At the end of World War II, Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), Al Stevenson (Fredric March) and Homer Parrish (Harold Russell) return home to Boone City. Fred was a decorated captain in the Army Air Forces in Europe, Al a sergeant in the Army who saw action in the Pacific, and Homer a sailor who served on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Homer's ship was sunk, killing many of his fellow sailors; his arms were burned off below the elbow and he now uses metal hook prostheses. The three men share first a plane trip then a cab ride and become friends. Fred eventually finds work when he convinces a foreman who is also a veteran that he can learn new skills just as he learned to be a bombardier. He also finds love in the form of Peggy Stephenson. Al and Milly are opposed at first, but when Fred's marriage finally ends, they become supportive. The movie ends with the Stephenson family, Homer and Wilma, and Fred and Peggy all facing challenging but nonetheless bright futures.
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Ratings and Reviews
Critics Consensus: An engrossing look at the triumphs and travails of war veterans, The Best Years of Our Lives is concerned specifically with the aftermath of World War II, but its messages speak to the overall American experience.
Fine movie for families with older kids.