The Best Years of Our Lives

201-Words-or-Less Film Review Home


Wyler's masterful postwar movie is old Hollywood at its best: a socially ground-breaking story with heart, humor, and engaging characters. Rating: 9 out of 10.

201-Words-or-Less Film Review

For anyone who saw the 2002 Oscars and wondered about the guy with mechanical hooks for hands in the ‘movie industry people who died this year’ slide show, he was Harold Russell, winner of Best Supporting Actor and an honorary Oscar for this movie in 1947. He plays one of three heroes whose post-WWII experiences are interwoven by director William Wyler (Ben Hur, Friendly Persuasion, Roman Holiday, etc.).

All three face challenges: Russell’s character feels unworthy of his fiancée now that he is a double amputee; the bank manager played by Frederic March must deal with how much his family has changed in his absence; and Dana Andrews’ former bomber pilot must face life as an over-qualified soda jerk, as well as a loveless marriage, despite his growing feelings for the Frederic March character’s daughter.

Wyler handles this all in a very un-Frank Capra way; even shadows of the horror of WWII are deftly kept looming in the background most of the time, and only allowed to crack through the surface in a few perfect instances. This masterpiece netted eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (March), and is known as the seminal returning-from-war drama. Gripping, watchable film.

Word Count: 201

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Copyright 2002 by Toby Baldwin

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Year: 1946
Director: William Wyler
Running Time: 172 minutes
Black and White

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