The Best Years of My LifeWednesday, May 27, 2020
On Monday, Memorial Day in the US, my Rosemary and I watched William Wyler’s 1946 film The Best Years of our Lives.
Since my mother was a fan of Dana Andrews (and Laura) I am no stranger to this film. I saw it sometime in the early 50s on a Calle Lavalle movie house in Buenos Aires.
After seeing the film I could not but go into my memory banks to write what is below.
This blog is my 5076th since I began in January of 2006. I did not really know what a blog was then. All I knew was that it was going to be ancillary to my first (and last) web page which was up that month, too.
My first attempts at writing the blog were short and sketchy but I soon learned not to rant, to complain, or to argue about religion or politics.
I like the Spanish word bitácora which translates to ‘ship’s log’. It defines perfectly what my blog represents to me. I write my thoughts or impressions of the day. In some cases I scour through my photo files to find a match for what I may want to write. Sometimes it is the opposite. I remember or take a photograph and then try to find a poem, an excerpt from a writer I may admire or a theme for the day.
Plenty of what I write is about my past life. My eldest daughter told me once, “We like to read your blog as you reveal stuff about your life that we did not know or did not want to pry and ask.”
My blog is also a gadfly reckoning about so much of my city, Vancouver, in which I have lived since 1975, that I consider important for people (who may read the blog) to know and to remember. We live in a city with a poor memory for its past.
Since I began working as a magazine photographer in 1977 I learned about the delights of taking photographs to illustrate fine copy. As magazines and jobs began to fade I found that I could write the copy for my own magazine, a magazine in which space is infinite (not so with paper magazines). A virtual magazine where, in spite of a constant criticism that my copy needed a good editor or fact checker, I enjoyed being the editor, writer, photographer and art director.
That this blog may be popular, or not, is irrelevant to me. What is important is that writing it every day has helped to clear my head and now in this 2020 sequestration is one of the few things of value to myself that I perform every day.
Watching The Best Years of Our Lives cements for me that I am a product of another century in which I am not tempted by Netflix or most of the films and TV films made in this one. I am not a stranger to shouted obscenities or extreme violence. But it does not mean that I have to like them
The characters in Wyler’s film would not be believable in this century of cynicism. They are too good, too human, too complex, in their simplicity. The values of the film with one (and only one) character briefly proclaiming facts that anybody in that past century of mine would have deemed untrue (true lies) are perhaps too lofty for this century.
Film noir is awfully popular now. My Rosemary and I watch Noir Alley with Eddie Muller on TCM every Saturday at 9pm. The crux of film noir consists of characters that are flawed somewhere between being good and being bad. The women are rarely pushed around and they know their own minds.
For me The Best Years of Our Lives is film noir. The three men coming back from the war have their flaws and are uncertain as to how to proceed. The women are valiant and even Virginia Mayo, the blonde wife of Dana Andrews knows what she wants (a man with money).
But to rest my case Teresa Wright who plays the young nurse/marriage wrecker could never be that character in any contemporary film. She is too good an actress (I am old fashioned and I like gender specific noun/professions), too lovely and she would look terrible in cleavage.
As this century soldiers on I want to get off soon.
P.S. As for Teresa Wright not looking good in cleavage I could be wrong.