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The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir | 16 November 1945 (USA)
2:07 | Trailer

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The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout.



(from the novel by), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Won 4 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Mary Young ...
Mrs. Deveridge
Mrs. Foley (as Anita Bolster)
Lilian Fontaine ...
Mrs. St. James
Opera Cloak Room Attendant
Lewis L. Russell ...
Mr. St. James


Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been "on the wagon" for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last...one way or the other. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The screen dares to open the strange and savage pages of a shocking bestseller! See more »


Drama | Film-Noir


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 November 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Días sin huella  »

Box Office


$1,250,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Not a heavy drinker, Ray Milland tried getting drunk, but he usually ended up on his knees in a bathroom. See more »


Don Birman stops at the "A. Bloom" pawn shop. When it is closed, he walks uptown. He passes another pawn shop with a man standing in front of it and we can see the name "A. Bloom" again See more »


Wick Birnem: If it happens, it happens and I hope it does. I've had six years of this. I've had my bellyfull... Who are we fooling? We've tried everything, haven't we? We've reasoned with him. We've baited him. We've watched him like a hawk. We've tried trusting him. How often have you cried? How often have I beaten him up? Scrape him out of a gutter and pump some kind of self-respect into him and back he falls, back in every time.
Helen St. James: He's a sick person. It's as though there was something wrong with his heart ...
See more »


Referenced in The Big Hangover (1950) See more »


Somebody Stole My Gal
(1918) (uncredited)
Written by Leo Wood
Played on piano and sung by Harry Barris at Harry and Joe's, with modified lyrics ("Somebody Stole the Purse")
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Once Upon A Time There Was A Bat And A Mouse
29 July 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Lost Weekend for 1945 was a pretty grim and realistic look at the problem of alcoholism. We've seen some pretty good films since like I'll Cry Tomorrow right up to Barfly, but The Lost Weekend still has the power to hold the audiences attention 61 years after it came out.

It was a breakthrough film for its star Ray Milland. Previously someone who had done light leading man roles, Milland plumbed some real hidden demons in the role of Don Birnam. A guy much like the characters Ray Milland played on screen, Birnam is a charming fellow and would be writer who can't leave the alcohol alone.

Billy Wilder was going to originally cast an unknown character actor in the lead role. However Paramount producer Buddy DeSylva said that in this part you wanted a likable leading man so the audiences had a rooting interest. Wilder who usually did not suffer interference from the front office with any grace, took DeSylva's advice and got Ray Milland with whom he'd worked with in The Major and the Minor.

Milland prepared for this part by spending a couple of nights in an alcoholic ward. Certainly showed in his performance. You will not forget Milland and his reaction to seeing the bat and the mouse while in delirium tremors.

Jane Wyman was Wilder's third choice after not getting Katharine Hepburn or Jean Arthur. She came over to Paramount from Warner Brothers on a loan out and got her first really good notices for a serious acting role as Milland's long suffering girl friend.

A recent biography of Billy Wilder said that The Lost Weekend was timed perfectly for an audience that swelled up with returning servicemen some of whom developed alcoholic problems after being through the horror of a World War. After being panned in previews with a little editing it opened to rave reviews on release.

It did good at the box office too and it won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor for Milland, Best Screenplay for Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and Best Director for Wilder. After this triumph Wilder and Brackett both had their pick of good film properties.

I'm surprised that someone like Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino has never tried to remake this one. Seems like just the kind of film for them.

Milland's character is a writer and a key sequence is when he attempts to pawn his typewriter for a bottle of booze. Can you imagine doing that today with a laptop computer which is not only the tool he uses, but also has a memory of all the attempts the protagonist has made to write.

Might even be more powerful today.

30 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Does it REALLY get this bad?? learyblaine
Do not stop drinking... notorious918
I found this movie ridiculous... russ453
The ending. Johnny____
Birnam's reaction to the pawn shops being shut? trist962
I'm drunk right now erika-58
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