The Lost Weekend – Billy Wilder (1945)

The Lost Weekend is a 1945 Academy Award winning American drama film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The film was based on a novel of the same title by Charles R. Jackson.

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.

Wilder was originally drawn to this material after having worked with Raymond Chandler on the screenplay for Double Indemnity. Chandler was a recovering alcoholic at the time, and the stress and tumultuous relationship with Wilder during the collaboration caused him to go back to drinking. Wilder made the film, in part, to try to explain Chandler to himself.

This film also shared the 1945 Grand Prix du Festival International du Film at the first Cannes Film Festival and Milland was awarded Best Actor. To date, The Lost Weekend andMarty (1955) are the only films ever to win both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival.

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