A few nights ago I saw that “The Best Years of Our Lives” would be shown on Turner Classic Movies that night, and I swept aside everything I had planned so that I could once more watch my favorite movie. I hope you know the film. The stars were Fredric March, Myrna Loy and Dana Andrews, and there was a very special person we learned about almost from the beginning. He was a WWII veteran who had lost both hands while he was serving in the Navy.
The film is about three men who are returning home now that the war is over. Their post-war lives are ready to unfold. Why am I so attached? I remember so well what it was like when my own soldier returned to civilian life. He had left a wife and baby and a life he was enjoying when he entered the service. He was returning to a wife and a 5-year-old son who was now very much a person. And he had changed, of course. He went in as a private but eventually was sent to the officer candidate school and came out a lieutenant. He had changed, and we had changed. And the film skillfully depicts that happening and the adjustments necessary to continue. 0r change.
Each of the three veterans faces problems. So did thousands of men and some women when they returned to civilian life. And we could identify with this film. I think that probably is why I feel as I do about it. But it's also beautifully made. It even has Hoagy Carmichael playing the piano.The contrasts and the similarities are interesting to watch as the three make their way home — or new home, as the case might be.
Now I know there were people who would answer “Casablanca” if I were to ask, “What's your favorite film — and why?” We all remember “Play it again, Sam,” and “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and “We'll always have Paris.” And there many be some who cherish “The Sound of Music”: from the opening scene as Maria enjoys the hills alive with the sound of music to the end as the famly flees to safety and America.
My father would almost immediately answer “Gigi,” and at times I could agree with him. It is charming and very well-cast and has marvelous music and gorgeous costumes and everything spectacular.
Well, I am asking you “What is your favorite film?” This will be no scientific poll, but I think it will be fun to see our varying tastes. Send your answer via email or Uncle Sam mail, but send it soon. I'll bet you won't even have to think very long. I look forward to hearing from you!
Betty E. Stein is a retired teacher and resident of Fort Wayne.