Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Best Years of Our Lives -- November 11, 2015
Happy Veterans Day, everyone. Veterans of the Second World War thought very highly of The Best Years of Our Lives, which was produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by William Wyler. 

Three men meet while returning home after separation from the service.
Frederick March played Al, a middle-aged banker who joined the army to do his part.  He wound up as an NCO.  His wife Milly was Myrna Loy, a favorite of mine and his daughter Peggy was Theresa Wright.  I don't remember much about his son.  Al felt out of place at home and at work.  He made a loan to another vet who had little collateral and got shot down for it.
Dana Andrews was Fred, who had been a bombardier in the Army Air Force.  He found that his wife was no longer interested in him, and he suffered from nightmares caused by PTSD.  He was a soda jerk before the war and wanted something better after.  Fred and Peggy were attracted to each other.  Al told Fred to leave her alone.
Harold Russell was Homer, who had lost his arms while serving in the Navy.  He went through a long period of rehabilitation before he got home.  His parents didn't know what to do and he tried to push away his fiancee Wilma, who was played by Cathy O'Donnell.  Cathy persisted in wanting to stay.  The hooks are real. 

Fred encouraged Homer to marry Wilma, and he won the love of Peggy.  The marriage scene makes me cry. 

Fred gets a job building housing out of salvaged aircraft aluminum.
And the movie has Hoagy Carmichael as Homer's Uncle Butch, a bar keep.  Any movie is better with Hoagy Carmichael. 

The movie won nine Academy Awards and was nominated for one more. 

Harold Russell made only two more movies and appeared in a couple of television shows, but was very active in AMVETS, serving as National Commander. 

In 1992, to raise money for his wife's medical expenses, he sold his Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  This was controversial, but I understood.  I remember when he died in 2002.

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