

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Title: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

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Top 250 #195 | Won 7 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Al Stephenson (as Frederic March)
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Roman Bohnen ...
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Minna Gombell ...
Mrs. Parrish
Walter Baldwin ...
Mr. Parrish
Steve Cochran ...
Cliff
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Storyline

The story concentrates on the social re-adjustment of three World War II servicemen, each from a different station of society. Al Stephenson returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. Fred Derry is an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage. Having had both hands burnt off during the war, Homer Parrish is unsure that his fiancée's feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of the veterans faces a crisis upon his arrival, and each crisis is a microcosm of the experiences of many American warriors who found an alien world awaiting them when they came marching home. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

veteran | pity | love | marriage | banker | See All (302) »

Taglines:

THE SCREEN'S GREATEST LOVE STORY IS THE BEST FILM THIS YEAR FROM HOLLYWOOD! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 October 1947 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Glory for Me  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,100,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$23,650,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Al Stephenson is wearing a shoulder patch for the 25th Infantry Division, which fought in the Philippines. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film, Homer hands Fred the wedding ring and says, "Here's the ring. Don't lose it." However, his lips say, "Here's the ring. Don't drop it." See more »

Quotes

Fred Derry: You gotta hand it to the Navy; they sure trained that kid how to use those hooks.
Al Stephenson: They couldn't train him to put his arms around his girl, or to stroke her hair.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"and introducing Cathy O'Donnell" See more »

Connections

Featured in American Masters: Directed by William Wyler (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out the Barrel)
(1927) (uncredited)
Music by Jaromir Vejvoda
Played on piano by Hoagy Carmichael and danced by Fredric March & Myrna Loy and other couples
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Forgotten now that it was mildly controversial in its day
23 September 2004 | by (Columbia, South Carolina) – See all my reviews

My parents were of that generation, and the movie was cathartic for returning veterans and their families and friends; it's small wonder that it eclipsed <i>It's A Wonderful Life</i>, which arguably is a better picture. But at the time, the movie had some shocking elements to it. In fact, my mother (roughly the character Peggy's age then) saw it against her parents' wishes.

Back in 1946, it was a jaw-dropper to have a character in a movie utter the word "divorce" or to aver an intent to break up a marriage -- such ideas just weren't voiced in films then. To modern audiences, they come across as melodramatic, but I'm told they elcited genuine gasps from audiences then.

Even more astonishing was William Wyler's decision to cast real-life amputee Harold Russell in the key role of a returning Navy veteran. Until <i>The Battle of Britain</i>, in which an actual, disfigured RAF veteran made a cameo appearance, directors didn't make those sorts of courageous gestures. The intimate yet innocent scene in which Homer Parrish (Russell) demonstrates his helplessness to his fiancé Wilma Cameron (Cathy O'Donnell) is beautiful, heartbreaking and uplifting; later, during the wedding scene, Russell stumbled over a line in saying the vows, and Wyler left the humanizing mistake in, God bless him for it.


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