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BFI Film Classics

The Best Years of Our Lives

Authors: Kozloff, Sarah

  • The Best Years of Our Lives won seven Academy Awards and is one of the AFI's 100 Greatest Movies 
  • Film's depiction of the after effects of war as played out in the story of three servicemen returning home has contemporary relevance to soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 
  • Author has conducted original research for the book, studying William Wyler's personal papers and Samuel Goldwyn's files on 'Best Lives' held in the Goldwyn family archive. 
  • Film attracted controversy on its release in 1946  attacked from the left for not being radical enough and from the right for being unpatriotic
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  • ISBN 978-1-84457-566-4
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Softcover $19.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84457-326-4
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About this book

William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) tells the story of three veterans returning from World War II and adjusting to civilian life in a manner unusual for classical Hollywood cinema, with melodrama leavened by authentic detail, personal memories and a fierce desire to capture its historical moment. Sarah Kozloff's illuminating study of the film traces the contribution of Wyler (himself injured while serving in the US Air Force), Robert Sherwood's screenplay, Gregg Toland's deep-focus cinematography, Hugo Friedhofer's award-winning score, and the ensemble cast of Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright and Harold Russell. The film's poignant message spoke to American audiences reeling from the end of the conflict and the bumpy transition to peace: producer Samuel Goldwyn received hundreds of letters from ex-servicemen about how accurately his production had captured their experiences.

Despite winning nine Academy Awards, Best Years was soon engulfed in political conflict from both the right and the left. Disagreements about the film's politics foreshadowed HUAC's anti-Communist investigations and the fracturing of the Hollywood community that culminated in the collapse of the studio system.

Sarah Kozloff's discussion of the film's development, production and reception history draws on archival research to shed new light on our understanding of this much-loved movie, and to bring The Best Years of Our Lives back where it belongs: in our collections, in our libraries, and in our hearts.

About the authors

SARAH KOZLOFF is ?Professor in the Department of Film, on the William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair, at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA. She is the author of a number of books, including Overhearing Film Dialogue (2000) and Invisible Storytellers: Voice-Over Narration in American Fiction Film (1988).

Reviews

Named as one of Kansas City Star's top 100 books of 2011:

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/01/3297721/the-stars-top-100-books-of-2011.html#ixzz1fPZcCN3Q

'Part of my admiration for this intelligent and judicious contribution to the BFI Film Classics - a series that by now may qualify as the most successful and title-heavy book series in the history of film criticism, perhaps in any language - is my conviction, which I share with Kozloff, that William Wyler's 1946, 171-minute masterpiece about returning American soldiers after the end of WW2 is, existentially speaking, a rare and almost unprecedented act of witness and social conscience for a Hollywood feature.' - Jonathan Rosenbaum

Buy this book

eBook $18.95
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-84457-566-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $19.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-84457-326-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Best Years of Our Lives
Authors
Series Title
BFI Film Classics
Copyright
2011
Publisher
Palgrave BFI
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-84457-566-4
DOI
10.1007/978-1-84457-566-4
Softcover ISBN
978-1-84457-326-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
128
Topics