Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Classic Movie Marathon Day 9: The Lost Weekend (1945)

Welcome to day nine of the Classic Movie Marathon. Nine movies down, three movies to go! Next up is The Woman in the Window (1944).

Addiction. It's a favourite topic of the movies. And the more depressing they are, the better. The Lost Weekend is no where near as depressing as the likes of Requiem for a Dream, but it still has a resounding effect on the viewer. I guess that's why it won Best Picture at the Oscars. Those voters like to be depressed, even though they like to call it 'being emotionally moved'. Billy Wilder's story of alcoholism is one which isn't to be taken light-heartedly, even though it has some great humour sprinkled through it. I just have one question though...why is it always the writer that has all the problems? Yeah, now I'm way too scared to even be known as a writer in fear that I might turn out as an alcoholic too.

So yeah, Don Birnam (Ray Milland) is a writer (supposedly) who is a little bit fond of the bottle in his times of need. But he's been off the bottle for a little while and he's about to go on a holiday weekend planned by his brother Wick (Phillip Terry) and his girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman). Buying some time before he goes off on this weekend by making  trip to his long deserted watering hole to have a drink...or five. He winds up drunk and misses his train out of town, so instead of going on a nice sober weekend he decides to go on a bender, which leaves in all sorts of trouble. As the title would suggest, Don does find himself 'lost' in this weekend.

This movie really comes down to the performance by British actor Ray Milland. While I found his character quite annoying (that wasn't him, I just have something against the effects of alcohol), he managed to get heart out of the bottled up person he was. He anchors the production and provides it with that emotional vulnerability and instability that it needs, all the while making the viewer feel for him. It was quite interesting taking a look into why an alcoholic is an alcoholic. This is played beautifully through a flashback that Don has while he is having a quiet one. Billy Wilder did a good job on zoning in, also, on how it feels to be under the influence of the drink. His direction and screenplay, backed up by a positively unsettling score, conveyed the madness and insecurity which comes with the demon. This movie could probably work just as well as a horror. The love of a woman is a real problem I had with this movie. I mean, it was sweet, and essential, that someone would care so much for Mr. Birnam. But the whole thing seemed incredibly cliched and it made the ending even worse. I hate it when a movie can be so gritty for 90% of the time and the end is the most uplifting thing ever. I would have rathered that escort be the love interest because her ultra-abbreviated way of speaking was pretty damn modern.

What I got:


  1. A little bit off-topic, but still about films about addiction. Have you seen The Days of Wine and Roses? I saw it before Requiem for a Dream, that's why the former wasn't so shocking in my view. What do you think?

  2. No, I haven't seen that one, but I shall check it out! I love depressing movies!

  3. I want to see this film so bad! But, ugh, I have trouble finding it. Well, anyways, great review!

  4. It's good, it's definitely worth searching for! Thanks!


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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