Friday, May 8, 2015

Best Years of Our Lives

This being V-E Day, I thought it would be nice to remember our troops from World War II through one of the best movies made in their honor, The Best Years of Our Lives.  Unlike the many other war films of the era, William Wyler chose to deal with the aftermath of the war and how difficult it was for many of these former soldiers to readjust to civilian life.

As Bosley Crowther wrote in a review from 1946, the film "honestly and sensitively images the terrible loneliness of the man who has been hurt -- hurt not only physically but in the deep recesses of his self-esteem."  Most veterans got past these anxieties and adjusted to everyday life, but many fell through the cracks of society, as we have seen with each war.  Just as importantly, the film deals with the women in these former GIs' lives.

As we look at a united Europe today, we can say that the soldiers and the many, many civilians who died during this brutal war did not do so in vain.


  1. As I drove to work this morning, the radio station I was tuned into commemorated VE Day by playing the recording of the British radio broadcast announcing the end of the war. The announcement was celebrated in London, New York, and cities around the world with wild jubilant celebrations in public squares. But it’s important to remember that many of the men who fought those wars came home broken men, broken in body, mind, and spirit. The Best Years of Our Lives stands out for not glamorizing history’s most horrific armed conflict. Very fine movie. One of the best.


  2. The return to society was often worse for men from minority groups. My dad (a Puerto Rican) tried to get a job as a dock worker in Brooklyn but is told "NO SPICKS!" and has the door slammed in his face. His brother was killed in the European theater so that he died for nothing.

    There are an infinite amount of stories just like that and worse with innocent blacks still getting lynched in the South for imaginary crimes.

    All this is something historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin (someone who applauds the military draft) and others refuse to discuss openly.

    While the movie did take an honest look at the problem faced by some vets, we need other films we show how terrible it was for others like my dad.

  3. World War II did lead to the integration of the military with Truman's executive order in 1948. Unfortunately, our society was slow to follow suit.

  4. So true.

    By the way, if I may be permitted to go off topic, as a matter of important history, today is,


    A true American icon!

  5. Great to see Yogi is still going strong.