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The Best Years of Our Lives

774 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

It's the hope that sustains the spirit of every GI: the dream of the day when he will finally return home. For three WWII veterans, the day has arrived. But for each man, the dream is about to becomea nightmare. Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) is returning to a loveless marriage; Sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March) is a stranger to a family that's grown up without him; and young sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) is tormented by the loss of his hands. Can these three men find the courage to rebuild their world? Or are the best years of their lives a thing of the past? Featuring a brilliant cast that includes Myrna Loy and Virginia Mayo, this postwar classic garnered* seven OscarsÂ(r), including Best Picture. Heart-wrenching, touching and "filled with emotional dynamite" (The Hollywood Reporter), it remains "one of the best films about war veterans ever made" (American Movie Classics). *1946: Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Writing/Screenplay, Film Editing, Music/Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture


Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo
  • Directors: William Wyler
  • Writers: MacKinlay Kantor, Robert E. Sherwood
  • Producers: Lester Koenig, Samuel Goldwyn
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 18, 2000
  • Run Time: 168 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (774 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792846133
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,038 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Best Years of Our Lives" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

403 of 413 people found the following review helpful By David Kusumoto on July 19, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
** BLU-RAY UPDATE: The November 2013 Blu-ray issue of this title is a MAJOR UPGRADE from the DVD re-issue from January 2013. (See notes about that DVD below). Dirt, scratches and other debris have been digitally removed and the film now looks and sounds (DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0) gorgeous. The moment the opening credits roll, you know you're about to see the sharpest transfer of "The Best Years of Our Lives" ever released on home video. Keep in mind, however, that there's still some graininess present - which is common with vintage movies given the Blu-ray treatment - and I do not consider this a defect. While original negatives of old films never have the sharpness of movies shot today with high-resolution cameras, I'm not a fan of digital noise reduction - which removes details from each frame. All special features from the January 2013 DVD re-issue are also on this Blu-ray, with subtitles available on everything except the theatrical trailer. The 1995 interviews with Virginia Mayo and Teresa Wright were shot on video tape hence are NOT in high resolution - nor is the theatrical trailer, which is still ragged and has not been cleaned. Still, in my view, the November 2013 Blu-ray is now the "gold standard" for this title. Note also that this film is presented in its original 1:37:1 semi-square aspect ratio format. Like "Gone With the Wind," "Casablanca" and other Golden Age classics, "The Best Years of Our Lives" was NEVER shot with wide screen cameras.

** DVD UPDATE: The January 2013 re-issue DVD offers NO improvement in picture or sound quality from previous DVD releases (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo).
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143 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Captain Hornblower on January 19, 2003
Format: DVD
"The Best Years of Our Lives" is a compelling dramatic masterpiece, and certainly one of the best films ever made. It's not as well known today as other pieces from the period, such as "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane", but it is nevertheless a classic that deserves ranking with those same films.
This film paints a picture of the struggles of World War II servicemen that they faced AFTER the war was over. It was a more personal struggle of men returning home after being away for many years, and after experiencing horrors that their loved ones could never fully understand. They return home as changed people, and come home to changed lives.
The story of such a homecoming experienced by thousands of men after World War II is told from the perspective of three fictional characters: Captain Fred Derry, a bombadier in the Army Air Corps (Dana Andrews), Sergeant Al Stevenson, an Army infantryman (Frederich March), and Seamen Homer Parrish(Harold Russell). They happen to meet on the plane to their hometown, having never met before, and immediately form a bond built upon mutual understanding of the experiences of war and the anxieties of returning home again.
Captain Derry came from a poor background before the war, and married a blond bombshell (Virgnia Mayo) while in the Air Corps. He hopes to return home to a better life, a nice home with his wife, and a better job. This was not to be, as Derry struggles to try and deal with bad job prospects (no one in the civilian world needs a bombadier) and a cheating wife. In a poignant moment in the film, Derry (at his lowest) tells his Father to throw away the citations for his medals, because "they don't mean anything".
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By "flickjunkie" on December 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This outstanding 1946 film looks at WWII from a different perspective. It examines the plight of soldiers returning after the war. It follows three servicemen who meet on a flight back to their hometown. The story is well crafted, depicting men from very different backgrounds, each from a different branch of the service and each with a different challenge to face.
Fred (Dana Andrews) was a bombardier, a dashing captain in the Air Corp. He is coming home to a beautiful wife (Virginia Mayo) and no job prospects. His wife loves to party, but his job as a soda jerk can't keep pace with her penchant for spending. Al (Frederic March), a former banker, was a sergeant in the infantry with a wife of 20 years (Myrna Loy) and two grown children. He comes home to a distant wife and a troubled marriage. He is a banker with a heart, which evokes derisive scrutiny from his boss and the other bankers. Homer (Harold Russell) was a sailor who lost his hands in a fire onboard ship. He is returning to his parents and his long time girlfriend Wilma (Cathy O'Donnell) feeling certain that she will never be able to love him with his disability.
William Wyler (Wuthering Heights, Roman Holiday, Ben-Hur) is one of the most renowned directors in filmmaking history, having won four Oscars in twelve nominations. His direction here is superb. This is a compelling character study with nuance, sensitivity and insight. The scenes of the uneasy moments of reunion were stirring, especially in the case of Homer, who was tormented and insecure about how he would be accepted without his hands. Wyler takes us right into the most intimate thoughts and feelings of these families as they attempt to deal with challenges for which they are not totally prepared.
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