The Best Years of Our Lives

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Puritan Board Professor
The Best Years of Our Lives beat It's a Wonderful Life for best picture in 1946. It also remains the only film to get a double Oscar for one of the actors, who wasn't even a professional actor.

Plot: 5/5 I first encountered this film in a class on war and peace in the 20th century in college. It was and is one of the top movies I've ever seen. It's the only movie where the same actor won 2 Oscars for the same role. In a nutshell, it's about 3 men of 3 different backgrounds from the same generic midwestern town who all served in different theaters and branches meet on the flight home and are now getting returned home. Al's a bank manager in his early-mid 40s who served as a Sergeant in the Pacific and is returning to his family with college-aged children. Fred's a decorated bomber captain who flew over Europe, but who came from very poor means and got married after knowing his wife 20 days. Homer's a ship's cook from a middle-class family with a fiancee whose lost his hands and forearms after his carrier was sunk.

It's a deep film about loss, home no longer being home, sacrifice, disability, and the bonds of family and friendship. Harold Russell (Homer) was a real-life double amputee who lost his limbs in a training accident and worked with the military during the War with fellow amputees to teach them how to do activities of daily living with their impairments. He was NOT a professional actor, but simply played himself.

It had some big names in it: Frederic March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, and Teresa Wright and was directed by William Wyler. I think it's some of the fastest 3 hours you'll watch and it's not remotely an action movie. The cinematography is fantastic throughout.

Dialogue: 5/5 Character development is really good here. There's a lot of complexity with the three servicemen and the leading figures in their respective circles.
Sex: 4+ to 5/5 - It's a well within the Code film from the 1940s. There is some discussion of infidelity and a divorce, but there's nothing even getting close to scenes.
Violence: 5/5 - Someone gets punched in the heat of the moment.
Blasphemy/Language: 4+ to 5/5 - I think there might have been a curse word or two but it's pretty mild and definitely not featured.
World View: 4+/5 - I'd say the movie probably one of the best "in sickness and in health" and "better or worse" portrayals of marriages you'll see in a big-time or even not big-time film. The characters are very human but the best of them have some real virtues to them, both the men and the women. It does portray a fair amount of drunkenness but doesn't glamorize it.
Overall: 5/5.

The movie would get a PG now and is about 90% over to G.
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