William Wyler’s “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946),the first film to win eight Academy Awards (one honorary) and at the time second only to “Gone With the Wind” at the U.S. box office, will be presented at the S.Judson Dunaway Center, 23 School Street in Ogunquit on Wednesday, May 14th at 7PM, sponsored by Ogunquit Performing Arts.
The postwar classic based on a novel in verse by MacKinlay Kantor, an engrossing look at the triumphs and travails of war veterans, tells the intertwined homecoming stories of ex-sergeant Al Stephenson (Fredric March), former bombadier Fred Derry (Dana Andrews), and sailor Homer Parrish (Harold Russell).
Profoundly relevant in 1946, the film still offers a surprisingly intricate and ambivalent exploration of American daily life; and it features landmark deep-focus cinematography from Gregg Toland, who also shot Citizen Kane. The film won Oscars for, among others, Best Picture, Best Director for the legendary William Wyler, Best Actor for March, and Best Supporting Actor for Harold Russell, a real-life double amputee whose hands had been blown off in a training accident.
Russell was an untrained actor, but utterly sincere and won an honorary Oscar, “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance.” Although he was actually nominated for best supporting actor, the Academy board voted the special award because they thought he didn’t have a chance of winning. They were wrong. He won the Oscar, the only time an actor has been given two Oscars for the same role.
Seen more than six decades later, it feels surprisingly modern: lean, direct, honest about issues that Hollywood then studiously avoided. After the war years of patriotism and heroism in the movies, this was a sobering look at the problems veterans faced when they returned home.
This is the final film of our 22nd Season in our Classic Film Series. As with our previous screenings, it will be shown on a full wall-size screen using quality projection equipment generously provided to Ogunquit Performing Arts by Kennebunk Savings Bank. As always admission is free as is the popcorn! Donations are appreciated.
Ogunquit Performing Arts is a not-for-profit, tax exempt, all volunteer committee of the Town of Ogunquit.
For more information please visit the OPA web-site at: www.ogunquitperformingarts.org