1946 Best Picture:
The Best Years of Our Lives


Henry V, It's A Wonderful Life, The Razor's Edge, The Yearling

Other Winners:
Best Actor: Frederic March, The Best Years of Our Lives
Best Actress: Olivia de Havilland, To Each His Own

Best Supporting Actor: Harold Russell, The Best Years of Our Lives
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Baxter, The Razor's Edge
Best Director: William Wyler, The Best Years of Our Lives

Myrna Loy, Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Connell, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Russell

Storyline: The war is over and the men are returning home, only to find out that things just aren't the same.  

Did it deserve to win: Sorry boys, but no!  The Best Years of Our Lives is an over long, boring film, disguised as a well meaning picture.  The Best Years of Our Lives covered an important topic, soldiers trying to pick up where they left off, but this one doesn't hold up.  

The popular favorite of that year was Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life, a Christmas treat for many movie lovers, to this day, but I found that one lacking as well.  

The Razor's Edge, a rarely seen film these days, but certainly worth a look, was a much more interesting film.

Critique: Watching this film, I got to feeling that we were obligated to like it.  The soldiers who fought for freedom, come home and find life isn't what it once was.  I liked the premise, and I certainly agree with much of the message, but that doesn't make for a great movie.  

On some levels the film is interesting.  It deals with several issues of the day.  G.I.'s are shunned, to an extent, by society, as is demonstrated when they look for work, take up again with old lovers, and apply for loans at the bank.  

But the film moves very slowly, and for three hours, there isn't enough happening.  

I suspect that The Best Years of Our Lives had more credence back in its day, when the issue was clearly front and center.  It should be applauded that the film was released at the time, but it doesn't seem to hold true any longer.  Wars since that time have been covered, and Coming Home, the 1978 Jane Fonda-Jon Voight picture, covered the same topic, but with the dreaded Vietnam war as its backdrop.    

Best Scene:  The customer is wrong!  When a man tries to tell Homer that the war was all for nothing, Homer and Fred take offence.  The Best Years of Our Lives was certainly a patriotic film, and any talk of the contrary would smell very Un-American.  As a result, the man is thrown into a display counter.

Behind the Scenes: Producer, Samuel Goldwyn and director William Wyler, bickered during the production, and this became their last collaboration.  Wyler claimed that Goldwyn promised him billing as "A William Wyler Production."  Goldwyn claimed their films had the 'Goldwyn touch.'  Wyler quipped, "What films of his, that I didn't direct, had the Goldwyn touch?"

Foreigners were getting in that year, and Hollywood was concerned.  Two British films were nominated for Best Picture, garnering a total of eight nominations.  Goldwyn held a press conference, urging Hollywood to take notice.  He said, "Today it is the British.  Tomorrow it will be the French or the Italians or the Russians."

Harold Russell won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and also received a special award.  He really lost his arms in the war, and the award was a thanks for 'bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.'    That evening he announced his retirement.  He didn't appear on screen again until 1980, in the film, Inside Moves.

The censorship-guru, Joe Breen, insisted on changes to the film, particularly those that condoned divorce and touched on 'the sacred intimacies of marriage.'  

The men come home from the war, and life is never the same!
Nervous out of the service:  Dana Andrews and Frederic March prepare for home.
Dana Andrews and Harold Russell are waiting for the first flight home.
Amputee Russell greets his family.
Myrna Loy is a vision of loveliness for hubby Frederic.
The gang gathers at the local pub.
Dana Andrews has nightmares about the war.
Hands or no hands, Russell as Homer can still clean a rifle.
Getting back to daily life, Andrews as Fred takes a job selling cosmetics.
Virginia Mayo is the bitchy Marie, who tells Teresa Wright that she would look cuter with more make up.
Teresa Wright as Peggy, is disappointed that Fred won't leave his wife for her.

Homer displays his arms for
Cathy O'Donnell, who plays Wilma.

Fred suspects that his wife, Mayo,  is cheating on him.  He was right.