The Lost Weekend (1945)

DailyView: Day 335, Movie 480

We go back to 1945 for tonight’s DailyView Best Picture Academy Award winner. This is a film noir drama directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. The Lost Weekend not only won best picture but it also won for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director.

Failed writer Don Birnam (Ray Milland) has been sober for 10 days, but he was finding it impossible to stay on the wagon. After avoiding a trip out of town with his brother Wick (Phillip Terry), Don went on a four day bender where he had flashbacks to his early days as a drunk and his meeting with his girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman).

Oscar winner Ray Milland is exceptional in this role as the obsessed alcoholic just after his next drink. Watching his spiral into chaos was riveting and powerful. Milland carries it off brilliantly. This film does not work without his epic lead performance, but work it does.

We see the heights to which Don will go to get another drink. The desperation in his face and the shame hidden behind it. The passion of another drink juxtaposed with the anguish and distress of Helen as she struggled to find any way to help the man she loved.

I have to say, the scene with Don in “Hangover Plaza” at the local hospital after he had fallen down the stairs was a frightening scene that made this film almost a horror film. It was about as unnerving as it could be. Fascinating that it did not have that much of an effect on Don, showing exactly how far gone he was.

Having said that, the ending does feel a little pat, with things being ended with a nice little bow. It felt as if the ending was not deserved for this picture. There should have been more of a battle at the end, something more powerful to accomplish what happened. I’m not sure what it should have been, but it just felt as if the end just happened.

While the ending may not have been perfect, there is so much more in this movie that works well. It looked at some of the real horrors that alcohol can bring upon a person and how it can change a person’s path in life.

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