The Lost Weekend

“The Lost Weekend is probably the Forties' most famous problem picture, and today loses little of its original power. Ray Milland's Don Birnam is a failed writer, an anxiety-prone weakling who uses alcohol as an escape. A number of short, episodic scenes mount gradually in intensity until the two climactic passages, which occur respectively in an alcoholic ward and at Birnam's apartment during a fit of delirium tremens.... Wilder has seldom used his camera more daringly. Telephones, overturned lampshades and, of course, bottles loom menacingly in the foreground of the compositions, while John F. Seitz's New York exteriors capture in drab grays and blacks a city stripped of glamour and allure. Holding it all together is Milland's admirable performance, conveying to perfection the character's softness, his voluptuous surrender to indulgence.” --Charles Higham, Joel Greenberg.
“As the first in a considerable line of ‘alcoholism films' in the following 20 years, The Lost Weekend established a genre and became the criterion to which later films were compared.... Based closely on an autobiographical novel by an alcoholic writer, the film's primary new departure was the glorification of the alcoholic as hero - as someone more sensitive and creative than his callow light-drinking brother, as someone for whom a good woman should be willing to go through hell. Despite all the drinking and degradation, overt drunken behavior appears in only a few set-piece scenes. Instead, the drama is interior, with alcoholic cravings as the mainspring of the action. Ray Milland's eyes start to glow, eerie music starts to play, and the hero is embarked on another round of self-humiliation - more often in search of drink than in consequence of drinking - against which the other characters struggle ineffectually.” --Robin Room

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