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The Lost Weekend
This week's new release, 28 Days, surprised me when I first learned about it. A comedy about alcoholism? Except for Jimmy Stewart's Harvey, some of the greatest movies and performances have been about the tragedy of alcoholism. From Clean and Sober to Leaving Las Vegas to When a Man Loves a Woman to this week's classic selection, The Lost Weekend, actors and actresses often have done their best work when depicting the dark side of drinking.
Ray Milland stars as Don, a failed writer who has turned to the bottle. He has just given up drinking and his brother, Wick (Phillip Terry), is about to take him on a long weekend vacation in the country. However, ten days without booze has got Don on edge. He sees his opportunity to get away from Wick and takes off on a bender.
Will Don finally learn his lesson or will this be the end of his life?
Milland never had a stellar career, even though he starred in many films and television. The Lost Weekend was his tour de force. It's one of the first hard hitting looks at alcoholism and Milland shines as we learn about his character and all the events that lead up to the wild weekend. It would be very easy to dismiss Don as a loser drunk. However, Milland brings sympathy to the character by showing his agony and shame for what he has become and his desire to get clean. The audience learns that he wants to quit drinking, but it is killing him like any other disease.
Writer and director Billy Wilder also shows us the impact of Don's actions on those that he loves. Terry does a good job as brother Wick, who is fed up with trying to help Don. His frustration and attitude are very realistic. Also, Jane Wyman does a great job as Don's girlfriend, Helen, who will do anything to help the man she loves, even though he doesn't deserve it.
Although the film might seem a little overdramatic to us, it fits the style of the time. Don't let that put you off from a great movie. If you thought Nicolas Cage was amazing in Leaving Las Vegas, check out Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend.
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett
Ray Milland ... Don
Jane Wyman . Helen
Phillip Terry .. Wick
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