The Best Years of Our Lives

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'The Best Year of Our Lives'
Directed by William Wyler
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by MacKinlay Kantor (uncredited)
Robert E. Sherwood
Starring Myrna Loy
Frederic March
Dana Andrews
Teresa Wright
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Editing by Daniel Mandell
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date(s) November 21, 1946
Running time 172 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $2,100,000
Gross revenue $23,600,000 (US)
IMDb profile

The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 film directed by William Wyler, about three military veterans returning home after World War II and their difficulties in re-adjusting to civilian life.

The film starred an ensemble cast, including several prominent stars of the day, including Myrna Loy, Frederic March and musician Hoagy Carmichael. The film also starred first-time Hollywood actor Harold Russell, a real-life military veteran who lost both hands during the war.


Air Force bomardier Fred Darry, army Sergeant Al Stephenson and sailor Homer Parrish meet on the voyage back to their shared hometown, the fictional Boone City. After their initial return, each begins to grapple with some of the problems of postwar civilian life: Darry, a former soda jerk at a local drugstore is unable to find a job. Lacking experience in anything besides making ice cream floats and dropping bombs, he is continually frustrated in his search for work. Meanwhile, his wife constantly pressures him to go out on the town, putting greater pressure on his dwindling finances.

Parrish returns home to a loving family and girlfriend, but is self-conscious about the prosthetic hooks replacing his hands. He withdraws from his family and his girlfriend Peggy, not wanting to be a burden on them. Before the war, Parrish promised his girlfriend that they would be married, but he avoids her and is noncommittal about their relationship.

Stephenson is invited to return to his job at a bank, but has difficulty separating his personal feelings from bank policy when it comes to granting loans to veterans. He drinks heavily and endangers his job.

As Darry's marriage crumbles, he falls in love with Stephenson's daughter Wilma, who returns his affections. Stephenson opposes the romance and forbids Darry from associating with his daughter.

Ultimately, Parrish's girlfriend approaches him and insists she wants to be part of his life, despite his disability. Darry and his wife divorce, and the film closes with Stephenson embracing Wilma at Parrish's wedding.


Myrna Loy - Milly Stephenson

Frederic March - Al Stephenson

Dana Andrews - Fred Derry

Teresa Wright - Peggy Stephenson

Virginia Mayo - Marie Derry

Cathy O'Donnell - Wilma Cameron

Hoagy Carmichael - Butch Engle

Harold Russell - Homer Parrish

Gladys George - Hortense Derry

Roman Bohnen - Pat Derry


It was a critical and commercial success, winning seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (March), Best Editing and Best Supporting actor for newcomer Russell. Russell also won an honorary Oscar for "bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans." He is the only actor to ever win two Oscars for the same role.[1]