The Best Years of Our Lives
Release premiere November 21, 1946
A unique post World War II film that takes on the dilemma of returning servicemen trying to fit back into civilization after killing enemies overseas or having their limbs blown off in combat.
Even contemporary critics had some qualms about the story that veers out of control and into pure soap opera at times, but all the same the tale of three returning servicemen to a small (ish) California town was hugely successful at the time of its release and tends to bowl over movie fans on its first viewing (if they are that sort of audience that can appreciate an old movie showing us what is now an antique culture from the past).
The looseness of the tale helps the episodes slip by where we steadily learn more and more about the men, about their family life, and how the threat of disintegration is now on a completely different level than it was when they were being shot at overseas.
Fear of failure and the fear of being feared has a showcase here and makes the whole story very American.
From former screen legends who have faded into obscurity to new revelations about the biggest movie stars, Valderrama unearths the most fascinating little-known tales from the birth of Hollywood through its Golden Age.
Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association
Original page April 2021