“The Best Years of Our Lives,” reviewed by Jennifer Anne Messing.
Drama/Romance/War. Not rated. Recommended for family viewing, with kids ages 12 and up. Check your favorite local and online movie rental stores, or the public library for availability.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” is a two-hour, fifty minute, 1946 B&W Samuel Goldwyn Company film release, directed by William Wyler, starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright and Harold Russell. This Academy Award winning romantic drama takes place in the mid-western United States in the 1940s, at the end of World War II.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” is a thought-provoking drama following the lives of three World War II servicemen after they return home. Their readjustment to their families and normal civilian life is fraught with emotional and, for one of them, financial difficulties.
Al Stephenson (Fredric March), the most well-off of the three, returns home to his lovely wife, Milly Stephenson (Myrna Loy), who is so efficient and competent, and who ran their home so well during his absence it seems he was not even needed. He also feels like his two young adult children have grown up without him and have left him behind.
Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) finds it difficult to re-enter the workforce as well as get reacquainted with his wife, Marie (Virginia Mayo)—whom he had known for only 21 days before he was deployed. Surprises are also in store for down-to-earth Fred and party-hopping Marie, as they soon discover that they are not as compatible as they originally thought.
Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) returns from the war injured and disfigured, wondering if his fiancée will be able to accept who he has become and still want to marry him. He wants to be valued and loved for who he is—and deplores the idea of being pitied.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” poignantly portrays the struggles and quiet heartaches that Al Stephenson, Fred Derry and Homer Parrish had to endure in their efforts to return home and pick up where they’d left off—in relationships, careers, and community life. One strong point this film makes is that, truly, the US servicemen who had to be away at war deserve high honor, and those of us who’ve not experienced that may never fully understand the gritty sacrifice these men had to make. And yet, one must not overlook the fact that the spouses and children who were left at home for two or more years—but who made re-entry and return of these war veterans to a meaningful and purposeful civilian life should be commended as well. Those who stayed behind and kept the home fires burning are World War II’s quiet, unsung heroes.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” is a moving, well-paced drama that featured a notable 1940s Hollywood cast, including Myrna Loy, Fredric March and Dana Andrews. Beautiful Teresa Wright delivered a memorable performance as Al Stephenson’s daughter, Peggy Stephenson, now all grown up and struggling to find the meaning of true love. Robert E. Sherwood garnered the 1947 Academy Award for Best Screenplay, which he wrote based on the novel by MacKinlay Kantor. All together, “The Best Years of Our Lives” won eight Academy Awards in 1947, including Best Picture.
I recommend this movie for family viewing, with kids ages 12 and up, not because of any objectionable material, but because its deeper themes would be best understood by older kids. This film is worthwhile and certainly a wonderful treat for classic movie aficionados. Happy viewing!
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"The Best Years of Our Lives" makes a great addition to your family movie collection!
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Portland residents can borrow "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) on DVD, at the Multnomah County Library, tel. 503-988-5234. "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) in DVD format can be rented at Movie Madness, 4320 SE Belmont, Portland, Oregon, 97215, tel. 503-234-4363.
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Author, poet, speaker and singer Jennifer Anne F. Messing of Portland, Oregon, is a wife, and mother of three children. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Education and a diploma in Journalism and Short Story Writing. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, Jennifer Anne has over 200 articles, movie reviews, and poems published in 60 magazines and books, including "The Christian Journal," "Evangel," "LIVE," "Standard," "Bible Advocate," "Christian Fiction Online" and "Nudges from God." Her poetry gift book, MORNING'S PROMISE: Poetic Moments in His Presence is now available in trade paperback and e-book (Kindle) format. CLICK HERE TO ORDER, or find more information on her website: www.JenniferAnneMessing.com.
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