The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
















"The Best Years of Our Lives" is the kind of film that can bore one to tears. I was literally crying, begging the movie just to end so I could feel like I had a life again. The script is so unsophisticatedly simple and boorishly structured that it drags the movie on and on.
This movie is about three men who served in WWII coming home and integrating back into everyday life. When they are flying back over to their home town one of them makes the comment that he feels like he's being flown into a battle zone, to storm a beach.
Right from the start, "The Best Years of Our Lives" is a man's movie, it portrays men as the heroes and women as the gold-diggers, the aloof, and the cunning. Although there are a few respectable female characters it's the men's sins that get overlooked. There are jabs from Army men to Navy men about being lesser men, apparently the war turned all men into alcoholics, and cheating on your wife is okay as long as it's during the war—there was a scene when a married couple is dancing and the man let is slip, while he was plastered, that he might have slept with someone while he was serving...instead of the normal reaction of a little indignation and pain the woman just stupidly smiles and continues dancing with her eyes closed, enamored by the sweet talk of her man. Right, I'm not buying that.
The three men are Al, Fred, and Homer. Al was a wealthy banker and comes home to two kids who love him and a wife who is doting. Fred was a soda jerk who comes home to a run down house and a wife that he can't find. Homer was a simple man who had a sweetheart and comes home with no hands, just hooks.
Homer, although given the least amount of lines of the three men, is the one that we are supposed to empathize with the most. He claims that he just wants to be treated like any other man but he spends most of the time sulking and feeling sorry for himself.
Then there's the matter of love. As soon as the men get home they all get super drunk, so staggeringly drunk that Al's wife and daughter have to carry Fred home and have him sleep in their house. When Fred first lays eyes on Al's daughter, Peggy, we can all see where it's going...on great, it's the old "leave wife for younger more attractive girl, but don't feel bad because the wife was cheating on him anyway" story.
There's nothing special about this picture and yet I seem to be the only one who thinks this way. In fact, one critic said, "One of the best pictures of our lives" which I think is preposterous.
Instead of theatrics and glorious technology, "The Best Years of Our Lives" relies on its simple storyline to draw people in and I guess it worked for everyone else because the film won seven Oscars.
The acting is over-the-top and everything about this film screams 'old, tired, and cliche'.
I wanted something original and got something old and used.
On a side note my favorite part of the movie was actually the woman that we are supposed to hate—the one that leaves her husband. To me, her arguments and tantrums were the most inspiring, truthful, and entertaining parts of the movie...that doesn't say much for the rest of the film.


Score: 1 and a half stars out of 4

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