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Film Greats: Billy Wilder’s ‘The Lost Weekend’ (1945)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Dec 19, 2001.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    The Lost Weekend is an honest and harrowing look at alcohol addiction seen through the eyes of Don Birnam played magnificently by Ray Milland. It is the very first film to tackle the subject of alcoholism and to this date, remains, in my opinion, one of the best films dealing with this social problem (Nicolas Cage and Leaving Las Vegas would be the other). While its ending might be too optimistic, Billy Wilder was able to capture the realism of the subject matter from the script that he co-wrote and his black and white photography of the streets of New York and its skyline.
    The film chronicles one weekend in the life of Don Birnam, a failed writer, and his slow decent towards hopelessness and losing his sanity due to alcoholism. Jane Wyman and Phillip Terry play Don’s friend and brother, respectively, who try and help him get through his addiction. Ray Milland played the deception and struggles that his character Don Birnam went through in the entire film very convincingly.
    The film won four Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. Today, The Lost Weekend is a film that, at times, takes a back seat to other Billy Wilder films such as Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment and Double Indemnity. However, The Lost Weekend is definitely one of Wilder’s best films that have made him such an accomplished filmmaker.
    - - -
    Film Greats – A continuing quick look at motion pictures that, in one way or another, have been called “great films” by some. Other Films In This Series: William Wyler’s Dodsworth : Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo : D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms : Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men
    ~Edwin
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Edwin,
    Since this thread has received so many responses, maybe I should put in my two cents.[​IMG] When I first watched this movie on television sometime during the 1960's, the alcoholic induced delusion scene really scared the crap out of me. Also, knowing Milland's filmography, I'm surprised that Wilder was able to get such a wonderful serious acting performance from him. Milland's forte was comedy or romantic roles. As WWII was coming to a close, this landmark film was very instrumental in pushing cinema towards more socially-conscience topical related films. A great story with a real sense of purpose that gave audiences a peek at the world of alcoholism.
    A side note about this film is that Paramount released this film theatrically then several years later, sold it's film rights to Universal due to financial troubles. Also, after the film was ready for release, Paramount almost didn't release it due to pressure from special interest groups such as temperance advocates and the liquor industry. After a limited New York City release, Parmount knew they had a critically acclaimed hit film.
    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  5. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    A great edgy film with an astounding performance by Ray Milland that proved it was a much different world at the end of WWII than it was before. Billy Wilder is the man!
    Now...I need a drink. [​IMG]
    Rob
     
  6. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    I think Milland is equally good - in a less "showy" role - in Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder. So good, in fact, that you want him to get away with it.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Milland was also good in a couple of film noirs "Ministry of Fear" and "The Big Clock". Furthermore, "The Thief" is being released on dvd which is a unique film noir without any spoken dialogue. I just wished "The Uninvited" a terrific ghost film is released on dvd one day.

    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Dave Barth

    Dave Barth Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll remember to get around to this Wilder film eventually. I haven't seen as many of his movies as I wish.
     

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