Tuesday, May 26, 2009
"You are just another unemployed war hero." This might have been a line out of a modern day movie but it wasn't: it came from the classic 1950s, The Best Years of Our Lives, when America, fresh from the "big war" was trying to figure it out. A really great movie with all the issues of what it means to start over.
The same issues that soldiers face today are the same ones they faced then--the struggles of Reentry, getting back the check book, and fitting in. And then there were the hastily conceived marriages born of desperation, soldiers going off to war and not knowing what tomorrow brings.
The story is built around three reentering servicemen who meet on their way home. Unlike present day soldiering, these men have not been gone for months, rather years
The three bond and although not as likely as the movie presents then, they still hang together in the context of the story. Dana Andrews as the bombardier with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) called "shell shocked" back then. A sailor, having lost both hands, is the second emotionally scarred serviceman with the third of the trilogy being a banker who was a top sergeant in the war but now confronts the cruel banking system where promises to vets is more likely scrapped than made. One issue then is tight credit for veterans. Sound familiar.
In the end, it all gets resolved. Dana Andrews calms down and finally gets the right girl. There's some questions, never answered on how he became an Air Force Captain. But, it's the movies. Our sailor finally accepts who he is and the people who love him. And, our banker, although maybe drinking too much, does the right thing.
A wonderful movie that is as relevant today as it was then. Let's hope that the modern American society has learned the lessons of living up to the promises made to vets but I doubt it.