Making The Best Years of Our Lives
The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation
240 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.90 in, 16 b&w photos
Sales Date: June 7, 2022
Released in 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives became an immediate success. Life magazine called it “the first big, good movie of the post-war era” to tackle the “veterans problem.” Today we call that problem PTSD, but in the initial aftermath of World War II, the modern language of war trauma did not exist. The film earned the producer Samuel Goldwyn his only Best Picture Academy Award. It offered the injured director, William Wyler, a triumphant postwar return to Hollywood. And for Harold Russell, a double amputee who costarred with Fredric March and Dana Andrews, the film provided a surprising second act.
Award-winning author Alison Macor illuminates the film’s journey from script to screen and describes how this authentic motion picture moved audiences worldwide. General Omar Bradley believed The Best Years of Our Lives would help “the American people to build an even better democracy” following the war, and the movie inspired broad reflection on reintegrating the walking wounded. But the film’s nuanced critique of American ideals also made it a target, and the picture and its creators were swept up in the anti-Communist witch hunts of the late 1940s. In this authoritative history, Macor chronicles the making and meaning of a film that changed America.
Detailed and often rewarding...Anyone who loves 'The Best Years of Our Lives' will appreciate [Macor's] efforts.~Wall Street Journal
Macor succeeds in delivering a thoughtful and well-researched portrayal of the complicated influence of The Best Years of Our Lives and the film’s overall impact. Fans of the wartime film will no doubt enjoy this close examination of the film.~Hometowns to Hollywood
Macor’s fascinating book details many factors that converged to make one of Hollywood’s greatest films about war and its aftermath.~Shepherd Express
[A] comprehensively researched book…Though the book is full of juicy Hollywood details, this is ultimately the triumphant story of how [director William] Wyler and [lead actor Harold] Russell channeled their trauma into a project that brought personal and professional satisfaction to them and a greater awareness of veterans’ issues to the American public...An eloquent testimony to the power of film.~Library Journal
[Macor] traces [The Best Years of Our Lives'] journey from script to screen, focusing on the film’s production history, its personal connection with its director, and lasting resonance more than 75 years later.~The Alcalde
Chapter 1. Warstruck
Chapter 2. Every Veteran a Potential Mental Case
Chapter 3. The Way Home
Chapter 4. Underwater Again
Chapter 5. Fade on Kiss
Chapter 6. Pure Emotional Dynamite
Chapter 7. It’s All the Same Fight
Chapter 8. A Training Film for All of Us
Note on Sources
William and Bettye Nowlin Endowment in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere
The publication of Making The Best Years of Our Lives was made possible by the support of the William and Bettye Nowlin Endowment in Art, History, and Culture of the Western Hemisphere.