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Comments 1 - 15 of 24

devilsadvocado's avatar


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.
11 years 5 months ago
Rodney Dangerfield's avatar

Rodney Dangerfield

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.
11 years 2 months ago
Timec's avatar


Yeah, how dare a film treat returning veterans and their families with dignity and respect and try to comfort their physical and emotional injuries?

Also, I know "propaganda" is kind of a catch-all term for any film that you don't like that deals with anything related to war - but, really, this film doesn't qualify as propaganda (which isn't to suggest that there aren't also propaganda films that make for great cinema.)

Its treatment of real issues is honest and respectful and far more complex than propaganda films. It doesn't try to cover up the real problems that people were facing, nor does it paint an overly glorified portrait of those returning from war. It doesn't provide simplistic answers to the problems it does present. It does, however, offer hope for those suffering and/or trying to readjust to home life - but that hardly makes it propaganda.
12 years 9 months ago
Timec's avatar


Though it's a film set in a very specific time and place (and is greatly enriched by that setting), the stories and characters it depicts are universal. The filmmaking is top-notch, and it continues to be one of the most moving of all films.
12 years 10 months ago
nick-samuel's avatar


I haven't exactly got a handle on equivalent plots and stories of the time but seemed quite innovative in the way that it solely followed the men AFTER the war. Another classic from Wyler.
10 years 3 months ago
Prof. Lumpcicle's avatar

Prof. Lumpcicle

Too boring? This has some of the richest dialog of a postwar movie I've ever seen. It flew by for me, I didn't even realize it was almost 3 hrs long.
13 years 4 months ago
mayshake's avatar


I'm with Quanthor here. Didn't seem long at all.
13 years ago
sdreich's avatar


Each line a soft punch in the gut
3 years ago
Paper_Okami's avatar


This movie is fantastic!
13 years 11 months ago
D.Fernandes1685's avatar


Props to you, devilsadvocado. Thank you.
3 years 10 months ago
Siskoid's avatar


We have a lot of movies about the Vietnam vet experience, but The Best Years of Our Lives is an oddity, a truthful film about the the WWII vet experience made in 1946. Three men return from the war and struggle with reintegrating into society, each in a different situation, with his own challenges. One has PTSD, another has lost both hands, the third a drinking problem. And while the film veers into a kind of melodrama about family strife and potential romances, its first half-hour sets things up so well, and so poignantly, that you're quite happy to follow these characters to the end of the film's almost three-hour run time. The iconic image is that of a scrap yard fully of war planes being dismantled, with their amputated propellers, discarded soldiers in need of recycling. Director William Wyler is limited in what he can show by the Hays Code, so resorts to clever ploys to evoke realities not permitted on screen. For example, when the amputee is said to be in the tool shed out back, we hear a gun shot. He's just practicing so he can later go hunting, but the immediate, shocking image is that of a suicide. The film is full of little scenes that suggest OTHER veteran experiences, all the more surprising in an era where WWII in movies were mostly depicted as tales of heroism, or a reason for song and dance numbers.
5 years 8 months ago
Wise Jake's avatar

Wise Jake

Compare this stunning film to William Wyler's later tragedy (not in the Hamlet sense, either) Ben-Hur. There's not actually much difference in length, but Best Years of Our Lives feels half its length, and Ben-Hur feels twice its length. This really does have some of the best dialogue, characters, and emotional impact you'll see anywhere.
13 years ago
Shaunage's avatar


Loved it.
13 years 1 month ago
georginagg's avatar


Just watch it. I mean, it is that good and more.
4 years 11 months ago

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