Samuel Goldwyn’s “The Best Years of Our Lives” is one of the best pictures of our lives. It’s the type of film production which belies Goldwyn’s own well-publicized interview of last week that the British would soon seriously challenge America as pacemakers in motion picture production because of what he terms the Britishers’ more realistic approach to films.
Ballyhooey or otherwise. Goldwyn fundamentally doesn’t need any spurious spotlighting on his “Best Years.” In the MacKinlay Kantor novel, as dramatist Robert E. Sherwood has transmuted into a screenplay and director William Wyler has vivified it, the producer has a fundamental story which will sell around the world. As the postwar saga of the soda jerk who became an Army officer; the banker who was mustered out as a sergeant; and the seaman who came back to glory minus both his bands, “Years” is right out of your neighbors’ lives. Or, maybe, even your own.
Inspired casting has newcomer Harold Russell, a real-life amputee, pacing the seasoned trouper, Fredric March, for personal histrionic triumphs. But all the other performances are equally good. Myrna Loy is the small-town bank veepee’s beauteous wife. Teresa Wright plays their daughter, who goes for the already-married Dana Andrews with full knowledge of his wife (Virginia Mayo, who does a capital job as the cheating looker). Both femmes in this triangle, along with Andrews, do their stuff convincingly.