The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
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Interesting how Frederic March was regarded as one of the greatest living actors of his time (major inspiration to Brando) and yet you never hear him mentioned anymore. This was his self-proclaimed most important film role and he certainly does stand out among this ensemble of medium-hitters (one of the more convincing drunks I've seen on screen).
Overall, this is a wonderful, relatively realistic (for its time) post-war picture with just the right balance of cynicism and hope. You really have to admire the direction that William Wyler took here, a soldier himself who had just returned from overseas months before beginning this production. It's plainly evident just how personal of a project this was for him. According to IMDB, his aim was to have a no-frills production and shoot it almost like a documentary (I guess they had a different idea of what documentary style was back then). Whatever superficial frills do show up in the final product are apparently the result of studio interference -- notably the score, which Wyler detested.
I certainly have to give the man props.
A great film - one of the best cinematic commentaries on the ways in which the war altered the lives of the men and women who lived through it. The ensemble cast all convey the emotional complexities of their situations, but you'd have to be made of stone not to respond to Harold Russell's performance as Homer.
Three men dealing with the consequences of the sacrifices they made during the war and the brotherhood and fraternity that develops on their arrival home. Honest and caring without ever being over-sentimental.
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In 25 official lists
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This movie ranks #1 in BAFTA - Best Film
This movie ranks #4 in Golden Globe Best Picture Winners
This movie ranks #11 in AFI's 100 years...100 cheers
This movie ranks #15 in National Film Registry
This movie ranks #20 in Academy Award Best Pictures
This movie ranks #22 in IMDb's 1940s Top 50
This movie ranks #37 in AFI's 100 years...100 movies
This movie ranks #49 in IMDb's War Top 50
This movie ranks #51 in 100 Must-See Films Of The 20th Century
This movie ranks #77 in NY Times' The Essential 1,000 Films to See
This movie ranks #85 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #87 in All Time Box Office
This movie ranks #105 in 501 Must See Movies
This movie ranks #154 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #162 in The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #180 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
This movie ranks #182 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #209 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #239 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #249 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #271 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List
This movie ranks #302 in Empire 500
This movie ranks #317 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #318 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
This movie ranks #795 in UNESCO's Memory of the World: National Cinematic Heritage