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Damn! It happens every time.


slaytonf
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But they keep showing the movie.  And even if I don't watch it, I still keep happening to turn it on just as the scene where Homer returns to his parent's house comes on.  I tell myself, it's okay, no problem. I've seen it many times before.  No big deal.  Then there's the shot out the screen door of him and something must happen to the air in the room, because my eyes start stinging.  And then that damn little girl--no, not really, but yes, that damn little girl starts running and shouting, and my chest gets tight, even painfully tight, and I keep my mouth pressed closed, because my lips might tremble--but only a little--, and I notice my eyelashes are damp, and don't know why--and then that genius, William Wyler, has Homer wave his friends good-bye with his hook, and his family is stunned, and he has just removed any possibility of it ruined with sticky-sweet sentimentality.

 

And that is why William Wyler is the best American director, and why The Best Years of Our Lives is the best American movie.  Ever.

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Oh yeah, I love this movie. I get all verklempt when Al rings the door bell and has Peggy & Rob to be quiet and Millie is asking who was at the door and she feels his presence and runs into his arms. I get all funny feeling just typing this.

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Oh yeah, I love this movie. I get all verklempt when Al rings the door bell and has Peggy & Rob to be quiet and Millie is asking who was at the door and she feels his presence and runs into his arms. I get all funny feeling just typing this.

..but it's not as if she was surprised by his showing up. She KNEW he was coming. He may  have shown up a couple hours early.

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I say,

 

If anyone DOESN'T like this movie, then go and hang out with your friends in AL QAIDA!  B)

 

Picking a favorite scene in it is like choosing a favorite CHILD of yours.

 

OK, I mentioned often the scene in which Homer finally puts his arms around Wilma, and her reaction.  But...

 

Another "favorite" scene for me, due to being a photographer, is when Dana Andrews is sitting in that "scheduled for scrap" B-17 nose where he spent most of the war, and the camera catches a shot of him from behind, silhouetted by the bright light coming throught the dust streaked plastic nose.  I'd LOVE to have a still of that!  Just plain ART!

 

Of course, I'd expect nothing LESS from GREGG TOLAND.

 

 

Sepiatone

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I say,

 

If anyone DOESN'T like this movie, then go and hang out with your friends in AL QAIDA!  B)

 

Picking a favorite scene in it is like choosing a favorite CHILD of yours.

 

OK, I mentioned often the scene in which Homer finally puts his arms around Wilma, and her reaction.  But...

 

Another "favorite" scene for me, due to being a photographer, is when Dana Andrews is sitting in that "scheduled for scrap" B-17 nose where he spent most of the war, and the camera catches a shot of him from behind, silhouetted by the bright light coming throught the dust streaked plastic nose.  I'd LOVE to have a still of that!  Just plain ART!

 

Of course, I'd expect nothing LESS from GREGG TOLAND.

 

 

Sepiatone

Everything with Homer in the film hits me as a little bit cloying. I don't care for the March storyline either. The entire Andrews storyline, though, is right on the money, including his relationships with Mayo and Wright.

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But they keep showing the movie.  And even if I don't watch it, I still keep happening to turn it on just as the scene where Homer returns to his parent's house comes on.  I tell myself, it's okay, no problem. I've seen it many times before.  No big deal.  Then there's the shot out the screen door of him and something must happen to the air in the room, because my eyes start stinging.  And then that damn little girl--no, not really, but yes, that damn little girl starts running and shouting, and my chest gets tight, even painfully tight, and I keep my mouth pressed closed, because my lips might tremble--but only a little--, and I notice my eyelashes are damp, and don't know why--and then that genius, William Wyler, has Homer wave his friends good-bye with his hook, and his family is stunned, and he has just removed any possibility of it ruined with sticky-sweet sentimentality.

 

And that is why William Wyler is the best American director, and why The Best Years of Our Lives is the best American movie.  Ever.

Really? I thought it was schmaltz. Never seen all of it. Never will.

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If anyone DOESN'T like this movie, then go and hang out with your friends in AL QAIDA!  B)

 

Sepiatone

I don't.

 

And of course I don't have any friends there.

 

But I do have a few friends who are free thinkers and don't like schmaltz or movies that are deliberately configured to play on emotions.

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For me, it's both Homer's and the Sarge's homecoming.  Both incredibly powerful, achingly powerful. 

 

The movie's just one interesting study after another.  The frustration the vets felt, and the problems that the civilian bosses faced - they HAD to hire and replace these folks or so many of their businesses would have failed - wouldn't have existed to come back to.  But at that point in time...

 

Then the ol' battle hardened Sarge who'd seen humans in their most primitive element, and he could see their souls thru their eyes - and then be chastised for loaning money to someone who passed his battle-worthy test! 

 

Tossing some kneejerk civilian thru a pharmacy's display case - just SOP in any queue, overseas.  The victims learned to get smart or get out.  No problem!

 

And that closing scene back in the "assembly line to the junkyard" - frustration again, and a new day's sunbeams filling the plane. 

 

Isn't art supposed to play on an emotional connection, by the way?  Billiard balls don't.  Billiard balls go exactly where they're hit, precisely following every factor, every angle, every rumple in the felt surface.  But I like to think humans are a bit more than billiard balls, so 'playing on emotions' seems a completely valid factor in art.

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Yeah, I don't like corny films and for the most part this isn't. But the music does make a few scenes over the top.

 

What I do like about it is that the three men on which the film focuses are all flawed in some way and none of their stories are particularly solved by the end because I think they all go into an uncertain future. I'm mainly fond of the performances.

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Isn't art supposed to play on an emotional connection, by the way?  Billiard balls don't.  Billiard balls go exactly where they're hit, precisely following every factor, every angle, every rumple in the felt surface.  But I like to think humans are a bit more than billiard balls, so 'playing on emotions' seems a completely valid factor in art.

 

...so long as it's not to obvious. All movies manipulate but good ones play as if they are not doing that (probably more artful). Failure is to come across as schmaltzy (not art). This isn't a comment about the movie in question, I haven't seen it (but I'm beginning to feel I must).

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And that is why William Wyler is the best American director, and why The Best Years of Our Lives is the best American movie.  Ever.

 

Personally I wish someone had spiked Willy's coffee with benzedrine. Virtually all his movies could use faster pacing.

 

And BYOOL is an hour too long (at least).  I do like the scene in the airplane graveyard though.

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Personally I wish someone had spiked Willy's coffee with benzedrine. Virtually all his movies could use faster pacing.

 

And BYOOL is an hour too long (at least).  I do like the scene in the airplane graveyard though.

One thing that really helps the film is the great title, which doesn't really apply to what is happening in the film. (I know it's close to a line Mayo utters.)

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...so long as it's not to obvious. All movies manipulate but good ones play as if they are not doing that (probably more artful). Failure is to come across as schmaltzy (not art). This isn't a comment about the movie in question, I haven't seen it (but I'm beginning to feel I must).

 

Oh yeah, laffite. You should definitely watch...MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!!! 

 

And don't listen to the naysayers here. THIS one while, yes, perhaps "sentimental", that "sentimentality" is believably presented by GREAT actors delivering GREAT dialogue in a GREAT directed, photographed and edited film!

 

(..."schmaltzy"?...no way, Jose...well okay, maybe as has been previously mentioned here by Helen, all the violins used in Hugo Friedhofer's score might be a little over the top and may seem as if its trying a little too hard to grab the ol' heartstrings sometimes , but other than that, THIS one is a Classic in the truest sense of the word, my friend!!!)

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Oh yeah, laffite. You should definitely watch...MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME!!!!! 

 

And don't listen to the naysayers here. THIS one while, yes, perhaps "sentimental", that "sentimentality" is believably presented by GREAT actors delivering GREAT dialogue in a GREAT directed, photographed and edited film!

 

(..."schmaltzy"?...no way, Jose...well okay, maybe as has been previously mentioned here, all the violins used in Hugo Friedhofer's score might be a little over the top and may seem as if its trying a little too hard to grab the ol' heartstrings sometimes , but other than that, THIS one is a Classic in the truest sense of the word, my friend!!!)

 

I like the movie,  feel it is well made,  with a fine cast all doing a very good job,  but I do understand the POV that the film wears its sentimentality on its sleeve.    A little nuance would have helped the picture.      

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Nice to know, Slaytonf, that I am not alone getting choked up watching this movie. But what does me in is a scene not mentioned yet, the one with Harold and Hoagie at the piano. I mean, how can they do that? Both of them doing the scene without a hitch, one with the best musical hands, the other with no hands. Probably the most poignant scene in any movie I can recall, and I also feel its the best movie ever.

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Oh yeah, I love this movie. I get all verklempt when Al rings the door bell and has Peggy & Rob to be quiet and Millie is asking who was at the door and she feels his presence and runs into his arms. I get all funny feeling just typing this.

 

HelenBaby2 -

You got the whole point in that scene.  

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Nice to know, Slaytonf, that I am not alone getting choked up watching this movie. But what does me in is a scene not mentioned yet, the one with Harold and Hoagie at the piano. I mean, how can they do that? Both of them doing the scene without a hitch, one with the best musical hands, the other with no hands. Probably the most poignant scene in any movie I can recall, and I also feel its the best movie ever.

 

But, like so much of the story, there is much more going on.

As light-hearted and fun as that appears (Homer can't stop grinning), it is shot in deep focus.  Simultaneously in the background, Derry is on the telephone, breaking his own heart in telling Peggy it's over.

 

There is a brief cutaway shot of Al looking at Derry during "Chopsticks", but I didn't think it was necessary. 

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One thing that really helps the film is the great title, which doesn't really apply to what is happening in the film. (I know it's close to a line Mayo utters.)

I hear Marie's declaration as an "on the nose" statement about irony in the subtext; this is about the juxtaposition of bitter and hopeful. It was to be the best years of their lives, but look what happened -- the war.

 

The men who fought and families left behind were in the best years; if not in age (like Fred and Homer) then by their careers (like Al's  banking job).  The families were growing and developing their own lives while they were gone. 

 

After reading Five Came Back, I have a new appreciation of Wyler and what he went through in the war.  This movie was his return message and trying to get his life stateside back on track. 

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Okay! Speaking of "nuances" in this film (and after my smartazz shot at James...sorry James)...

 

I believe there are nuances galore in this baby, and starting with Slayton's comment about the look on the faces of Homer's parents as they finally see the effects of Homer's war injuries, and then his mother beginning to cry and a cry which plays as both relief that her son is finally back home and also her shock of seeing those injuries. Homer then, but it isn't clear to the audience(read "nuance"), seems to purposely ignore the idea that his mother might be crying because of his injuries.

 

Another nuance in this film is that one can see the almost instant chemistry between Teresa Wright's Peggy and Dana Andrews' Fred, BUT because of the personal circumstances of these characters, they must play it as if attempting to ignore and deny it, and something of which both Wright and Andrews expertly act out.

 

In fact, while I'll admit that perhaps Cathy O'Donnell's Wilma might be a little too "saintly" written and acted, there are so many more greatly underplayed but still effectively written and acted roles in this film that I could probably fill two more pages worth of all the "nuances" in this great classic!

 

(...but I'm sure all those who have never been enchanted by this film and would still probably think it's "too sentimental" for their own various reasons will never be swayed, and so I won't waste any more of my time here)

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After reading Five Came Back, I have a new appreciation of Wyler and what he went through in the war.  This movie was his return message and trying to get his life stateside back on track. 

 

In addition to his own readjustment, the movie is about the readjustment of of the soldiers and all America to the post-war era.  That is the main theme of the movie.  People separated follow different paths, they grow and change.  Yet they retain the old image of the ones they were separated from.  It can be jarring, a source of grief, or anger to reencounter the loved ones and find they are not the way they are supposed to be.  A lot of realignment of thinking and feeling has to occur.  This was understood by military psychologists, and I believe there were even decommissioning programs to help returning military cope with estrangement and alienation they might have.  Psychological themes start entering movies in a big way after the war, and especially in the 1950s.  It's usually handled in a clumsy and heavy-handed way.  The Best Years of Our Lives is a notable exception, incorporating the process of the character's coming to terms with the changes in others, and figuring out their place in civilian life, without a lot of verbal window-dressing.  Showing it, not saying it, as the maxim goes.

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