8.0/10
27,243
142 user 95 critic

The Lost Weekend (1945)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir | January 1946 (USA)
The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four-day drinking bout.

Director:

Writers:

(from the novel by), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Won 4 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
Stalag 17 (1953)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal.

Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Midshipman Roger Byam joins Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian aboard HMS Bounty for a voyage to Tahiti. Bligh proves to be a brutal tyrant and, after six pleasant months on Tahiti, ... See full summary »

Director: Frank Lloyd
Stars: Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone
Going My Way (1944)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Father Charles O'Mailey, a young priest at a financially failing Church in a tough neighborhood, gains support and inspires his superior.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A British family struggles to survive the first months of World War II.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Paul Muni, Gale Sondergaard, Joseph Schildkraut
Marty (1955)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A middle-aged butcher and a school teacher who have given up on the idea of love meet at a dance and fall for each other.

Director: Delbert Mann
Stars: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas
Laura (1944)
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Nat
...
...
Mary Young ...
Mrs. Deveridge
...
Mrs. Foley (as Anita Bolster)
Lilian Fontaine ...
Mrs. St. James
...
Opera Cloak Room Attendant
Lewis L. Russell ...
Mr. St. James
Edit

Storyline

Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been "on the wagon" for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last...one way or the other. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The screen dares to open the strange and savage pages of a shocking bestseller! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

January 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Días sin huella  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

John Lennon would later refer to his year-and-a-half drunken exile in Los Angeles (1973-1975) as his "Lost Weekend". See more »

Goofs

When the waiter gives him the check at Harry & Joe's and he reaches for it: The glass, ashtray, napkin and cigarette all change position between camera shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Wick Birnem: You better take this along, Don. It's gonna be cold on the farm.
Don Birnam: Okay.
Wick Birnem: How many shirts are you taking?
Don Birnam: Three.
Wick Birnem: I'm taking five.
Don Birnam: Five?
Wick Birnem: Yeah, I told them at the office I might not be back until Tuesday. We'll get there this afternoon. That'll give us all Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. We'll make it a long, wonderful weekend!
Don Birnam: It sounds long all right.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Ghost of A. Chantz (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Somebody Stole My Gal
(1918) (uncredited)
Written by Leo Wood
Played on piano and sung by Harry Barris at Harry and Joe's, with modified lyrics ("Somebody Stole the Purse")
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"Before 'Weekend', alcoholism was treated as something funny. There were character actors who only played drunks, and always for laughs.There's nothing funny about a drunk."
21 April 2006 | by (Vienna, Austria) – See all my reviews

The often stated belief that alcoholism is a mere bodily addiction does not do the truth any justice. Alcoholism is more. It's a state of mind. It's addictive escapism for those who feel cheated by life, a way of avoiding fears and unhappiness, an illusionary method to make up for ones failures. Maybe that's why most therapies do not succeed. They solely concentrate on the illness, rather than on the cause of it. Of course, in many cases the cause cannot be helped...

In The Lost Weekend we accompany the failed writer Don Birnam (Ray Milland) surrendering to the self-destructive nature of his addiction. Despite being good-looking and intelligent, Don is a hopeless alcoholic filled with self-loathing ("The reason is me. What I am. Or rather what I am not.") The brand doesn't matter, the cheaper the better – to him it's all the same. Drinking seems to be his only way to escape from his misery and low self-esteem. "Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm competent. I'm walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the great ones. I'm Michaelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh painting pure sunlight. [...]" That's what a drunk Don tells his favourite barkeeper Nat (Howard Da Silva).

Yet, in one aspect he is lucky. Unlike many of his fellow sufferers he is not alone. After years of abuse, his faithful girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman) and his brother Wick (Phillip Terry) have still not deserted him. Compassionately they do their utmost to protect Don from himself by keeping him under close observation. With great effort they determined the most inventive hiding-places of his bottles and they even visited nearby liquor stores and bars, begging not to accept Don as a customer. There is nothing they haven't tried, but Don appears to be beyond salvation ("I am not a drinker. I'm a drunk." he tells them.). Just before the three of them are about to go on a weekend trip, Don devises a cunning plan to temporarily get rid of the two persons who care about him, giving him time to acquire the liquid he treasures the most. Soon he is stone drunk, staggering through the streets, always on the lookout for the next drink. For Don there will be no weekend trip. Only the bottle and the desperate humiliations connected with attaining it.

The Lost Weekend is a a drama of great emotional vehemence, lacking the light heartedness of Billy Wilder's later works. It gives unclouded insight into the darkest corners of alcoholism and depicts the powerlessness of the alcoholic over himself. Wilder created great controversy at that time by letting the lead actor succumb to his addiction. He didn't shy away from showing the addict's humiliations when begging for money or booze. Neither did he hesitate to point out the addict's loss of all self-respect when stealing and lying to pay for his one need. The horrifying hallucination scene only adds up to the disturbing decline of Don Birnam's humanity, proving that the greatest horrors lie within our imagination.

This is an excellent film of lasting relevance. It is technically brilliant and shines with great dialogue (which is typical for Wilder). Its storytelling (flashbacks) is superior. Furthermore Ray Millard (Dial M for Murder) gives a terrific and equally courageous performance as the the self-destructive alcoholic. You can see the desperate self-loathing and calculating slyness of a true addict written on his face.

In the end it comes down to two choices. Don can give in to alcoholism and thereby give up on life. Or he can try to overcome his addiction and face his fears and discontentment. Although sheer will-power may not be enough to achieve the latter, it is essential for succeeding. And the cause isn't lost, for there is Helen to help and care for him. Don is not alone. May someone have mercy on those who are...


37 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?