"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can't take quiet desperation!"
— Don Brinam
A 1944 novel by Charles R. Jackson, The Lost Weekend
entered the Pop Cultural Osmosis
once the film version was released the following year. Directed and co-written by Billy Wilder
and starring Ray Milland, the film won four Oscars
, including Best Picture.
An alcoholic writer, Don Birnam, leads a tough existence in New York City. His girlfriend, Helen, is one of the few people out there who can hopefully lead him on the straight and narrow. However, Don's personal life has been at a crossroads due to his insecurities. After ditching his brother's suggestion for a weekend in the country, Don begins a long drinking binge (the titular lost weekend). Of course, the more he drinks, the closer it may be to his last one...
This work features examples of:
- Academy Award: Best Picture, Best Director for Wilder, Best Actor for Milland, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Wilder and Charles Brackett.
- The Alcoholic: Possibly the first Hollywood film to treat alcoholism in anything resembling a realistic way.
- At the Opera Tonight: In flashback.
- Bowdlerize: The novel pointed to a homosexual affair as the root of Birnam's troubles; the film version replaced it with writer's block.
- Drunken Montage: This film features the Ur Example of the drunkard wandering through the city-streets, while neon-signs float eerily around him. Yeah, that effect that has been endlessly imitated, it started here.
- The Film of the Book
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!
- Moral Guardians: On both ends: the liquor industry tried to sway Paramount from releasing the film, allegedly even going as far to bribe Billy Wilder. On the other hand, the more traditional folks tried to keep it from release for fears it would encourage drinking.
- Off The Wagon
- Pink Elephants: A particularly terrifying use of this trope.
- Shout Out: This film gets one in the third-season opener of Mad Men: Don looks at an ad where a man is holding a bottle of whiskey almost as big as himself, and mocks it by saying "Sorry honey, but I'm taken. I just pawned my typewriter so we can be together all weekend."