The Best Years of Our Lives

  • Type: Movies & TV
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: Drama
  • Recommended by: Mark N.
  • ISBN/UPC: 0792846133
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World War II vets struggle to readjust to civilian life

The Best Years of Our Lives, released in 1946, is a fairly unflinching look at three World War II veterans who try to readjust to civilian life in their fictional home town of Boone City.
Army Sergeant Al Stevenson returns to his loving wife and two young adult children who have grown so much since he left for war that he barely recognizes them. Readjusting to domestic life and his job as a loan officer at the town's bank proves to be difficult for Al.
Air Force Captain Fred Derry is determined to do better than being a soda jerk, the job he held prior to the war. In the meantime, he is stuck in a loveless marriage and is suffering from what we now refer to as PTSD.
Navy Petty Officer Homer Parrish has lost both of his hands to severe burns suffered when his ship sank. Though his girlfriend adores him, he struggles with self doubt and whether he is deserving of love. Lending realism to the character is the fact that actual veteran Harold Russell portrays Homer. Like Homer, Harold also lost his hands in the war.
What all three men have is each other. They become friends on their flight back home in a rickety B-17, and support each other as they all attempt to get back on their feet in their home town.
The Best Years of Our Lives won nine Oscars at the 1947 Academy Awards. Unlike some older award-winning films that don't always age well, The Best Years of Our Lives is still relevant and powerful. It also has to be one of the first (if not THE first) dramatic films to deal honestly with the debilitating effects of PTSD.