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.
The outdoor filming was done in New York City and the interiors were done in Hollywood. The latter included an exact duplicate of a Third Avenue bar, P.J. Clarke's, on Stage 5 at Paramount Pictures, complete down to the dusty stuffed cat on the top of the payphone. Ray Milland, who starred in the film, tells that for one week every afternoon at five o'clock the door of the set would open, a man would walk up to the bar (whether filming was going on or not), order a straight bourbon, chat about the weather, plunk down fifty cents, and stroll out. It was the writer Robert Benchley, who was homesick for New York.
Paramount were very nervous about releasing a film with such an adult theme and very nearly buried it when it didn't do too well with preview audiences. Ultimately, of course, it went on to become a major hit and Academy Award winner.
Studio advisers warned Ray Milland that this would be the death of his career. Milland himself was initially reluctant to take the part, as it had been turned down by many other leading actors of the day. However, Paramount was convinced that the only way they could sell such a film was with a matinée idol in the lead. Billy Wilder acquiesced to this only when it became clear that his first choice, José Ferrer, would not land the part.
In 1944 Billy Wilder was traveling from New York to Hollywood by train and stopped off at the Chicago train station to buy some reading matter for the journey. One of these books was "The Lost Weekend". By the time he'd reached Hollywood, Wilder knew this would make the ideal basis for his next film.
As well as the alcohol industry badgering Paramount Pictures into not releasing the film, the studio was also besieged by temperance groups lobbying that the film shouldn't be released, as it would only encourage drinking. It was released on a limited engagement at Billy Wilder's behest. Reviewers fell all over themselves in their praise of it, thus prompting Paramount to take the plunge and give it a wide release.
When Don Birnam searches for a pawn shop to hock his typewriter, the Third Ave Elevated is in the background. The last train on the "el" ran May 12,1955 and the structure was torn down later that year.
Don quotes twice from William Shakespeare when he is in Nat's bar. The first quote "Purple the sails, and so perfumed ... " is from Antony and Cleopatra: Act II, Scene 2. The second "Yea, all which it shall inherit ..." is from The Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1.
The only film to win both an Academy Award for Best Picture and the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix du Festival International Film. (NOTE: Marty won both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Cannes Film Festival Palme D'Or (Golden Palm). In 1955, the Palme D'Or replaced the Grand Prix du Festival International Film as the highest award given to films at Cannes.)
On March 10, 1946 -- three days after winning the Academy Award -- Ray Milland appeared as a guest on a radio broadcast of "The Jack Benny Show." In a spoof of _The Lost Weekend (1945)_ (QV), Ray and Jack Benny played alcoholic twin brothers. Phil Harris -- who normally played Jack Benny's hard-drinking bandleader on the show -- played the brother who tried to convince Ray and Jack to give up liquor. ("Ladies and gentlemen," said an announcer, "the opinions expressed by Mr. Harris are written in the script and are not necessarily his own.") In the alcoholic ward scene, smart-aleck Frank Nelson played the ward attendant who promised Ray and Jack that they would soon start seeing DT visions of strange animals. When the DT visions appeared (with Mel Blanc providing pig squeals, monkey chatters, and other animal sound effects), Ray chased them off. "Ray, they're gone!" Benny shouted. "What did you do?" Milland replied, "I threw my Oscar at them!"