The Lost Weekend was thoroughly controversial upon release—pressure from the liquor industry nearly got the film shelved. It was the first time that a mainstream Hollywood film had addressed alcoholism, and the timing was right: American soldiers returning from fighting in World War II were beginning to confront the challenges of both post-war trauma and readjustment to life on the home front, and may were struggling. Post-prohibition, alcohol was freely available and a socially acceptable vice, particularly for men. The Lost Weekend stars Ray Milland as a New York writer on a five-day bender, giving a performance that’s occasionally overwrought but appropriately harrowing. The result was one of the most awarded movies in history.
Milland’s character, at various points in the film, suggests that his writer persona and his “drunk” self are two different people, while the movie makes clear that, ultimately, acknowledging that they’re inseparable is the only way forward. Glimmers of hope comes with Milland’s agreeing that he needs to takes steps toward recovery, and also in his plan to write a book about his experiences.
Where to stream: Digital rental