Fred meanwhile can not find a good job so ends up taking his old job at a drugstore; he's hired in as the assistant to *his* former assistant, who has risen up in Fred's absence. The salary is low and the work is not something he wants to do. His marriage to Marie is also on the rocks, as it is becoming more clear that she was in love with the uniform, not the man inside it. To make it more complicated, Fred and Peggy are beginning to fall in love. Fred doesn't want to make Peggy "the other woman," and doesn't want to stay with Marie, either. When Homer visits Fred at the drugstore and another customer insults him, Fred stands up for his friend. When he is fired he goes home early to find Marie with another man. She tells him she wants a divorce, and he decides to take what little money he has left and leave town. While waiting for the next flight out, though, he comes across decommissioned airplanes on the field. He exorcises some of his war demons, then ends up getting a job with the building company in charge of the junk. He decides to stay.
There's obviously a lot going on in this film! I like the idea of following three different veterans through the film, and they are all good archetypes. For example, Fredric March is older than Dana Andrews, but "Fred" was a bombardier, so he out-ranks the older "Al." Later, after they lose their uniforms and their ranks, Al takes more of a "big brother" tone to Fred, especially when it comes to Peggy. Also, the editing between the three stories is always good; just when you start to get tired of Homer's self-pity, for example, the story switches to Peggy and Fred. And the actors are all wonderful in their roles. I am not surprised to see that Fredric March won Best Actor and Harold Russell won Best Supporting Actor, although I am surprised Dana Andrews wasn't even nominated. Studio politics? Also, evidently the Academy did not think its members would vote for the amateur Russell, as they bestowed on him a special Oscar at the beginning of the ceremony. When he won out-right, he became the only actor to ever win two Oscars for the same role.
At nearly three hours the film is long; however, it only feels long in a few isolated scenes. Sure, it's a product of its time, but its message is valid and well-done. Overall it is one of the best, most entertaining films I've ever seen.
The Best Years Of Our Lives
*Academy Award Best Picture of 1946*
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Directed by William Wyler
Directed by William Wyler
Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood
This is an interesting trailer, as it mentions several of the scenes and complications that I wrote about. However, it doesn't feature Harold Russell at all. I wonder if Studio people thought audiences wouldn't want to see a movie about a crippled veteran? Or maybe it's to make his handicap all the more dramatic when he appears? As I say, it's interesting...!
(in alphabetical order)
It's A Wonderful Life
The Razor's Edge
The YearlingI have never seen The Razor's Edge, although I have heard of it. I have a buddy who loves the book, so he probably loves the film, too. Anne Baxter won Best Supporting Actress for her role in this. And I know of the Bill Murray re-make in the Eighties, but I never saw that one, either. I did see The Yearling as a kid and hated it because it was such a tearjerker. And I have heard of Laurence Olivier's production of Henry V but have never seen it. This was not his and Shakespeare's year, and I'll leave it at that. And as much as I love It's A Wonderful Life, The Best Years Of Our Lives is the better film.