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The Lost Weekend [DVD]
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Billy Wilder's classic drama starring Ray Milland as a writer and inveterate alcoholic who evades his brother to embark on a binge around New York. Don Birnam (Milland)'s struggles with alcohol have become clear to those close to him. However, having satisfied himself that Don hasn't had a drink for ten days, his brother, Wick (Philip Terry), agrees to escort Don's girlfriend, Helen (Jane Wynam), to a show while the writer prepares himself for their planned trip to the country. Instead, Don uses the absence of the pair to search his apartment for the booze Wick has hidden and sets off for the city's watering holes when he can't find any. Over the days that follow, Helen and the increasingly exasperated Wick attempt to track down the absent Don, but can anyone help the wayward writer get back on the wagon?
"I'm not a drinker--I'm a drunk." These words, and the serious message behind them, were still potent enough in 1945 to shock audiences flocking to The Lost Weekend. The speaker is Don Birnam (Ray Milland), a handsome, talented, articulate alcoholic. The writing team of producer Charles Brackett and director Billy Wilder pull no punches in their depiction of Birnam's massive weekend bender, a tailspin that finds him reeling from his favorite watering hole to Bellevue Hospital. Location shooting in New York helps the street-level atmosphere, especially a sequence in which Birnam, a budding writer, tries to hock his typewriter for booze money. He desperately staggers past shuttered storefronts--it's Yom Kippur, and the pawnshops are closed. Milland, previously known as a lightweight leading man (he'd starred in Wilder's hilarious The Major and the Minor three years earlier), burrows convincingly under the skin of the character, whether waxing poetic about the escape of drinking or screaming his lungs out in the D.T.'s sequence. Wilder, having just made the ultra-noir Double Indemnity, brought a new kind of frankness and darkness to Hollywood's treatment of a social problem. At first the film may have seemed too bold; Paramount Pictures nearly killed the release of the picture after it tested poorly with preview audiences. But once in release, The Lost Weekend became a substantial hit, and won four Oscars: for picture, director, screenplay, and actor. --Robert Horton
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Top Customer Reviews
The Blu-ray itself is another product of the Masters of Cinema series' partnership with Universal, and once again this is a fantastic release. The 1080p black-and-white image is very strong, with lots of detail visible in close ups of jackets etc., and there is a fine, though not intrusive, level of film grain noticeable throughout. Damage, apart from some noticeable dirt in the very first scene, is minimal, and overall this is a very strong transfer, with no signs of edge-enhancement or DNR. The mono DTS-HD Master Audio is also clear, and free from any hiss or noise that I could detect. The film is locked to Region B, and there are optional English subtitles on the film.Read more ›
One of the very powerful scenes in this movie is when the main character, already being an addict, sits in the theatre and watches La Traviata. He consults libretto and looks very decent and seems engaged in the performance, until the actors during the famous "Libiamo Ne'lieti Calici" aria all start to drink. They do it so joyfully, cheerfully, raising and touching their champagne coupes, and the butler makes sure that their glasses stay full. Immediately the mind of the guy becomes anxious, excited, one pointed - that is, he needs a drink himself! His lips starts to tremble and he can't help rushing out of the seat in the middle of the performance to get a drink. This scene was so powerful for me because that's exactly how it really happens with such who already felt down for booze, and stimulates heavily the others who still might have a chance. It is really very sad to realise that alcohol is everywhere: at home, in the movies, in the normal groceries (in Russia at least), even in theatres! I remember as a young kid of 5 I was told that one drop of alcohol can kill a horse, yet my parents and their guests always had alcohol on all occasions, and clearly more than one drop of course. When, after my friend's passing, I realised how much hypocricy is there about alcohol and that everyone who drinks do contribute, by example and support of this "tradition", to the new crowds of addicts, I ostentatiously quit drinking all liquor completely. I hope this movie will help many more people to do the same.
The movie, the acting and the script are great, highly recommended!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I opened my package containing the Blu Ray of The Lost Weekend, I was immediately terribly impressed with the fantastic Blu Ray Steelbook case - very swanky and smart. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Douglas D. Duff
Ray Milland, an alcoholic fighting the illness. Jane Wyman determined to help him through and to care and look after him. A life of dependency, regrets, if only. Read morePublished 4 months ago by David
A striped down stark story about a man with a drink problem. Set in the 1940s, Nice Blu Ray transfer, good sound and picture, the audio is DTS-HD Master Audio and the resolution... Read morePublished 5 months ago by L.W