The Lost Weekend

The Lost Weekend

Billy Wilder (1945)

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Our Score
This ground-breaking drama about an alcoholic writer trying to kick the bottle won Oscars for best film, direction (Billy Wilder), screenplay and actor (Ray Milland). Don Birnam (Milland) is the booze-afflicted antihero, suffering from writer's block and a frighteningly convincing case of the DTs. Despite the grim subject matter, there are glimpses of Wilder's characteristic mordant wit - the (hidden) bottle dangling out of the apartment window and Birnam's desperate mission to pawn his typewriter on a Jewish holiday - and the director's location work in New York's Third Avenue district is exemplary. Casting the hitherto bland Milland was a stroke of genius, but the scenes involving Birnam's brother (Phillip Terry) and girlfriend (Jane Wyman) are soft-centred and don't really work, making this literally a message that comes in a bottle.


A recovering alcoholic is left alone in New York while his brother goes away for the weekend. He quickly falls off the wagon without his brother's supervision, and talks to a bartender about his sad history of addiction. Billy Wilder's drama, starring Ray Milland in an Oscar-winning performance, with Jane Wyman and Howard Da Silva.

Cast & Crew

Don Birnam Ray Milland
Helen St James Jane Wyman
Nick Birnam Phillip Terry
Nat the bartender Howard Da Silva
Gloria Doris Dowling
Bim Frank Faylen
Mrs Deveridge Mary Young
Mrs Foley Anita Bolster
Director Billy Wilder
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: Paramount Film Service LtdAvailable on: DVD and Blu-ray