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The Lost Weekend (1945)

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

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

Charles R. Jackson (from the novel by), Charles Brackett (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ray Milland ... Don Birnam
Jane Wyman ... Helen St. James
Phillip Terry ... Wick Birnam
Howard Da Silva ... Nat
Doris Dowling ... Gloria
Frank Faylen ... 'Bim' Nolan
Mary Young ... Mrs. Deveridge
Anita Sharp-Bolster ... Mrs. Foley (as Anita Bolster)
Lilian Fontaine Lilian Fontaine ... Mrs. St. James
Frank Orth ... Opera Cloak Room Attendant
Lewis L. Russell Lewis L. Russell ... Mr. St. James
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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:

How daring can the screen dare to be? No adult man or woman can risk missing the startling frankness of The Lost Weekend! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

January 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Días sin huella See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,460,000, 31 December 1946
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some temperance organizations incorrectly accused the film of promoting or publicizing drinking. The Ohio temperance board objected to a line in the script attributed to the sadistic orderly, Bim. He says, "Prohibition--that is what started most of these guys off." Bim also makes a slam against "narrow-minded, small-town teetotalers." Paramount refused to remove the line, but Ohio won in the end. Paramount was also warned that the delicate sensibilities of the British might be offended by the film. The studio nixed any potential trouble by adding a subtitle for the British release, "The Lost Weekend: Diary of a Dipsomaniac", and producing a special trailer alerting Britons of the film's harsh subject matter. The disclaimer read: "Ladies and gentlemen, as this is a most unusual subject for screen presentation, we have been requested to warn you of the grim and realistic sequences contained in this unique diary carrying such a powerful moral." See more »

Goofs

In Don's first visit to Nat's Bar the apples at the top of his paper bag change in height from shot to shot. 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.
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Connections

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

Soundtracks

Louise
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Played on piano and sung by Harry Barris at Harry and Joe's
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Once Upon A Time There Was A Bat And A Mouse
29 July 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Lost Weekend for 1945 was a pretty grim and realistic look at the problem of alcoholism. We've seen some pretty good films since like I'll Cry Tomorrow right up to Barfly, but The Lost Weekend still has the power to hold the audiences attention 61 years after it came out.

It was a breakthrough film for its star Ray Milland. Previously someone who had done light leading man roles, Milland plumbed some real hidden demons in the role of Don Birnam. A guy much like the characters Ray Milland played on screen, Birnam is a charming fellow and would be writer who can't leave the alcohol alone.

Billy Wilder was going to originally cast an unknown character actor in the lead role. However Paramount producer Buddy DeSylva said that in this part you wanted a likable leading man so the audiences had a rooting interest. Wilder who usually did not suffer interference from the front office with any grace, took DeSylva's advice and got Ray Milland with whom he'd worked with in The Major and the Minor.

Milland prepared for this part by spending a couple of nights in an alcoholic ward. Certainly showed in his performance. You will not forget Milland and his reaction to seeing the bat and the mouse while in delirium tremors.

Jane Wyman was Wilder's third choice after not getting Katharine Hepburn or Jean Arthur. She came over to Paramount from Warner Brothers on a loan out and got her first really good notices for a serious acting role as Milland's long suffering girl friend.

A recent biography of Billy Wilder said that The Lost Weekend was timed perfectly for an audience that swelled up with returning servicemen some of whom developed alcoholic problems after being through the horror of a World War. After being panned in previews with a little editing it opened to rave reviews on release.

It did good at the box office too and it won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor for Milland, Best Screenplay for Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and Best Director for Wilder. After this triumph Wilder and Brackett both had their pick of good film properties.

I'm surprised that someone like Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino has never tried to remake this one. Seems like just the kind of film for them.

Milland's character is a writer and a key sequence is when he attempts to pawn his typewriter for a bottle of booze. Can you imagine doing that today with a laptop computer which is not only the tool he uses, but also has a memory of all the attempts the protagonist has made to write.

Might even be more powerful today.


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