Best Picture Winners Part 18 (of 87): The Lost Weekend

thelostweekend1945

Title: The Lost Weekend
Year: 1945
Starring: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry
Director: Billy Wilder
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins

Is It Any Good?: This is a fantastic film. Milland won the Oscar for Best Picture and I really cannot imagine a better perforamance than the one he gave as incurable alcoholic writer Don Birnam. It’s message is clear, but Wilder never quite clubs you over the head with it. He also does a great job of not glorifying alcoholism, and Milland’d performance makes you dislike Don, but you also pity him. He’s pathetic, and that comes on screen strong. I wish they’d done more with Doris Dowling’s Gloria as too often she came in and out when the plot suited. Some of the shots here just marvel particularly the drunken “pink elephants” moment for Don late in the film. Don’s fall off the wagon is a tragic and sad thing to witness. His journey through town just to hawk his typewriter for a tenner is sad as it seems Don is now a man whose abandoned all hope.

Memorable Quote: Nat the Bartender: One’s too many an’ a hundred’s not enough.

Competition: Of the other four nominees three of them are instant classics. Let’s start with the forgettable one first shall we? Anchors Aweigh is a bloated mess of a film with poor pacing that not even Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly could help elevate. Next is the sequel to last years Best Picture winner Going My Way entitled The Bells of St. Mary Bing Crosby returns in the role that won him the Oscar as Father Chuck O’ Malley. This time though he’s brought the heavy acting guns with Ingrid Bergman playing Sister Benedict. You get the winners of both acting award the previous year in a film that’s better then it’s predecessor. Joan Crawford makes Mildred Pierce the thrilling ride that it is with her statue winning turn. It features a master class in the use of light and shadow by former Best Director winner Michael Curtiz. Lastly it’s Spellbound featuring a Salvador Dali designed dream sequence among it’s ranks this fantastic film doesn’t often get into the conversation of Hitchcock’s best. Even if it might be his most visually ambitious.

This was the first time I’d ever seen The Lost Weekend, and man was it worth the price of admission. Next up is a post- WWII coming home story that continues to captivate audiences almost seventy years later.

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