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The Best Years of Our Lives


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As the film was already running very long, it was decided to jettison some subplots and

Rob wound up on the cutting room floor. He was to have met Virginia "Hold The" Mayo

at the local malt shop where she was buying some peroxide. He fell for her as only a

teenager in love can. He started to follow her around, and seeing Steve Cochran in his

pinstripe suit with her, became insanely jealous. He went home, got the Japanese

sword his dad had given him and decapitated Steve. He and Virginia stole a car and

left behind the Corn Belt for southern Cali to try to break into pictures. Due to time

constraints, this storyline was left out of the picture, though there are rumors that the footage

still exists in the attic of a widow's house in Lompoc.

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> {quote:title=kybabe3 wrote:}{quote}

> The Best Years of Our Lives is a classic. This movie, showing the struggles of returning veterans and their families. The acting in The Best Years is perfect -- fear, alienation, and the awkwardness of trying to resume family relationships. Although I have seen The Best Years many times, and I never tire of looking at it, I do have a questions that bothers me every time I view the film. The Stevenson son disappears. If my memory serves me, and I am not saying it does every time, the last scene he is in is when he rushes past Dana Andrews saying he will be late for school. Did I miss a scene where it says 'school' is in Ten Buck Two? Can anyone elaborate on this for me? I know it is not the most important of issues but it does bother me. Where did the kid go? He simply disappears!

This happens in many movies. You may think of him as a happy, but studious son, but really he is there for character development of, namely, good old dad. Peggy will overshadow her little brother in short order (she has the supporting storyline), but Rob Stevenson was needed to show how much the returning veterans, like his dad, had missed in current affairs, while they were involved in the biggest story of the last century. So his character is important to the story for only the first 30 minutes, if that...

 

1. Rob is grown up, but still too young to go out drinking (meaning-too young to serve in the military)- check.

2. Rob explains to his father the nuclear device and it's changing global influence, and the value of rebuilding broken relationships--even globally.- check.

3. Rob is aware of the importance of staying involved in all Current Events (when asking about Fred Derry's background and what Bomber group.. -double check.

 

There are characters like this in just about any story; it is just a little disconcerting to have a family member used in this short order. Many times, it is a character like a bartender, mailman, floozy receptionist, hairdresser that gets the job. Someone more peripheral. Think "Sticky" Merkel or the Sea Bee applying for a loan. Rob could have been a greater presence in the original story, we just don't know.

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Jun 8, 2010 8:24 PM

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  • 1 year later...

This a carryover from the Favorite Quotes thread, responding to Dargo..

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=122519&tstart=0

 

h5. A very fine scene, indeed

It is a very complicated scene, Dargo. Director Wyler had to let Peggy (Wright), Milly (Loy) and Al (March) have their say about it. While Milly and Al set the record straight about their relationship, they need to let Peggy see things for herself. The scene you show is not the complete statement either. Admittedly, they cannot discount Peggy's (Wright) feelings for Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and the story has already shown the viewer that Peggy's suppositions about Fred and Marie's (Virginia Mayo) marriage are pretty accurate. It's a fine, painful mess. Wyler is showing two views of marriage.

 

Maybe the mentioning of Al and Milly's nuptials give weight to the argument that the basis of love and devotion and the planning of their lives will help them weather the storms that is running the Derry marriage onto the rocks.\

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Jul 30, 2011 9:16 PM for the link to original thread

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Thanks for responding here, Casa. I think your synopsis of that scene is pretty much spot on, especially your take when you said, " Wyler is showing two views of marriage.". Exactly. He's showing the somewhat naive viewpoint of Peggy's(no offense to Peggy here, as she is a rather mature young lady for her years), and he's showing the more experienced and wiser viewpoint of Milly and Al's.

 

That scene always "gets me right here", and I've never been sure if that's because I have total respect for Milly's words and so I am inspired by them, OR if maybe I get a little choked up because I'm sad that there seems to be so many people(especially nowdays) who have apparently never learned or never will learn how wise and knowing Milly's words truly are about marriage and how to keep it going.

 

Btw, one of my other favorite scenes in this film that also always "gets me right here" is when Al pretty much tells off his boss during his speech as his Welcome Home Banquet, and the way Milly is beaming at him with pride as he finishes his speech.

 

 

Oh, and THEN there's the part where Fred hops into the soon-to-be junked B-17.

 

 

Oh, and THEN there's......

 

 

(...say, are you startin' to get the idea that this flick "might be" one of my all-time favs here?) ;) :^0

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Be careful of all or nothing thinking, Dargo. Milly's words sort of bother me, for her quote:

 

>.. How many times have I told you I hated you, and believed it with my whole heart...

 

I can understand anger with people, but hatred? And for Peggy never to have witness this rows between mom and dad? What a minute; I think they were laying it on mighty thick. Or maybe I just understand the power of words myself, and while I could be totally frustrated with a situation, even while going through a divorce, I couldn't ignite a total situation to a meltdown with words of hate.

 

I wouldn't say Peggy is naive about what she feels, but what she thinks she must do to help Fred. Their handling of what they feel is quite amazing and mature in itself, considering nowadays couples are watching movies like Knocked Up and Friends With Benefits.

 

Then again, Al and Milly are heading for more challenges, if Al's drinking is any indication.

 

While my name is Casablancalover, this movie has it all for me too. I love this incredible experience.

 

I like how Virginia Mayo could be so beautiful, yet undesirable. Not that there's anything wrong with dressing up so fetchingly..

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*Wyler is showing two views of marriage.". Exactly. He's showing the somewhat naive viewpoint of Peggy's(no offense to Peggy here, as she is a rather mature young lady for her years), and he's showing the more experienced and wiser viewpoint of Milly and Al's.*

 

Well, marry in haste, repent in leisure. The naive viewpoint belong to Fred and Marie. Hot blaze, then later they learn whom they've really married.

 

Remember, later in the Drug store, Fred offers to Homer the advice to get married! Not that Fred believes it is the be-all to be married, but if you must love the person. It is sort of a redemptive moment for Fred too. He is shedding his naivete about marriage. He just can't pick a pretty girl out of a crowd and expect to be happy.

 

*****************

The scene that gets me is Fred Derry's dad reading Capt Derry citation from Gen. Dolittle. That tears me up.

 

The B-17 shot is so memorable. Gregg Toland, brings the derelict ship alive with his shots of the engines in start up, and that winning score of Freidhofer's. What do you think Fred is really thinking about up in the nose of the plane?

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Jul 30, 2011 10:21 PM

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America's best film by America's best director. It addresses themes which are necessary for a film to be truly great: what it's like to be human, how do you decide what it is to live like a human being, or how do you live square with yourself, with what you are doing?

 

Most of my favorite scenes have already been mentioned. One I would like to highlight is Homer's homecoming. Every time I see the movie, as the scene comes up, the three of them sitting in the cab, I say to myself, "I've seen this many times before. It' no big deal. I can take it." Then the second the camera looks out the door and Homer's little sister comes into the shot, my gut tightens and I am destroyed. It is ecstatic and agonizing. The only thing that comes close to it is the reunion scen in Sounder.

 

This scene is also one of the best examples of a common Wyler technique: deflating the bubble of sentimentalism whenever it begins to grow. In this instance, Homer's mother notices his hooks and breaks down, preventing the scene from degenerating into syrupy glop.

 

You see it again as Myrna Loy leans over to kiss the sleeping Frederic March (one of the most irritating sentimental cliches in film)--and receives a fillip in the face for her trouble.

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> {quote:title=casablancalover wrote:}{quote}Be careful of all or nothing thinking, Dargo. Milly's words sort of bother me, for her quote:

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> > .. How many times have I told you I hated you, and believed it with my whole heart... I can understand anger with people, but hatred? And for Peggy never to have witness this rows between mom and dad? What a minute; I think they were laying it on mighty thick. Or maybe I just understand the power of words myself, and while I could be totally frustrated with a situation, even while going through a divorce, I couldn't ignite a total situation to a meltdown with words of hate.

Sorry, disagree with ya here, Casa. I think Milly using the word "hate" is what gives that scene the weight that it has.

 

 

 

 

 

 

> Then again, Al and Milly are heading for more challenges, if Al's drinking is any indication.

You've got that right! Al drinks like a fish throughout the film! My guess is though that he soon comes to that realization, and starts limiting his intake or quits altogether, because Al reminds me of my my dearly departed Pop (also a WWII veteran), who quit smoking...cold turkey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

> I like how Virginia Mayo could be so beautiful, yet undesirable. Not that there's anything wrong with dressing up so fetchingly.

Yeah, she was hot, alright...but ooooh, WHAT a Bee-ache! And my guess for THAT ONE's future is that she turns around and immediately marries Steve Cochran...err...Cliff, and he becomes Husband No.2 of 5 in total. And, she ends up dying in 1997 embittered and alone inside her residence at the Shady Tree Mobile Home Park in Needles California holding an empty quart of Costco's Kirkland brand Vodka in her left hand!!!

 

(...I'm talkin' of Virginia Mayo's character Marie here, of course...not Ms. Mayo herself) ;)

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> {quote:title=slaytonf wrote:}{quote}...

>

> This scene is also one of the best examples of a common Wyler technique: deflating the bubble of sentimentalism whenever it begins to grow. In this instance, Homer's mother notices his hooks and breaks down, preventing the scene from degenerating into syrupy glop.

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> You see it again as Myrna Loy leans over to kiss the sleeping Frederic March (one of the most irritating sentimental cliches in film)--and receives a fillip in the face for her trouble.

Well said, slaytonf! Couldn't agree more.

 

(...though Billy Wilder was always pretty good at doin' that too...though yeah, his method in this regard was to usually encompassed a messure of subtlely placed comic relief when it was startin' to get a little "syrupy")

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>After Dargo:

>And my guess for THAT ONE's future is that she turns around and immediately marries Steve Cochran...err...Cliff, and he becomes Husband No.2 of 5 in total. And, she ends up dying in 1997 embittered and alone inside her residence at the Shady Tree Mobile Home Park in Needles California holding an empty quart of Costco's Kirkland brand Vodka in her left hand!!!

 

Guess? Or hope? Don't forget she was making good money before Fred came home, and she don't need no man to take care of her. She's the most realistic and practical person in the whole movie. What's to say she doesn't hunt down and nail Peggy's rich beau? He seems to be more her type. No need to think she's a self-destructive person just because she and Fred made a mistake in the rush of wartime.

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Yeah, you caught me! The answer is..."hope" she turns out that way. ;)

 

And you make a good point about the two-timin' heartless broad...she WILL probably always land on her feet!

 

(...ya see, that's the trouble with watchin' too many movies...ya always expect people to get their "just desserts" in reel....err...REAL life TOO!!!...LOL)

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>slaytonf posted:

>Guess? Or hope? Don't forget she was making good money before Fred came home, and she don't need no man to take care of her. She's the most realistic and practical person in the whole movie. What's to say she doesn't hunt down and nail Peggy's rich beau? He seems to be more her type. No need to think she's a self-destructive person just because she and Fred made a mistake in the rush of wartime.

 

Ha! Women like Marie will almost always end up on top. If the $$ is the goal, who needs the love? Leave that to silly romantics like Peggy and Fred. I bet she goes after Woody Merrill in short order. Do you think she can snow old Woody's pop?

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I can see the story about 3 men coming back from our middle east wars to the current state of the USA.

 

We have the older guy coming back to join his former company but finding out his company is outsourcing a lot of jobs and doing other shady things. He is angry about how his company doesn't have the same values it had when he left. You know play up the anti-coporation angle.

 

Then the middle aged guy comes back and cannot find a job. That was a big part of the original movie and unemployment is worst today (and I assume more relevant), than in was in 1946.

 

The disable man's story is relevant in any time (but finding an actor to repeat that role,,,, wow,,, that was a one of a kind role and it would be very difficult to find an actual disable vet that could come close to the original).

 

Oh and the love stories can be milked in any time period.

 

 

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That's a good scheme for updating the movie. But the problem is that recent events, say since the end of the Viet Nam war, have not had the same level of effect on American society, so the film, no matter how well it is done could never have the same signifgicance. What makes The Best Years so powerful is that it deals with a time when the entire structure of American society was undergoing realignment. Though we've fought three wars in Southwest Asia, they've hardly had any effect on the way we live our lives. In that respect, the period we most echo now is that of the Korean War.

 

And there's nobody alive today who could hope to come near to Wiliam Wyler.

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I clearly see the points you are making and I'm not hoping for a remake (just having fun discussion the 'what if').

 

A key point to the movie was the 'what was gained by war' angle. Remember how Dana's character loses his "soda jerk" job by punching a customer. Wel I assume the rant from that customer was 'radical' to most Americans at the time; i.e. that while war defeated the evil Nazis it didn't solve anything the evil commies (Soviets) just replaced the Nazis. We see this theme repeated in other movies at the time (Key Largo is an example).

 

Well that angle would fit right in with our 2 middle east wars. No one knows if these wars will result in less conflict (yea, peace) in these areas over the long run and a more safe America. But yes the impact the movie made on a country getting back to 'normal' after a conflict like WWII cannot be repeat. In many ways that is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

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*Though we've fought three wars in Southwest Asia, they've hardly had any effect on the way we live our lives. In that respect, the period we most echo now is that of the Korean War*.

 

*Horse Dump*

 

More books and movies about the Vietnam War have been written than I care to Count.

 

That war ripped this country apart. Take a trip to your local VA hospital.

 

*A proud Vietman War Vet.*

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In this regard, wouldn't you folks say that there has already been a *The Best Years of Our Lives* made for the Baby Boomer Generation. It was titled, *Coming Home.*

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>Per JakeHolman:

>>More books and movies about the Vietnam War have been written than I care to Count. That war ripped this country apart.

 

And if you had taken the care to read what I posted, instead of see what you were looking for, you would know that is what I wrote. The Korean War was waged with general indifference by the American public, who viewed it with irritation and impatience, and wanted it ended. Most people went on with their own lives unaffected by it. The same, or similar, condition as today. The upheavals in American society either caused by, or attendant with WW II and the Viet Nam war are, if not identical, at least equivalent in scale. So, my point to Mr. jazzguitar was that, notwithstanding the aptness of his scenario, his proposal could never have the same weight as the original movie, even if Mr. Wyler had directed it, due to the different societal conditions.

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We are discussing The Best Years of Our Lives...

 

The differences on society affected by war, no matter which war, doesn't change, for war represents chaos and loss of men. The adjustments for the returning service personnel is still an uphill climb. It's like what March says:

 

"Last year it was kill Japs. This year it is make money."

 

It is not an easy adjustment. Even when there is support, it is not always immediately the most helpful. I think of Homer Parrish; he is so at ease and comfortable with his hooks with strangers, yet with his family and his sweetheart, Wilma, it is a different story. I think it is because strangers didn't know him before; his family and girl remember him as he was. So does Homer, and that is what the man he is now must square himself with when he returns home. His life has been changed, but not everything has changed as a result.

 

All of us go through adjustment periods in our lives. They may be cataclysmic on a society like war, or it may be of a more personal nature. It is not the best attitude to try to compete these experiences with one another. Each one will have profound and long-lasting effects on those involved.

 

Each of these men have a vision what they want to return to after the war. Some are not fully realized, but each one has to find his dream again. I never noticed that before. All of them are changed by war, and these changes don't alter their dreams as much, but it does seem to alter their viewpoints. What they want to do when they return is realized, and for me watching, that is the happy ending. Each one returns to society more connected to one another in their own way..

 

Al Stevenson returns to the bank, but now fights for the little guy in the small loans department.

 

Homer fulfills his dream of keeping the promise to his Wilma, but with the greater understanding that she has accepted him more than he himself, and as he faces the fear of her rejection, he realizes the walls that were between them were his creation, not hers.

 

Fred's dream was the simplest, yet had the most difficult route for he was living illusions of who Marie was and who he was. He wounds were psychic, and harder to explain or understand. He needed Peggy, and he needed to believe in himself again.

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Aug 1, 2011 12:22 AM

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Yep Casa, I know we were discussing TBYOOL here, but after Jake's Vietnam comment, it just seemed appropriate to make a quick mention of another film which has a very similar premise of men returning from war and their adjustment to such, and one which might best be representative of a later generation's struggle with smilar kinds of issues...especially considering another track which was taken in this thread was the one about having a remake done of this film, or not. I didn't mean to sidetrack this thread in any way, though as you know, that probably happens in 65% of threads around here.

 

And now...Re Homer...or actually Harold Russell...

 

Ya know, I've probably watched TBYOOL a dozen times, and for the first 11 of those times, I was pretty much of the mind that Russell's performance was the weakest part of the movie. Yeah, I know he was the only person ever to win two Oscars for the same performace in a film(Best Supporting Actor and the special one for his "Inspiration to our returning Vets"), but I always had pretty much chalked that up as a sentimental vote thing by the Academy members.

 

 

However, for whatever reason, during the last time I watched this film(about 6 months ago), I suddenly started thinking to myself that, yeah, ya know, Russell's performance IS pretty much spot on, and yeah, ya know, he IS pretty darn good in it afterall.

 

 

(...of course, even during those first 11 times when I watched it, I have to admit that that scene where the tear goes rolling down his face after Wilma tucks him into bed DID "kinda" get to me "a little") ;)

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