The Lost Weekend is a tale of the power and destruction of alcoholism, as told through the powerful talents of director Billy Wilder. This film won Oscars for best picture, actor, director and screenplay in 1945, it won the grand prize at Cannes, and the Golden Globe – this is a film that was lauded and applauded by all when it came out and I have to say it was well deserved.
While The Lost Weekend is definitely alcoholism through the lens of 1945 it is nonetheless a biting and harrowing look at what people didn’t consider a disease, but something to hide, a family scandal. This was an era that still remembered prohibition so the last thing anyone wanted to admit was that they or a loved one was addicted to alcohol, and the best part is that Wilder and his actors refuse to shy away from this taboo. For 1945 this film is dark, deep, realistic and I am sure highly controversial – but it still holds power today.
I am highly in debt to the films of Billy Wilder as he serves as one of my chief sources of inspiration, and The Lost Weekend was new to me. Wilder is truly a genius in terms of finding the controversial subjects and making them into meaningful movies that transcend time; he excels at getting to the core of his characters situations and this makes his movies work in any decade not just the decade in which they were released.
Director: Billy Wilder
Writer: Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder
Don Birnam: Ray Milland
Helen St. James: Jane Wyman
Wick Birnam: Phillip Terry
Nat: Howard Da Silva
Bim: Frank Faylen
Don Birnam: Don't wipe it away, Nat. Let me have my little vicious circle. You know, the circle is the perfect geometric figure. No end, no beginning.