Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation

Univ. of Texas. Jun. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781477318911. $45. FILM
In this comprehensively researched book, film critic Macor (Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren) explores the development and production of the Oscar-winning film, one of the first to address PTSD in war veterans. Fresh from serving as a major in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, director William Wyler chose the film as his final project under contract to legendary producer Samuel Goldwyn. Macor deftly balances an account of Wyler’s wartime hearing loss with the experiences of Harold Russell, a paratrooper who lost both hands, cast in the film’s pivotal role, showing how both men struggled with a loss of confidence and difficulty readjusting to a postwar life. Drawing on interviews with cast and crew, the author reveals the production’s off-screen dramas, including the contentious creative relationship between Wyler and Goldwyn, and Wyler’s brushes with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Though the book is full of juicy Hollywood details, this is ultimately the triumphant story of how Wyler and Russell channeled their trauma into a project that brought personal and professional satisfaction to them and a greater awareness of veterans’ issues to the American public.
VERDICT An eloquent testimony to the power of film.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing