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The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir | 16 November 1945 (USA)
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Airs Sun. Feb. 21, 10:00 AM on TCM

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

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Writers:

(from the novel by), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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2,429 ( 6,776)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Phillip Terry ...
Howard Da Silva ...
Nat
...
...
Mary Young ...
Mrs. Deveridge
Anita Sharp-Bolster ...
Mrs. Foley (as Anita Bolster)
Lilian Fontaine ...
Mrs. St. James
Frank Orth ...
Opera Cloak Room Attendant
Lewis L. Russell ...
Mr. St. James
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

How daring can the screen dare to be? No adult man or woman can risk missing the startling frankness of The Lost Weekend! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 November 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Días sin huella  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first film featuring a "theremin" on the soundtrack - a musical instrument which produces a strange "wailing" sound that later became familiar to 1950s science-fiction film audiences. Miklós Rózsa used it in composing the score for the nightmare sequences. See more »

Goofs

When Helen pours whiskey for Don near the end then divides it into two glasses, it is nowhere near a quarter of the way up the glass. When Don chooses not to drink it moments later, and drops his cigarette in the glass, it is more than half-way full. See more »

Quotes

Don Birnam: [to Wick and Heln] Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can't take quiet desperation!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dancing in the Dark (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

It Was So Beautiful (and You Were Mine)
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Barris
Lyrics by Arthur Freed
Played on piano and sung by Harry Barris at Harry and Joe's
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Textbook drama about addiction powerfully told...
2 March 1999 | by (Philadelphia, PA) – See all my reviews

From the first shot of a bottle hanging from a drunk's apartment, we realize we are about to see a clever addict and a weekend of his demented exploits. Ray Milland has an honest face, not unlike Jimmy Stewart's, however, with this character it is only skin-deep. The great thing about his performance and the film as a whole, is that his face will gradually change, becoming dark and chilly, just like Stewart's in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Stewart had lost his life momentarily. Milland has lost his soul to the bottle and he will stop at nothing to quench his thirst.

This really is a textbook example of the alcoholic's lies and schemes, a precursor to LEAVING LAS VEGAS, although there are people in this film who care about the drinker from the beginning. He just can't stop and we start to lose whatever sympathy we had for him because of how he treats other people. This is a drunk with a sober man wanting to come out, but Wilder's script dives deeply into the unpredictable outcomes of most alcoholics.

LOST WEEKEND was innovative and was almost never released because test audiences could not take the film's realism. The hospital sequence retains its horror, and Milland's withdrawal-induced hallucination of a rat in the wall was like him looking in the mirror. See this movie and you will come away with a completely informed and scary anthology of the antics of a hopeless alcoholic. This is amazing considering it came out of the old Hollywood system.


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