Days of Wine and Roses (1962) Poster

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Two Drunks Afloat in a Sea of Booze Make One Heartbreaking, Powerful film.
Goodbye_Ruby_Tuesday3 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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A Poignant Love Story from a Simpler Time
maryebronson12 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 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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Sobering Drama
Jon Kolenchak5 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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It's as true to life as a vodka martini.
hitchcockthelegend4 March 2008
The above quote is from director Blake Edwards, it's taken from the highly recommended commentary track he provides on the DVD for this excellent and compelling piece of work.

Joe is a social drinker but he's social all the time, during one of his arranged parties for a client he meets and falls in love with teetotal Kirsten. They get married and changes start to dominate their marital bliss, he is stressed from work and drinks daily to forget the rigours of the job, she being the loving wife chooses to drink with him to help ease his pain, but soon the joyous days of wine & roses will turn to something dark and terribly turbulent, and this will threaten their own respective sanity.

The film begins with Henry Mancini's academy award winning title theme tune, it's a truly beautiful piece of music that perfectly sets the tone of the film for its first third, it lulls you into this couples love, the bond they share is a truly wonderful thing, it really is all sweetness and light, but then the bottle becomes part of this couples life, they become a threesome from which only dark horrors will form. Containing emotionally shattering scenes that once viewed can not be forgotten (witness Joe's soul destroying search for liquor in a greenhouse), Days Of Wine & Roses still manages not to force feed the viewer a moralistic stance, it lays down the facts of alcoholism and the perils of co-dependency with honest appraisal, we as the viewers are left in no doubt that it is us, and us only, that can make of it as we see fit, the ending especially is a particular poser of which we ourselves seek clarity.

Wonderfully written by the talented hands of J.P. Miller, Days Of Wine And Roses boasts marvellous direction from Blake Edwards and two academy award nominated performances from Jack Lemmon & Lee Remick, it's a testament to all involved that come the finale the viewer feels drained, yet strangely...not at all thirsty for the amber nectar.

Quality drama. 9/10
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redservo10 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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A nightmare view of the dangers of alcohol
enochsneed14 June 2005
Warning: 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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Degradation of Booze
claudio_carvalho9 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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A fantastic movie about alcoholism that rings true
MartinHafer5 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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This film made me want to attend a AA meeting....and I never drink
helpless_dancer24 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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Timeless, timeless, timeless
visceralgirl14 February 2001
Warning: Spoilers

I will not bother repeating what others have said so well about this movie. The two things that struck me in particular about this movie were (1) the surprisingly graphic references (for its time) and (2) the amazing similarity of a 39 year old movie to things that went on in my late nineties life. I was surprised that the movie makers were allowed to be as candid as they were back in 1962. For example, Kirstin holding her breasts and telling her husband she can't drink because she is nursing. But the most astonishing scene was when in a drunken stupor she slips into her father's bed and tries to seduce him! Nobody talks much about that scene when discussing this movie. Maybe because it is too painful to fathom, the fact that one could lose that much control on alcohol. Are there any other movies about alcoholism that feature such a scene? I was in a marriage that had basically the same trajectory as the Clay marriage (no kids fortunately) except that alcohol was not the only partner (ahem). Seeing this movie made me see very clearly that alcohol and people never really change, regardless of any advances on behalf of the human race we make on the way. One last thing: I believe this was one of the first movies to make use of one of my favorite cinematic devices, that in which cartoons are playing on a television in the background of a scene in order to convey the insanity of the situation. It is put to good use particularly the second time when Joe finds his wife in a seedy motel room and the picture is completely distorted. "12 Monkeys," "The Twilight Zone," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" used this trick but, pray tell, are there any early, early movies
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rainking_es14 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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Tragic love story: destroyed from within
johnk737 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The tragedy of this love story is that of unkept commitments. The emotional, financial, and child-rearing commitments of marriage are discarded for a primary relationship with alcohol. And other obligations too, such as daughter to father.

The character development of Kirsten is well done. We are privileged to skip years at a time, seeing her going from having fun with alcohol (where most people stay) to it consuming her, a little at a time, with the snapshots spread over years. We see Joe wander unhappily for half a lifetime before finding himself. We see his initial shallow love becoming real, and we see it tested. At one time or another, both Joe and Kirsten's love is real, which makes the ending so powerful.

The most heart-wrenching scene for me is the confrontation between Joe and Kirsten's father in the greenhouse. After many years of denial, we get to see a sample of Kirsten's father's intense emotional pain, with the final acceptance that his daughter will never be the same. Even worse, his age indicates that this is near the end of his life. Even if Kirstin could turn back, it will be too late for her father.

After I saw this movie, I found myself analyzing what human relationships are about, and the expectations that come with those relationships, so I could figure out exactly what went wrong. Is the movie just about a partner leaving, as with infidelity? It is much worse than that. This is about theft and destruction of identity and purpose, choice and control. Dulled by the pleasure and escape, Kirstin doesn't even know what is being taken from her. Even though everyone she hurts loses much, her loss is even greater.

This movie counters the popular belief that alcoholics are just partyers or problem drinkers. This may be where they start, but it's not where they end up. Even with the most powerful of reasons to stop drinking, the love for their daughter, Joe and Kirsten are unable to stop; they drink because they are addicted.

The portrayal of the AA meeting isn't as good as it could have been. I suppose it may match the world's perception, with overtones of a religious tent meeting. Go to one, and you'll find that they aren't about swearing off addiction, they are about self-acceptance and seeing yourself objectively. Somewhere between the denial that you are not an alcoholic and self-disappointment / guilt is a realistic view of who you are. By accepting yourself and having the support of peers, life's challenges can be met without alcohol. Hope for internal improvement is given to a higher power, rather than trying yourself, then being disappointed.

Having loved an alcoholic at one time, I can tell you that the pain portrayed in the film is all real. It is not just that alcoholics can't stop; smokers can't, but only hurt their families financially.

The pain comes in because alcohol causes loss of emotional identity. Alcoholics have no idea who they are anymore. They cannot love, they cannot even be very good friends. They push everyone away to love their addiction, then become emotionally needy, so use those around them emotionally. (The worst way to be taken advantage of.)

Thankfully, most people are genetically predisposed to get sick when the alcohol dosage gets to levels that can cause real addiction. Those that can drink may never have opportunity to sustain that dosage long enough to get addicted. But for the rest, this movie is a warning of what alcohol has waiting for you -- the destruction of any kind of normal life.

See "When a Man Loves a Woman" for a more modern setting for this type of story, though it is not as good.
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The last great film about alcoholism.
Spleen4 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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Jack Lemmon at his Best
cang138512 June 2004
This is one of the finest films I have ever seen. The use of visual art in terms of light and shadow, symbolic pieces scattered throughout the film, dialogue, music, character movement, etc. all give this film the ability to transcend time and generation to endure. Jack Lemmon gives his best role ever in this film. He is known for his comedic excellence, but in the film his portrayal of Joe is both heartwarming and terrifying all in one. I recommend this film to anyone and everyone because, simply put, it is a public service announcement concealed in a work of cinematic excellence. It should be included on every list of the movies to see because it fulfills the criteria of both giving the viewer the pleasure of a great story but also leaves you with a message that remains with you when the film is long completed.
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Alcoholism could care LESS about love !
SimplySteve18 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Aside from the unbelievable acting, this film ranks as the best Hollywood has to offer on the subject of alcoholism. Jack Lemmon is in a class by himself with this picture. It has the stereotypical slide of drinking. But Lemmon pulls you right into that slide of terror with a performance of a lifetime. Lee Remick, who is always beautiful even when drunk, shows her chops as well, especially in the final scene. The movie portrays the real consequences when facing alcoholism. Exposing the truth that this "disease" doesn't care how much these two leads love each other. The usual, but unfortunate, excuses of denial in Remick and Lemmon that keep the downward spiral gaining speed. But also the gut wrenching decisions they have to make in order to live the life promised by sobriety. Two scenes in particular will have you riveted. The nursery scene and the final confrontation at the end. Jack Klugman play a supporting role and is excellent as the "A.A." guy. He reveals the blueprint these two need for happiness: THE TRUTH!
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A harrowing and heart-breaking tale about a drunk man who gradually drags his wife down with him into alcoholism
ma-cortes4 April 2019
A striking studio about alcoholism , being acclaimed then and nowadays . It deals with an alcoholic advertising clerk (Jack Lemmon) . He is an especial executive , a man uneasy with his job which involves procuring women for business parties and covering it by convival drinking . The exec on the fast track meets a secretary (Lee Remick) and then marries the young woman, whom he , little by little , addicts to booze. Once the marriage takes place , they drink to celebrate and they begin drinking simply to drink . Initially only social drinkers , so they can share his "passion" together and find themselves degenerating into alcoholism .

It is based on the original 1958 playhouse TV (teleplay starred by Clift Robertson , Piper Laurie , directed by John Frankenheimer) version of J.P. Miller story who adapted himself for the big screen . A heart-rending Hollywood masterpiece about booze depicting the tumultuous life a couple falling into desperation and craziness caused by alcoholism . As they cannot believe they are addicted until they finally hit bottom . The couple's battle to get off the bottle is harrowingly and masterfully chronicled . It was very strong , uncomprimising and almost unpalatable for its time . As the flick resulted to be unsettling , provoking , disturbing and surprisingly harsh with Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick giving two of the industry's bravest lead performances ever . A frightening , heart-breaking study with nightmarishing and memorable sequences as Lemmon is tied and locked in the ward of a hospital . Edwards's direction conveys a fine sense of frenzy , especially when Lemmon is hunting for the bottle at a hiding place in the greenhouse . This ¨Days of wine and roses¨1962 along with ¨Lost weekend¨1945 by Billy Wilder with Ray Milland , Jane Wyman are considered to be the best films about a thorny issue : Alcoholism . Jack Lemmon , then still best known for his comic characters here is terrific . Not only changed Lemmon's career from hilarious roles , as his acting gave him several chances , both , dramatic and comical characters. He is perfectly accompanied by the beautiful and young Lee Remick , providing her best interpretation . They are uncorfortably convincing as the marriage on a downward spiral into oblivion and distresses . And Charles Bickford should at least have been nominated in the best supporting actor playing the Remick's good father . Other important secondaries delivering top-notch acting are Jack Albertson , Alan Hewitt and Jack Klugman .

It contains a touching musical score by Henry Mancini , Edwards' regular. It display an evocative and atmospheric cinematography in black and white by director of photography Philip H. Lathrop . The title song sung by Andy Williams earned an Academy Award but lent a rather misleading glow to this engaging studio of booze . This well acted , stirring , and heart-rending drama was compellingly directed by Blake Edwards , at his best , so much that almost forget it was made by a comedy master . Edwards directed a lot of films, with penchant for comedy , such as : What did you in the war daddy ? , SOB , 10 , The fine mess , Micki and Maude , That's else , Skin Deep , Switch ; but he also made other genres , as drama : Darling Lili , The Tamarind seed , The Carey treatment , Experiment in terror and Western : Wild Rovers . Being particularly known for Pink Panther series : The Pink Panther , A shot in dark , Revenge of Pink Panther , The return of the Pink panther , The trail of pink panther , Pink Panther strikes again ..
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Blueprint for alcoholism and the tragedy it fosters.
gerryn-101-9319423 December 2011
Jack Lemmon, an up and coming Public Relations man and a budding alcoholic, meets Lee Remick, who doesn't drink, but likes chocolate. Jack introduces her to Brandy Alexanders and they soon embark on the downward spiral into alcoholism. Several years and several jobs later, Lee nearly burns down their apartment with their young daughter in it. Jack looses another job. Realizing they have lost control, they move in with Lee's father (Charles Bickford) and work in his greenhouse growing and delivering flowers and trees. Soon Jack gains Charles' trust and sneaks 2 pints of liquor into their room. After making short work of the 2 bottles, Jack nearly destroys the greenhouse drunkenly looking for the third bottle. Waking up in the mental ward with the DT's, Jack meets Jack Klugman, who introduces him to AA. After becoming sober and returning to work, Lemmon tries to woo Remick to join him in sobriety. At the close of the film, we know that Lemmon will remain sober, and can only hope that Remick will eventually join him in sobriety. As a Recovering Alcoholic (sober over 19 years) I can tell you this is a VERY plausible portrayal of the heartbreak that is alcoholism. I try to watch this film at least once a year just so I don't forget what I am. In addition to the wonderful writing and tremendous acting by both Jack and Lee, the theme 'The Days of Wine and Roses' by Henry Mancini weaves and haunts the entire film. Don't miss it!
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Misery Loves Company
bkoganbing18 January 2008
Days of Wine and Roses was originally a live broadcast original drama from Playhouse 90 and starred Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie. Both they and the drama got great critical reviews, but sad to say they were not considered any kind of box office, so when the film version was done, Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick were cast instead.

I've seen both versions and I'd hate to say which is the better. In terms of casting the part of Joe Clay fits right in with Lemmon's Mr. Average man roles. Imagine his character of C.C. Baxter if instead of taking his doctor's advice and becoming a mensch, gave in and turned to drink. That's what you have in Joe Clay.

Misery does love company, the most miserable drinkers are the solitary ones. Lemmon's job in public relations occasionally calls for him to supply some lady friends for his boss's party. So who could blame him when he mistakes Lee Remick, his boss Jack Albertson's new secretary for one of the hired bimbos.

Naturally the uptight Ms. Remick resents it at first, but she sure does warm up to him and eventually joins him in his boozing. They even marry and have a daughter.

The rest of the film is their joint descent into alcoholism and the effort of one who eventually joins Alcoholics Anonymous to help the other who simply won't be helped.

Charles Bickford repeats his role from the original Playhouse 90 broadcast and is a stern father figure for Remick who can't see why his own sternness may have helped drive her to Lemmon and booze. Look also for a very good performance by Jack Klugman as the counselor from Alcoholics Anonymous.

Remick and Lemmon were both nominated for Best Actress and Actor, but lost to Anne Bancroft and Gregory Peck respectively. Days of Wine and Roses did win an Oscar for Best Song with the title tune for the film. Andy Williams sold quite a few vinyl platters in his day with his version and their are good versions of the song by both Frank Sinatra and Tony Martin.

Days of Wine and Roses is still a powerful drama about the terrible evil of substance abuse. It hasn't lost anything in 46 years, in fact I'm willing to bet we may see a version for the new millenia.
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You and I were a couple of drunks on a sea of booze, and the boat sank!
sol-kay3 January 2006
(Some Spoilers) Herrowing and at the same time touching film about the evils of alcoholism that grips you now just as it did back in 1962 when it was first released.

Locked up to dry out in a padded cell and tied into a straight-jacket Joe Clay, Jack Lemmon,has seen his world collapse right before his eyes. His job long gone and not being able to hold one for over five years. With his wife Kris, Lee Remick, as helpless an alcoholic as he is. Joe gets just one more chance to get back on his feet and again become a welcomed member of the community: A hospital visit from Jim Hungerford, Jack Klugman.

A successful public relations executive at a major San Franciso firm Joe met his future wife at a party for his boss not knowing that she's his boss' personal secretary. The movie "Days of Wine and Roses" then starts off like a light comedy with Joe & Kris at first not liking each other then falling in love and ending up married with a little girl Debbie, Debbie Megowan. With everything going fine it's not until the partying and drinking, that was part of Joe's job as a PR man to entertain his clients,catches up with them and destroys Joe & Kris' lives.

It turned out that that tea-toting and chocolate loving Kris was far more effected from the evils of alcohol than the party going and fun loving Joe was. Meeting and getting to know Jim Hungerford, when he was at the nadir of his existence, was a life saver for Joe since Jim was a former alcoholic himself and member of AA, Alcoholics Anonymous. It was there, at AA, that Joe found the courage to stand in front of a room full of strangers and tell them "I'm a Alcoholic". Thus start the painful process of getting his life back that he lost in a bottle of booze. It was Kris' inability to do the same thing, that Joe so bravely did, that almost drove him back to drinking himself, as well as Kris, into an early grave.

It takes a lot out of you to sit through "Days of Wine and Roses" seeing the ravages of what booze can do to people. Both Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick give unforgettable performances as the two helpless alcoholics Joe and Kris Clay that leave you exhausted and almost in tears by the time the movie finally ends.

Joe after losing almost everything he had his job his friends his ability to support himself his family and most of all his dignity gets himself cleaned and sobered up. Only later to lose himself again in order to keep Kris from leaving him for a bottle of booze. It takes a lot more strength for Joe to tell Kris that there's only room for two, in his new life after alcoholism, him and her and the bottle is out if she wants him to take her back.

The last ten or so minutes of the movie is both powerful and heart breaking with Joe and Kris meeting for the last time in Joe's apartment, and their daughter Debbie sleeping in the bedroom. Trying to come to some kind of agreement in going back to the lives that they once had, before booze got in between them, Kris just can't bring herself to beat the bottle.

Kris not able to come to terms with her alcoholism and Joe not willing to sacrifice his, and Debbie's, life in placating her go their separate ways. The movie ends with Joe seeing a poor and helpless Kris walk out of his life for good with the local bar sign reflecting sadly and eerily on his apartment window.
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Still powerful after all these years
max48584 March 2020
This film may be dated, as others have pointed out, but it still packs a punch and is one of the bravest, starkest portrayals of alcoholism that has ever been depicted. Jack Lemmon is superb and this is without doubt, his best performance. Lee Remick is equally good and together they are simply amazing. The pain, fear, and selfishness of alcoholics is brutally depicted and the ending is powerful and heartbreaking. Frankly, as a recovering alcoholic myself with 24 years of sobriety, I revisit this film on a regular basis. It never fails to bring me to tears.
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Heartbreaking film
blanche-219 June 2016
Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, and Jack Klugman star in "Days of Wine and Roses" from 1962.

Joe Clay (Lemmon) is a successful public relations man who drinks a great deal as part of his job. When he meets and falls for Kirsten Arnasen, he introduces her to the joys of alcohol.

They marry but descend into an alcoholic stupor, with attempts at sobriety failing.

This is a devastating film. Kirsten wasn't a drinker when Joe meets her, and unbeknownst to her, had the genetic predisposition to alcohol. To see what happens to her, to both of them, is horrible. The actors are superb.

One unforgettable scene takes place in a greenhouse where Joe has hidden a bottle and can't find it.

The most difficult part of this film is the end.

Someone did a scene from this in my acting class (actually the last scene) and the actor kept referring to the female character as Curse. My acting teacher said, "Actually it's "Keerce" though a Curse she may be."

A troubling film that won't leave you long after it's over. Addiction of any kind is a horrible and destructive thing.
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Blake's Best - He understood addiction and it really shows.
campbell-russell-a4 February 2014
I would nominate "Days of Wine and Roses" as being one of the finest films ever made. It is a haunting depiction of addiction - a journey from the joys of finding true love to the desperation and degradation of alcoholism. It is a study of co-dependency which is the most dangerous form of addiction as first one, Joe Clay, and then his wife seduce each other into binging in scenes that are almost unbearable as you anticipate the inevitable. You are shown how good their lives could have been as they enjoy a roll in the hay after a period of abstinence and then the seduction of Kirsten as Joe does a symbolically mock strip tease to reveal the smuggled bottles of booze taped to his legs. The thunderstorm rages as the pair lose control. Lemmon transforms Joe into a simian creature as he goes on the hunt for the bottle he has hidden in Kirsten's father's greenhouse. He swings and falls from the tree outside the window and shambles towards the greenhouse with ape-like limbs.His confident anticipation of finding the bottle is turned to frustration and then wild desperation as he initially cannot find the pot that contains the bottle. When he has been reduced to a degraded beast, writhing in mud and making noises that are at once pitiful and irksome, Joe finds the bottle and greedily sucks from it. It is a scene that should have won Lemmon two Oscars.

Equally shocking is the scene in which Joe finds Kirsten in a fleabag motel after she has binged with a series of men with whom she has traded sex for booze and drinking companionship. To see such a sweet and beautiful person transformed into a degraded and sexually manipulative hag is one of the most heartbreaking scenes put on film. I have detailed two scenes but every other scene is as brilliantly thought-provoking and unforgettable in its staging.

And Edwards does not allow the audience the easy solution of love being the final answer."Isn't love, love?" pleads Joe when trying to grasp how Kirsten has abandoned him for a binge. He is reminded by his A.A. mentor played by Jack Klugman that the bottle to an alcoholic is god and its power supersedes even love. The flashing bar sign that repeatedly reflects on Joe's face as Kirsten walks away from her two great loves, Joe and her own daughter, is the final reminder that there is no such thing as an end to addiction, just the ongoing battle to be fought. Watch this film and you will never forget it.
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Life is an Ocean made of Wines ... A Garden of Roses full of Spines ...
ElMaruecan8230 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The true essence of addiction is masterfully depicted in Blake Edwards' "Days of Wine and Roses", a movie starting with a misleading comedic mood reminding of Bill Wilder's "Apartment". Indeed, Jack Lemmon in another role perfectly fir for him, portrays an average Joe whose name is Clay, a Public Relations manager. The big corporate world again and the corrupting effect of urban life in the early sixties …

Joe perceives his role as one of a 'legitimate pimp', a lucidity shared with Kirsten Arensen, the young office secretary, tired of playing the same motherly role for her boss who just "needs her to be there". Kirsten, the beautiful Lee Remick, drowns her frustration by benignly nourishing her body with chocolates and her mind with encyclopedia books and contemplating water, trying to find parcels of beauty in the world … the film's darker tones are almost imperceptible.

Mutual frustration creates mutual attraction and the whole starter of the relationship between Joe and Kirsten is their aversion for their lives. As viewers, we are so enchanted by Lemmon and Remick's growing love that we unconsciously overlook that there is something already corrupted, not in the love's sincerity, but in the medium that drives this sincerity. The first time Joe declares his love, he's drunk and Kirsten euphoric after a chocolate-based cocktail drunk for the first time. They do love each other, but not in a disinterested way, Joe needs Kirsten to express his jolly side and let the entire bad mood get out of his chest. He's natural, and she likes that, she who used to live with strict parents, and couldn't communicate with his father after her mother's death. Kirsten found in Joe, the positive pole of a depressing life, a true complicity poignantly incarnated by their inspiring toast meaning "Together in Heaven" in Norwegian, words that Joe's too drunk to utter correctly ... premonition?

The pivotal part of the film opens when Joe's transferred to another client, not to be the pimp delivering girls for yacht parties, but a follower whose new associate's drinking habits will disastrously affect his life to the point he will always go back home drunk. One night, after finding Kirsten quietly rocking their daughter Debbie, to sleep, singing a quiet lullaby, he cracks up. In a heart-breaking monologue, Joe shouts his need for finding Kirsten on the same wavelength. Like her previous boss, he "needs her to be there". Kirsten's acceptance starts the infernal spiral leading to their downfall. This part crucially mirrors the predispositions of both Joe and Kirsten to alcoholism, and the movie is incredibly ahead of its time in the transparent way it tackles the subject.

Indeed, Kirsten accepts less out of love for Joe than for alcohol, her drinking in order to please him is as convenient as his dedication to his job is 'zealous' and this mess inevitably leads to the Kirsten accidentally setting the house on fire and Joe being fired. They become bums, boozers and losers with a realistic touch I didn't even found in "Leaving Las Vegas" where the romantic aspect prevailed despite the tragedy. No romance here, only the tragedy of addiction devouring the body and the mind of Joe and Kirsten, together ... in hell. And the movie shines in the acting department as both leads literally blew me away. I rank Jack Lemmon's performance as equal to Ray Milland in "The Lost Weekend" or Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem for a Dream". The part where he's looking for the hidden bottle, going from joy, to confusion, to anger, to rage and despair, such a wide range of emotions in one single scene should have earned him the Oscar in 1962, despite the competitiveness of the year.

The movie is a powerful illustration of both addictions' devastating effects and its unsuspected roots. And by powerful, I mean intelligent, because it showed a subtlety too often ignored, that sometimes, we enjoy a drug within another habit. When you can't have a coffee without smoking or enjoying something without a 'starter', a substance to accompany you… believing these consumptions are indispensable to drive the enjoyment or the pleasure. And this is the sad originality in Joe and Kirsten's relationships; they needed each other to shamelessly express the dependence inhabiting their lives. The perversity is that they ended up only loving themselves as drunkards, as Joe said, they were not a couple, but a threesome.

This could be highlighted by the painful rehab scenes where Joe shouts for his wife. We wonder if he's missing Kirsten or booze. The movie is audaciously violent and concludes in a mood in total opposition with the start. Joe tries to recover, inspired by a powerful desire to provide a good life for Debbie. He's helped by Jack Klugman as Jim Hungerford from the Alcoholic Anonyms, a performance I would have appreciated to see nominated, along with Charles Bickford as Ellis, Kirsten's unfortunate father who witnesses the decline of his little girl.

Speaking of Ellis, the ending of the film is a clever reminder of one of the questions he asked Joe, what would he do if a "X Company did something bad" and Joe almost implied that he would try to hide it or makes it look good. Ironically, this perfectly sums up what addiction is about: finding excuses such as "enjoying life", "forgetting the problems" etc., while all you need is the strength to admit your dependence and the guts to fight it. Joe is almost cured but Kirsten still can't imagine living without alcohol. She still needs it not to be depressed by the world's ugliness.

The fight is not over Kirsten, not even for Joe, not even for Jim, not even for all of us who try to fight our inner demons and say "Life is beautiful" without the bitter taste of booze in our mouths
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Painful...but in a good way
CranberriAppl5 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'm in my 20s and I love classic movies, I love Jack Lemmon, and I'm increasingly becoming a Billy Wilder fan. I've seen this one, Breakfast at Tiffany's,Irma La Duce,The Apartment, The Pink Panther, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd, and a couple others. So for me, Days of Wine and Roses was a twofer. This was a well-told, well-directed, well-acted film. I watched it on TCM and got a bit of the background of the story from Robert O. I went in with expectations and I was not disappointed. Without going into the plot really, watching the transformations of Lemmon/Remick's characters into alcoholic 'bums' (as Lemmon called them), was quite powerful. By the end of the movie, I was happy for Lemmon's character (he goes to AA and has been sober for a year), but his wife, who he introduced to social drinking has not climbed out of the pit. Lee Remick was great at the end appearing to want to change, but not wanting to see how "dirty" the world really was. It was really pitiful. When she left at the end, I felt Lemmon's character's pain bc his eyes sort of had hope that she would get sober, but at the same time, felt just as strongly that she was lost forever. For a set of actors to be able to convey conflicting emotions w/such ease in one scene is quite rare these days, so while it was painful, as a movie viewer, it was a joy to watch.
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A film like a sledgehammer to the gut(possible spoiler)
DeNortonSpacey27 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I just finished watching this movie, and I'm feeling similar to what I felt like when I watched "American History X". This movie is so real that it almost makes you sick with emotion. You cringe when the characters reach for that "teensy bit" of drink because you know what will happen. This is the best performance from Jack Lemmon I have ever seen. The direction of the movie is so masterfully handled that you never notice that the movie has changed from a romantic comedy to a terrifying drama.
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