Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Recommendation for Memorial Day

[Note:  A correction in the day of this has been made.  The films will air on Monday Night, when Memorial Day is observed.  Sorry for the error.]

As we approach Memorial Day, with all the parades, backyard BBQ parties, and other ceremonies and festivities, we need to get a handle on what this day means.

Turner Classic Movies has been running a marathon of some of the best war movies made about American Troops [mostly]. While To Hell and Back, the Audie Murphy story, is one of the best at portraying a true war hero, it was left off this year's list of films.

The cost of war is what Memorial Day is about. There is no greater cost than one's life. Hollywood has glorified the soldiers and airmen, and sailors and certainly the Marines who fought with courage, and died while doing so. And it is these men and women that we honor on Memorial Day. But there are other costs as well, as so many of us know. The scars - both physical and emotional, the diseases, and the loss of innocence are all included in the cost of war.

In this vein I would like to recommend two films that will run on Turner Classic Movies on Monday night. From 8 until 11 PM Eastern Time, TCM will be running one of the finest films dealing with the return of Veterans from the war, The Best Years of Our Lives. From 11 PM until 2 AM Eastern Time TCM will be showing Since You Went Away.

The Best Years of Our Lives stars Frederick March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy and Theresa Wright, among others. One of the three returning Veterans is portrayed as a Navy Veteran returning with no hands. He is portrayed by Harold Russell, who really lost his hands in a training accident stateside during WW II, and he steals the movie from the rest of the cast. In fact, he is the first and only person to win two Oscars for the same role. He won Best Supporting Actor, and a separate special Oscar for what his performance meant to many crippled and handicapped Veterans.

Since You Went Away is not about military personnel, but about the home front, and what they had to deal with during WW II. It is a surprisingly well told story, well acted, and certainly, of great interest. It is also extremely poignant. It has perhaps a better known and larger cast that Best Years: Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten, Monte Wooley, Lionel Barrymore, Hattie McDaniel [of Gone With the Wind fame], and many more familiar names and faces.

I would highly recommend these two films as very appropriate for Monday night. If possible, you might want to catch them both even though they run long and late. They are well worth the investment in time and emotions. And your emotions will be in play during both of them. Keep a box of tissues at hand.

If you can't watch them, try to tape them or Tivo them. If not, try to rent them and watch them.

Since You Went Away won one Oscar and was nominated for eight others, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, and Supporting Actress. It perhaps should have won more.

The Best Years of Our Lives won 8 Oscars, including Russell's two, and was nominated for a ninth Oscar; Best Actor, Supporting Actor [Russell], Best Picture, Best Music, and so on.

These are probably two of the best films ever that you may not have heard of, or even watched. But they are two films that every Veteran, and every family member of a Veteran should watch -- every time they are presented. Those who are portrayed in these two films deserve no less, and neither do you.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

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