"The Lost Weekend" Is Released
The Lost Weekend is a 1945 dramatic film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman.
The film was based on a novel of the same title by Charles R. Jackson about a writer who drinks heavily out of frustration over the accusation that he had an affair with one of his buddies while in college. The reference to the gay affair is removed in the film, and the main character's descent into an alcoholic binge is blamed on personal frustration and more general doubts about his identity.
The film's musical score was among the first to use the theremin, a musical instrument, which was used to create the pathos of the disease of alcoholism. This movie also made famous the "character walking toward the camera as neon signs pass by" camera effect.
Rights to the film are currently held by Universal Studios as they own the pre-1950 Paramount sound feature film library.
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). ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide