Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies

My sincere apologies for posting this on a Sunday afternoon! I got so caught up in the movie last night that I just didn't get a chance to blog post! 

Easily within my Top 10 movies of all time is The Best Years of Our Lives from 1946. Unfortunately, I don't know of anywhere to legally obtain this movie for cheap or free (it costs money on Amazon Prime) but fortunately I own it on DVD. If you haven't seen it and have the opportunity to purchase / rent it, I highly recommend it!

The Best Years of Our Lives is a haunting, ahead-of-it's-time drama which follows 3 servicemen returning home to Anytown-U.S.A after World War II; Al, the bank manager- come - Army Sergeant who has difficulty reacquainting himself to his civilian job and with his family; Fred the glamorous Air Force Captain with a stunning, but gold-digging and unfaithful wife who finds himself in a minimum wage, unforgiving job at a Drug Store and Homer the Sailor who lost both of his arms in the midst of war.

The film unforgivingly deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (then known as Gross Stress Reaction), adultery, alcoholism, the bond between returned servicemen and the lack of compassion and understanding of the civilian world they left behind.

The cast includes Virginia Mayo as the philandering but stunning wife of Air Force Captain Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Myrna Loy as the put-together wife of Sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March, who in my opinion is the stand out performer in the film) and Harold Russell, the Sailor with prosthetic arms (in real life, Harold Russell lost his arms during World War II while some TNT he was handling exploded). Also featured in a cameo is composer and entertainer, Hoagy Carmichael as Piano Bar Proprietor, Butch. (Hoagy Carmichael composed one of my favorite songs- Skylark). 

Although I've loved the film and rated it amongst my favorites since first seeing it as a young teen, I think that living for the past 4+ years in a military town has heightened my appreciation and understanding of it. Living and working by Camp Lejeune, NC I've seen more than my fair share of prosthetic limbs, heard more than my share of patrol stories and seen firsthand the devastating affects of PTSD. 

The film is timeless in that it could almost be remade now. The war doesn't necessarily have to be World War II- it could be any war. They could be any servicemen, in any time. The fashions and lingo have changed but the emotions and situations haven't.

A first class film worth every penny to own it.

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