THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) B/W 172m dir: William Wyler
w/Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Donnell, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Russell, Gladys George, Roman Bohnen
From The Movie Guide: "The best coming home movie ever made. 'I don't care if it doesn't make a nickel,' Sam Goldwyn reportedly said of THE BEST YEARS, 'I just want every man, woman, and child in America to see it.' The colorful producer got the idea for the film after reading a Life article about WWII veterans and their difficulties readjusting to civilian life. With a brilliant script by Robert E. Sherwood, effective direction by William Wyler, masterful photography by Gregg Toland and excellent performances by the entire cast, this film about returning American servicemen is justifiably considered a classic.
"Three servicemen --- Al Stephenson (Fredric March), Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) --- are shown returning to their hometown, plagued by memories of war and doubts about their future in a country they have difficulty remembering. After sharing space on board the bomber that flies them home, the three take a cab to their separate addresses. The sailor Homer comes home to his girl with a pair of hooks where his hands once were (Russell, the only nonprofessional in the cast, lost his hands in a training accident while in the service); middle-aged Al returns to his loving wife (Myrna Loy), children, and old job as a banker; Fred finds a spouse who has more or less abandoned him, and no prospects for a job.
"Although everyone in Hollywood thought Goldwyn would lose his shirt on THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, it was a massive hit. Russell won a special Oscar for bringing hope to servicemen."
From Variety 's review of the film: "Inspired casting has newcomer Harold Russell, a real-life amputee, pacing the seasoned trouper, Fredric March, for personal histrionic triumphs. But all the other performances are equally good. ... The pace of the picture is a bit leisurely. Almost a full hour is required to set the mood and the motivation, but never does it pall. Not a line or a scene is spurious. The people live; they are not mere shadow etchings on a silver sheet."
THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES won seven Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor (March), Supporting Actor (Russell), Screenplay (Sherwood), Editing (Daniel Mandell), and Score (Hugo Friedhofer). It was also nominated for Best Sound (Gordon Sawyer).