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This movie is on Turner Classic Movies tonight (Tuesday, May 12) at 11:15 p.m. CDT so I doubt I will see much of it if any at all.
But I have the DVD of it ready to go at a moment’s notice. If it weren’t for “Casablanca”, “The Best Years of Our Lives”, which airs tonight, would be my favorite classic movie of all time. I’ve seen it multiple times and have enjoyed it and been touched by it each time.
It is the story of three returning World War II veterans, who all live in the same town, and try to resume their lives after the war ends. One of the elements of the script that I liked is that the three didn’t know each other until they boarded a military transport plane home. They become fast friends as they faced struggles in returning to civilian life.
The cast was an all-star team of that era’s actors — Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Myrna Loy and Virginia Mayo along with actual veteran Harold Russell.
The movie directed by William Wyler, who later directed “Roman Holiday”, “Friendly Persuasion”, “Ben-Hur” and “Funny Girl.” Wyler was a combat photographer during World War II and flew with the Memphis Belle on its last mission and made an award-winning documentary out of it.
What I really like about “The Best Years of Our Lives”, which won nine Academy Awards, is the fact that Boone City, the fictional town where all the characters, could be any town in the United States. And the characters, thanks to the script and the actors’ abilities, seem like people you could know or actually knew.
My uncle Wyman returned home from World War II as a combat veteran and returned to the University of Iowa to resume his studies on the G.I Bill as did his brothers and friends.
In fact Wyman and my aunt Nona Jean had a picture of themselves on their family room wall for years that was part of a magazine cover story about how colleges were adjusting to the influx of returning veterans to their campuses. My uncle is shown carrying my aunt over the threshold into their trailer in Hawkeye Village which was the married student housing unit of the time at Iowa.
Unfortunately, no one in my family remembers which magazine the story was in and whether my aunt and uncle kept a copy of it.
That time of their lives made for many stories that were shared at family gatherings.