Frederic March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright and Hoagy Carmichael.
Harold Russell (Homer Parrish) was training paratroopers at Camp MacKall (North Carolina) on June 6, 1944 when TNT exploded in his hands, causing him to lose both of them. After receiving hooks he was chosen to make an Army training film called “Diary Of A Sergeant.” Director William Wyler “discovered” him in this army training film.
William Wyler (director) was apparently furious when he found out that Harold Russell had been sent to acting lessons. He preferred Russell’s untrained, natural acting.
To avoid awkwardness when he first met his co-stars, Russell reached out to each with his hooks, putting them at ease with his disability.
This was the first time Myrna Loy worked with William Wyler and they got along very well.
Wyler had a reputation as “90-Take Willy.”
Wyler wanted a totally un-Hollywood, unglamorous look for the film so he stipulated that all costumes had to be bought “off the rack” and worn by the cast before filming.
In the film, Fredric March’s character (Al Stephenson) is a banker. Before becoming an actor, March had a career in banking.
Myrna Loy received top billing for the film.
Fictional Boone City was patterned after Cincinnati, OH.
In 1946 The Best Years of Our Lives became the most successful film at the box office since Gone with the Wind in 1939.
The film was remade as a TV movie in 1975,Returning Home with Dabney Coleman, Tom Selleck, James R. Miller, Whitney Blake, Joan Goodfellow, Sherry Jackson and Laurie Walters. Miller, like Harold Russell, was chosen to play Homer because Miller had lost his hands fighting in Vietnam.
The Best Years of Our Lives is one of Francis Ford Coppola’s favorite films.