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Lost Weekend (Full Screen)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, Charles R. Jackson
  • Producers: Charles Brackett
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Mca (Universal)
  • Release Date: Feb. 1 2005
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000549B1
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,793 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

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.


"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach on Sept. 11 2003
Format: DVD
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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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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Format: DVD
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. Free of the constant watching, he is incredibly happy and feels even better after the second drink. Throughout the five days, Don drinks, makes and forgets promises, discovers a brilliant idea for writing and forgets it just as quickly, loses track of time. His mind takes him on a guilt-ridden trip through past experiences and hallucinations. He even awakens after a spill down the stairs to find himself in the alcoholic wing of a sanitarium.
Billy Wilder's film adaptation of the novel by Charles Jackson does a fine job of detailing what happens to someone in the grips of alcoholism: the desparate need, the hallucinations, the blackouts, etc. Ray Milland delivers one of the finest screen performances as Don, giving the impression that you are living every moment with Don, suffering his hallucinations and withdrawal, and thirsting for alcohol. This performance also earned him the Best Actor Academy Award. Jane Wyman is wonderful as Don's girlfriend Helen, who wants to see him through this terrible ordeal. Phillip Terry also gives a strong performance as Don's brother Wick, who wants to help Don by being the strong one, but always caves in, feeding Don's dependency.
For anyone who has read the book, certain aspects from the story have been removed and altered, but this in no way detracts from this portrait of a man in the throes of alcoholism. It's still a very potent and powerful film dealing with an almost taboo subject at the time. Highly recommended.
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Format: DVD
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 weekend binge. Going against years of movies that portrayed drunkeness as something cute and harmless, this movie pulls no punches in illustrating to what depths a man will stoop when he just has to have a drink.
There's a story told about the filming of "LW," in which another of Ray Milland's on-the-street takes were ruined when someone recognized him. Instead of asking for his autograph, though, the woman offered to bring him back to her apartment for a drink. She didn't believe him when he said he was making a movie about a drunk; she thought the actor was down on his luck and really *was* a drunk. Billy Wilder came out from behind the hidden camera and finally set her straight. This is a good illustration of the power of Milland's performance; his work is quite extraordinary. Jane Wyman as his girlfriend Helen does a good job with a small role, as does Phillip Terry as Don's brother Wick.
While the drama of the movie moves along at a fevered pitch, it really starts to build to a level of unbearable tension when Helen goes to retrieve her coat (which Don has stolen) from the pawnbroker, only to discover Don didn't trade it for money for booze, but rather a gun he had pawned earlier. After his earlier talk of putting a bullet through his head, the audience and Helen realize at the same time what his intentions are, and we find ourselves as anxious as Helen as she races back to his apartment. She gets there in time, and the two play a game of cat and mouse, warily stepping around each other as he tries to get her to leave, and she tries to get to the gun first.
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