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The Best Years of Our Lives

Screening on Film
Directed by William Wyler.
With Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Harold Russell, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright.
US, 1946, 35mm, black & white, 165 min.

Perhaps one of the finest male melodramas ever put on screen, William Wyler’s ambitious slice-of-life about returning veterans after WWII is stark and devastating. Three ex-servicemen return to their beloved Boone City after their stints overseas only to meet with heartache, unemployment, and disability.  Much like the noir films which would soon sweep B-Hollywood, this intimate tale offers a less-than-sunny appraisal of American masculinity after the war. Unlike the noir cycle, however, the film’s high profile cast and production values brought these realistic problems into the mainstream of the American public consciousness. Cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane) employs his trademark deep-focus photography throughout, allowing both the spatial and human relationships to gain dimension and complexity.

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