The Lost Weekend
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This all rather makes the film sound dull and unappealing. It is anything but. Often with Billy Wilder's films it is the dialogue which is most memorable and Lost Weekend has some great lines. I particularly enjoyed the language and forties slang of sympathetic bad girl Doris Dowling. It seems amazing that Wilder, who co-wrote the film, grew up in Austria. He must have really listened to those around him to pick up all the nuances of contemporary speech.
I would not say that Lost Weekend is Wilder's best film. The story is a little bit too predictable. This is always the case with message films. Here the message is the horrors of alcoholism, so we rather know where we're going. Nevertheless it is a fine film by one of the finest directors ever.
The quality of the DVD is very good. It has few extras, just a trailer really, but the quality of the picture and sound is superb. My only quibble is with Universal who issue the DVD and no doubt own the rights to the film. They should not put their globe symbol at the beginning of the film in front of the Paramount mountain. This might seem petty, but it is still `A Paramount Picture' whoever owns it now.
Writer Don Birnam (Ray Milland) is an alcoholic. Both his brother, Wick (Phillip Terry), and his girlfriend, Helen St. James (Jane Wyman), have tried to get him to sober up. Don is making progress but he gives into his demons once more during one harrowing weekend. During this time, Don lies, steals, and does whatever he can to get his hands on booze and more booze. After staying at the drunk ward of a hospital and experiencing a series of terrifying hallucinations, his journey enters even darker territory when he contemplates ending his life
Wilder's unwavering direction coupled with Milland's remarkable performance gives "The Lost Weekend" a dramatic power that disturbs and frightens. The scenes in the film are so well staged that they attain a heightened sense of realism that is impressive for a non-documentary. The only problem with "The Lost Weekend" is an ending that feels a little too neat and tidy. Specifically, Don's final proclamation has a dubious ring to it. Wilder undoubtedly wanted to end his film on a hopeful note but the ending just feels awkward. Yet, even though "The Lost Weekend" ends oddly, its depiction of one man's total meltdown remains a powerful viewing experience to this very day.
There's a story told about the filming of "LW," in which another of Ray Milland's on-the-street takes were ruined when someone recognized him. Instead of asking for his autograph, though, the woman offered to bring him back to her apartment for a drink. She didn't believe him when he said he was making a movie about a drunk; she thought the actor was down on his luck and really *was* a drunk. Billy Wilder came out from behind the hidden camera and finally set her straight. This is a good illustration of the power of Milland's performance; his work is quite extraordinary. Jane Wyman as his girlfriend Helen does a good job with a small role, as does Phillip Terry as Don's brother Wick.
While the drama of the movie moves along at a fevered pitch, it really starts to build to a level of unbearable tension when Helen goes to retrieve her coat (which Don has stolen) from the pawnbroker, only to discover Don didn't trade it for money for booze, but rather a gun he had pawned earlier. After his earlier talk of putting a bullet through his head, the audience and Helen realize at the same time what his intentions are, and we find ourselves as anxious as Helen as she races back to his apartment. She gets there in time, and the two play a game of cat and mouse, warily stepping around each other as he tries to get her to leave, and she tries to get to the gun first.Read more ›
"You know, the circle is the perfect geometric figure. No end, no beginning." The figure of a circle is used often in the movie, primarily in the plot. The story revolves around that of a failed writer (Ray Milland, who I discuss in detail later) and his trouble with alcohol. The usage of a circular plot structure suggests that the life of a drunk is followed by one binge after another, with no start and no finish. It is also used when Don is under alcohol's spell. An example is the usage of rings from the shot glasses to show passage of time.
The lead performance: After years of acting, Milland hit it big as Don Birnam, the unsuccessful, alcoholic writer who goes on a drinking binge ("I'm not a drinker, I'm a drunk"). Milland's character is a tortured one, who claims that there are, figuratively, two of him: Don the writer and Don drunk. Milland can be melodramatic in his performance, but what do you expect from a film like this?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of our favorites. Watch it often now that we bought it. And we bought it for that reason.Published 2 months ago by jacqueline m leonard
This is a great film for anyone interested in the subject of addiction.
The score is a bit much with the obnoxiously repetitive theme played by theremin.
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