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The Best Years of Our Lives


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OH BOY, "The Best Years of Our Lives" is on tomorrow! It's one of my FAVORITE movies! For me, Myrna Loy says one of the best lines in ALL of Cinema, "How many times have I told you I hated you and believed it in my heart. How many times have we had to fall in love all over again". They don't write dialogue like that anymore.

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Not only do they not write dialogue like that anymore, people don't conduct their marriages like that anymore. "Fall in love all over again?" Forget that! "Find the pre-nup, divorce, and move on!!!" Hmm... Doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

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I can't believe that no one would offer to do the audio commentary for such a great movie for free! Sometimes I'm shocked and disappointed by the lack of such interesting extras on dvds. It's not as though there's a great dearth of film scholars and enthusiasts out there making a commentary track unlikely. Especially this movie! Why not ask Samuel Goldwyn biographer M. Scott Berg or William Wyler biographer Jan Herman to provide commentary? Does anyone know how much a commentary track adds to the production costs of a dvd? Lynn, Kyle, anybody?

 

As you may be able to tell, this tremendously moving and entertaining film would be one that I'd pick as one of the best American movies---ever.

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As you may be able to tell, this tremendously moving and entertaining film would be one that I'd pick as one of the best American movies---ever.

 

I'd alter that statement by leaving out "one of". It's incomparable. Audio commentary? Doesn't need one, it speaks for itself!

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An Audio commentary for " The Best Years of Our Lives ", might provide some insight into the state of post WW2 America. In the 1946 elections the GOP took over Congress for the first time in sixteen years, and many GOP Congressmen denounced William Wyler's great film as pro - Communist .

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Patful, I understand what you mean about the film "speaking for itself" quite eloquently. Still, I'd appreciate the background info that a good commentary might provide--especially since far lesser films are given such lavish treatment that you'd think they were made by a reincarnated D.W. Griffith with a script by Will Shakespeare.

 

Despite the fact that some objected to the film in the forties, Wyler's career still flourished, and BYOL went on to make its production costs back over five fold in its initial U.S. release and it received a near record number of awards, many of which can be seen on the link below. Apparently, the American public would, contrary to many film industry prognosticators, gladly go to a movie that dealt with the very real issues of the war and veterans, if only to get away from cotton headed Congressmen. Btw, Ken, I think that electing the party out of power for a long time is a sign of a healthy democracy and probably indicative of human nature's longing for change. Too bad the story of the veterans is still so relevant today. Here's the link to the films awards:

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036868/awards

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An outstanding motion picture. Has always remained on my Top Ten List.

Following is the original review fron the New York Times:

 

N.Y. TIMES REVIEW

"THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES"

By BOSLEY CROWTHER

Published: November 22, 1946

 

 

It is seldom that there comes a motion picture which can be wholly and enthusiastically endorsed not only as superlative entertainment but as food for quiet and humanizing thought. Yet such a one opened at the Astor last evening. It is "The Best Years of Our Lives." Having to do with a subject of large moment?the veteran home from war?and cut, as it were, from the heart-wood of contemporary American life, this film from the Samuel Goldwyn studio does a great deal more, even, than the above. It gives off a warm glow of affection for everyday, down-to-earth folks.

 

These are some fancy recommendations to be tossing boldly forth about a film which runs close to three hours and covers a lot of humanity in that time. Films of such bulky proportions usually turn out the other way. But this one is plainly a labor not only of understanding but of love from three men who put their hearts into it?and from several others who gave it their best work. William Wyler, who directed, was surely drawing upon the wells of his richest talent and experience with men of the Air Forces during the war. And Robert E. Sherwood, who wrote the screen play from a story by MacKinlay Kantor, called "Glory for Me," was certainly giving genuine reflection to his observations as a public pulse-feeler these past six years. Likewise, Mr. Goldwyn, who produced, must have seen this film to be the fulfillment of a high responsibility. All their efforts are rewarded eminently.

 

For "The Best Years of Our Lives" catches the drama of veterans returning home from war as no film?or play or novel that we've yet heard of?has managed to do. In telling the stories of three veterans who come back to the same home town?one a midde-aged sergeant, one an air officer and one a sailor who has lost both hands?it fully reflects the delicate tensions, the deep anxieties and the gnawing despairs that surely have been experienced by most such fellows who have been through the same routine. It visions the overflowing humors and the curious pathos of such returns, and it honestly and sensitively images the terrible loneliness of the man who has been hurt?hurt not only physically but in the recesses of his self-esteem.

 

Not alone in such accurate little touches as the first words of the sergeant's joyful wife when he arrives home unexpectedly, "I look terrible!" or the uncontrollable sob of the sailor's mother when she first sees her son's mechanical "hands" is this picture irresistibly affecting and eloquent of truth. It is in its broader and deeper understanding of the mutual embarrassment between the veteran and his well-intentioned loved ones that the film throws its real dramatic power.

 

Especially in the readjustments of the sailor who uses prosthetic "hooks" and of the airman who faces deflation from bombardier to soda-jerker is the drama intense. The middle-aged sergeant finds adjustment fairly simple, with a wife, two grown-up kids and a good job, but the younger and more disrupted fellows are the ones who really get it in the teeth. In working out their solutions Mr. Sherwood and Mr. Wyler have achieved some of the most beautiful and inspiring demonstrations of human fortitude that we have had in films.

 

And by demonstrating frankly and openly the psychological blocks and the physical realities that go with prosthetic devices they have done a noble public service of great need.

 

It is wholly impossible?and unnecessary?to single out any one of the performers for special mention. Fredric March is magnificent as the sergeant who breaks the ice with his family by taking his wife and daughter on a titanic binge. His humor is sweeping yet subtle, his irony is as keen as a knife and he is altogether genuine. This is the best acting job he has ever done. Dana Andrews is likewise incisive as the Air Forces captain who goes through a gruelling mill, and a newcomer, Harold Russell, is incredibly fine as the sailor who has lost his hands. Mr. Russell, who actually did lose his hands in the service and does use "hooks," has responded to the tactful and restrained direction of Mr. Wyler in a most sensitive style.

 

As the wife of the sergeant, Myrna Loy is charmingly reticent and Teresa Wright gives a lovely, quiet performance as their daughter who falls in love with the airman. Virginia Mayo is brassy and brutal as the latter's two-timing wife and Cathy O'Donnell, a new, young actress, plays the sailor's fianc?e tenderly. Hoagy Carmichael, Roman Bohnen and Ray Collins will have to do with a warm nod. For everyone gives a "best" performance in this best film this year from Hollywood.

 

 

THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, screen play by Robert E. Sherwood, from the novel, "Glory For Me," by MacKinlay Kantor; directed by William Wyler; produced by Samuel Goldwyn and released through RKO. At the Astor.

Milly Stephenson . . . . . Myrna Loy

Al Stephenson . . . . . Frederic March

Fred Derry . . . . . Dana Andrews

Peggy Stephenson . . . . . Teresa Wright

Marie Derry . . . . . Virginia Mayo

Wilma Cameron . . . . . Cathy O'Donnell

Butch Engle . . . . . Hoagy Carmichael

Homer Parrish . . . . . Harold Russell

Hortense Derry . . . . . Gladys George

Pat Derry . . . . . Roman Bohnen

Mr. Milton . . . . . Ray Collins

Cliff . . . . . Steve Cochran

Mrs. Parrish . . . . . Minna Gombell

Mr. Parrish . . . . . Walter Baldwin

Mrs. Cameron . . . . . Dorothy Adams

Mr. Cameron . . . . . Don Beddoe

Bullard . . . . . Erskine Sanford

Luella Parrish . . . . . Marlene Aames

Rob Stephenson . . . . . Michael Hall

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This movie is so important to film history. Not only is it outstanding. It represents a time and a people as well as any movie ever has. The war was everything. Going away. Coming home. Not coming home. The post Viet Nam movies of the 70's are good as well. For the same reason. But this one can stand head to head with any of those and walk away proud. The fact that it's straight drama; no comedy, no spectacle; makes it even more impressive. It's as if they knew they had a great one and served it on a plate.

 

Red River

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"they knew they had a great one and served it on a plate."

 

Served it more like on a golden platter. This is one of the all time phenomenal movies. The kind that when channel surfing, if you come upon it, you stop and watch throughout its' entirety. Though I don't usually like critics reviews, reading one that was written 60 years ago about a movie that is as fresh and timely today as it was then was a treat. Thank you.

 

Anne

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Does anyone know how much a commentary track adds to the production costs of a dvd? Lynn, Kyle, anybody?>>

 

Moira,

 

I don't think its for lack of finding someone to do the audio commentary nor is it likely that the cost of the commentary would be prohibitive.

 

This is a Sam Goldwyn production and according to imdb was released by RKO and MGM later released the Home Video.

 

As both RKO and MGM libraries are under the care and feeding of Warner Bros. (at least pre-1986 MGM films), I am at a loss as to why Warners has not released this on DVD with extras.

 

Tis a puzzlement.....

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Not a puzzlement at all: Sam Goldwyn, jr. sold his father's film library to MGM (not Warner's), which subsequently made a deal to distribute DVDs of the titles (Goldwyn's original DVDs were released through HBO Home Video. In fact, if you cna find the old HBO disc of BEST YEARS, buy it, as it contains a separate music-and-effects audio track featuring Hugo Friedhofer's Oscar-winning score, plus a stills gallery and cast bios, which the later MGM DVD does not).

 

 

In the 1946 elections the GOP took over Congress for the first time in sixteen years, and many GOP Congressmen denounced William Wyler's great film as pro - Communist.

 

Things certainly haven't changed much, have they?

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Not a puzzlement at all: Sam Goldwyn, jr. sold his father's film library to MGM (not Warner's), which subsequently made a deal to distribute DVDs of the titles (Goldwyn's original DVDs were released through HBO Home Video. In fact, if you cna find the old HBO disc of BEST YEARS, buy it, as it contains a separate music-and-effects audio track featuring Hugo Friedhofer's Oscar-winning score, plus a stills gallery and cast bios, which the later MGM DVD does not).

 

 

In the 1946 elections the GOP took over Congress for the first time in sixteen years, and many GOP Congressmen denounced William Wyler's great film as pro - Communist.

 

Things certainly haven't changed much, have they?

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Not a puzzlement at all: Sam Goldwyn, jr. sold his father's film library to MGM (not Warner's), which subsequently made a deal to distribute DVDs of the titles (Goldwyn's original DVDs were released through HBO Home Video. In fact, if you can find the old HBO disc of BEST YEARS, buy it, as it contains a separate music-and-effects audio track featuring Hugo Friedhofer's Oscar-winning score, plus stills gallery and cast bios, which the later MGM DVD does not).

 

 

In the 1946 elections the GOP took over Congress for the first time in sixteen years, and many GOP Congressmen denounced William Wyler's great film as pro - Communist.

 

Things certainly haven't changed much, have they?

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The sweetest love scene (maybe in movie history) is the one where the girlfriend -- sorry, forgotten all the names!!! -- helps the boyfriend with his artificial arm; of course all us film buffs already know that the actor was an ACTUAL WW II amputee with absolutely no prior theatrical training or experience; more amazing.

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Harold Russell was the amputee. He played Homer. Cathy O'Donnell was his girlfriend Wilma. It is a beautiful, touching scene. When he goes through his bedtime routine to show her what she is in for it is heartbreaking but profound that she's committed to him.

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I do like "The Best Years of Our LIves" but why is it on at 12:00AM tonight!!??? And I just noticed "Mrs. Miniver" (one of my favorites) is on at 3:00AM! Not good for those of us who have to get up for work in the morning!!!

 

But it's been good seeing all the films during these Oscar days....

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...but why is it on at 12:00AM tonight!!???

 

I'm actually thrilled at the hour they're showing it. I can record it for later viewing when there's nothing (and nobody) to disturb my viewing pleasure. I consider a movie spoiled if anything interrupts it (I hope you're listening, DISH Network!). Thus, I probably watch fewer prime-time movies than any other time slot.

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It's unfortunate for some of us that this wonderful film is on so late...I won't be able to watch it tonight, but luckily, I purchased the DVD last week. This has to be one of the most touching movies I have ever seen. As soon as I hear the theme music, it reduces me to tears. My dad recommended this film many years ago. Thanks, Dad. I hope you'll be watching tonight.

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