This is the postwar saga [based on a screen treatment by MacKinley Kantor, later published as Glory for Me] of the soda jerk who became an army officer; the banker who was mustered out as the sergeant; and a seaman who came back to glory minus both hands.
Inspired casting has newcomer Harold Russell, a real-life amputee, pacing the seasoned trouper, and 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.
Cathy O’Donnell does her sincerely-in-love chore with the same simplicity as Harold Russell, the $200-a-month war-pensioned hero, who, since he has lost his hands in combat, spurns O’Donnell because he never wants to be a burden. That scene, as he skillfully manages the wedding ring, is but one of several memorable highspots.
The pace of the picture is a bit leisurely. Almost a full hour is required to set the mood and the motivation, but never does it pall. Not a line or scene is spurious. The people live; they are not mere shadow etchings on a silver sheet.
1946: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Fredric March), Supp. Actor (Harold Russell), Screenplay, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture, Editing, Special Award (Harold Russell).
Nomination: Best Sound