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Lost Weekend (The)

USA, English, 96 mins

  • Director: Billy Wilder
  • Writer: Charles R. Jackson; Charles Brackett
  • Producer: Charles Brackett

CGiii Comment

It's tame. It's accomplished.

It's a shadow of what it could have been.


Lost Weekend is an oddly important film in the history of gay cinema, not because of what it includes but what it misses out. In Charles R. Jackson’s novel, Don is haunted by a gay relationship in his youth and it’s strongly suggested he’s a latent homosexual and in serious denial. It’s his issues with this that are at the centre of his struggle with alcohol – as it was for many gay people at the time. However, with the Hay’s Code tightening its grip on Hollywood in the mid-1940s, any mention of ‘sexual perversion’ was banned, even if it was in a negative light (as it would have been here). As a result Don’s trauma becomes writer’s block, or at least the division between the artist he thinks he should be and the man he is. At first the drink numbs his pain, but soon it makes things worse, ensuring he can never be happy. Latent homosexuality in an era where being gay was illegal is a stronger logic than writer’s block, but Wilder’s hands were tied.


Trailer...

The(ir) Blurb...

Don Birnam, long-time alcoholic, has been "on the wagon" for ten days and seems to be over the worst; but his craving has just become more insidious. Evading a country weekend planned by his brother Wick and girlfriend Helen, he begins a four-day bender. In flashbacks we see past events, all gone wrong because of the bottle. But this bout looks like being his last...one way or the other.

Cast & Characters

Ray Milland as Don Birnam;
Jane Wyman as Helen St. James;
Phillip Terry as Wick Birnam;
Howard Da Silva as Nat;
Doris Dowling as Gloria;
Frank Faylen as 'Bim' Nolan;
Mary Young as Mrs. Deveridge;
Anita Sharp-Bolster as Mrs. Foley;
Lillian Fontaine as Mrs. St. James;
Frank Orth as Opera Cloak Room Attendant

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