×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Best Years of Our Lives

With:
Stars: Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright; Features Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Donnell. Harold Russell, Hoagy Carmichael.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036868/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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.

Cathy O’Donnell, newcomer, 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 Miss 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 high spots.

March’s forthright stance as a banker, father and free-and-easy bourbon drinker makes his performance easily one of the year’s cinematic outstanders. Given a v.p. title and a returning war hero’s salary boost as the bank’s officer in charge of small loans to Gis, he tells off the smug doubletalking bankers about “secure collateral” by exercising innate judgment, predicated on human values and faith in the American future. In a couple of scenes which by their very underplaying hit hard he scores a single-handed thespic triumph.

Then there is Hoagy Carmichael as the laconic piano-playing tavernkeeper who teaches the amputated ex-seaman how to play the ivories with those trick lunch-hooks. The songsmithing actor has become quite a trouper. Gladys George does well as blowsy stepmother to Dana Andrews, whose pop (Roman Bohnen) lives in frowzy gin-reeking existence down by the railroad tracks, only suddenly awakening to the boy’s military prowess which has made the kid from the wrong side of the tracks emerge an officer. It takes Andrews a little longer to find himself but he does in that telling final scene which augurs well for him and Miss Wright.

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. The realism is graphic; the story compelling; the romantic frailties and the human little problems confronting each of the group are typical of the headlines in stressing the impact of postwar readjustment and faith in the future.

Abel.

1946: Best Motion Picture (Samuel Goldwyn Productions), Actor (Fredric March), Actor in a Supporting Role (Harold Russell), Directing (William Wyler), Film Editing (Daniel Mandell), Music–Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Hugo Friedhofer), Writing–Screenplay (Robert E. Sherwood), Special Award (To Harold Russell for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance in “The Best Years of Our Lives.”)

Nominations: Sound Recording (Samuel Goldwyn Studio Sound Department, Gordon Sawyer, Sound Director)

Popular on Variety

Best Years of Our Lives

Production: RKO release of Samuel Goldwyn production. Directed by William Wyler. Screenplay, Robert E. Sherwood from MacKinlay Kantor's novel, "Glory for Me." Asst. director Joseph Royle.

Crew: Camera, Gregg Toland; editor, Daniel Mandell. Tradeshown Nov. 21, '46. Running time 163 MIN. Original review text from 1946.

With: Stars: Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright; Features Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Donnell. Harold Russell, Hoagy Carmichael.

More Film

  • Benedict Andrews (L) and US actress

    Kristen Stewart on the 'Insane Gall' of Directors as 'Seberg' Arrives in San Sebastian

    SAN SEBASTIAN – On Friday, Kristen Stewart and Benedict Andrews’ political thriller “Seberg” plays at the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival, where it opens Perlak, a section dedicated to the Spanish premieres of major international films. The star and her director addressed the media prior to the screening in the festival’s first high-profile press conference, [...]

  • Les Miserables

    Ladj Ly's Cannes Prize-Winner 'Les Miserables' Is France's Oscar Submission

    Ladj Ly’s politically charged drama “Les Miserables,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, has been chosen by France’s Oscar committee to enter the international feature film race. In one of the most competitive years for French movies, “Les Miserables” beat out Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the 18th-century-set romance which won [...]

  • David Kehrl neuer Head of Acquisitions

    'Resident Evil's' Constantin Names Acquisitions, International Co-Production Chief

    David Kehrl is to join Constantin Film, Germany’s leading independent movie producer and distributor, as the head of acquisitions and international co-production. He will report to Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the executive board at Constantin Film, which produces the “Resident Evil” movies. Starting in February, Kehrl will be responsible for the acquisition of international theatrical [...]

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 joint venture will [...]

  • KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has

    KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has a Name: Leonine

    The KKR-backed German media company formed through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film finally has a name: Leonine. The company revealed its moniker Friday, saying that “Leonine” met its criteria of being associated with its home region of Bavaria and Munich, in southern Germany, and of [...]

  • Scattered Night

    San Sebastian New Directors Jihyoung Lee and Kim Sol Talk ‘Scattered Night’

    After taking the Korean Competition Grand Prize and the best acting award (Moon Seung-a) at the Jeonju Intl. Film Festival, “Scattered Night” now heads to San Sebastian’s New Directors selection. An intimate portrayal of a family whose members are deeply isolated from one another, the film follows two parents overwhelmed by their responsibilities, their own [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content