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The Best Years of Our Lives

Theatrical poster
Directed by William Wyler
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Robert E. Sherwood
MacKinlay Kantor
Starring Fredric March
Myrna Loy
Dana Andrews
Teresa Wright
Virginia Mayo
Harold Russell
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Editing by Daniel Mandell
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) November 21, 1946 (1946-11-21)
Running time 172 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.1 million
Gross revenue $23,650,000[1]

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film about three servicemen trying to piece their lives back together after coming home from World War II.

Samuel Goldwyn was motivated to produce the film after his wife Frances read an August 7, 1944 article in Time magazine about the difficulties experienced by war veterans returning to civilian life. Goldwyn hired former war correspondent MacKinlay Kantor to write the story, which was first published as a novella, Glory for Me, which was written in blank verse.[2] Robert Sherwood then wrote the screenplay.[3] It was directed by William Wyler, with cinematography by Gregg Toland. The film won seven Academy Awards. In addition to its critical success the film was a massive commercial success upon release becoming the highest grossing film in both the USA and UK since the release of Gone with the Wind. It remains the sixth most profitable film of all time in the UK.[4]

The ensemble cast includes Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Hoagy Carmichael. It also features Harold Russell, a U.S. paratrooper who had lost both his hands in a training accident.

Contents

Plot

After World War II, demobilized servicemen Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), and Al Stephenson (Frederic March) meet while hitching a ride home in a bomber to Boone City, a fictional Midwestern city, patterned after Cincinnati, Ohio.[2] Fred was a highly decorated Army Air Forces captain and bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in Europe, who still suffers from nightmares of combat. Homer had been in the Navy, losing both of his hands from burns suffered when his aircraft carrier was sunk. For replacements, he has mechanical hook prostheses. Al served as an infantry sergeant in the 25th Infantry Division, fighting in the Pacific.

Prior to the war, Al had worked as a bank executive and loan officer for the Corn Belt Savings and Loan in Boone City. He is a mature man with a loving family and comfortable home: his patient wife Milly (Myrna Loy), adult daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright) and college freshman son Rob. Al now is having trouble readjusting to civilian life, as do his two chance acquaintances, and he is showing signs of alcoholism.

The bank, anticipating an increase in loans to returning war veterans, promotes Al to Vice President in charge of the small loan department because of his war experience. However, after he approves a chancy loan to a veteran, Al's boss Mr. Milton advises him not to gamble on further loans without collateral. At his welcome-home dinner, a slightly-drunk Al gives a stirring speech, acknowledging that people will think that the bank is gambling with the depositors' money if he has his way, "And they'll be right; we'll be gambling on the future of this country!" Mr. Milton applauds his sentiments, but Al remarks later, "He'll back me up wholeheartedly until the next time I help some little guy, then I'll have to fight it out again."

Homer playing piano. Note the in-focus figure of Fred in the phone booth in the background, while maintaining clear focus on Homer, Butch and Al.

Before the war, Fred had been an unskilled drugstore soda jerk, having been raised in a poor neighborhood. He does not want to return to his old job, but has no choice, given the stiff competition from other returning veterans and his lack of civilian skills. He had met Marie (Virginia Mayo) while in training and married her shortly afterward, before shipping out less than a month later. She took a job as a night club waitress and set up her own apartment while Fred was overseas. She does not relish being married to a soda jerk and seemed more attracted to Fred as an officer.

Peggy meets Fred after coming home with Al following an alcohol-fueled "reunion" at a local watering hole owned by Homer's uncle, Butch (Hoagy Carmichael). The relationship between Peggy and Fred begins slowly, but there is a mutual attraction almost from the start. After a double-date with Fred and Marie, Peggy holds Marie in contempt after discovering how shallow and selfish she is. Peggy tells her parents she intends to break up Fred and Marie's marriage, only to be told that their own marriage overcame similar problems. To protect Peggy, Al pressures Fred to break off all contact with his daughter. Fred does so, but the friendship between the two men is strained almost to the breaking point.

Homer was a football quarterback before the war. Before leaving to fight, he had become engaged to Wilma (Cathy O'Donnell). When he returns, both Homer and his parents have trouble dealing with his disability. He does not want to burden Wilma with a handicapped man, so he pushes her away, although she is the one who has adjusted best to the situation. His uncle Butch owns a bar where the three men meet from time to time. Butch counsels Homer, but is careful not to tell his nephew what to do.

At the drugstore where Fred now works, an obnoxious soda fountain customer, who says that the war was fought against the wrong enemies, gets into an altercation with Homer, Fred punches the troublemaker and loses his job. When Fred returns home to tell his wife the bad news, he discovers her with another man (also a war vet). Marie exclaims:

I gave up the best years of my life, and what have you done? You flopped! Couldn't even hold that job at the drugstore. So I'm going back to work for myself and that means I'm gonna live for myself too. And in case you don't understand English, I'm gonna get a divorce.

Fred decides to leave town, and goes to his father's house to say goodbye. He gives his father, Pat Derry, his medals and citations, saying dismissively that they were "passed out with the k-rations." After he leaves, his father reads to his partner Fred's Distinguished Flying Cross citation, and for the first time learns the details of his son's extraordinary heroism.

Fred arrives at the airport and books space on the first outbound transport, not caring where it goes. While waiting for the aircraft to depart, Fred walks around the airport to kill time and wanders into a vast wartime aircraft "boneyard". Climbing into the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress, he begins to relive intense memories of combat. He is brought out of his reverie by the boss of a work crew. Derry assumes that the aircraft, like himself, are garbage to be thrown away but the crew chief explains that the aluminum is being salvaged to build pre-fabricated housing. Fred talks the man into giving him a job.

Wilma tells Homer that her family wants her to go away, since it seems that he will not marry her. He bluntly and explicitly demonstrates how hard life with him would be, but she is unfazed. When she makes it clear that she loves him regardless, he gives in. Now divorced, Fred is Homer's best man at the wedding. He greets Peggy pleasantly but formally, but they exchange meaningful looks throughout the ceremony. Homer successfully manipulates Wilma's wedding ring with his mechanical hands, and places it onto her finger. As the guests gather to congratulate Homer and Wilma, Fred suddenly approaches Peggy and holds her, telling her that their life together will be a hard struggle, that they'd be "kicked around" and it might be years before they can get ahead. However, she beams despite his discouraging words. They embrace, and kiss.

Cast

Casting brought together established stars as well as character actors and relative unknowns. Famed drummer Gene Krupa is seen in archival footage, while Tennessee Ernie Ford, later a famous television star, appears as an uncredited "hillbilly singer" (in the first of his only three film appearances). At the time the film was shot, Ford was unknown as a singer, and working in San Bernardino as a radio announcer-disc jockey, his singing skills not yet known. They would not emerge until he began making records in 1949. Notable film producer and director Blake Edwards appears fleetingly as an uncredited "Corporal". Actress Judy Wyler was also cast in her first role in her father's production.

Additional uncredited cast members include Mary Arden, Al Bridge, Harry Cheshire, Joyce Compton, Heinie Conklin, Clancy Cooper, Claire Du Brey, Tom Dugan, Edward Earle, Billy Engle, Pat Flaherty, Stuart Holmes, John Ince, Teddy Infuhr, Robert Karnes, Joe Palma, Leo Penn, Jack Rice, Suzanne Ridgeway, Ralph Sanford and John Tyrrell.[5]

Production

Director William Wyler had actually flown combat missions over Europe in filming Memphis Belle (1944) and worked hard to get realistic depictions of the combat veterans he had encountered. One of the innovative elements he introduced was in asking all the principal actors to purchase their own clothes to maintain an affinity for the period and provide a more genuine "feel." Other Wyler touches included constructing life-size sets which went against the standard larger sets that were more suited to camera positions. The impact to the audience was immediate as each scene played out in a realistic, natural way.[6]

The movie began filming on April 15, 1946 at a variety of locations including the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Ontario International Airport, Ontario, California, Raleigh Studios, Hollywood and the Samuel Goldwyn/Warner Hollywood Studios.[citation needed] The Best Years of Our Lives is notable for cinematographer Gregg Toland's use of deep focus photography, in which objects both close to and distant from the camera are in sharp focus.[7] His evocative sequence of Fred Derry reliving a combat mission while sitting in the remains of a former bomber, utilized imaginative "zoom" effects to simulate an aircraft taking off.[8]

The wartime combat aircraft that feature prominently in the film were being destroyed in large numbers at the end of hostilities. When former air force bombardier Derry walks among the aircraft ruins, the sequence was filmed at the Ontario Army Air Field in Ontario, California where the former training facility had been converted into a scrap yard housing nearly 2,000 former combat aircraft in various states of disassembly.[6]

Reception

Shortly after its premiere at the Astor Theater, New York, Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, hailed the film as a masterpiece, and wrote, "It is seldom that there comes a motion picture which can be wholly and enthusiastically endorsed not only as superlative entertainment but as food for quiet and humanizing thought... In working out their solutions Mr. Sherwood and Mr. Wyler have achieved some of the most beautiful and inspiring demonstrations of human fortitude that we have had in films."[9] He also said the ensemble casting gave the "'best' performance in this best film this year from Hollywood."

A more recent critic, Dave Kehr, is more reluctant to praise the film, but he makes the case for why the film is important today. He wrote, "The film is very proud of itself, exuding a stifling piety at times, but it works as well as this sort of thing can, thanks to accomplished performances by Fredric March, Myrna Loy, and Dana Andrews, who keep the human element afloat. Gregg Toland's deep-focus photography, though, remains the primary source of interest for today's audiences."[7] David Thomson offers tempered praise: "I would concede that Best Years is decent and humane... acutely observed, despite being so meticulous a package. It would have taken uncommon genius and daring at that time to sneak a view of an untidy or unresolved America past Goldwyn or the public."[10]

Not everyone was as complimentary. Iconoclastic critic Manny Farber called it "a horse-drawn truckload of liberal schmaltz."[11][12]

Currently, the film has a 97% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 26 reviews.[13]

Awards and honors

1947 Academy Awards
The film received seven Academy Awards. Despite his touching Oscar-nominated performance, Harold Russell was not a professional actor and the Board of Governors considered him a long shot to win, so he was given an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance". However, he was named Best Supporting Actor to a tumultuous reception, making him the only actor to receive two Academy Awards for the same performance. He later sold one of them for $50,000, first claiming it was to pay his wife's medical bills, but later admitting it was to finance a cruise for her[14]. He often joked, "I can pick up anything but the check!" Also Fredric March won his second Best Actor award after winning in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (he shared with Wallace Beery in The Champ) and he was the second man to win Best Actor twice since Spencer Tracy won for Boys Town but it was his first outright Award.

Award Result Winner
Best Motion Picture Won Samuel Goldwyn Productions (Samuel Goldwyn, Producer)
Best Director Won William Wyler
Best Actor Won Fredric March
Best Writing (Screenplay) Won Robert E. Sherwood
Best Supporting Actor Won Harold Russell
Best Film Editing Won Daniel Mandell
Best Music (Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Won Hugo Friedhofer
Best Sound Recording Nominated Gordon Sawyer
Winner was John P. Livadary - The Jolson Story
Honorary Award Won To Harold Russell for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance in The Best Years of Our Lives

1947 Golden Globe Awards

  • Won: Best Dramatic Motion Picture
  • Won: Special Award for Best Non-Professional Acting - Harold Russell

1948 BAFTA Awards

Other wins

In 1989, the National Film Registry selected it for preservation in the United States Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

American Film Institute recognition

References

Notes
  1. ^ " 'Best Years of Our Lives' (1946)." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved: February 4, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Orriss 1984, p. 119.
  3. ^ Levy, Emanuelle. Film review
  4. ^ "BFI'S Ultimate Film Chart." lff.org.uk. Retrieved: August 9, 2009.
  5. ^ " 'The Best Years of Our Lives' (1946): Full cast and credits." Internet Movie Database. Retrieved: February 4, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Orriss 1984, p. 121.
  7. ^ a b Kehr, Dave. The Best Years of Our Lives. The Chicago Reader. Retrieved: April 26, 2007.
  8. ^ Orriss 1984, pp. 121–122.
  9. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The Best Years of our Lives. The New York Times, November 22, 1946. Retrieved: April 26, 2007.
  10. ^ Thomson 2002, p. 949.
  11. ^ Flood 1998, p. 15.
  12. ^ OCLC 90715570 "Manny Farber."findarticles.com. Retrieved: April 26, 2007.
  13. ^ " 'The Best Years of Our Lives'." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: February 4, 2010.
  14. ^ Kinn and Piazza 2008, p. 332.
Bibliography
  • Dolan, Edward F. Jr. Hollywood Goes to War. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7.
  • Flood, Richard. "Reel crank - critic Manny Farber." Artforum, Volume 37, Issue 1, September 1998. ISSN 0004-3532.
  • Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies." The Making of the Great Aviation Films. General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
  • Kinn, Gail and Jim Piazza. The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2008. ISBN 978-1579127725.
  • Orriss, Bruce. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II. Hawthorn, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.
  • Thomson, David. "Wyler, William." A Biographical Dictionary of Film. London: Little, Brown, 2002. ISBN 0-31685-905-2.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
The Lost Weekend
Academy Award for Best Picture
1946
Succeeded by
Gentleman's Agreement
Preceded by
New Award
BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source
1948
Succeeded by
Hamlet

The Best Years of Our Lives
File:The Best Years of Our Lives film
Theatrical poster
Directed by William Wyler
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Robert E. Sherwood
MacKinlay Kantor
Starring Fredric March
Myrna Loy
Dana Andrews
Teresa Wright
Virginia Mayo
Harold Russell
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Editing by Daniel Mandell
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) November 21, 1946 (1946-11-21)
Running time 172 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.1 million
Gross revenue $23,650,000[1]

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film about three servicemen trying to piece their lives back together after coming home from World War II. It won the 1946 Academy Award for Best Picture.

Samuel Goldwyn was inspired to produce a film about veterans after reading an August 7, 1944 article in Time magazine about the difficulties experienced by men returning to civilian life. Goldwyn hired former war correspondent MacKinlay Kantor to write a screenplay. His work was first published as a novella, Glory for Me, which Kantor wrote in blank verse.[2][3]

Robert Sherwood then adapted the novel as a screenplay.[3] The film was directed by William Wyler, with cinematography by Gregg Toland. The film won seven Academy Awards, including those for best picture, director, actor, supporting actor, editing, screenplay, and original score.

In addition to its critical success, the film quickly became a great commercial success upon release. It became the highest grossing film in both the USA and UK since the release of Gone with the Wind. It remains the sixth most attended film of all time in the UK, with over 20 million tickets sold.[4]

The ensemble cast includes Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Hoagy Carmichael. It also features Harold Russell, a U.S. paratrooper who had lost both hands in a training accident.

Contents

Plot

After World War II, demobilized servicemen Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Homer Parrish (Harold Russell), and Al Stephenson (Frederic March) meet while hitching a ride home in a bomber to Boone City, a fictional Midwestern city, patterned after Cincinnati, Ohio.[2] Fred was a decorated Army Air Forces captain and bombardier with the Eighth Air Force in Europe, who still suffers from nightmares of combat. Homer had been in the Navy, where he lost both hands from burns suffered when his aircraft carrier was sunk. For replacements, he has mechanical hook prostheses (as Harold Russell had, so no artifice was required). Al served as an infantry platoon sergeant in the 25th Infantry Division, fighting in the Pacific.

Prior to the war, Al had worked as a bank executive and loan officer for the Corn Belt Savings and Loan in Boone City. He is a mature man with a loving family and comfortable home: his patient wife Milly (Myrna Loy), adult daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright) and college freshman son Rob. Al now is having trouble readjusting to civilian life, as do his two chance acquaintances, and he is showing signs of alcoholism.

The bank, anticipating an increase in loans to returning war veterans, promotes Al to Vice President in charge of the small loan department because of his war experience. However, after he approves a chancy loan to a veteran, Al's boss Mr. Milton advises him not to gamble on further loans without collateral. At his welcome-home dinner, a slightly drunk Al gives a stirring speech, acknowledging that people will think that the bank is gambling with the depositors' money if he has his way, "And they'll be right; we'll be gambling on the future of this country!" Mr. Milton applauds his sentiments, but Al remarks later, "He'll back me up wholeheartedly until the next time I help some little guy, then I'll have to fight it out again."

File:Best Years of Our Lives 01
Homer playing piano. Note the in-focus figure of Fred in the phone booth in the background, while maintaining clear focus on Homer, Butch and Al.

Before the war, Fred had been an unskilled drugstore soda jerk, having been raised in a poor neighborhood. He does not want to return to his old job, but has no choice, given the stiff competition from other returning veterans and his lack of civilian skills. He had met Marie (Virginia Mayo) while in training and married her shortly afterward, before shipping out less than a month later. She took a job as a night club waitress and set up her own apartment while Fred was overseas. She does not relish being married to a soda jerk and seemed more attracted to Fred as an officer.

Peggy meets Fred after coming home with her father Al following an alcohol-fueled "reunion" at a local watering hole owned by Homer's uncle, Butch (Hoagy Carmichael). The relationship between Peggy and Fred begins slowly, but there is a mutual attraction almost from the start. After a double-date with Fred and Marie, Peggy is contemptuous of Marie, believing she is shallow. Peggy tells her parents she intends to break up Fred and Marie's marriage, only to be told that their own marriage overcame similar problems. To protect Peggy, Al pressures Fred to break off all contact with his daughter. Fred does so, but the friendship between the two men is strained almost to the breaking point.

Homer was a football quarterback before the war. Before leaving to fight, he had become engaged to Wilma (Cathy O'Donnell). When he returns, both Homer and his parents have trouble dealing with his disability. He does not want to burden Wilma with a handicapped man, so he pushes her away, although she adjusts best to his changed life. His uncle Butch owns a bar where the three men meet from time to time. Butch counsels Homer, but refrains from telling his nephew what to do.

At the drugstore where Fred works, an obnoxious customer, who says that the war was fought against the wrong enemies, gets into an altercation with Homer. After Fred punches the troublemaker, he loses his job. One day when Fred returns home from collecting his unemployment check and job hunting, he discovers his wife with another man (Steve Cochran in an early role as another veteran). Marie exclaims:

I gave up the best years of my life, and what have you done? You flopped! Couldn't even hold that job at the drugstore. So I'm going back to work for myself and that means I'm gonna live for myself too. And in case you don't understand English, I'm gonna get a divorce.

Fred decides to leave town, and goes to his father's house to say goodbye. He gives his father, Pat Derry, his medals and citations, saying dismissively that they were "passed out with the k-rations." After he leaves, his father reads aloud the citation for Fred's Distinguished Flying Cross citation. For the first time, he learns of his son's extraordinary heroism.

Arriving at the airport, Fred books space on the first outbound transport, not caring about the destination. While waiting departure, Fred walks around the airport to kill time and wanders into a vast wartime aircraft "boneyard". Climbing into the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress, he begins to relive intense memories of combat. The boss of a work crew interrupts him. Fred had thought of the aircraft as unwanted debris to be thrown away, like him. When the crew chief says the aluminum is being salvaged to build housing, Fred talks him into a job.

Wilma tells Homer that her family wants her to go away, since it seems that he will not marry her. He bluntly demonstrates how hard life with him would be, but she is unfazed. When she makes it clear that she loves him anyway, he gives in.

Now divorced, Fred is Homer's best man at the wedding. He greets Peggy formally, but they exchange meaningful looks throughout the ceremony. As the guests gather to congratulate Homer and Wilma, Fred approaches Peggy and holds her. He says that their life together will be a hard struggle, and it might be years before they can get ahead. She smiles despite his words and they embrace.

Cast

Casting brought together established stars as well as character actors and relative unknowns. Famed drummer Gene Krupa was seen in archival footage, while Tennessee Ernie Ford, later a famous television star, appeared as an uncredited "hillbilly singer" (in the first of his only three film appearances). At the time the film was shot, Ford was unknown as a singer. He worked in San Bernardino as a radio announcer-disc jockey. Blake Edwards, later notable as a film producer and director, appeared fleetingly as an uncredited "Corporal". Actress Judy Wyler was cast in her first role in her father's production.

Additional uncredited cast members include Mary Arden, Al Bridge, Harry Cheshire, Joyce Compton, Heinie Conklin, Clancy Cooper, Claire Du Brey, Tom Dugan, Edward Earle, Billy Engle, Pat Flaherty, Stuart Holmes, John Ince, Teddy Infuhr, Robert Karnes, Joe Palma, Leo Penn, Jack Rice, Suzanne Ridgeway, Ralph Sanford and John Tyrrell.[5]

Production

Director William Wyler had flown combat missions over Europe in filming Memphis Belle (1944) and worked hard to get accurate depictions of the combat veterans he had encountered.

For The Best Years of Our Lives, he asked the principal actors to purchase their own clothes, in order to connect with daily life and produce an authentic feeling. Other Wyler touches included constructing life-size sets, which went against the standard larger sets that were more suited to camera positions. The impact for the audience was immediate, as each scene played out in a realistic, natural way.[6]

The movie began filming on April 15, 1946 at a variety of locations, including the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Ontario International Airport, Ontario, California, Raleigh Studios, Hollywood and the Samuel Goldwyn/Warner Hollywood Studios.[citation needed] Many scenes were also filmed in Phoenxiville, PA, most notably the banking scenes using the Farmers and Mechanics Bank located on Main Street and various other scenes showing Bridge Street and Main Street in Phoenixville, PA. The Best Years of Our Lives is notable for cinematographer Gregg Toland's use of deep focus photography, in which objects both close to and distant from the camera are in sharp focus.[7] For the passage of Fred Derry's reliving a combat mission while sitting in the remains of a former bomber, Wyler used "zoom" effects to simulate an aircraft's taking off.[8]

The "Jackson High" football stadium seen early in the movie in aerial footage was Corcoran Stadium, the home of Xavier University's (Cincinnati) football team from 1929 to 1973.

After the war, the combat aircraft featured in the film were being destroyed and disassembled for reuse as scrap material. The scene of Derry's walking among aircraft ruins was filmed at the Ontario Army Air Field in Ontario, California. The former training facility had been converted into a scrap yard, housing nearly 2,000 former combat aircraft in various states of disassembly.[6]

Big-band jazz drummer Gene Krupa briefly appears in a montage of nightclub performers.

Reception

Upon its release, the film received extremely positive reviews from critics. Shortly after its premiere at the Astor Theater, New York, Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, hailed the film as a masterpiece. He wrote,

"It is seldom that there comes a motion picture which can be wholly and enthusiastically endorsed not only as superlative entertainment but as food for quiet and humanizing thought... In working out their solutions Mr. Sherwood and Mr. Wyler have achieved some of the most beautiful and inspiring demonstrations of human fortitude that we have had in films."[9]
He also said the ensemble casting gave the "'best' performance in this best film this year from Hollywood."

A contemporary critic, Dave Kehr, wrote,

"The film is very proud of itself, exuding a stifling piety at times, but it works as well as this sort of thing can, thanks to accomplished performances by Fredric March, Myrna Loy, and Dana Andrews, who keep the human element afloat. Gregg Toland's deep-focus photography, though, remains the primary source of interest for today's audiences."[7]
David Thomson offers tempered praise: "I would concede that Best Years is decent and humane... acutely observed, despite being so meticulous a package. It would have taken uncommon genius and daring at that time to sneak a view of an untidy or unresolved America past Goldwyn or the public."[10]

Not everyone was as complimentary. The critic Manny Farber called it "a horse-drawn truckload of liberal schmaltz."[11][12]

In July 2010, the film has a 97% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 35 reviews.[13] The film enjoys a 100% "Fresh" rating on the site's "Top Critics" section, based on 8 reviews.

The film was a massive popular success. When box office prices are adjusted for inflation, it remains one of the top 100 grossing films in U.S. history. Among films released before 1950, only Gone With the Wind, The Bells of St. Mary's and four Disney titles have done more total business, in part due to later re-releases. (Reliable box office figures for certain early films such as Birth of a Nation and Charlie Chaplin's comedies are unavailable.) [14]

Awards and honors

1947 Academy Awards
The film received seven Academy Awards. Fredric March won his second Best Actor award (after winning in 1932 for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). (Dana Andrews' brilliant performance turned out to be overshadowed by the acclaim Fredric March and Harold Russell received.)

Despite his Oscar-nominated performance, Harold Russell was not a professional actor. As the Academy Board of Governors considered him a long shot to win, they gave him an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance". When Russell won Best Supporting Actor, there was an enthusiastic response. He is the only actor to have received two Academy Awards for the same performance. He later sold one of the awards for $50,000, first claiming it was to pay his wife's medical bills. Later he said it was to pay for a cruise for her.[15] He often joked, "I can pick up anything but the check!"

Award Result Winner
Best Motion Picture Won Samuel Goldwyn Productions (Samuel Goldwyn, Producer)
Best Director Won William Wyler
Best Actor Won Fredric March
Best Writing (Screenplay) Won Robert E. Sherwood
Best Supporting Actor Won Harold Russell
Best Film Editing Won Daniel Mandell
Best Music (Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) Won Hugo Friedhofer
Best Sound Recording Nominated Gordon Sawyer
Winner was John P. Livadary - The Jolson Story
Honorary Award Won To Harold Russell

1947 Golden Globe Awards

  • Won: Best Dramatic Motion Picture
  • Won: Special Award for Best Non-Professional Acting - Harold Russell

1948 BAFTA Awards

Other wins

In 1989, the National Film Registry selected it for preservation in the United States Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

American Film Institute recognition

References

Notes
  1. ^ " 'Best Years of Our Lives' (1946)." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved: February 4, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Orriss 1984, p. 119.
  3. ^ a b Emmanuel Levy, Review: "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), Emmanuel Levy Website, accessed 4 May 2010
  4. ^ "BFI'S Ultimate Film Chart." BFi.org.uk. Retrieved: July 27, 2010.
  5. ^ " 'The Best Years of Our Lives' (1946): Full cast and credits." Internet Movie Database. Retrieved: February 4, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Orriss 1984, p. 121.
  7. ^ a b Kehr, Dave. The Best Years of Our Lives. The Chicago Reader. Retrieved: April 26, 2007.
  8. ^ Orriss 1984, pp. 121–122
  9. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The Best Years of our Lives. The New York Times, November 22, 1946. Retrieved: April 26, 2007.
  10. ^ Thomson, 2002, p. 949.
  11. ^ Flood, 1998, p. 15.
  12. ^ OCLC 90715570 "Manny Farber"findarticles.com. Retrieved: April 26, 2007.
  13. ^ " 'The Best Years of Our Lives'." Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: July 30, 2010.
  14. ^ "All-time Films (adjusted)." Box Office Mojo. Retrieved: September 19, 2010.
  15. ^ Kinn and Piazza 2008, p. 332
Bibliography
  • Dolan, Edward F. Jr. Hollywood Goes to War. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7.
  • Flood, Richard. "Reel crank - critic Manny Farber." Artforum, Volume 37, Issue 1, September 1998. ISSN 0004-3532.
  • Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies", in The Making of the Great Aviation Films. General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
  • Kinn, Gail and Jim Piazza. The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2008. ISBN 978-1579127725.
  • Orriss, Bruce. When Hollywood Ruled the Skies: The Aviation Film Classics of World War II. Hawthorn, California: Aero Associates Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-9613088-0-X.
  • Thomson, David. "Wyler, William", A Biographical Dictionary of Film. London: Little, Brown, 2002. ISBN 0-31685-905-2.

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Going My Way
Academy Award winner for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Succeeded by
Ben-Hur

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 film about three WWII veterans who return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

Directed by William Wyler. Written by Robert E. Sherwood, based on the novel Glory For Me by MacKinlay Kantor.
Filled with all the love and warmth and joy. . .the human heart can hold! taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Contents

Al Stephenson

  • [about Homer] They [the Navy] couldn't train him to put his arms around his girl to stroke her hair.
  • [to Milly and Peggy] How 'bout we go celebrate the old man's homecoming...I want to do something, see something. I've been in jungles and around savages so long, I gotta find out I'm back in civilization again.
  • [to Mr. Novak] You'll get your loan...You look like a good risk to me. And when those tomato plants start producing, I'll come out for some free samples.
  • [to the bank president] Novak looked to me like a good bet...You see Mr. Milton, in the Army, I've had to be with men when they were stripped of everything in the way of property except what they carried around with them and inside them. I saw them being tested. Now some of them stood up to it and some didn't. But you got so you could tell which ones you could count on. I tell you this man Novak is okay. His collateral is in his hands, in his heart and his guts. It's in his right as a citizen.
  • I'm sure you'll all agree with me if I said that now is the time for all of us to stop all this nonsense, face facts, get down to brass tacks, forget about the war and go fishing. But I'm not gonna say it. I'm just going to sum the whole thing up in one word. [Milly coughs loudly] My wife doesn't think I'd better sum it up in that one word. I want to tell you all that the reason for my success as a Sergeant is due primarily to my previous training in the Cornbelt Loan and Trust Company. The knowledge I acquired in the good ol' bank I applied to my problems in the infantry. For instance, one day in Okinawa, a Major comes up to me and he says, 'Stephenson, you see that hill?' 'Yes sir, I see it.' 'All right,' he said. 'You and your platoon will attack said hill and take it.' So I said to the Major, 'but that operation involves considerable risk. We haven't sufficient collateral.' 'I'm aware of that,' said the Major, 'but the fact remains that there's the hill and you are the guys that are going to take it.' So I said to him, 'I'm sorry Major, no collateral, no hill.' So we didn't take the hill and we lost the war.' I think that little story has considerable significance, but I've forgotten what it is. And now in conclusion, I'd like to tell you a humorous anecdote. I know several humorous anecdotes, but I can't think of any way to clean them up, so I'll only say this much. I love the Cornbelt Loan and Trust Company. There are some who say that the old bank is suffering from hardening of the arteries and of the heart. I refuse to listen to such radical talk. I say that our bank is alive, it's generous, it's human, and we're going to have such a line of customers seeking and getting small loans that people will think we're gambling with the depositors' money. And we will be. We will be gambling on the future of this country. I thank you.

Fred Derry

  • [to Peggy] I think they ought to put you in mass production.
  • [to Marie] I don't want to be right back where we started. We can never be back there again. We never want to be back there.
  • [to Homer, about Wilma] Take her in your arms, and kiss her. Ask her to marry you. Then marry her. Tomorrow if you can get a license that fast. If you want anybody to stand up for you at your wedding...
  • You know what it'll be, don't you, Peggy? It may take us years to get anywhere. We'll have no money, no decent place to live. We'll have to work - get kicked around.

Others

  • Marie Derry: [to Fred] Oh, you're marveous. All those ribbons. You gotta tell me what they all mean.
  • Marie Derry: [To Peggy] Never mind the romantic part of it. That takes care of itself. And I'm speaking from experience. They'll tell you money isn't everything. Well, maybe it isn't, but boy how it helps! Do you know that while Fred was away, I was drawing over five hundred dollars a month, I mean, from his Army pay and the job I had. Now the two of us got to live on what Fred gets from being a drugstore cowboy - thirty two fifty a week. Poor Fred. I guess you think he's an awful sourpuss. He didn't used to be that way, though. The Army's had an awful effect on him - knocked all the life out of him...You can't have happy marriages on that kind of dough.
  • Milly Stephenson: [to Al] All right Sergeant. Gosh, you got tough.
  • Mr. Milton: [to Al] There's considerable uncertainty in the business picture. Strikes, taxes still ruin us...Oh, things will readjust themselves in time. We want you back here in the saddle. You're the man for it...Your war experience will prove invaluable to us here. See, we have many new problems. This GI Bill of Rights, for instance. It involves us in consideration of all kinds of loans to ex-servicemen. We need a man who understands the soldier's problems. And at the same time, who's well grounded in the fundamental principles of sound banking. In other words, you.
  • Homer Parrish: [to neighborhood kids] You want to see how the hooks work? Do you want to see the freak? All right, I'll show ya! [He smashes his two hook-fists through the window] Take a good look.
  • Peggy Stephenson: [to Milly, about Fred] He said he's sorry for what happened but it was just one of those things. He said it wouldn't be fair to his wife for us to see each other anymore because I'm obviously the kind of girl that takes these things too seriously. Then he said goodbye very politely and hung up. Well, I guess you and Dad don't have to worry about me anymore. That's the end of my career as a homewrecker. Mom, I know you feel sorry for me. You think my poor little heart is broken, but you can save your sympathy. I can see things clearer now. I made a fool of myself. I'm getting some sense hammered into me now. I'm glad I'm out of that mess. I'm glad I'll never see him again.
  • Pat Derry: [to his wife, reading Fred's citations] Headquarters, Eighth Air Force. Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross...Despite intense pain, shock, and loss of blood, with complete disregard of his personal safety, Captain Derry crawled back to his bombsight, guided his formation on a perfect run over the objective, and released his bombs with great accuracy. The heroism, devotion to duty, professional skill, and coolness under fire displayed by Captain Derry under the most difficult conditions reflect highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America. By command of Lieutenant General Doolittle.

Dialogue

Homer: Boy, oh boy, hey, look at that. Look at those automobiles down there. You can see them so plain, you can even see the people in them.
Fred: Yeah, it looks like we're flying by a roadmap.

Homer: I didn't see much of the war...I was stationed in a repair shop below decks. Oh, I was in plenty of battles, but I never saw a Jap or heard a shell coming at me. When we were sunk, all I know is there was a lot of fire and explosions. And I was on the topsides and overboard. And I was burned. When I came to, I was on a cruiser. My hands were off. After that, I had it easy...That's what I said. They took care of me fine. They trained me to use these things. I can dial telephones, I can drive a car, I can even put nickels in the jukebox. I'm all right, but...well, you see, I've got a girl.
Fred: She knows what happened to ya, doesn't she?
Homer: Sure, they all know. They don't know what these things look like.
Al: What's your girl's name, Homer?
Homer: Wilma. She and I went to high school together.
Al: I'll bet Wilma's a swell girl.
Homer: She is.
Fred: Then it will be all right, sailor. You wait and see.
Homer: Yeah, wait and see. Wilma's only a kid. She's never seen anything like these hooks.

Fred: Do you remember what it felt like when we went overseas?
Al: As well as I remember my own name.
Fred: I feel the same way now - only more so.
Al: I know what you mean.
Fred: Just nervous out of the service, I guess.
Al: The thing that scares me most is that everybody is gonna try to rehabilitate me.
Fred: All I want's a good job, a mild future, a little house big enough for me and my wife. Give me that much and I'm rehabilitated [he clicks his fingers] like that.
Al: Well, I'd say that's not too much to ask.
Fred: Are you married, Al?
Al: Yup.
Fred: How long?
Al: Twenty years.
Fred: Twenty years?! Holy smoke! We didn't even have twenty days before I went over. I married a girl I met when I was in training in Texas.
Al: Well, now you and your wife will have a chance to get acquainted.

Fred: There's the golf course, people playing golf just as if nothing had ever happened.
Homer: Hey, there's Jackson High football field. Boy, I sure would like to have a dollar for every forward pass I threw down there. Good ol' Jackson High. Say, that must be the new airport.
Fred: We're turning into her now.
Al: Holy smoke. [They view an airfield graveyard]
Homer: I never knew there was so many planes.
Fred: And they're junking them...Boy, oh boy, what we could have done with those in '43!...Some of 'em look brand new, factory to the scrap heap. That's all they're good for now.

Fred: Some barracks you got here. Hey what are you, a retired bootlegger?
Al: Nothing as dignified as that. I'm a banker. '[to the cab driver] How much do I owe ya?
Fred: Take your hand out of your pocket, Sergeant. You're outranked.
Al: [saluting] Yessir, Captain, sir.

Hortense: [about Fred's wife Marie] Well, she's not living with us anymore, Freddy. She took an apartment downtown.
Fred: Why didn't anybody write me about it?
Hortense: Well, we were afraid it might worry you, you being so far away and everything. And it was kinda inconvenient for Marie living in this place after she took that job.
Pat: But we forwarded all your letters and the allotment checks.
Fred: She took a job? Where?
Pat: Uh, some nightclub, I don't know just which one.
Hortense: Oh the poor girl works 'til all hours.
Fred: Where does she live?
Pat: Uhm, Grandview Arms, on Pine Street.
Hortense: But there's nothing to worry about, Freddy. Marie's fine. We saw her last, last Christmas. She brought us some beautiful presents.
Pat: Marie's a good-hearted girl.
Fred: Do you know what time she goes out to work?
Pat: Uhm, 'long about supper time, I imagine.

Rob: Say, you were at Hiroshima, weren't you Dad?..Well, did you happen to notice any of the effects of radioactivity on the people who survived the blast?
Al: No, I didn't. Should I have?
Rob: We've been having lectures in atomic energy at school, and Mr. McLaughlin, he's our physics teacher, he says that we've reached a point where the whole human race has either got to find a way to live together, or else uhm...
Al: Or else...?
Rob: That's right. Or else. Because when you combine atomic energy with jet propulsion and radar and guided missiles, just think of the...
Al: I've seen nothing. I should have stayed home and found out what was really going on. What's happened to this family? All this atomic energy and scientific efficiency.
Peggy: Nice to have you around, dad. You'll get us back to normal.
Al: Or maybe go nuts myself.

Milly: What do you think of the children?
Al: Children? I don't recognize 'em. They've grown so old.
Milly: I tried to stop them, to keep them just as they were when you left, but they got away from me.

Mr. Cameron: Have you thought anything about getting a job, Homer?
Wilma: Father, it's much too soon for Homer to be thinking about a job. He's just out of the hospital.
Mr. Cameron: Yes, I know but a few months from now, the same opportunities won't exist that exist today. You might think about my business Homer, insurance. We've taken on a number of veterans. They make very good salesmen, you know. Men who have suffered from some kind of disability.

Homer: Wilma? What does she want?
Butch: You.
Homer: Oh, why can't they leave a guy alone?
Butch: Because they're fond of ya, that's why. What made you leave the house and get them all worried?
Homer: Oh, they, they got me nervous...well, they keep staring at these hooks, or else they keep staring away from them.
Butch: Do you mean, whatever they do is wrong?
Homer: Why don't they understand that all I want is to be treated like everybody else?
Butch: Give 'em time, kid. They'll catch on. You know, your folks will get used to you, and you'll get used to them. Then everything will settle down nicely, unless we have another war. Then none of us have to worry because we'll all be blown to bits the first day. So cheer up, huh?

Fred: You don't seem like Al's daughter.
Peggy: Actually, I'm not. He's my son by a previous marriage.
Fred: [laughing] What did you say your name was?

Peggy: What d'ya do before the war, Fred?
Fred: I was a fountain attendant...soda jerk...Surprised?
Peggy: Yes, a little. I betcha you mixed up a fine ice cream soda.
Fred: You're darn right. I was an expert behind that fountain. I used to toss a scoop of ice cream in the air, adjust for wind drift, velocity, altitude. Then wham, in the cone every time. I figured that's where I really learned to drop bombs.
Peggy: What do you think you'll do now?
Fred: I'm not going back to that drugstore. Somehow or other, I can't figure myself getting excited about a root beer float. I don't know just what I will do. I'm gonna take plenty of time looking around.
Peggy: I guess after all the places you've been, Boone City looks pretty dreary to you.
Fred: Not from where I'm sitting right now. That's not just a line. I really meant it.

Al: You know, I had a dream. I dreamt I was home. I've had that dream hundreds of times before. This time, I wanted to find out if it's really true. Am I really home?
Milly: It looks like it, and you're going to be royally treated. You're having breakfast in bed.

Milly: You ought to rest a while. Take a vacation.
Al: Got to make money. Last year it was kill Japs. And this year it's 'make money.'
Milly: We're all right for the time being.
Al: Then why do they have to bother me about problems like that the first day I get home. Why can't they give a fella time to get used to his own family?

Salesman: [about Fred] I'll bet he's back looking for a job.
Saleswoman: And he'll get it too with all those ribbons on his chest.
Salesman: Well, nobody's job is safe with all these servicemen crowding in.

Fred: [about his lack of managerial experience] I didn't do any of that. I just dropped bombs...I was only responsible for getting the bombs on the target. I didn't command anybody.
Mr. Thorpe: Unfortunately, we've no opportunities for that with Midway Drugs. However, we might be able to provide an opening for you as an assistant to Mr. Merkle, the floor manager...Incidentally, your work would require part-time duties at the soda fountain.
Fred: At what salary?
Mr. Thorpe: Thirty-two fifty per week.
Fred: Thirty-two fifty. I used to make over four hundred dollars a month in the Air Force.
Mr. Thorpe: The war is over, Derry.

Homer: What about us? We're all right, aren't we?
Wilma: No, listen to me, Homer.
Homer: I'm listening.
Wilma: You wrote me that when you got home, you and I were going to be married. If you wrote that once, you wrote it a hundred times. Isn't that true?
Homer: Yes, but things are different now.
Wilma: Have you changed your mind?
Homer: Have I said anything about changing my mind?
Wilma: No. That's just it. You haven't said anything about anything...I don't know what to think, Homer. All I know is, I was in love with you when you left and I'm in love with you now. Other things may have changed but that hasn't.

Homer: I'm sorry, Luella. It isn't your fault. Just go on and play with your friends. [To Wilma] I know Wilma, I was wrong. I shouldn't have acted like that. It wasn't her that burned my hands off. I'll be all right. I just got to work it out myself.
Wilma: I could help you, Homer, if you'd let me.
Homer: I've got to work it out myself. All I want is for people to treat me like anybody else instead of pitying me. It guess it's, it's hard for them to do that. I've just got to learn to get used to it and pay no attention.
Wilma: Couldn't I...?
Homer: No, I've got to do it myself.

Fred: We spent it, babe. That's what happened. I'm sorry it's so sudden. I didn't tell you the money was almost gone because every day I kept hoping I was going to land a good job. But at last, I've got it through my thick skull that I'm not going to get one so we'll just have to forget about Jackie's Hotspot and the Blue Devil and all the rest.
Marie: Can't you get those things out of your system?
Fred: Oh sure.
Marie: Maybe that's what's holding you back. You know, the war's over. You won't get anyplace 'til you stop thinking about it. Come on, snap out of it.
Fred: When we were married, babe, the Justice of the Peace said something about 'For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse.' Remember? Well, this is the 'worse.'
Marie: Well, when do we get going on the 'better?'
Fred: Whenever I get wise to myself, I guess. Whenever I wake up and realize I'm not an officer and a gentleman anymore. I'm just another soda jerk out of a job.

Peggy: I didn't really come in to buy anything. Dad told me you were working here and I just dropped in to say hello.
Fred: [as he shows her a perfume] Oh just a minute. I have - I have an hour off at one o'clock. Are you doing anything for lunch?
Peggy: Why no.
Fred: Thank you madam. [softly] I'll meet you outside in twenty minutes.

Fred: I knew I'd never go back to that drugstore...I dreamed I was going to have my own home. Just a nice little house with my wife out in the country, in the suburbs anyway. That's the cock-eyed kind of dream you have when you're overseas.
Peggy: You don't have to be overseas to have dreams like that.
Fred: Yeah. You can get crazy ideas right here at home.
[They kiss]
Fred: That shouldn't have happened, but I guess it had to.

Marie: Say, who is this Peggy Stephenson?
Fred: She's a girl.
Marie: I didn't think she was a kangaroo. Where did you meet her?
Fred: I told you. The night I got back when you weren't here. Al Stephenson and his wife took me home with them. She's their daughter. I'd never seen her before.
Marie: Or since?
Fred: Listen, babe, if you think you're gonna make anything out of this, you're due for a big disappointment. I just don't like to be accepting handouts when we're broke.
Marie: Well, if that's it, you'd better get used to it, because I don't see how we're gonna get much fun on your thirty two fifty a week.

Peggy: I know what you both think.
Al: What are we thinking?
Peggy: You're afraid I may be in love with Fred.
Al: Why I never had any such idea?
Milly: Shut up, Al. Are you in love with him?
Peggy: Yes. But I don't want to be. That's why I asked him and his wife to go out with us this evening. I think it ought to have a very healthy effect on me. Once I get to know her, well, I'm sure I'll stop being silly about the whole thing.

Peggy: [explaining why she invited Fred and his wife] I did it deliberately...to prove to myself that what happened this afternoon didn't really happen.
Fred: But it did happen. It had to happen. And if we go on seeing each other, Peggy, it will happen again.

Peggy: I've made up my mind...I'm going to break that marriage up. I can't stand it seeing Fred tied to a woman he doesn't love and who doesn't love him. Oh it's horrible for him. It's humiliating and it's killing his spirit. Somebody's got to help him...He doesn't love her, he hates her. I know it. I know it.
Al: Who are you, God? How did you get this power to interfere in other people's lives?
Milly: Is Fred in love with you?
Peggy: Yes.
Milly: You've been seeing him.
Peggy: Only once, today. Oh, it was all perfectly respectable. But when we were saying goodbye, he took me in his arms and kissed me and I knew.
Al: And you think a kiss from a smooth operator like Fred - you think that means anything?
Peggy: You don't know him. You don't know anything about what's inside him. And neither does she, his wife. That's probably what she thought when she married him. A smooth operator with money in his pockets. But now he isn't smooth any longer and she's lost interest in him.
Al: Whereas you're possessed of all the wisdom of the ages. You can see into the secret recesses of his innermost soul.
Peggy: I can see because I love him.
Al: So you're gonna break this marriage up. Have you decided yet how you're gonna do it? Are you gonna do it with an axe?
Peggy: It's none of your business how I'm gonna do it. You've forgotten what it's like to be in love.
Al: You hear that, Milly? I'm so old and decrepit I've forgotten how it feels to want somebody desperately.
Milly: Peggy didn't mean that, did you darling?
Peggy: Oh, no. I don't know what I do mean. It's just that, everything has always been so perfect for you. You loved each other and you got married in a big church, and you had a honeymoon in the south of France. And you never had any trouble of any kind. So how can you possibly understand how it is with Fred and me?
Milly: We never had any trouble. [To Al] How many times have I told you I hated you, and believed it in my heart. How many times have you said you were sick and tired of me, that we were all washed up? How many times have we had to fall in love all over again?

Al: I happen to be quite fond of Peggy, and I, uh...
Fred: ...don't want her to get mixed up with a heel like me.
Al: I haven't called you a heel, yet. I just don't want to see her get into this mess...I don't like the idea of you sneaking around corners to see Peggy, taking her love on a bootleg basis. I give you fair warning. I'm going to do everything I can to keep her away from you, to help her forget about you, and get her married to some decent guy who can make her happy.
Fred: Then, I guess that's it, Al. I don't see her anymore. I'll put that in the form of a guarantee. I won't see her anymore. I'll call her up and tell her so. Does that satisfy you?

Homer: I know what it is. How did I get these hooks and how do they work? That's what everybody says when they start off with 'Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?' Well, I'll tell ya. I got sick and tired of that old pair of hands I had. You know, an awful lot of trouble washing them and manicuring my nails. So I traded them in for a pair of these latest models. They work by radar. Look. [He takes a scoop of his ice cream sundae with a spoon] Pretty cute, hey?
Customer: You got plenty of guts. It's terrible when you see a guy like you that had to sacrifice himself - and for what?
Homer: And for what? I don't getcha Mister?
Customer: ...We let ourselves get sold down the river. We were pushed into war.
Homer: Sure, by the Japs and the Nazis so we had...
Customer: No, the Germans and the Japs had nothing against us. They just wanted to fight the Limies and the Reds. And they would have whipped 'em too if we didn't get deceived into it by a bunch of radicals in Washington.
Homer: What are you talkin' about?
Customer: We fought the wrong people, that's all. Just read the facts, my friend. Find out for yourself why you had to lose your hands. And then go out and do something about it.

Wilma: They figure you don't want me around. You don't want to see me, and if I go away for awhile, maybe I'll get all of this out of my mind...Do you want to get rid of me? Tell me the truth, Homer. Do you want me to forget about you?
Homer: I want you to be free, Wilma, to live your own life. I don't want you tied down forever just because you've got a kind heart.
Wilma: Oh, Homer! Why can't you ever understand the way things really are, the way I really feel? I keep trying to tell you.
Homer: But, but you don't know what it would be like to live with me. Have to face this every day, every night.
Wilma: I can only find out by trying. And if it turns out I haven't courage enough, we'll soon know it.
Homer: Wilma, you and I have been close to each other for a long time, haven't we? Ever since we were kids.
Wilma: Yes, Homer.
Homer: I'm going upstairs to bed. I wantcha, I want ya to come up and see for yourself what happens.
Wilma: All right, Homer.

Homer: I'm lucky I have my elbows. Some of the boys don't, but I can't button them up.
Wilma: I'll do that, Homer.
Homer: This is when I know I'm helpless. My hands are down there on the bed. I can't put them on again without calling to somebody for help. I can't smoke a cigarette or read a book. If that door should blow shut, I can't open it and get out of this room. I'm as dependent as a baby that doesn't know how to get anything except to cry for it. Well, now you know, Wilma. Now you have an idea of what it is. I guess you don't know what to say. It's all right. Go on home. Go away like your family said.
Wilma: I know what to say, Homer. I love you and I'm never going to leave you, never. [She kisses him]
Homer: You mean you, you didn't mind?
Wilma: Of course not. I told you I loved you.
Homer: I love you, Wilma. I always have and I always will.
Wilma: Good night, darling. Sleep well.

Marie: What do you think I was doing all those years?
Fred: I don't know, babe, but I can guess.
Marie: Go ahead. Guess your head off. I could do some guessing myself. What were you up to in London and Paris and all those places? I've given you every chance to make something of yourself. I gave up my own job when you asked me. I gave up the best years of my life, and what have you done? You flopped! Couldn't even hold that job at the drugstore. So I'm going back to work for myself and that means I'm gonna live for myself too. And in case you don't understand English, I'm gonna get a divorce. What have you got to say to that?
Fred: Don't keep Cliff waiting.
Marie: What are you gonna do?
Fred: I'm going away.
Marie: Where?
Fred: As far away from Boone City as I can get.
Marie: That's a good idea. You'll get a good job someplace else. There are drugstores everywhere.

Fred: [about his military citations] They're just a lot of fancy words that don't mean anything. You can throw them away...Those things came in the packages of K-rations.
Pat Derry: Well, we'll treasure them, my boy. How do you know it will be different anyplace else? There's a need here for fellas like yourself that fought and won the war. I know you haven't had the best of breaks since you got back, but well, it seems like you ought to stick here and slug it out a while longer on your own home ground.
Fred: You're all right, Pop. But I know when it's time to bail out.

Foreman: Hey you, what are you doing in that airplane?
Fred: I used to work in one of those.
Foreman: Reviving old memories, huh?
Fred: Yeah, or maybe getting some of 'em out of my system.
Foreman: Well, you can take your last look at these crates. We're breakin' them up.
Fred: Yeah, I know. You're the junkman. You get everything sooner or later.
Foreman: This is no junk. We're using this material for building pre-fabricated houses.
Fred: You don't need any help, do ya?
Foreman: Out of a job?
Fred: That's it.
Foreman: I see. One of the fallen angels of the Air Force. Well, pardon me if I show no sympathy. While you glamour boys were up in the wild blue yonder, I was down in a tank.
Fred: Listen, chum. Sometime I'd be glad to hear the story of your war experiences. What I asked you for is a job? You got one?
Foreman: Do you know anything about building?
Fred: No, but there's one thing I do know. I know how to learn, same as I learned that job up there.

Homer: I was afraid you wouldn't be able to stand up for me.
Fred: I'd stand up for you, kid, 'til I drop.

Peggy: Well, what have you been doing with yourself lately?
Fred: Working.
Peggy: Yes, uh, Dad told me he heard you were in some kind of building work.
Fred: Well, that's a hopeful way of putting it. I'm really in the junk business - an occupation for which many people feel I'm well-qualified by temperament and training. It's fascinating work.

Taglines

  • Filled with all the love and warmth and joy. . .the human heart can hold!
  • Three wonderful loves in the best picture of the year!
  • Samuel Goldwyn's greatest production

Cast

External links

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