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Days of Wine and Roses
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Days of Wine and Roses More at IMDbPro »

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57 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

A fantastic movie about alcoholism that rings true

10/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
5 June 2005

This movie was first a television play performed live and then went on to Hollywood for a slightly glossier production. This is NOT a bad pedigree, as shortly before this the TV movie "Marty" was also brought to Hollywood and became one of the best movies of the 1950s. Both the TV and Hollywood versions are excellent--see either or both if you get the chance.

To me this movie is the antithesis of "The Lost Weekend". "The Lost Weekend" was not a very realistic portrayal of alcoholism in many ways--particularly the ending where the lead suddenly just kicks his addiction and everything is hunky-dory. Get real! ""Days of Wine and Roses instead does not pull punches. It refuses to give in to sentimentality and take the typical Hollywood approach to films. There is no happy ending, there were surprises and heartbreak--much like dealing with alcoholism in real life.

Because it would spoil it to give too much information, I will only briefly discuss the plot. Jack Lemmon is a business man who slowly goes from the "two martini lunch" to alcoholism. His acting was very convincing and gut-wrenching. Equally compelling is his wife, Lee Remick, who puts on the performance of her life as the long-suffering wife who slowly goes from co-dependent to alcoholism herself. I've worked in a chemical dependency program and I've got to tell you, all the excuses and bargains and excesses in the movie were exactly what my clients had said and done as well. It is obvious the writers were doing their homework, as the movie delivers on every level.

UPDATE: Since this review, I was able to see the original teleplay--which, along with a few other teleplays of the era, are available through the Criterion Collection. See this in its original form. While not nearly as glossy, it still packs a huge dramatic punch!

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47 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Two Drunks Afloat in a Sea of Booze Make One Heartbreaking, Powerful film.

9/10
Author: Goodbye_Ruby_Tuesday from United States
3 August 2006

When one describes a romance film, it is normal to use the classic line, 'Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loves Girl, Boy Loses Girl..." It would be easy to use that formula for any love story. But this is no ordinary love story. It's tragic, it's surprising, and above all, it feels so real. It's not a story this cynical teenage film buff will forget anytime soon, if ever.

Joe Clay (the Great Jack Lemmon) is a public relations man who doesn't really like his job; we see his boredom and frustration in the very first frame of the film, when he's trying at the last minute to round up some call girls for a party. We also see how he deals with this by shouting to the bartender, "Hit me again!" multiple times. He soon meets Kirsten Arneson (the incredible and incredibly underrated Lee Remick) and they detest each other, but after a dinner and a walk around Fisherman's Warf where they bare their souls, they soon fall in love, get married and have a beautiful baby girl. Everything seems perfect. But when Joe's job puts added pressure on him, he feels the only way to relieve himself is to get drunk. In one sad and memorable scene, he comes home late and, because she cannot drink due to breast feeding, degrades Kirsten for not being fun anymore. The pain of the things Joe says stings both of them, and us as well, and before long Kirsten is taking up the bottle herself. Years later Joe really looks at himself and has a moment of clarity; They *have* to sober up, for both of them and we the viewers know it can only get worse unless someone does something. But when they both fall off the wagon multiple times, and it becomes clear that love will not conquer all, Joe is faced with the nightmarish decision to choose between sobriety and his love for Kirsten.

While I was watching this film, I kept on comparing it to other addiction films like Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream and The Lost Weekend. While they are all great in their own right, they can't really compare because the core of Days of Wine and Roses is the love story that quickly turns into a love triangle between Joe, Kirsten and booze. It's the love story and the full realization of the characters that makes Days so heartbreaking. Another thing is that we know that Joe and Kirsten are both good people; After Joe accidentally mistakes Kirsten for a call girl, he is the one who brings a peace offering and tries to make ammends, and it is evident to the viewer that during their sobriety, they have a powerful love for their young daughter, which makes their drunken turns all the more powerful. Blake Edward's direction is spot-on; This was his first big drama after being recognized for his comedic work, but he works wonders and gets brilliant--albeit unsurprisingly brilliant--performances out of Lee and Jack. Edwards also has the magical touch of reeling the viewer in, thinking this will be a breezy romantic comedy, then slowly revealing the destruction of two lost souls through the bottle. The luscious black and white cinematography was a great choice to make in a time when color was dazzling the audiences, for it works as a symbol for the darkness and bleak world of alcoholism. Henry Mancini's music is minimalistic and affecting; in the old days of cinema, it was easy to overuse the strings for a dramatic scene, but the score was perfect and not once overdone. The chemistry between Jack and Lee was genius; I couldn't believe they weren't a married couple in real life. Great performances can get you far, but a love story loses half its power unless its two stars makes the love believable, and these two really did. And the audience can clearly see that the two are in love, drunk or sober, good times or bad. This makes the last scene all the more heartbreaking.

And I can't praise the two lead actors enough. Jack Lemmon, like Edwards, was known more for his comedic work. Some have complained that he was too over-the-top in his performance, most notably the infamous greenhouse scene, but an actor deserves to be known and praised for his overall work, and in the long run, Jack deserved an Oscar for this role. Every move he makes he makes believable and gets deep into the head of an alcoholic. He makes Joe a sympathetic character, and he really makes you care for him. Jack once said when he was doing Glengarry Glen Ross that "You don't have to like a character, but it's an actor's job to make you care about him." I don't think there's a person on this site who didn't care about Joe Clay. This is Jack's role of a lifetime. And I'm ashamed to say I had never heard of Lee Remick before this film, but now she's one of my favorite actresses. She was a very sharp actress and the camera loved her. Whether she was a smiling young secretary or a lonely drunk, you bought the transformation and every moment in between. She had a killing smile but she could break your heart with just a look of her eyes. When the alcohol reveals a vulnerability and a need to be loved she only thinks she can hide, Lee is there, making the performance believable and utterly heartbreaking. When the last scene comes around and Joe and Kirsten are faced with a life-changing decision, the two actors are so good and so into their roles you can easily forget that they're both acting. The love is still there, but it's changed so much. The last shot, like the whole film, will leave you breathless. One of the greatest films I've ever seen.

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41 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Sobering Drama

7/10
Author: Jon Kolenchak from Pittsburgh, PA USA
5 March 2001

Have you ever been at a party or gathering where you are the only sober person? It's an experience that is hard to describe. Everyone that is moderately to heavily drunk thinks that they are so clever, funny, entertaining, and so on. It has a certain surreal aspect.

There are several scenes in this film which bring back that feeling to me. When Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick are at their most slap-happy rip-roaring state of drunkenness and having a great time, it gave me this odd sensation -- these people are not funny, not clever, and not entertaining. This is at least one of the points made in this very well made film.

The story is well told, and answers the question that many people have about alcoholism, and perhaps addiction in general (How do things ever get so terribly out of control?). It happens slowly, and it happens for a multitude of reasons. The reasons that this film deals mostly with include loneliness, wanting to please others, wanting to do one's job without compromising one's integrity, childhood abandonment, low self-esteem, and just the fact that in the social world "everyone" drinks.

Lemmon and Remick do a fabulous job as your ordinary young couple who get started slowly but surely going down the wrong track. Charles Bickford as Remick's father has little screen time, but makes every moment of it count. Jack Klugman is also very good as Lemmon's Alcoholics Anonymous friend.

Some things are wonderfully telegraphed. Lee Remick has this "thing" about chocolate (addiction potential). There's just a moment when you see a smoldering cigarette in an ashtray, and you get the feeling that something bad is going to happen (it does). When Jack Lemmon, in a drunken state comes home one evening, he impetuously picks some flowers for Lee Remick. The elevator door closes on them, cutting off the tops of the flowers. (When he arrives home, the couple have their first really big fight.) Also, I think it is interesting that every time that Lee Remick is watching the television, she is watching cartoons -- an interesting statement.

The cinematography is realistic, sometimes downright gritty. Filming it in black and white helped to enhance this mood, especially in the greenhouse and the psychiatric ward scenes.

Perhaps the most important point of the story is that addiction, be it alcohol or other things can happen to anyone. Sometimes you just don't realize it until it's too late.

The Days of Wine and Roses is a fine "message" movie that gets its point across without getting preachy or self-righteous, with believable performances by all.

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32 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

A Poignant Love Story from a Simpler Time

Author: maryebronson from usa
12 December 2001

I always saw this movie more as a love story than one of a couple trapped in alcoholism. Joe and Kirsten had that chemistry that drew them to each other through good times and bad, and I have never seen another film that depicted enduring love like this one. I can still recall the characters' honest, plaintive statements to each other and how they reminded me of how it feels when you're with someone who truly fulfills you. Joe to Kirsten on their first date: "Short story? Boy meets girl...beautiful girl, nice, the only kind of girl a guy should bother about...."

Kirsten to Joe, desperately trying to hold on to what they have after her infidelities: "I never gave anything out of myself to them....love is the only thing that stops you from being lonely, and I didn't have that..."

Joe to the AA counselor, who warns him about what alcohol can do to a marital relationship: "You don't understand, there's no trouble between us....we're in love..."

Joe, in the depths of alcoholism, tremors, shaking..."I have to find my wife....I love her...I love her..."

This movie is sad and somewhat draining to watch, but also does provide useful insight into the insidious disease of alcohol addiction, along with being a very moving, romantic drama of two people haunted by troubled childhoods, struggling to keep the sincere commitment they have to each other alive.

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33 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

A nightmare view of the dangers of alcohol

10/10
Author: Enoch Sneed from United Kingdom
14 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a shocking film. From the moment we see Joe Clay in a crowded bar telling the barman to "Hit me again" and whispering "Magic time!" before taking a drink, we realise that out of all the people in that room he is the man with a problem. Sadly, as in all these cases Joe is the last person to see that he needs help. Doubly sadly he takes someone else with him. Marrying a bright, non-drinking Kirsten, Joe introduces her to the pleasures of social drinking. Reluctant at first, after her first few Brandy Alexanders have made her giggly, Kirsten admits that having a drink "made me feel good". Unhappily their drinking doesn't stop there. Frustrated at work Joe feels the only way he can relax is to have "a coupla blasts" in the evening. Then he is frustrated because his wife is "stone cold sober". Wanting to demonstrate her love for Joe, Kirsten joins him in nightly sessions which find her drinking more and regularly getting drunk. As Kirsten develops a liking for liquor, bottles go missing from the drinks cupboard When Joe is demoted and sent out of town Kirsten finds the best way to ease her loneliness is to drink it away. Drunk in the daytime she sets fire to their apartment and almost kills herself and her young child. Joe is fired and the next few years are a series of short-lived jobs and increasing addiction to drink. It certainly seems to be usual for Kirsten to be fairly drunk by the time Joe comes home. At last Joe has his "moment of clarity" and tries to dry out. The attempt fails when he and Kirsten fall off the wagon and start getting very drunk again. Their only hope is to join Alcoholics Anonymous. Joe can see this, but now it is Kirsten who refuses to believe she has a problem. Ultimately Joe has to make the nightmare decision to reject his wife who is now unable to face life without being drunk. Watching this shattering film is like being trapped in a nightmare where something horrible is happening and yet you cannot look away. A sense of doom hangs over this tragic couple who are unaware of the fate they are walking into. Thankfully the performances and direction are more than capable of delivering on the promise of this uncompromising story.

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39 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

The last great film about alcoholism.

10/10
Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
4 August 1999

Actually, I think it's only the second, after "The Lost Weekend" in 1945. I apologise if there's any others I don't know about. But it's certainly true that the made-for-TV movie has ruined the genre. Today's alcoholism movies are dreary considered as movies, and offer no pleasure except indulgence of a feeling of moral superiority - which, it seems, is enough for some. It was just this dull moralising that "The Lost Weekend" and "Days of Wine and Roses" broke away from.

Forget about issue-of-the-month TV. Edwards wanted a film that was realistic AND worked as a story, and he found one.

Indeed this is his finest work. He gets great performances out of his two stars - here he was considerably more lucky than Wilder was, although there's nothing wrong with Wilder's cast. The story appears to wander but is really quite tight. Some scenes are fun; many dig into you like small knives. Perhaps there's one too many premonitions at the beginning (this is a problem Wilder didn't have, since his central character was an alcoholic at the start); and some may find that the guy from Alcoholics Anonymous near the end is a bit too good to be true. I also wish that Henry Mancini had stood firm against the temptation to write a smoozy bubblegum theme song for the opening credits. None of this matters, though. Your eyes will be on the central characters the whole time.

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32 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Degradation of Booze

9/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
9 February 2007

In San Francisco, the public relations Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) drinks everyday to "socialize" with his clients. After an incidental meeting with the secretary Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), they date and sooner they get married. When they have a baby girl, Joe becomes alcoholic, Kirsten begins to drink to follow her husband, and both become alcoholics. Joe loses his job and they destroy their lives. After many trials, Joe is treated, desintoxicated and supported by the AA, while Kirsten remains a chronic drunkard.

"Days of Wine and Roses" is a realistic sad drama that exposes the life of a drunken couple from their top to the bottom of the well. Together with "The Lost Weekend", I believe these are the two best movies Hollywood properly and seriously produced about this important subject. The sad story has no final redemption or commercial conclusion, and is a must see. The gorgeous Lee Remick and the excellent Jack Lemmon have magnificent performances and deserved their nomination to the Oscar. The wonderful cinematography and the magnificent unforgettable song of Henri Mancini complete this high-class classic film. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Vício Maldito" ("Damned Vicious")

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34 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

Essential!!

10/10
Author: Henry Fields (kikecam@teleline.es) from Spain
14 March 2006

Let me tell you something: to watch such an intense and heart-rending performance like Jack Lemmon's in "Days of wine and roses" is one of those exceptional things we bump into our lives. OK, Lee Remick does an outstanding job, but Lemmon's performance is simply supernatural. We got Picasso's "Gernika", Bowie's "Ziggy stardust", Wilde's "Dorian Gray"... and characters such as Joe Clat. Pieces of art, my friends.

Most of the people link the name of Blake Edwards to the high class comedy ("Breakfast at Tiffany's", "Pink Panther", "The Party"), but I'd dare to state that "Days of.." is his best movie by far. Step by step, Edwars shows us each and every stages an alcoholic gets through: from the party days to the "delirium tremens".

Ageless, universal, perfect... ESSENTIAL

*My rate: 10/10

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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Mesmerizing

9/10
Author: redservo from North Carolina
10 August 2003

Like standing on the edge of a black hole, this movie tantalizes the audience in the beginning, then plunges you into the dark, vast horror of alcoholism.

Jack Lemmon has always been a personal favorite of mine, especially for screwball comedy. But, just like Robin Williams, Lemmon is capable of turning heads w/ his dramatic roles. "The Days of Wine and Roses" is a showcase of that dramatic talent. And along with Lee Remick, this film's performances exceed all expectations. The direction and cinematography utilizes the black and white medium to it's fullest extent, while the script is earthy, human and most of all, believable.

This is a tour de force in the craft of modern filmmaking. And an absolutely essential requirement for aficionados of the dramatic genre. How Remick and Lemmon managed to be past up for the best actor/actress Oscar for their phenomenal performances never ceases to amaze me. Twenty years later, their performances are just as fresh, relevant and just as powerful.

There was no sugarcoated ended. This film sought to depict alcoholism as the demon it truly is, and that sometimes, people just don't get well, despite all the love and support that's offered to them.

If you've never seen it, rent it. Just be sure to rent it in letterbox, to maintain the movies original ratio. A film this beautiful needs to be seen in it's best form. Take someone you love along with you for the ride.

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

This film made me want to attend a AA meeting....and I never drink

8/10
Author: helpless_dancer from Broken Bow, Oklahoma
24 January 2002

Started off a little slow but turned into one of the hottest dramas I've ever seen. Remick and Lemmon were sensational as the two drunks who couldn't control their actions after a few drinks. I had to laugh at some of their antics, but the greenhouse scene and especially the pitiful, horrible DT's in the rubber room were sobering indeed. Great picture showing the ravages and uselessness of booze.

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