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Lost Weekend (Full Screen)

Ray Milland , Jane Wyman , Billy Wilder    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description


"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

Product Description

Billy Wilder creates a searing portrait of an alcoholic. Don Birnam is a writer whose lust for booze consumes his career, his life, and his loved ones.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and timeless classic! 4 1/2 stars. Nov. 22 2012
By Robert Badgley TOP 100 REVIEWER
The Lost Weekend(released Nov/45)stars Ray Milland as Don Birnam,Jane Wyman as Helen, and a great supporting cast.Set in war time New York City(although,the war is not in evidence) and shot on location there,this film is a powerful and dynamic portrayal of an alcoholic that,over a weekend,sinks deeper and deeper into his sickness than ever before,and barely comes out the other side in one piece.
The story starts as Don is about to go off with his brother to spend the weekend in a cottage somewhere.Don is an unemployed writer who has lived off the avails of his brother for years now.A brilliant and promising student in his younger days,he slipped into his alcoholism early on when his stories and his rejections started to get the best of him.Three years earlier he met his current girlfriend Helen while attending the opera La Traviata.One day she found out that Don was a drinker when his brother tried to unsuccessfully cover up for him.However,instead of leaving him for good,as he suggested,she stood by him.Three long and struggling years pass with no discernible progress to kick the habit.Then comes this fateful weekend and as he and brother are about to leave and Don asks his brother to postpone leaving and take Helen out to a show.He makes the excuse that he doesn't like opera anyways.In reality he can't wait for them to leave as Don has a bottle of whiskey dangling from a string outside the apartment window.Helen has flicked a cigarette towards that same open window but it landed on the ledge.Don's brother sees it and goes over to throw it off.Instead he finds the liquor bottle.This is the last straw,his brother cannot take it anymore and leaves him for good.
Don goes from his apartment to the local to drink and back.We watch as his actions become more and more desperate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Movies to see before you die!, Aug. 17 2007
Alcoholism is a disease, and no other film before Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend portrayed it as such. Like Trainspotting, that was to come along fifty years later, people were up in arms when this film came out, saying that it would encourage people to drink. The desperate journey that Don Birnam goes on throughout this film certainly would not encourage anyone to drink. Yeah, it may feel good for a fleeting moment, but it is a false and transient feeling. It is a feeling that you may crave, but how far are you willing to go get it? In The Lost Weekend, we discover exactly how far Birnam is willing to go to get his fix, resorting to petty theft and selling his typewriter, which, since he's a writer, is essential for him to earn any sort of income. Wilder again makes it clear that he does not want to tell stories of the American Dream but stories of how far this dream can go wrong when human frailty comes into play.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Film About Alcoholism Sept. 11 2003
I rarely watch older films. By "older" films, I mean movies made before 1960. It's not due to some prejudice on my part about black and white cinematography: my inability to view many early films arises from the fact that far too many of these movies are so melodramatic. You know what I mean: lots of swooning, hands swept across foreheads, and exaggerated body movements all set to crashing waves of syrupy orchestral music. Those swelling violins alone are enough to set my teeth on edge anytime I watch an old film, but occasionally a picture overcomes all of these pet peeves of mine and truly delivers on multiple levels. "The Lost Weekend" is one of those films. Sure, the emoting is there, as is the music and the swooning, but this compelling story about an alcoholic at the end of his rope always pulls at my heartstrings. I am going to start seeking out some classic older films that will tickle my fancy, but I don't expect to find too many of them with the power of "The Lost Weekend."
Ray Milland (an actor who starred in several schlockfests at the end of his career, such as "Frogs") plays Don Birnam, a painfully insecure writer who just can't make his life work. Birnam quickly learned that the soothing balm of alcohol took the edge off his various phobias, but he just as quickly learned that drinking took the edge off his talent, too. For years, Birnam never wandered far from the neighborhood bar or the liquor store, secure in the knowledge that a bottle of rye was always within reach. His brother Wick not only financially supports his boozy sibling; he also covers for him when the drinking causes problems. Of course, Don doesn't care much about his brother one way or the other as long as he gets his shot of whisky when he needs it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST SEE! Oct. 17 2011
By Amazon User TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie appealed to me because of Milland's awesome use of the English language. He is a writer who, although spends most of the movie in turmoil, really has a way with words. You will really enjoy this movie! Accurate portrayal of the "town drunk".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still effective after all these years. July 6 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Superb mellow drama about a drunk, Don Birman, played by Ray Milland, & his battle with the bottle over one week-end in New York City. Nobody is a drunk anymore. They are said to have a "substance abuse " problem.
There is little stigma attached to the problem today as compared to the self-loathing Milland felt & the repugnance the neighborhood & even his favorite bartender felt towards him. In fact, the long, fairly one-sided conversations with Nat the bartender, played by Howard de Silva, are some of the best scenes in the movie.
Brakett & Wilder took some chances in this ground-breaking movie. They fought the Hollywood studios who probably wanted it watered down & rendered more palatable. They didn't give in &, as a result, this was the best movie of the the year 1945. It was well deserved. Ray Milland also got an Oscar & he was never better. Jane Wyman does a fine job as his long suffering girl friend, Helen.
It is unbelievable that that kind of woman, a real lady, would put up with a loser like that for so long. But after all, this is a movie. A pat ending that doesn't matter at all. The combination of gritty, street level scenes of New York City, the noir atmosphere & black & white filming all combine to make this one of the best aging movies, still relavent, I've seen in a long time.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful movie about alcoholism
Don Birnam, an want-to-be writer with writer's block, is ecstatic when his brother Wick finally leaves their apartment for a long weekend in the country. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by gac1003
4.0 out of 5 stars Demon Alchohol
This movie which won 4 academy awards including best picture stars Ray Milland as a debonair drunk who hides alcohol in his apartment and cares more about booze than girls. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2004 by Dorion Sagan
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful drama whose ending does not do it justice
I can understand why the studio did not want to release "The Lost Weekend" in 1945: it's a gritty and realistic (sometimes horrifyingly so) account of an alcoholic's... Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2003 by jenbird
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Through the Barrier
Billy Wilder electrified the film world in 1944 with his brutally realistic film about lust and greed, "Double Indemnity. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2002 by William Hare
4.0 out of 5 stars Breaking Through The Wall Of Denial...
It's hard to believe that this movie was produced in 1945, a year which introduced Americans to the twin horrors of the Nazi concentration camps and the effects of the atomic bomb. Read more
Published on July 6 2002 by Greg McDowell
4.0 out of 5 stars the 2nd best alkie movie
The best being the 'Days of Wine and Roses'. However this movie is a great movie about the relationship of a person and their alcohol. It is like a love affair. Read more
Published on July 5 2002 by Gregory R Waldrop
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Weekend
Alcoholism has been seen on movies for a very long time. Many people just haven't realized it because it was never something to care much for. Read more
Published on May 15 2002 by "weirdo_87"
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Dated But Still Very Powerful
From the 1920s to the 1980s, from W.C. Fields right up to Dudley Moore, drunkeness was the stuff of comedy. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2002 by Gary F. Taylor
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