The Best Years of Our Lives bar scene. Note the in-focus figure in the phone booth in the background.

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The Best Years of Our Lives

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 movie about three servicemen (an airman, a soldier, and a sailor) trying to piece their lives back together after coming back home from WWII. It is based on a novel by MacKinlay Kantor, Glory for Me. more...

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The large cast includes Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Hoagy Carmichael.

Directed by William Wyler and with cinematography by Gregg Toland, the film received seven Academy Awards. Harold Russell, who lost both hands in the war and played an amputee, received an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance" in the movie. Despite his touching Oscar-nominated performance, he was not a professional actor and the Board of Governors assessed Russell's chances of winning a competitive award as a long shot. About an hour later, Russell was named Best Supporting Actor to a tumultuous reception. He is the only actor to receive two Academy Awards for the same performance.


The movie begins with Fred, Homer, and Al having hitched a ride in a bomber returning home to what appears to be a Midwestern city like Des Moines or Omaha. Fred was an Air Corp Captain and a bombardier in Europe. Homer had been in the Navy and lost his hands because of burns when his ship was hit. Al had been an Army Sergeant in the Pacific.

Before the war Fred had been a soda jerk at a drug store. He goes from being an Air Corps Captain to the prospect of returning to the drug store and he naturally wants more. Fred met Marie while in basic training and married her shortly after meeting her. Marie, who took a job as a night club waitress while Fred was overseas, clearly does not want to be married to a soda jerk. Peggy, who works at a Veterans Hospital, meets Fred and feels sorry for his situation while at the same time falls in love with him.

Al had been a loan officer for the Corn Belt Bank. Al, who is shown as having a drinking problem, has the fewest issues returning home. In fact, he receives a promotion from the bank upon his return home. However, having seen the horrors of war, Al is a changed man.

Homer appears to have been inducted after graduating from high school and mentions having been a high school quarterback. Homer is engaged to Wilma. However he doesn't believe he should subject her to a life with a handicapped man. Uncle Butch is Homer's uncle and owns a bar where the principal characters meet from time to time.


  • Myrna Loy .... Milly Stephenson
  • Fredric March .... Al Stephenson
  • Dana Andrews .... Fred Derry
  • Harold Russell .... Homer
  • Teresa Wright .... Peggy Stephenson
  • Virginia Mayo .... Marie Derry
  • Cathy O'Donnell .... Wilma Cameron
  • Hoagy Carmichael .... Uncle Butch

Awards and nominations

The film won Academy Awards for:

  • Academy Award for Best Picture - Samuel Goldwyn, producer
  • Academy Award for Best Actor - Fredric March
  • Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor - Harold Russell
  • Academy Award for Directing - William Wyler
  • Best Film Editing - Daniel Mandell
  • Best Music Scoring - Hugo Friedhofer
  • Best Writing, Screenplay - Robert E. Sherwood
  • Special Award to Harold Russell

It was nominated for one further award


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