Best Picture Review: “The Lost Weekend” (1945)

The Lost Weekend (1945)
The Lost Weekend (1945)

Sunday night, after basically three straight days of moving, cleaning, unpacking, and heavy lifting, Lauren and I sat down to unwind with 1945’s Best Picture winner, “The Lost Weekend.”

Wow, The Lost Weekend… the title alone made me excited.  Without reading the Netflix one-paragraph synopsis, I envisioned a couple taking off for a relaxing weekend trip, only to lose their way, and the hilarious mishaps that ensued.  Hmm… I was way off.

The movie isn’t a comedy at all, but a very dark tale of a man’s life-threatening struggle with alcoholism.  

Unsuccessful writer Don Birnam has been sober for ten days, or at least that’s what he tells his brother, as they pack for a four-day weekend getaway in the wilderness.  Right before they leave, Don talks his brother into going to a concert with his girlfriend Helen while he rests, and instead they’ll take the late train.

Of course, while the two are gone, Don goes on a mad drinking binge and never shows up on time for the train.  His brother leaves without him, his girlfriend searches high and low all over town for him, while he goes back to his brother’s apartment and continues drinking.

Over the course of the weekend, Don goes to amazing lengths to drink.  He begs for money, he steals purses, and even is taken to a rehab facility.  He manages to escape and continues drinking to the point that he hallucinates horrifying images of bats in his apartment, eating mice that are crawling through holes in the wall.

In the end, he contemplates suicide, but it talked out of it by Helen, who also encourages him to write a novel about his alcoholism and help others.  Happy ending for all!

Overall, The Lost Weekend was a respectable movie with great acting by front man Ray Milland.  It’s a dark movie that reminded me a little of Requiem for a Dream, only it had a much happier ending.  I discovered afterwards the film was spoofed on The Simpsons when Barney’s movie “Puke-a-hontas” wins the Springfield Film Festival.  Lauren also pointed out that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia spoofed the movie in the episode starring my good friend Sinbad, when Dennis goes to rehab.

There weren’t really any funny or odd scenes to speak of.  I found it somewhat amusing the way the character Gloria talked.  “Don’t be ridic!” She liked to cut off words.  “Natural” became “natch.”  That kinda thing.  The funny thing is it sounded very unnatural.

Anyway, The Lost Weekend was not a fun, entertaining movie.  It was a dark drama from beginning to end, and never really went off course.  Much like All Quiet on the Western Front, Schindler’s List, and Passion of the Christ, this is one of those movies where I’d argue that a movie can be good but not necessarily entertaining, or something that I’d ever want to watch again.  I’d probably rank The Lost Weekend in the bottom half of the movies so far.

Next up, 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives, which focuses on men returning home from WWII who can’t seem to live their old lives as they once knew them.

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