7.9/10
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153 user 112 critic

The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir | January 1946 (USA)
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2:08 | Trailer
The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout.

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ray Milland ... Don Birnam
Jane Wyman ... Helen St. James
Phillip Terry ... Wick Birnam
Howard Da Silva ... Nat
Doris Dowling ... Gloria
Frank Faylen ... 'Bim' Nolan
Mary Young ... Mrs. Deveridge
Anita Sharp-Bolster ... Mrs. Foley (as Anita Bolster)
Lilian Fontaine Lilian Fontaine ... Mrs. St. James
Frank Orth ... Opera Cloak Room Attendant
Lewis L. Russell 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Lost Weekend See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Miklós Rózsa was nominated for his scores for both Spellbound (1945) and this film the same year. A theremin was used in both scores. David O. Selznick threatened legal action against the use of the instrument in "The Lost Weekend" until it was pointed out that the mere use of a particular instrument could not be copyrighted. "Spellbound" won the Oscar, although Rozsa considered "Weekend" the stronger score. See more »

Goofs

When Don is in Nat's bar taking shots of rye, the number of shots are depicted by the increasing number of wet rings left on the bar each time the shot glass was refilled. Several rings collect on the bar, each remaining as wet as the last. In actuality, being that they were from alcohol, over time the rings left by the first shots would be dried or mostly dried by the time later shots were taken. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Wick Birnem: You better take this along, Don. It's gonna be cold on the farm.
Don Birnam: Okay.
Wick Birnem: How many shirts are you taking?
Don Birnam: Three.
Wick Birnem: I'm taking five.
Don Birnam: Five?
Wick Birnem: Yeah, I told them at the office I might not be back until Tuesday. We'll get there this afternoon. That'll give us all Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. We'll make it a long, wonderful weekend!
Don Birnam: It sounds long all right.
See more »

Connections

Version of Kraft Theatre: The Lost Weekend (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Textbook drama about addiction powerfully told...
2 March 1999 | by Don-102See 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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