"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 [show more]
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SYNOPSIS Directed by Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity Sunset Boulevard Some Like It Hot) this gut-wrenching adaptation of Charles Jackson&39;s The Lost Weekend horrified its studio was rejected by test audiences and was lobbied by temperance groups yet went on to huge success and became the awards sensation of its year Ray Milland stars as Don Birnam a New York author struggling with years of alcoholism and writer&39;s block Trying to keep him on the path to rehabilitation are his straight-laced brother Wick (Philip Terry) and devoted long-time girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman) When Don absconds from a country excursion he embarks on a four-day binge spiralling towards rock bottom Winner of the Grand Prix at the first ever Cannes Film Festival as well as Oscars for Best Picture Director Actor and Screenplay this brutal noir provided one of cinema&39;s first in-depth studies of addiction Crackling with rapier dialogue vivid performances and Wilder&39;s superlative direction The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present The Lost Weekend for the first time anywhere in the world on Blu-ray Released in the UK in a standard edition & limited edition steelbook SPECIAL BLU-RAY FEATURES New high-definition master officially licensed from Universal Pictures Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired Exclusive new video introduction by director Alex Cox The three-part 1992 BBC Arena programme Billy How Did You Do It? directed by Gisela Grischow and Volker Schlöndorff featuring Schlöndorff in conversation with Billy Wilder The 1946 Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of The Lost Weekend starring Ray Milland Jane Wyman and Frankie Faylen The original theatrical trailer 36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring a new essay on the film by critic and filmmaker David Cairns; a reproduction of the famous hallucination sequence in three forms an excerpt from Charles R Jackson s novel an excerpt from Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder s screenplay and a presentation of actual frames from the corresponding scene in the film; a vintage public service advertisement by Seagram s about The Lost Weekend and the broader social dilemma of alcoholism; and rare archival imagery
Billy Wilder's classic drama starring Ray Milland as a writer and alcoholic who encourages his brother to embark on a drinking session with him 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 fails to locate it. 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?