08 May 2010

44. The Best Years of Our Lives

MC -- he's just a dude trying to get home. has to wait around until he is called, signs at the same time as a sailor. SHOCK: he's got hooks for hands.

they talk about how he came to have those hands, and how it's going to be when he gets back -- he's scared his girl won't like him, will be weirded out.

all three dudes come home to notes of uncertainty -- homer's lady & folks are unnerved; banker's wife seems a little insecure, not entirely glad he's home; captain's wife is living on her own without his knowing. he goes out to find her.

sarge interacts with his family -- doesn't know his own daughter, gives his son gifts he doesn't appreciate, is distant with his wife. he takes them out to a series of nightclubs to get the excitement back.

homer/hands is next. just wants to be treated as normal.

all three meet up at butch's. it's clear that they are more comfortable with each other than with civilians -- they can't leave the war behind.

1st act done when they pass out.

act 2 -- picking up the pieces of their drunkenness.

freddy/captain goes to see his sexy ass wife at her own apt.

freddy goes to try to get a job at his old place, which has been bought out and has no real need for him: "the war is over, mr. deary."

banker/al goes back to the bank to see his old boss, mr. milton. significance of name. he's offered a promotion.

freddy's wife has never seen him not in his uniform. she wants to see him only in his uniform. she's used to him being a solider, not a civilian.

back to homer after a LONG break. he's doing target practice. fiancee still loves him, he beats himself up, feels like a freak.

1:30 -- freddy is broke. his wife wants to live the high life, he can't find a job.

freddy and al's daughter go out together -- they're clearly gonna fuck. kisses her.

classic 2nd act complication stuff -- al is giving a loan to a fellow GI, freddy is trying to cheat on wife, his house is a mess and wife is a nag. peggy is in love with Freddy.

1:52 -- supper club set piece honoring al. he's drunk. counting the number of drinks on the table with a fork. GREAT little visual. he subtly insults his boss and shows where his head is really at -- GREAT TENSION because we don't know whether or not he's gonna lose it or keep it together.
-- good set-up and pay-off

dance afterwards -- freddy's wife reveals herself as a money-grubber, vain, etc.
-- great use of mirrors

2:00 -- ""i'm going to break that marriage up"

where is HOMER? -- totally lopsided narrative, and where does he fit?

3rd act -- 2:05 -- back to butch's, freddy and al. "are you in love with peggy?" he's gonna keep his daughter away from freddy.

homer's back. playing piano. tells peggy off.

homer has finally embraced his disability, has a sense of humor about it. some random talks shit on the futility of the war, freddy punches him out. like classical hollywood cinema, it is conservative in that it reaffirms god and country with homer's ripping the flag pin off and taking it for himself (also the importance of marriage with homer's situation). freddy sacrifices himself by fighting the guy, loses his job.

homer is trying to push her away.

freddy's love with peggy, esp. last lines, is an allegory for america's relationship with the war.

it's about how hard it is to come home from war and be a regular man again. this is always going to be a big theme, and as slowly paced as this film is, is stands up today because of the theme and because of the documentary-like nature of the mise-en-scene.


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