The Best Years of Our Lives, which is also known as Glory for Me and Home Again, is a 1946 American drama movie directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. Take a look below for 28 more fun and fascinating facts about The Best Years of Our Lives.
1. The movie is about three United States servicemen readjusting to civilian life after coming home from World War II.
2. Samuel Goldwyn was inspired to produce a movie about veterans after reading on August 7, 1944, an article in Time Magazine about the difficulties experienced by men returning to civilian life.
3. Samuel Goldwyn hired former war correspondent MacKinlay Kantor to write a screenplay.
4. MacKinlay Kantor’s work was first published as a novella, Glory for Me, which Kantor wrote in blank verse. Robert E. Sherwood then adapted the novella as a screenplay.
5. The Best Years of Our Lives won seven Academy Awards in 1946, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.
6. The movie became the highest-grossing and most attended movie in both the United States and the United Kingdom since the release of Gone with the Wind, selling approximately 55 million tickets in the United States, which equaled a gross of $23,650,000.
7. The Best Years of Our Lives remains the sixth most-attended movie of all time in the United Kingdom, with over 20 million tickets sold and ticket sales exceeding $20.4 million.
8. Director William Wyler was furious when he found out that Samuel Goldwyn had sent Harold Russell for acting lessons; since he preferred Russell’s untrained, natural acting.
9. To avoid awkwardness when he first met his fellow cast members, Harold Russell made a point of reaching out with his hooks and taking their hands, thus putting them at ease with his disability.
10. Harold Russell was first discovered by William Wyler when he saw him in an army training movie called Diary of a Sergeant, about the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen.
11. For his performance as Homer Parrish, Harold Russell became the only actor to win two Academy Awards for the same role. The Academy Board of Governors thought that he was a long shot to win, so they gave him an honorary award, “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance.” Later that ceremony, he won for Best Supporting Actor.
12. Harold Russell’s character was originally written as a war veteran suffering from combat trauma. This was changed to a physical disability when Russell joined the cast.
13. Myrna Loy received top billing, as she was the most successful female star at the time.
14. William Wyler wanted a completely unglamorous look, requiring all costumes to be bought off the rack and worn by the cast before filming, and making sure all sets were built smaller than life-size.
15. In order to give the movie a documentary style realism, the director drew each member of the crew from the ranks of World War II veterans.
16. Director William Wyler despised Hugo Friedhofer’s Oscar winning score for the movie.
17. This was the first time that Myrna Loy had worked with William Wyler, and she was wary of his reputation as “90-Take Willy.” As it turned out, the two got along very well.
18. In the movie, Fredric March’s character Al Stephenson is a banker. Before becoming an actor, March had a career in banking.
19. Cathy O’Donnell went on to marry William Wyler’s brother, Robert Wyler.
20. William Wyler patterned the fictional Boone City after Cincinnati, Ohio.
21. The Best Years of Our lives was the first movie recorded in stereo using the Westrex Recording System. The stereophonic version exists in the form of studio acetate masters, but they were never married to the picture. Only a handful of theaters were equipped for multi-channel sound at the time of its original release.
22. This is the first movie role for which Cathy O’Donnell, in the role of Wilma Cameron, receives screen credit. Her film debut was in Wonder Man as an uncredited extra in a nightclub scene.
23. The scene where Fred Derry punches a loudmouth and loses his job for it was inspired by an incident that happened to director William Wyler during the war. He punched a doorman at the Statler Hotel for referring to someone with an anti-Semitic slur, and received an official reprimand for it.
24. Al Stephenson is wearing a shoulder patch for the 25th Infantry Division, which fought in the Philippines.
25. The Best Years of Our Lives was William Wyler’s last movie for producer Samuel Goldwyn.
26. Writer Robert E. Sherwood had been the head of the Office of War Information during the Second World War, which is one of the reasons why Samuel Goldwyn approached him to write the script.
27. The Best Years of Our Lives is one of Francis Ford Coppola’s favorite movies.
28. Director William Wyler was almost deaf from flying in a B-25 during the war. During filming, he sat beneath the camera with a large set of headphones that were connected to an amplifier so that he could hear the actors.