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"The Best Years of Our Lives"


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While watching one of my very favorite films "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946) today, it was hard to imagine that with the death of Teresa Wright, all the major stars and co-stars have all passed away.

 

With the exception of some supporting players including Michael Hall who played Myrna Loy's son Rob, who is now 77 and 69 year old Teddy Infuhr who played the brat in the drug store, is among those that survive today.

I couldn't confirm if Marlene Aames is still with us, who played Homer's sweet little sister Luella.

 

It's just too bad that Teresa Wright and Virginia Mayo weren't interviewed by Robert Osborne prior to their deaths since it would have been most interesting to hear about the filming of this Oscar winning classic, directed by the one and only William Wyler.

 

Mongo

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Mongo,

 

While they may not have been interviewed by Robert Osborne, it is possible that both women were interviewed for the Turner Archive Project. Each year, since the mid-1980s, a film crew goes out and does extensive filmed oral histories with the men and women in front of and behind the cameras.

 

The Archive Project doesn't get alot of press attention so it's not easy to figure out who has been interviewed. Pieces of the various interviews often show up on TCM documentaries and on DVD bonus material. I believe the Academy Library gets copies of the interviews so if you were looking for more information about the project they might be able to help you!

 

Hope this helps,

 

Lynn in Sherman Oaks

www.classiclasvegas.com

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twinktab wrote:

"I just can't get over that Loy was only 12 years older than Wright."

 

Isn't it interesting when casting goes that way? Like Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey (she was three years older than he, and played his mom in The Manchurian Candidate). Can you think of other examples?

 

 

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Right after I had posted the response with Myrna Loy, I immediately thought about Angela Llansbury from the Manchurina candidate.

 

For another example, in "A Place in the Sun" wasn't Liz Taylor 18? How old was Monty?

 

Tabitha in tucson

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Another example of age-inappropriate casting is Jessie Royce Landis as Cary Grant's mother in "North by Northwest." According to imdb, they were both born in the same year, and Grant was actually several months older than she.

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Barbara O'Neil was only about six or seven years older than Vivien Leigh in GONE WITH THE WIND.

 

In ISLAND IN THE SUN (1957), Joan Fontaine's character tells Harry Belafonte how she remembers him working for her family as a young man when she was a little girl. Joan certainly didn't look bad (she turned 40 that year), but she was nearly ten years older than the boyish-looking Belafonte.

 

This one is TV-related, but I always found it interesting that on the series GOOD TIMES John Amos was 18 years younger than his TV wife Esther Rolle (who hid her years nicely) and seven years older than his TV son, Jimmie Walker. Sherman Helmsley of The Jeffersons was also about 20 years younger than TV wife Isabel Sanford.

 

BLU

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I know it's classic TV, even though Lucy always played like Ethel was much older on I Love Lucy, she was actually only 2 years older.Lucy was 40 when the show started, and Ethel 42 ( or almost, I am not sure the exact first air dates compared to their birthdays ). Weird, huh?

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  • 2 weeks later...

bansi4, both Teresa Wright and Virginia Mayo participated in the laser release of BEST YEARS. Regretfully when MGM released the DVD they did not include this commentary. ALthough I have traded in many of my lasers I will hold onto this one. In addition, there were tons of extras in the laser release of THE BIG COUNTY and these too weren't included on the DVD.

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MGM is pitiful when it comes their DVD issues of great films. It's a shame The Big Country and The Best Years of Our Lives, not to mention everything else they've issued, are so minimally represented. But at least the films are available and I can't complain about that.

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I wonder if the upcoming release on MGM of TOM SAWYER will include the director's commentary which was on the laser. One instance of where the commentary was included from the laser for the DVD release of SEPARATE TABLES on MGM.

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TBYOOL is definitely one of my all time faves.

 

Another example of age-inappropriate casting was Carrol Baker semi-opposite James Dean in Giant. Dean's character is supposed to be Baker's parents' generation when in fact, he's only four months older than she is.

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I recently finished reading an excellent book on movie censorship, The Censorship Papers: Movie Censorship Letters from the Hays Office 1934-1968 by Gerald Gardner. "The Best Years of Our Lives" almost didn't get made! Joseph Breen and his board felt that a movie about returning veterans would be "far too depressing and inappropriate...and the public really shouldn't see a subject like this." Can you imagine! Our nation had suffered the loss of over 300,000 men and women who fought the Nazis and Japanese, plus another 1 million men and women who came home with terrible injuries. But a year after the war ended, some self-centered bureaucrat dictates to Americans that a film about veterans would not be appropriate! Breen's office also did not like the depiction of the vet who had no arms and the censorship office did not approve of the drinking scenes.

 

The letters indicate which scenes had to be "toned down" before principal photography could commence. Breen's office had to first approve all scripts--production couldn't begin until the studio received his clearance.

 

Many of you have often questioned what particular scenes were cut from various films, etc. In truth, some scenes (or even a word or two of "suggestive" dialogue) were often omitted by the time the final shooting script was printed. This book, however, reveals what was censored from dozens of top films; how characters and situations were "doctored" to satisfy the Legion of Decency and a host of other sanctimonious groups. The letters and negotiations between the Hays/Breen Office and the studios are quite revealing. The studios were under tremendous pressure to get their films released or they would soon be out of business. This meant cooperation with these bluenose idiots at all costs. A great read!

 

 

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