Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Starring Fredric March & Myrna Loy

Rating 5/10

In 1946, the war was still painfully fresh in the minds of audiences around the world. Returning home from war was almost as difficult as the fighting. What did they have to come home to? How would life ever return to ‘normal’?

These questions are raised over and over again in this confronting film. There’s really no stone left unturned as we follow the journeys of three returned servicemen back into the routine of average life. First there is Al (March), the older of the three. He has returned to his old job at the bank with a new perspective on life. His compassion clouds his professional judgement which gets him into trouble with the old stingy bank men! Al teeters on the edge of alcoholism to escape the horrific ghosts of war.

Then there’s good old Fred (Dana Andrews), a failure in the eyes of wife, Marie (Virginia Mayo). Their marriage is rocky to say the least. During the war Marie developed a taste for the single life working as a night club waitress. She loves the money, the prestige of success and is dismally disappointed with her husband’s efforts. Whereas Al’s daughter, Peggy (Teresa Wright) is madly in love with our Fred!

Number three is Homer. He has returned an invalid and thinks that his sweetheart, Wilma (Cathy O’Donnell) won’t want a bar of him. How wrong could he be? Dear old Willy is a true kinda gal, up for anything when it comes to Homey.

The boys get together once in a while to share stories and the struggles they are going through at the time. There’s a marriage, a divorce and the beginning of a beautiful relationship! There’s grog, girls and fisty cuffs. This is not a cheery kinda film. It gets to the heart of all things war, good and bad. It is as if the boys have been let out of jail and they’re not sure what to do with their lives, relationships and relative normality. This is a story of friendship and an examination of how relationships stand up in tough times.

Once again, the wartime audience applauded this film. It was once of the highest grossing films of its time. It is a difficult one to track down, though, which is strange being such a memorable film. Check it out if you can and let me know if you think this one is worthy of an Oscar.

The Best Years of Our Lives Trivia –

  • Budget – $2.1 million
  • Director William Wyler was into realism, so much so that the actors had to buy and pre-wear their own clothes and sets were made smaller than usual.
  • The crew was made up of World War Two veterans.
  • Producer Samuel Goldwyn asked Robert E. Sherwood to write the script for him. Sherwood was the former head of the Office of War Information in WWII.
  • Harold Russell really had two hooks for hands.
  • Wyler, an ex-Major himself, based the reunion scene between Al and Milly on his own homecoming.

Next time at Oscar Club we are moving on from war movies to the post-war films that look at what a society does after such a catastrophic national experience. We are looking at Gentleman’s Agreement starring the dreamy Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire.

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This entry was posted on February 3, 2011 by in Best Picture Films.
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