The Lost Weekend

( 5 )

Overview

Billy Wilder's searing portrait of an alcoholic features an Oscar-winning performance by Ray Milland as Don Birnam, a writer whose lust for booze consumes his career, his life, and his loves. The story begins as Don and his brother Wick Philip Terry are packing their bags in their New York apartment, preparing for a weekend in the country. Philip, aware of his brother's drinking problem, is keeping an eye of him, making sure he doesn't sneak a drink before the departure of their train. Arriving at the apartment ...
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Overview

Billy Wilder's searing portrait of an alcoholic features an Oscar-winning performance by Ray Milland as Don Birnam, a writer whose lust for booze consumes his career, his life, and his loves. The story begins as Don and his brother Wick Philip Terry are packing their bags in their New York apartment, preparing for a weekend in the country. Philip, aware of his brother's drinking problem, is keeping an eye of him, making sure he doesn't sneak a drink before the departure of their train. Arriving at the apartment is Don's girlfriend, Helen St. James Jane Wyman, who has tickets to a Carnegie Hall concert that night. Don persuades Wick and Helen to go to the concert without him, hoping to find one of his well-hidden bottles of booze. But when Wick and Helen go to the concert, Don discovers that Wick has gotten rid of the liquor. Don has no money, so he can't visit the neighborhood bar -- that is, until the cleaning lady arrives to reveal money hidden in a sugar-bowl. Don grabs the cash and hits the street, heading off to Nat's Bar. Nat Howard Da Silva, a bartender who has seen it all, is surprised to see Don. But when Don shows he can pay for his drinks, Nat reluctantly serves him, telling Don, "One's too many and a thousand's not enough." Soon Don plunges in an alcoholic haze, his boozing landing him in a harrowing drunk tank, presided over by the cynical attendant Bim Frank Faylen.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Billy Wilder's harrowing case study of a booze-addicted writer, released in 1945 to international acclaim, heralded a new realism in Hollywood dramas; today, more than five decades later, The Lost Weekend retains the power to shock with its uncompromising depiction of alcoholism. Ray Milland won a richly deserved Oscar for his moving portrayal of a drunken scribe who goes on a three-day bender, plunging himself into a nightmarish phantasmagoria. Jane Wyman delivers a first-rate performance as Milland's heartbroken girlfriend, while Howard Da Silva as a cynical bartender and Frank Faylen as a sanitarium attendant contribute notable supporting turns. The screen adaptation of Charles Jackson's bestselling novel, penned by Wilder and Charles Brackett, deviated somewhat from the original story but sacrificed none of its potency. The film was deemed so effective, in fact, that a consortium of liquor manufacturers offered Paramount five million dollars to suppress it. Ultimately, Wilder's faith in the project was justified by rave reviews and a slew of Academy Awards including Best Picture. His film pioneered a new type of socially relevant drama, specimens of which periodically issued from Hollywood studios in the post-World War II era. Its historical importance, however, shouldn't obscure the fact that Lost Weekend is, first and foremost, a tremendously entertaining movie. The new DVD release includes production notes, cast and crew biographies, and the original theatrical trailer.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Charles Bukowski, the poet and novelist well known for his alcoholic excesses, once said admiringly of The Lost Weekend, "It was Ray Milland's only bit of acting, but it was aces." While Bukowski's praise of Milland's work may have been tongue-in-cheek, it was also based in truth: Milland never gave a stronger performance than in this film, in which he captured the alcoholic personality with uncanny accuracy. Years before addiction became common currency in the movies (or in American life), Milland etched an indelible portrait of an alcoholic in denial, willing to lie to friends and family, steal from strangers, and give up his livelihood for a drink; Milland's pained and weary desperation as he searches for a pawnshop or the abject terror of his bout with DTs still ring horribly true. The Lost Weekend also manages the clever (and wholly appropriate) feat of making Milland's Don Birnam sympathetic without asking the audience to feel sorry for him or to ignore the deadly foolishness of his actions. Director Billy Wilder (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Charles M. Brackett) makes clear that Don is intelligent and not without talent; he's also weak-willed and a willing slave to the bottle, and while he knows what drink is doing to him, he's unable to stop himself until a final collapse grinds him to a halt. The Lost Weekend is also punctuated by bitter humor (Frank Faylen as the Bellevue alcoholic ward attendant is as funny as he is devoid of compassion) and a superb supporting cast, especially Howard Da Silva as Nat the bartender and Doris Dowling as the bar girl with a softer heart than we'd imagine; and Wilder seems to relish the unstated irony that the drug that's destroying Don Birnam is openly available and used readily by others all around him.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/1/1992
  • UPC: 096898035439
  • Original Release: 1945
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Milland Don Birnam
Jane Wyman Helen St. James
Howard Da Silva Nat the Bartender
Phillip Terry Nick Birnam
Doris Dowling Gloria
Frank Faylen Bim
Mary Young Mrs. Beveridge
Anita Bolster Mrs. Foley
Lilian Fontaine Mrs. St. James
Lewis L. Russell Mr. St. James
Frank Orth Opera Attendant
Walter S. Baldwin Albany
Harry Barris Piano Player
Jess Lee Brooks
David Clyde Dave
Helen Dickson Mrs. Frink
Byron Foulger Shopkeeper
Jayne Hazard M.M.
Jerry James
Eddie Laughton Mr. Brophy
Theodora Lynch
James Millican Nurse
Pat Moriarity Irishman
Clarence Muse Washroom Attendant
William O'Leary Irishman
Peter Potter Shaky and Sweaty
Craig Reynolds M.M.'s Escort
Lester Sharpe
Lee Shumway Guard
Douglas Spencer Beetle
Fred "Snowflake" Toones Washroom Attendant
Emmett Vogan Doctor
Milton Wallace Pawnbroker
Gisela Werbiseck Mrs. Wertheim
Technical Credits
Billy Wilder Director, Screenwriter
Charles Brackett Producer, Screenwriter
Stanley Cooley Sound/Sound Designer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Bertram Granger Set Decoration/Design
Doane Harrison Editor
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Earl Hedrick Art Director
Gordon Jennigns Special Effects
Pat Moore Sound Editor
Joel Moss Sound/Sound Designer
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
John F. Seitz Cinematographer
Giuseppe Verdi Score Composer
Wally Westmore Makeup
Victor Young Musical Direction/Supervision
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    alcoholism

    A wonderful example of how alcohol can control one's actions and emotions. Billy wilder has proven himself to be one of the greatest directors of all times. This movie is a must see for all addicts to show what their addiction looks likes to others and how it affects others. just to know it,s there gives you a sense of peace. Just like this movie!

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    The Lost Weekend

    The Lost Weekend is perhaps a lost film in Hollywood history and I cannot figure out for the life of me why that is. It is a film that is difficult to find on video/dvd anywhere and I have not found a place yet to rent it from or even found many people who have seen/heard of it. However, with this film the great Billy Wilder once again crafts a story full of drama, superb acting, dialogue and a story that are as true to life as they were in 1945 when it one the Oscar for best picture. It is hard to distinguish if it is the direction and mastery of Billy Wilder that makes this film unforgettable or if it is the dead on acting of Ray Milland, the alcholic who will do and say anything to get his fix, even if for a brief moment. This is a must see film for anyone who wants to be captivated by film making at its finest and if you know anyone who suffers from alcoholism or another drug addiction it will hit home with its stark realizm as Milland's character bargins with himself over his sobriety and how/where to get this next taste to escape.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Classic Film

    Superb black-and-white film.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Totally Outstanding

    I enjoyed this movie so much that years after seeing it I think it still has the impact as it did back in the 40's. I have used the line that the bartender used on Ray Miland many times over the years "One drink is too much and a hundred aren't enough". Watching Miland walking down the street in a drunken stuipper is enough to make anybody think,"Is drinking really worth it?"...Heck No! This is one great movie - share it with your kids if they are at the years when they would like to start trying some of the garbage that this world has to offer! "Enjoy" Joe Kopeck

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews