Days of Wine and Roses Blu-ray Review

Strong, harrowing drama that has lost none of its sting 4.5 Stars

Blake Edwards’ harrowing 1962 film version of the celebrated Playhouse 90 production of J.P. Miller’s Days of Wine and Roses extends the brutal extremes of alcoholism to almost the breaking point.

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Released: 04 Feb 1963
Rated: Approved
Runtime: 117 min
Director: Blake Edwards
Genre: Drama
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, Jack Klugman
Writer(s): J.P. Miller
Plot: An alcoholic marries a young woman, whom he systematically addicts to booze so they can share his "passion" together.
IMDB rating: 7.9
MetaScore: 74

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 57 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 10/29/2019
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 4.5/5

Blake Edwards’ harrowing 1962 film version of the celebrated Playhouse 90 production of J.P. Miller’s Days of Wine and Roses extends the brutal extremes of alcoholism to almost the breaking point. Difficult to watch but necessary in depicting the destruction such an illness can bring to an otherwise normal family, the director injects some humor into the dire proceedings as often as he can, but the movie is strong stuff and not for the timid. Exemplary performances from four leading players also make this a must-see for admirers of really great drama.

Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is a rising young public relations executive when he meets Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), a pretty secretary, at a business party. Joe and Kirsten are both ambitious, and they are on the road to success when they fall in love and marry. Soon after, however, Joe coaxes Kirsten to begin drinking with him on a regular basis. Eventually, they are both become dependent on alcohol and begin to lose everything. Their marriage deteriorates, and their lives spiral into disaster even as they try with spotty success to wean themselves off the bottle. But that constant craving for just one more drink refuses to go away.

J.P. Miller adapted his original teleplay into this movie script, and director Blake Edwards, at this time known for his comedies more than for his dramas, was brought on board to inject whatever lightness he could to help spell the grimness of the subject matter and the ugliness of the conditions in which alcohol will leave the film’s two protagonists. And he’s quite successful in the film’s first hour; especially amusing is Joe’s tipsy return home with tulips picked from the apartment garden but in his obliviousness with their blossoms chopped off by a closing elevator door. And Edwards and Miller also inject gently and early on some casual drinking into the Clays’ lives: his for work entertaining clients and later attempting to wash some of the more distasteful elements of his job out of his mouth, hers enjoying her first mixed cocktail, a brandy alexander due to her fondness for chocolate, and then beginning to have cocktails before dinner, champagne or wine during dinner, and after-dinner drinks to complete evening after evening until it has become a part of her daily routine. But Edwards doesn’t spare us the indignity of their degradation: Joe has three traumatic experiences on camera: straightjacketed in a psych ward to survive withdrawal, a particularly wrenching sequence where he destroys a greenhouse looking for a bottle he’s hidden for emergencies, and finally tied down to a table to prevent him hurting himself during his hallucinations from the DTs. And while Kirsten’s withdrawals aren’t shown on camera, we see her at her worst: hurling vitriol and using various wiles on her husband who’s remained sober while she’s basked in her drunkenness trying to get him to join her off the wagon.

It’s a high water acting mark for both Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick with roles so juicy that they can run the acting gamut from charming to debased and back again (in Lemmon’s case several times) all the while jolting us constantly with their misery and addiction. Charles Bickford is commanding and determined as Kirsten’s rigid father, and Jack Klugman offers quiet, gentle compassion and strength as Joe’s concerned AA sponsor. Familiar faces Alan Hewitt and Jack Albertson pop in as PR executives who in Albertson’s case seems to be having similar troubles with alcohol and in Hewitt’s case has a short fuse for executives who can’t do their jobs after constant heavy drinking.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully rendered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Another one of Warner Archives’ brilliant black and white transfers, this pristine image is simply exemplary. Black levels are rich and inky, and whites are clean and sublime. Sharpness is superb with a real film-like image being offered. Contrast has been dialed in to perfection. There are no problems at all with dirt, dust, scratches, or debris.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track offers a rich and compelling era-typical soundtrack. Henry Mancini’s Oscar-winning title song and beautiful score sounds wonderful mixed so expertly with the dialogue and sound effects into a single track. Any age-related problems with hiss, flutter, hum, or crackle have been completely eliminated.

Special Features: 2.5/5

Audio Commentary: director Blake Edwards offers a stop-and-go commentary with comments about the actors, the writer, and other behind the scenes crew sprinkled among long stretches of silence. He admits it’s been decades since he watched the movie and seems to get absorbed in the drama forgetting to comment quite often.

Jack Lemmon Interview (5:06, SD): a one-sided interview with Jack Lemmon on the set obviously staged so local interviewers can film their scripted questions to his already filmed answers.

Theatrical Trailer (3:33, HD)

Overall: 4.5/5

One of the greatest movies in the filmographies of Blake Edwards, Jack Lemmon, and Lee Remick, Days of Wine and Roses is heavy drama at its strongest and most memorable. The Warner Archive Blu-ray release brings this tragic story to crisp and clear high definition life and comes with a hearty recommendation.

Published by

Matt Hough

editor,member

23 Comments

  1. Thank you for your review for one of my all time favorites. Stark and honest film which is a relevant today as it was almost 60 yrs ago. Superb performances from all involved, great scripting, and excellent direction. No doubt a purchase for me.

  2. I first saw this in a movie theater in 1962 and I've seen it on tv several times since. It's a tough film to watch with explosive performances. But the scene that blows my mind is in Charles Bickford's greenhouse when Jack Lemmon is drunk. I've gotten so I can't watch this scene anymore. So I'm going to take a pass on this overwhelming look at a terrible subject.

  3. filmnoirguy

    I first saw this in a movie theater in 1962 and I've seen it on tv several times since. It's a tough film to watch with explosive performances. But the scene that blows my mind is in Charles Bickford's greenhouse when Jack Lemmon is drunk. I've gotten so I can't watch this scene anymore. So I'm going to take a pass on this overwhelming look at a terrible subject.

    Yes, that's one of the scenes that I have difficulty watching now.

  4. Robert Crawford

    I received my Blu-ray today, but I won't be able to play it this weekend. It's the kind of film, I have to be in a certain mood to watch in its entirety.

    A Certain Mood ???? I wish mine came today. I would watch it immediately !

  5. RICK BOND

    A Certain Mood ???? I wish mine came today. I would watch it immediately !

    I'm sorry, but the film's subject matter is a downer for some of us that had experienced such issues in their personal lives. With me, it was a family member which is the reason why I've never been drunk in my life and I still don't drink alcohol to this day.

  6. Robert Crawford

    I'm sorry, but the film's subject matter is a downer for some of us that had experienced such issues in their personal lives. With me, it was a family member which is the reason why I've never been drunk in my life and I still don't drink alcohol to this day.

    Good Man Robert ! …. I never drank, smoked, or touched drugs. A very Clean and Healthy life is Best.

  7. But each perspective is unique unto itself. Some of us have had shattering similar experiences, yet respond differently to the material. And living permanently straight and clean offers no guarantee of uprightness and judgement in other regards. As with so much else regarding the human animal, it’s complicated. I’ve long wanted this title on Blu-Ray, and eagerly await its arrival.

  8. David Wilkins

    But each perspective is unique unto itself. Some of us have had shattering similar experiences, yet respond differently to the material. And living permanently straight and clean offers no guarantee of uprightness and judgement in other regards. As with so much else regarding the human animal, it’s complicated. I’ve long wanted this title on Blu-Ray, and eagerly await its arrival.

    I always thought it was given that all of us are unique and that each of us make good and bad decisions in life because we're not perfect, we're just human.

  9. Robert Crawford

    I always thought it was given that all of us are unique and that each of us make good and bad decisions in life because we're not perfect, we're just human.

    You are of course correct. I was just blathering, as I tend to do too often.

  10. filmnoirguy

    I first saw this in a movie theater in 1962 and I've seen it on tv several times since. It's a tough film to watch with explosive performances. But the scene that blows my mind is in Charles Bickford's greenhouse when Jack Lemmon is drunk. I've gotten so I can't watch this scene anymore. So I'm going to take a pass on this overwhelming look at a terrible subject.

    There is special channel on SiriusXM featuring the audio of some Johnny Carson Tonight Shows. I just heard one from the mid-1970s with Jack Lemmon as a guest. Carson mentioned that scene in Days of Wine and Roses and Mr. Lemmon said it was one of the toughest scenes he ever did, a grueling day-long emotional and physical endurance test. Then he said something went wrong with the film in the lab that night and they had to re-shoot the whole thing all over again the next day.

  11. There must be production issues with this disc. I preordered a couple of months ago from Amazon, with a release date of 10/29. There was no movement at all on the order, then yesterday they added an availability date range of 11/22 to 12/10.

  12. No production issues. I got mine from Target the day before release and almost every other order from every other retailer was delivered last week. Or at least no reports that I can find of any other retailer missed a preorder delivery time

    Repeat after me — it's an AMAZON ISSUE like normal like pretty much all WAC titles for the last 9 months or more.

  13. David Wilkins

    There must be production issues with this disc. I preordered a couple of months ago from Amazon, with a release date of 10/29. There was no movement at all on the order, then yesterday they added an availability date range of 11/22 to 12/10.

    Amazon always does this with freshly released Warner archive titles

    Took months before Gaslight was ”in stock ”

    days of wine and roses I had to get from eBay on release day

  14. The last four Warner Archive titles that I didn't get to review I ordered from Best Buy (paying exactly what I would have paid at Amazon) and received in two days. I learned my lesson after Summer Stock and The Thin Man each arrived a month after release date from Amazon.

  15. That’s weird. I had heard about their ongoing couple of issues such as with Disney, but wasn’t aware of this oddball. I wonder what the issue is with Warner Archive in particular? I learned long ago that trying to communicate with Amazon is beyond futile. The left hand not only doesn’t know what the right hand is doing… the left hand doesn’t know there IS a right hand.

  16. Matt Hough

    The last four Warner Archive titles that I didn't get to review I ordered from Best Buy (paying exactly what I would have paid at Amazon) and received in two days. I learned my lesson after Summer Stock and The Thin Man each arrived a month after release date from Amazon.

    I've been utilizing Best Buy and Target for my Warner Archive titles. Target is running a "buy 2, get 1 free" sale for the last couple of weeks so I preordered my November titles from them as well as bought some October titles too.

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