In World War II, Wyler joined the armed forces. He made war films, most notably, THE MEMPHIS BELLE (1944). For this story of an air raid by American flyers based in England, Wyler cut aerial battle footage that he and his photographers had captured over Germany to a spare, rhythmic, poetic narration written by Lester Koenig. The result is a remarkably powerful documentary.
The film prior to this documentary was MRS. MINIVER (1942), a film that takes place in England, really captured the feeling of the people living amongst the war. After MRS. MINIVER was shown at the White House, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been was transfixed throughout, said, This has to be shown right away, everywhere.
Wylers first feature after the war was his last with Goldwyn. Perhaps his own military service, which left him deaf in one ear and with only partial hearing in the other, gave Wyler the experience needed to sympathetically realize the problems of military personnel returning to civilian life. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) is a beautiful picture and wonderfully well acted by Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Harold Russell, Hoagy Carmichael, Cathy ODonnell, and Teresa Wright.
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