CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Best Years Of Our Lives or Since You Went Away?

It's time for another comparison between two similar films. It was fun comparing Breakfast at Tiffany's and Butterfield 8 a while back, that I thought I would do it again. This time I am comparing two films about families dealing with the affects of World War Two. Now while The Best Years of Our Lives focuses on soldiers returning home after the war, Since You Went Away is actually set during the war and deals with the family while their loved ones are away fighting.
Jones, Walker an Cotten
First is Since You Went Away (1944), the mammoth film which clocks in at just under 3 hours, and stars Claudette Colbert as family matriach Anne Hilton, who copes with family life while her husband Tim is away during World War Two. She has two daughters, Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Bridget (Shirley Temple) that she watches after. Anne takes in a lodger to help make ends meet during wartime rationing and shortages. The lodger is Colonel Smollett, played by Monty Woolley. The colonel also happens to have a son named William (Robert Walker) who falls in love with Jane. Joseph Cotten appears as a friend of the family that secretly loves Anne. Rounding out the cast are Agnes Moorehead, Hattie MacDaniel, Keenan Wynn, and Guy Madison. Since You Went Away is top notch melodrama with solid performances, especially by Colbert and Woolley. But do not overlook Jennifer Jones in a truly emotional performance as the eldest daughter Jane. Look for her scene at the train station when she says good-bye to William before he goes off to war. If you don't get a little misty eye during that scene, then there is something wrong. Wonderfully directed by John Cromwell, backed by a powerful Max Steiner music score, Since You Went Away is one heck of a movie. A bit long, but never boring. It really couldn't been done any better.

Now as good as Since You Went Away is, The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) is even better. This is one of my favorite films of all time, sitting right there nestled in my top 10. The story in this film centers on three returning WW Two veterans after the war has ended. Frederic March is Al Stephenson, who returns to his loving wife Milly (a magnificent performance by Myrna Loy), his two children Peggy (a terrific Teresa Wright) and Rob (Michael Hall). Al returns to an influential banking position, but finds it hard to reconcile his loyalties to ex-servicemen with new commercial realities. He has several scenes where he copes by drinking heavily. Dana Andrews is Fred Derry, an ordinary working man who finds it difficult to hold down a job or pick up the threads of his marriage with Virginia Mayo. He ends up falling for Peggy, and Peggy lets her mom know that she doesn't mind busting up the marriage to be with Fred. I was like, heck yeah, go for it Peggy. That's when I fell in love with Teresa Wright at that exact moment. And the last soldier is Homer Parrish (played by real life amputee Harold Russell) who unsure that his fiancée's (Cathy O'Donnell) feelings are still those of love and not those of pity. Each of these three men face a different crisis in their lives and try to cope and come through it emotionally sound. This movie is awesome. I can't find any faults with it. From the top notch cast to the expert direction by William Wyler to the epic music score by Hugo Friedhofer and the gorgeous cinematography by Gregg Toland. The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best films ever made and if I had to choose between this and Since You Went Away, well I gotta go with Best Years. But both films are great.You can enjoy both of them. I'm curious to see what everyone else thinks though.


Frl. Irene Palfy said...

I love BEST YEARS - and do not know the other film. Yet - that is.. ;")

Dawn said...

Monty, The Best Years Of Our Lives, of the two movies, I thought was a more powerful movie..

What a fun post!!

Audrey said...

I love both movies A LOT. In fact, they are most definitely on my top ten.

Blondie said...

Hey Monty! Thanks so much for your sweet comments on my post yesterday honey. I am sorry I haven't got back to you about the Halloween series, I've kind of abandoned it as you can see lol. Hope you are doing well! Kori xoxo

Jessica P. said...

I'm going to be the odd one out...but Since You Went Away.
I love love both...but there's something different about Since You Went Away. It's just so natural and shows the sacrifice during the war.


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