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The Lost Weekend [DVD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

Price: £4.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard da Silva, Doris Dowling
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Producers: Charles Brackett
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: None
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Audio Description: None
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Feb. 2005
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00079FGVC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,616 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Henry Ireton VINE VOICE on 27 April 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This should be in everyone's list of the greatest films ever made. It profiles the slow descent of an alcoholic into an internal hell- it doesn't show the final moments of such a descent but lets us and him see where the story might end. It offers some hope but not much. Its wonderful particularly because of its insight into the psychology of its characters. The main character, Don, knows he is an alcoholic, understands it is a problem but can't get away from the thrill of it, he wants to but can't break out of it. His mornings and Sundays are consumed by guilt, the rest of the time he cadges, steals and begs money for drinks from others. His brother and girlfriend, his barman and a local whore stand by watching his descent into torture, trying to persuade him that there is something worth saving there. You can see especially in his brother and girlfriend's eyes the expression of mingled incomprehension and love that close friends feel for those going through these experiences- incomprehension that somebody like Don with so much to live for could think they have nothing and love for Don. In a strange way by the end of the film, we who begin the film understanding his point of view- the endless quest for a drink- understand theirs too and Wilder takes us to a place that no other film about addiction has ever taken me where we sympathise with the addicted victim and yet still more with those he damages by his addiction. This is a great film- if you haven't seen it watch it now.
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Format: DVD
Ray Milland delivers his finest performance in this 1945 drama. Even over 60 years later, it remains believable, tense and hard-hitting. A must for all Jane Wyman fans, too.
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Format: Blu-ray
'The Lost Weekend' is a film by Billy Wilder, released in 1945, and covers a 4-day period in the life of Don Birnham (played by Ray Milland in a career-best performance). Birnham is an alcoholic, and the film shows how he continues to sink to new lows in ever more desperate attempts to get his hands of a bottle of alcohol. If the film were released today, its subject matter would likely draw no attention. But in 1945, alcoholism (or dipsomania as it was known medically) was considered a disease, not the social condition it is now understood to be. So 'The Lost Weekend' gave cinema audiences their first real sympathetic glimpse at the underlying condition. Much of the film is shocking, and the famous hallucination scene is both masterly directed and acted. Other characters aside from Birnham are made three-dimensional, from his long-suffering girlfriend, Helen, to Bim, the cynical, worldly-wise nurse who deals with alcoholics every day. This is rightly considered one of the finest American films on the 1940s, and it really does deserve all the praise it's received, and continues to receive.

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.
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4 Comments 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've seen only the first half of the movie. The film is great, but was too painful for me to watch till the end. As one of my friends died because of alcohol addiction before he turned 35, what is depicted it this drama is just too close to that experience.

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!
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