William Wyler directs Fredric March, Dana Andrews and Teresa Wright in the post-war drama following three demobbed heroes as they try to settles back into civilian life after WWII.
The first night back home where hard drinking supercedes intimacy with missed loved ones. The crashing reality that all your achievements in battle mean little to department store managers looking to hire cheap or loan approvers. A fiancee is shown the nightly routine it takes to get a man with no hands into bed, this is her chance to back out of her wedding to a childhood sweetheart. A deserved Best Picture winner. Sure it is an unashamed issues movie, and can be just as cackhanded as the worst examples of such a flick at times but it is candid and seemingly untethered by the Hays Code. Alcoholism, bad marriages, prejudice towards disability, PTSD, affairs, even boom time economics are given a judicial kicking. And because you care about the three leads and their extended families, the three hours of running time fly by. It is too hard hitting to be a soap but it pushes those romantic and domestic buttons keenly. It is too slick to be depressing. Handless, non-actor veteran Harold Russell more than makes his mark among the starry cast. His arc is particularly well delivered. To see this kinda preachy narrative be so keenly written and managing to make such flawed characters so emphatic… it is a rarity. I like them all so much I’d wager on rewatch I might score this even higher.
Perfect Double Bill: Mrs Miniver (1942)
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