The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Movie Synopsis

Listen to the Film Review

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)A soldier does not see the horrors of war, and return home the same person. The 1946 movie, The Best Years of our Lives, follows the homecoming of three returning veterans at the end of World War Two. They each struggle, in their own way, to come to grips with the way they and the world around them have changed.

Officer Al Stephensen (Fredric March) returns to his loving wife and children who are now grown. He resumes his job as a banker, but can no longer look at fellow veterans as credit “risks.”

Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) left the states a carefree soda jerk with a wife who loved to hit the clubs. The responsibilities and experiences of the war sends home a more serious man with different priorities. He no longer connects with his frivolous wife.

Harold Russel, a real life veteran who lost his arms working on an army film when the explosives he was holding accidentally exploded, plays Homer Parrish, a man who has recovered well from the physical injuries he suffered in the war, but now struggles emotionally, not only with fitting back in society as a handicapped man, but also in trusting his ever-loyal fiancé. Russel is the only actor to ever receive two academy awards for the same role—Best supporting actor, and a special Oscar for being an inspiration to all veterans.

Although the movie takes place nearly 70 years ago, it is so well written and acted that I think it is timeless.

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