IMDb > The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Best Years of Our Lives
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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) More at IMDbPro »

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The Best Years of Our Lives -- Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

Overview

User Rating:
8.2/10   32,415 votes »
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Down 3% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Robert E. Sherwood (screen play)
MacKinlay Kantor (from a novel by)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Best Years of Our Lives on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 pa¼dziernik 1947 (France) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
THE SCREEN'S GREATEST LOVE STORY IS THE BEST FILM THIS YEAR FROM HOLLYWOOD! See more »
Plot:
Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won 7 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
An extraordinary, moving post-war film See more (224 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Myrna Loy ... Milly Stephenson

Fredric March ... Al Stephenson (as Frederic March)

Dana Andrews ... Fred Derry

Teresa Wright ... Peggy Stephenson

Virginia Mayo ... Marie Derry

Cathy O'Donnell ... Wilma Cameron

Hoagy Carmichael ... Butch Engle

Harold Russell ... Homer Parrish

Gladys George ... Hortense Derry
Roman Bohnen ... Pat Derry

Ray Collins ... Mr. Milton
Minna Gombell ... Mrs. Parrish
Walter Baldwin ... Mr. Parrish
Steve Cochran ... Cliff

Dorothy Adams ... Mrs. Cameron

Don Beddoe ... Mr. Cameron
Marlene Aames ... Luella Parrish
Charles Halton ... Prew

Ray Teal ... Mr. Mollett
Howland Chamberlain ... Thorpe (as Howland Chamberlin)
Dean White ... Novak
Erskine Sanford ... Bullard
Michael Hall ... Rob Stephenson
Victor Cutler ... Woody Merrill
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jimmy Ames ... Jackie (uncredited)
Carol Andrews ... Saleswoman (uncredited)
Mary Arden ... Miss Barbour (uncredited)
Al Bridge ... Gus - Salvage Worker (uncredited)
Harry Cheshire ... Minister at Wedding (uncredited)
Sidney Clute ... Drugstore Clerk (uncredited)

Joyce Compton ... Hat Check Girl (uncredited)
James Conaty ... Man at Bank Dinner (uncredited)
Heinie Conklin ... Customer (uncredited)
Bert Conway ... ATC Sergeant (uncredited)
Clancy Cooper ... Taxi Driver (uncredited)
Mady Correll ... Announcer (uncredited)
Roy Darmour ... Parking Lot Attendant (uncredited)
Hal K. Dawson ... Man at Airport (uncredited)
Lester Dorr ... Bar Patron (uncredited)
Claire Du Brey ... Mrs. Talburt - Perfume Customer (uncredited)
Tom Dugan ... Doorman (uncredited)
Edward Earle ... Steese - Bank (uncredited)

Blake Edwards ... Corporal at ATC Counter (uncredited)
Billy Engle ... Customer (uncredited)
Ben Erway ... Lou Latham - Bank (uncredited)
Doris June Fesetta ... Camera Girl (uncredited)

Pat Flaherty ... Salvage Foreman (uncredited)

Tennessee Ernie Ford ... Nightclub / Hillbilly Singer (uncredited)
Louise Franklin ... Ladies' Room Attendant (uncredited)
Harry Gillette ... Card Player at Lucia's (uncredited)
Dick Gordon ... Maitre d'Hotel (uncredited)
Earle Hodgins ... Diner Attendant at Lucia's (uncredited)
Stuart Holmes ... Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Ray Hyke ... Gus the Foreman (uncredited)
John Ince ... Ryan (uncredited)
Teddy Infuhr ... Dexter - Brat in Drugstore (uncredited)
Jackie Jackson ... A Boy (uncredited)
Robert Karnes ... Technical Sergeant (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp ... Man at Bank Dinner (uncredited)
Donald Kerr ... Steve the Bartender (uncredited)
Gene Krupa ... Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Alyn Lockwood ... Counter Girl (uncredited)
Susan Mann ... Announcer (uncredited)
Thomas Martin ... Waiter (uncredited)
Michael Mauree ... Glamour Girl (uncredited)
Doreen McCann ... A Girl (uncredited)
Peggy McIntyre ... Girl at Soda Fountain - Mollett Scene (uncredited)
Chef Milani ... Giuseppe - Lucia's Restaurant Proprietor (uncredited)
Harold Miller ... Wealthy Man at Nightclub (uncredited)
Ernesto Molinari ... Card Player (uncredited)
William Newell ... Waiter at Bank Dinner (uncredited)
Georgie Nokes ... One of Homer's 'Kids' (uncredited)
William H. O'Brien ... Nightclub Waiter (uncredited)
Joe Palma ... Card Player (uncredited)
Leo Penn ... ATC Corporal (uncredited)
Caleb Peterson ... Black Soldier at Airfield (uncredited)
Norman Phillips Jr. ... Clarence 'Sticky' Merkle (uncredited)
Jack Rice ... Apartment Desk Clerk (uncredited)
Suzanne Ridgeway ... Girl at Table with Cliff (uncredited)
Mickey Roth ... Boy at Soda Fountain - Mollett Scene (uncredited)
Ruth Sanderson ... Mrs. Garrett (uncredited)
Ralph Sanford ... George H. Gibbons (uncredited)
Noreen Sayles ... A Girl (uncredited)
Stephen Soldi ... Card Player (uncredited)
John Tyrrell ... Gus - - Butch's Waiter (uncredited)
Amelita Ward ... Counter Girl (uncredited)
Jan Wiley ... Perfume Saleswoman (uncredited)
Marek Windheim ... Waiter at Lucia's Restaurant (uncredited)
Catherine Wyler ... Department Store Extra (uncredited)
Judy Wyler ... Department Store Extra (uncredited)

Directed by
William Wyler 
 
Writing credits
Robert E. Sherwood (screen play)

MacKinlay Kantor (from a novel by) (as Mackinlay Kantor)

Produced by
Samuel Goldwyn .... producer
Lester Koenig .... associate producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Hugo Friedhofer (music)
 
Cinematography by
Gregg Toland (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Daniel Mandell (film editor)
 
Art Direction by
Perry Ferguson 
George Jenkins 
 
Set Decoration by
Julia Heron (set decorations)
 
Costume Design by
Irene Sharaff  (as Sharaff)
 
Makeup Department
Marie Clark .... hair stylist
Robert Stephanoff .... makeup
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jonathan C. Boyle .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Dorothea Holt .... illustrator (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Richard DeWeese .... sound recorder
Larry Gannon .... sound (uncredited)
Gordon Sawyer .... supervising sound editor (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
John P. Fulton .... special effects director (uncredited)
Harry Redmond Sr. .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
E. Truman Joiner .... key grip (uncredited)
Paul Mantz .... aerial director of photography (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Emil Newman .... musical director
Sidney Cutner .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Jerome Moross .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Leo Shuken .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Samuel Goldwyn .... presenter
Dale Tate .... title designer (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Samuel Goldwyn's The Best Years of Our Lives" - USA (poster title)
See more »
Runtime:
172 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:G | Australia:PG (alternate rating) | Finland:S | South Korea:15 (2002) | UK:U | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #11972) | West Germany:12 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
According to his biographer A. Scott Berg, p0roducer Samuel Goldwyn re-released the film in a modified format to play on wide screens. It opened with all the hoopla of a new picture, including a gala premiere in Washington, DC, on February 3, 1954, with Sherman Adams, five Supreme Court justices, two cabinet members and 24 senators in attendance. There was a $250,000 campaign advertising it as "The Most Honored Picture of All Time". The film grossed another $1 million.See more »
Goofs:
Factual errors: Fredric March's name is misspelled as "Frederic" March in the closing credits.See more »
Quotes:
[Al and Fred have arrived at Al's fancy apartment building]
Fred Derry:Some barracks you got here. Hey, what are you? A retired bootlegger?
Al Stephenson:Nothing as dignified as that. I'm a banker.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
ChopsticksSee more »

FAQ

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217 out of 238 people found the following review useful.
An extraordinary, moving post-war film, 7 kwiecieñ 2000
Author: steve-642 from Canberra, Australia

I first saw this film (one of my top ten favorites) in 1995 on the big screen, as part of the commemorations for the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII. It had an impact that was so strong that it's never left me--I've seen it many times since, and with each viewing the film seems to reveal new artistic richness and spiritual depth.

William Wyler's direction is breathtaking. One of the most moving scenes occurs early on in the film, when Homer, the young disabled Navy veteran, arrives at his family home and stands for a moment on the front lawn. For that one second there is an exquisite stillness that communicates a depth of emotion that can't be expressed physically. Then, just as the tension becomes almost unbearable, Homer's little sister Louella comes to the front door and runs out to greet him. In a similar way, the scene where Al Stephenson comes home to his wife and children is so finely directed you can almost feel that you're in the apartment with them--that it's your husband or father come home to you from the war--and you're experiencing the sheer elation of their physical nearness.

This aspect of the film--its portrayal of the joys and hardships of post-war readjustment and the veterans' experience--is what makes it so enlightening, honest and powerful. As a young woman, I have never experienced wartime or had my father, brothers or friends go off to fight. The film moves swiftly but seamlessly from the initial joy of homecoming and reunion to the problems, anxieties and humiliations that the three veterans encounter as they attempt to build a new life for themselves and their families.

I found it interesting how the film tries to give a picture of the different socio-economic backgrounds of the three men, and show the emergence of an affluent, market-driven economy. While this in itself is not bad, different episodes in the film show how this economic approach can conflict sharply at times with enduring human values such as integrity and justice. Al's dealings with the young veteran Mr Novak, who comes to him for a service loan to buy a farm, and his later (slightly tipsy) speech to a business gathering show this. Al declares at the end of his speech that when the bank lends money to poor veterans it will be a financial gamble but "we'll be gambling on the future of this country".

The film's interweaving of the characters and their struggles never falters and is deeply satisfying. Even as Al and Milly, Homer and Wilma gradually move towards a happy resolution of their difficulties this positive strand of the film is counter-balanced by the focus on Fred, the courageous Air Force captain who, in the eyes of the commercial world is "unqualified", suitable only for a job at a soda fountain, and in the eyes of his war bride, Marie, is only wonderful when he's dressed up in his officer's uniform. Fred's situation seems only to deteriorate and at one point in the film, after he farewells his elderly father to leave town and look for work, the father finds the citations for Fred's medals and sits down to read them. As he reads the words describing Fred's bravery and dedication to duty while he was terribly wounded in his aircraft, Pat Derry's voice nearly breaks with pride and love for his son. The film beautifully juxtaposes Fred's unselfish conduct and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice with the cold indifference of a country in peacetime that does not want him and seemingly has no place for him.

The actors are uniformly impressive and really make their characters come alive. Dana Andrews is especially outstanding together with two young actors making their debut, Harold Russell and Cathy O'Donnell, as Homer and Wilma. Personally, I loved Homer and Wilma's story the best among those of all the characters,and the resolution is a simple, sensitively shot scene that lifts the whole film to a new point of happiness, gratitude and release. Both Cathy O'Donnell and Teresa Wright are lovely, gifted actresses with a slightly understated style, that is perfectly suited to the film's restrained but powerful tenor. This is demonstrated especially well in the tense scene where Wilma tries to talk to Homer in the shed, and in the scene where Peggy confides her heartache to her parents.

One feature that adds significantly to the film's quality is Hugo Friedhofer's score. The music is remarkably fresh and undated, has a strong, classic sound, and is poignant without being too romantic or sentimental (a flaw often found in other 1940s film scores).

The producer, Samuel Goldwyn, reportedly said of this film: "I don't care if it doesn't make a nickel...I just want every man, woman and child in America to see it". Although I'm not American (I am Australian) I found this film, with its universal human themes and its portrayal of post-war readjustment, speaks to anyone who shares in this heritage of WWII. Tell others about this film--it is breathtaking, beautiful and brave. See it and remember.



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