Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Lost Weekend

Grade: F
Title: The Lost Weekend (1945)
Director: Billy Wilder
Notable Actors: Ray Milland and Jane Wyman

I can't tell you how much I love this movie! I'm really not sure why. Like so many classic black and white films, I first watched it on TCM and then went out and bought it right away! I just fell in love with the endearing, irritating character that the brilliant Ray Milland portrays. Just look at this picture of despair...

Can't you feel his utter inability to control himself? What could be more terrifying than that? You are not being victimized by anyone but yourself, which is why it is so gripping and frightful because if you can't control yourself you clearly cannot control anything else. Ray Milland can also be recognized as the equally terrifying (but for completely different reasons) husband from Hitchcock's masterpiece Dial M for Murder.
Quick side note: while we are on the note of leading actors, I hope you all recognize Jane Wyman's name. Anyone know who she was married to? I'll let that marinate for a bit ... one clue - when his statement that he cut wood was questioned by a journalist he preceded to have his secret service men video tape him chopping a HUGE load of wood ... hahahahahahahahaha. What a great story!

The main premise of this movie is that a young man has become obsessed with drinking (you can see the ridiculous lengths he goes to in order not to be caught...here he has hidden his alcohol outside his window, so his brother does not find it as he searches - literally, awkwardly, horrifyingly - his room). His brother wants him to come with him for the weekend to help him not drink his nights away. However, we get to watch his complete fall into oblivion and departure from reason. It is haunting and surprisingly insightful because we all have obsessions that are better left unexplored.

Some of the best elements of this film (there are so many!) are the two women characters. One is sassy and ridic (yes, she shortens the word...who knew? I always thought that was something more recent), while the other is refined and sophisticated - showing the two spectrums he kind of pivots around. He only is associated with the sleazy girl because he hangs around in the bars when he should be with his brother; however, even she proves that she is not as sleazy as he is because she knows when to say no, which is his constant struggle.

Thus, we are presented with a beautiful, sparkling woman and the man who won her heart (the way they met is almost too classic...you should watch it at least for that). He is a promising writer with a strong career in front of him. However, as his character is unfolded, it is clear that his need for drink is so overwhelming that it constantly defeats and gets the better of him.

The last part of the film is my favorite. It shows his awful descent into drinking madness (even Hell) as he hallucinates and ends up in the hospital. He finally realizes that he has to give up drinking in order to move on with his life. True, he lost the past weekend with his brother, who he will have to rebuild his relationship with, but he realizes that he has not lost his life. I love this ending because it does not ignore the consequences of sin, but it shows redemption and hope. To me, it ends on one of the most hopeful notes it could - him starting to write again.

I do enjoy this movie a great deal. The emotion and passion one character is able to portray. I would definitely recommend that you buy it right away!!! (easily found here: http://http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Weekend-Ray-Milland/dp/B0000549B1) or at least netflix it or borrow it (I'm sure your library has it). Until next time; go enjoy some art!


  1. Love this post, love Ray Milland! The first time I saw "Dial M for Murder" I went out and bought it because I loved that it took place almost entirely in one room and that Milland's character was so calmly evil (plus I love Grace Kelly). I definitely want to see this movie now!

  2. You definitely need to! You can borrow it from me...