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The Lost Weekend

(1945 b 101')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Adapted from Charles Jackson's novel, an alcoholic goes on a binge, and his girlfriend tries to salvage him.

Don Birnem (Ray Milland) and his brother Wick (Phillip Terry) pack for a long weekend. Helen (Jane Wyman) is going to a concert first, and Don persuades Wick to go with her. Wick finds a hidden bottle and removes it. Alone, Don searches in vain, but the maid tells him where he can find $10. Don buys two bottles of rye and two drinks. Wick tells Helen he is leaving because Don is a hopeless alcoholic. Don sneaks past Helen into his apartment.

The next morning Don drinks in the bar. Gloria (Doris Dowling) stands up a guy in order to go out with Don. Bartender Nat (Howard Da Silva) refuses to give Don any more. Don tells Nat the story of his novel. At the opera he sees drinking on stage but has to wait to get his coat and meets Helen. His bottle breaks, and he goes to a party with her. He stops drinking until he overhears her parents talking about him. Wick lies to Helen that Don is not there, but Don comes forth drunk. He tells how he went from writing to drinking. He lives on Wick's charity. Helen says she will fight for Don and kisses him. Don says that was three years ago.

Don goes home and starts writing his novel, The Bottle. He searches for a bottle and goes out to a night club. Not having enough money, he takes a purse to the men's room and then is caught and thrown out. At home he finds a bottle. The phone wakes him up, and his bottle is empty. He takes his typewriter, but the pawnshops are closed for Yom Kippur. He begs for a drink from Nat, who gives him one. Don calls on Gloria and asks for money. She is angry he did not show; but when he kisses her, she gives him some. He falls down the stairs.

Don wakes up in an alcoholic ward. Nurse Bim (Frank Faylen) talks about alcoholics who come back. At night Don hears screams and sneaks downstairs, leaving in a bathrobe. Helen wakes up on the stairs and spurns a nosy neighbor. Don demands a quart of rye and takes it without paying. He goes home to drink it. He sees birds and screams. The neighbor calls Helen, but Don won't answer the door. The janitor opens the door and lets her in. She suggests he take a bath. While Helen is in bed, Don goes out. Helen follows and asks Don for the pawn ticket for her coat, but he refuses to give it to her. The pawnbroker tells Helen that Don swapped the coat for his gun. At home Don writes a suicide note, and Helen comes in. Don gives her his raincoat. She offers him a drink, but he says no. Helen finds the gun, but Don takes it from her. Helen tells him that he can stop. Nat returns the typewriter. Don drops a cigarette in the drink, and Helen persuades him that he can write his novel.

This powerful drama reveals the careless behavior and sad terror of someone caught in the addictive pattern of drinking to escape normal life.

Copyright © 2005 by Sanderson Beck

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