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USA 1945
Directed by
Billy Wilder
101 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Lost Weekend

This classic “social conscience” film won the 1945 Best Picture Oscar, beating closest rivals Mildred Pierce and Spellbound, and gave Wilder a Best Director Oscar and Ray Milland, in an a-typical role, the Best Actor Oscar.

The film looks at the self-destructive behaviour of the addictive personality with Milland playing an alcoholic wannabe writer Don Burnham, who goes on a frightening three day binge. The final section is glib by contemporary standards but up to that stage the film successfully draws on the strengths of German Expressionist cinema in which Wilder had his roots, using dramatic lighting and camera work to convey the distorted perceptions of the subject.

Milland gives a strong albeit occasionally hackneyed performance (Paramount over-ruled Wilder on his original choice for the role, Jose Ferrer) and the film is well-written (another Oscar for Best Screenplay) by Wilder with long-time collaborator, Charles Brackett (who was also the producer), from a novel by Charles Jackson. Although Miklós Rózsa's score is rather B grade the film deserves credit for tackling material which is far from being anodyne Hollywood fare. Wilder’s direction is impressive with some nice touches such as the moisture rings on the bar used to denote the passage of time, although the hospital sequence with Frank Faylen as a male nurse seems unintentionally ambivalent, oscillating between the solicitous and the sadistic.

FYI: For trivia/coincidence buffs, Oscar-winner Joan Crawford's thirrd ex-husband, Phillip Terry, plays Burnham's brother.

DVD Extras: None 

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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