Thursday, August 04, 2005

I love learning about the WWII era. I love reading history books about it, people's memoirs, fiction set in the period, and of course, watching movies and tv shows set in that period.

Last night, I saw an amazing movie: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). It's about three guys fresh out of the service who all live in the same town and struggle to readjust to civilian life. I didn't know they made movies that frank on the subject right after the war! I thought they were all glossy and upbeat, like White Christmas (1954).

I grew particularly fond of the character 'Homer Parrish', played by real-life veteran Harold Russell. Russell lost both of his hands in an explosion during the war, and was trained to use these incredible hooks. He's absolutely amazing! You'd have to see it to understand, I can't explain it. Anyway, his character was such a sweetheart, and I was afraid through most of the movie that he was gonna commit suicide.

This movie, especially Homer Parrish's story, made Born on the Fourth of July look like a bowl of self-pitying, self-righteous mush.


  1. I need to see "Best years of our Lives" again. I last saw it when I was a wee thing and haven't seen it since! Shame on me! I can't even remember most of it, but I do remember Homer Parrish.

    Never bothered seeing the other one... never seemed worth my time. Now it seems even less so!

  2. I'd recommend seeing it again. Altho it did point out to me (as have other things previously) the extent of my Combat!ization...I kept thinking, "What would Saunders do?" "Hanley wouldn't say that!" "Would Kirby react that way?"

    Don't bother with Born on the Fourth of July. I saw it because some book I was reading referred to it...but I was pretty disappointed. It didn't hold the deep insights for me that the book implied.

  3. "Best Years" is probably one of the greatest movies ever made about life after war. It never lulls during it's near 3 hour length. The film touches on a subject that many people either gloss over, or aren't aware of: soldiers coping with returning to the world of peacetime and not fitting back in. There was tremendous emotional trauma returning home after living in foxholes, planes, ships, and battlefields. It's a serious topic many war vets face. Harold Russell won 2 separate Academy Awards for this film. One of his awards he was forced to sell for financial reasons. Dana Andrews' character was likewise pitiful as a displaced Bombardier with nothing really to come home to. It's an exceptional movie, but then again, what else would one expect from William Wyler?

    1. It's true -- I've never seen a William Wyler movie I didn't like. I remember how astounded I was by this movie's honesty. And not just about the difficulty readjusting to civilian life. The scene where Myrna Loy and Frederic March admit how imperfect their marriage sometimes has been always brings tears to my eyes.


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