The Lost Weekend

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Don Birnam (Ray Milland) has always wanted to be a writer, but he was never really able to succeed. But whenever his life would become paved with bumps, instead of using the experience to power his writings, he turned to alcohol. As the years passed and he drank more and more, Don become an alcoholic and has trouble going very long without a drink. But those who love him can’t bear to watch him erode his life, so his girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman) and best friend Wick (Phillip Terry) have started a plan to keep him off the booze. As it stood, Don had been clean for ten days and as a sort of celebration, the two had planned a relaxing weekend in the countryside, but Don wants no part of that venture. As each day has passed, Don has become more and more desperate, with alcohol withdrawal almost tearing him apart. So he begins a weekend long binge session, where he intakes all the booze he can and all the while, memories and flashbacks remind of how he ended up where he is.

This film took home four Academy Awards in 1945, including Best Picture, so now Universal as released it within the new Award Winners series. This sounds like a good concept to me, but Universal hasn’t done much here, aside from the usual basic supplements. I mean sure, it is nice to have the film on our beloved format, but if you’re making a series that salutes your award winners, at least give them a nice, solid package. But leaving that behind, The Lost Weekend is a memorable and powerful picture, worth a look from any fan of cinema. This is a dark and unflinching look into an alcoholic’s life, so if you need a pick me up, then this won’t do the trick. But I think the material here needs to be dark, as it is dealing with a destructive force, alcoholism. With great performances from Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, as well as excellent direction from Billy Wilder, this picture deserved all the awards it was given. This is a strong and sometimes depressing motion picture, so I recommend it very highly to those interested. I do wish Universal had done more with this disc, but I suppose you can’t win them all, eh?

I am so pleased to have this film released, as I love the work of Billy Wilder, who is not well represented on this format to date. His work here is outstanding and bold and as a result, he was able to snag the Best Director Oscar for his efforts. I consider his direction here to be among his very best work, which means it is almost flawless, as his other work is close to that status. He would go on to win another Oscar for his direction, but I think he deserved a lot more than two, as he was nominated for several more and fell short. I hold Wilder to be of the finest directors of all time, so I am very pleased to have one of his best films on this format. Other films directed by Wilder include Sunset Blvd., The Spirit of St. Louis, The Seven Year Itch, Stalag 17, The Apartment, Love In The Afternoon, and Some Like It Hot. The cast here includes Jane Wyman (Smart Blonde, All That Heaven Allows), Ray Milland (Terror In The Wax Museum, Escape To Witch Mountain), Howard Da Silva (M, The Omaha Trail), Doris Dowling (The Blue Dahlia, Birds Do It), and Phillip Terry (The Dark Horse, Sweater Girl).

Video: How does it look?

The Lost Weekend is presented in a full frame transfer, which is how the film was intended to be shown. I am pleased with this transfer, which sports a clean source print and aside from some edge enhancement, no compression flaws are seen. I know some nicks and debris can be seen at times, but on the whole, this is a clean image and more than acceptable given the film’s age. The black & white image is solid also, contrast is well balanced and detail is high, not much else you could ask for here.

Audio: How does it sound?

Not much to discuss here, as the included mono track is good, but not quite great. The track is clean enough in the end, but I would have liked it to be more distinct and crisp, especially in terms of dialogue. But you can hear all the vocals just fine and at a proper volume, so I suppose that is a small complaint. The music sounds decent and the minimal sound effects are ok, but again, this is on the mono scale. You can hear what you need to, which is all that counts in this case, I guess. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes some production notes, talent files, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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