The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, and Harold Russell. The film is about three United States servicemen trying to piece their lives back together after coming home from World War II. Samuel Goldwyn was inspired to produce a film about veterans after reading an August 7, 1944 article in Time magazine about the difficulties experienced by men returning to civilian life. Goldwyn hired former war correspondent MacKinlay Kantor to write a screenplay. His work was first published as a novella, Glory for Me, which Kantor wrote in blank verse.
Robert Sherwood then adapted the novella as a screenplay.
The Best Years of Our Lives won seven Academy Awards in 1946, including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor (Frederic March), Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell), Best Film Editing (Daniel Mandell), Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert Sherwood), and Best Original Score (Hugo Friedhofer).
In addition to its critical success, the film quickly became a great commercial success upon release. It became the highest grossing film in both the United States and UK since the release of Gone with the Wind. It remains the sixth most attended film of all time in the UK, with over 20 million tickets sold.
The film had one of the highest viewing figures of all time, with ticket sales exceeding $20.4 million.