Released the year before the end of World War II, The Impatient Years examines a topic in a comedic manner that, after the war would be looked at in a more serious vein. Andy Anderson (Lee Bowman) is home on medical leave, returning to the home of his wife of one week (plus about 18 months). He finds Janie (Jean Arthur), busy running her home, with her boarder (Henry Fairchild played by Phil Brown), her father (William Smith, played by the always wonderful Charles Coburn), and her not quite one-year old son! She exists on a very rigid schedule, one which her husband will not respect. Within a day, the hastily wed couple are ready to divorce with equal speed, much to the disgust of Mr. Smith. So, he recommends to the Judge (Edgar Buchanan) that he prevent the couple from divorcing until they can figure out WHY they married in the first place.
By 1946, The Best Years of Our Lives would look at the impact of the hasty wartime marriage on the returning vet. And while The Impatient Years
certainly IS a comedy, there is a core of seriousness under the humor.
Both the Judge and Mr. Smith understand that the war is forcing
decisions to be made to quickly. They insist that our couple stop BEING
impatient and try to rediscover their lost love for one another.
should be added that neither Andy nor Janie is totally in the wrong.
He, back from combat, wants peace, wants to do what HE wants to do.
She, responsible for a house and small child, needs a schedule to get
everything done. Neither can understand the other's needs. Neither
even tries. And thereby hangs the serious heart of the film.
Jean Arthur and Lee Bowman are excellent, and Charles Coburn, as
always, shines as a loving father (who, in fact, is just meeting his
son-in-law). We also have comic performances from Charlie Grapwin (as a
bellman) and Grant Mitchell (as a hotel clerk). Sure, the film can be a
tad silly, but at heart, it is a lovely story about two people who need
fight their own way out of the War.