|Dana Andrews, Frederic March and Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).|
As for dominant ideology, well…I would point to the scene at the soda fountain late in the film in which Fred (Dana Andrews) cold-clocks a dissident who hypocritically sports an American flag pin in his lapel, which the amputee Homer (Harold Russell) later picks up off the floor and puts in his own pocket. This would seem to be a moment in which the film’s patriotic sentiments approach the level of kitsch: even if the villain of the scene is coded as a right-wing fanatic (and The Best Years of Our Lives was accused of being pink by members of the right), the scene’s invitation to us to get off, along with its characters, on violence and suppression in the name of the American flag is a fundamentally conservative move, and a particularly distasteful one. But even this moment is complicated by the mere fact of Homer having to pick up the pin with the prosthetic hooks that have replaced his hands—a reminder that whatever pride or love Homer may feel for his country is bound up in wounds and loss.
|Homer retrieves the American flag pin with his prosthetic hooks.|
|Cathy O'Donnell and Harold Russell.|