Sunday February 6, 2011 10:25

Movie #0042 – The Lost Weekend (1945)

Posted by Michael


Directed by: Billy Wilder
Starring: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry
Picture credit: Max 256 Blog
First Viewing

Synopsis: After his brother leaves him alone for the weekend, an alcoholic writer goes on an alcohol-fueled bender.

This is pretty much entirely unrelated to The Lost Weekend, but I wanted to start this post by mentioning how much I love Turner Classic Movies. What’s not to love? Classic movies all day long, uncut, commercial free and always presented in their proper aspect ratios. Good times. And in case you hadn’t guessed, I just watched this film on TCM, so bringing it up wasn’t completely random.

I really liked this film. It takes what seems like a fairly limited premise and turns it into something pretty special. Kudos must go to star Ray Milland for his nuanced performance. When he tries to rationalize his addiction near the beginning of the film, he’s so charming that you almost believe him.

It quickly becomes apparent, however, that this is a man who is completely ruled by his nearly crippling addiction. Milland does a great job of really selling everything that his character goes through, from his near-exuberance at the start of the movie to his increasing desperation to satisfy his cravings (he has limited funds, and spends all his time either drinking or figuring out where his next drink is coming from).

There’s something grimly compelling about watching Milland’s inexorable descent and his complete powerlessness to his own addiction. Every time you think “surely, this is rock bottom,” things manage to get even worse. The whole thing might have come off as over-the-top or even preachy under a lesser director, but Billy Wilder directs the film with a sure hand, and never allows it to be overtaken by melodrama.

Buy the movie on Amazon

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