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The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | | Drama , Film-Noir | January 1946 (USA)
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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:

Días sin huella See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,460,000, 31 December 1946
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30-minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 7, 1946, with Ray Milland, Jane Wyman and Frank Faylen reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

In Don's first visit to Nat's Bar the apples at the top of his paper bag change in height from shot to shot. 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

Referenced in Struck by Lightning (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Louise
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Played on piano and sung by Harry Barris at Harry and Joe's
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
more than just a simple "message" movie, Wilder tries to make addiction as human a crisis as possible
25 October 2005 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Although in some respects some of the conditions and dialog from the Lost Weekend have become dated, the performances and the ideas behind it- plus the heightened style of it- make it work many years down the line. Oscar winning director Billy Wilder makes Don Birnem's struggle something that is unmistakable, especially if you've been around these kinds of people. Most of us have seen the drunk at the end of the bar with grandiose ideas and romanticized visions amid that need (nevermind enjoyment) of the booze. But the film is successful if only because it makes this obsession with the flailing writer Don as his major internal conflict, and that it goes deeper to something that is in many of us, even if we don't drink.

Basically, Don wants to get off alcohol so he can write his great book. Despite some advice from the "friendly enemy" (as I would call one) local bartender, and the girl Gloria, there is little hope for him it seems. He goes on a four-day bender, looking frantically all over the apartment when it's not in easy reach. This all leads up to going clean, which involves a truly paranoid-filmed sequence by Wilder (one of his very best).

It is almost all harrowing drama, and only in the minute moments when Don is completely unsympathetic does the film lose some of its momentum. But really, the film is as much about the psychology of this man, of the writer in desperation (though never wanting to admit it), and Ray Milland's performance (at least for the time) was daring enough to show as much as could be shown at the time. The film probes just enough into the subject matter to not become very preachy (I don't think Wilder's message is to never drink ever as much as one of keeping control of one's life and system), and at the core is just entertaining drama.


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