In a few weeks, 2005’s Academy Award nominations will be announced. There will be endless chatter about Hollywood’s courage and integrity in making this film or that & it’s no wonder the winners return to their lives with swollen egos and distorted insecurities. When it comes to the Oscars, there are no good old days for us mere mortals. The selection process has always been, false, skewed and unfair.
So let’s go back to 1946, when the Best Performance By An Actor was not even nominated. The Academy was quick to pile the nominations on other actors, in 1946’s best film, “The Best Years of Our Lives”: Fredric March as Al Stephenson and Harold Russell as Homer Parrish. Both won, but the Academy was so skittish that newcomer Russell might not win that they gave him a Special Oscar just in case, so he brought home two. The heart and soul of the movie, though, is Dana Andrews’ performance as Fred Derry. No one else captured the heartache of the returning veteran as he did: the excruciating nightmares, the disillusionment at his wretched employment situation, the erosion of the soul that accompanied the break-up of his marriage and the rage that poured out when his service record was attacked by a stranger. Dana Andrews accomplished all this without a trace of self pity and effortlessly projected his constant efforts to heal. For me, “The Best Years Of Our Lives” refers to Fred’s successful struggle to come home after the horror of the 2nd World War. Al Stephenson represents the past, Homer Parrish is a symbol with a capital “S” but Dana Andrews as Fred Derry is the real deal, the wave of the future. Too real for an Oscar, obviously, but he deserved it.
© 2006 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 12/28/05
People Who Should Have Received An Oscar: Dana Andrews