Wednesday, July 21, 2010

27. The Best Year's of Our Lives (1946)


-This is when I know I'm helpless. My hands are down there on the bed. I can't put them on again without calling to somebody for help. I can't smoke a cigarette or read a book. If that door should blow shut, I can't open it and get out of this room. I'm as dependent as a baby that doesn't know how to get anything except to cry for it. Well, now you know, Wilma. Now you have an idea of what it is. I guess you don't know what to say. It's all right. Go on home. Go away like your family said.
-I know what to say, Homer. I love you and I'm never going to leave you... never.

I once worked with a pharmacist who was a retired Army Leuitenant. He also loved movies, and we shared many conversations across the filling counter. When I told him "From Here to Eternity" was one of my favorite movies he suggested this movie. Even though "The Best Year's of Our Lives" was released first, in his words it serves as the perfect bookend of World War II with "From Here to Eternity" as the starting point. This movie deals with three returning servicemen as they readjust to normal life. One is returning to his family and banking job but having trouble shaking the horrors of war, one misses the honor of his position in the armed forces as he is greeted with unemployment and marital discontent upon return, and one (quoted above) is returning to his girlfriend minus two hands that were burnt off as his ship sank below the Pacific. The actor who portrayed the latter character actually had lost in hands in wartime and is probably the most touching of the three stories because of its immediate realism.

It is easy to become disconnected with wars on the other side of the planet, but we must remember that these soldiers DO return home to what has now become an alien world. This is as relevant today as ever...

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