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The Lost Weekend
The Lost Weekend
Actors: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling
Director: Billy Wilder
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
NR     2001     1hr 41min

Billy Wilder creates a searing portrait of an alcoholic. Don Birnam is a writer whose lust for booze consumes his career, his life, and his loved ones.


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Movie Details

Actors: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling
Director: Billy Wilder
Creators: John F. Seitz, Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, Charles R. Jackson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 02/06/2001
Original Release Date: 01/01/1945
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1945
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Steve P. (StampJockey) from DAVENPORT, IA
Reviewed on 11/19/2017...
This film harkens back to the days when films were judged on their content, not on their special effects and how much money was spent to make them. The Lost weekend gives us a view into one of the darker subjects that we tend to avoid, and captivates us as it does so. If you are a fan of classic movies, this Best Picture Oscar winner is definitely one you should check out.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Schuylar L. (schuym1) from SIOUX CITY, IA
Reviewed on 11/19/2017...
A captivating look at alcoholism and its effects, which says a lot because this is a 1945 movie.

Movie Reviews

Powerful drama whose ending does not do it justice
jenbird | Havertown, PA | 02/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I can understand why the studio did not want to release "The Lost Weekend" in 1945: it's a gritty and realistic (sometimes horrifyingly so) account of an alcoholic's weekend binge. Going against years of movies that portrayed drunkeness as something cute and harmless, this movie pulls no punches in illustrating to what depths a man will stoop when he just has to have a drink.There's a story told about the filming of "LW," in which another of Ray Milland's on-the-street takes were ruined when someone recognized him. Instead of asking for his autograph, though, the woman offered to bring him back to her apartment for a drink. She didn't believe him when he said he was making a movie about a drunk; she thought the actor was down on his luck and really *was* a drunk. Billy Wilder came out from behind the hidden camera and finally set her straight. This is a good illustration of the power of Milland's performance; his work is quite extraordinary. Jane Wyman as his girlfriend Helen does a good job with a small role, as does Phillip Terry as Don's brother Wick.While the drama of the movie moves along at a fevered pitch, it really starts to build to a level of unbearable tension when Helen goes to retrieve her coat (which Don has stolen) from the pawnbroker, only to discover Don didn't trade it for money for booze, but rather a gun he had pawned earlier. After his earlier talk of putting a bullet through his head, the audience and Helen realize at the same time what his intentions are, and we find ourselves as anxious as Helen as she races back to his apartment. She gets there in time, and the two play a game of cat and mouse, warily stepping around each other as he tries to get her to leave, and she tries to get to the gun first.After winding things up so tightly, though, the movie ends with an anti-climax: Helen gives Don her same old inspirational speech about his having the talent to make a go of it as a writer, and suddenly, this time he believes her, vowing once again (and we're to assume that this time it took) to give up drinking and make something of himself. He gives us a pat little explanation of his alcoholism, and ends by saying gee, he feels sorry for all those other drunks out in NYC that think they're fooling everyone. Fade to black.I realize this is a typical Hollywood ending of the time (1945), with everything working out okay in the end, but I felt cheated. I had been so captivated by this true to life story, with nothing glossed over, that the ending didn't ring true at all. Strange as it may sound, I think I would have almost preferred Don to put a bullet in his head. It would have felt much more realistic than him basically saying, "You're right Helen, I will stop drinking and write that book," and with a snap of the fingers, put his drunken ways behind him.This is my only complaint about the movie, and it is an extremely small one; don't let my thoughts about the ending stop you from watching this film. It is an astonishing movie even in this day and age, even more so when you consider it was made almost 60 years ago."
A film by the greatest director still living
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 04/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Ray Milland is not really thought of as a great actor. He was a fine, competent leading man, but he rarely gave an outstanding performance. Lost Weekend shows that he was a far better actor than was usually apparent. Milland's performance is wonderfully realistic and daring also, for his character is not especially sympathetic. There is no glamour in the situations he faces. He is dirty, seedy and at times obnoxious. This is a portrait of a drunk which was and is untypical. Most often drunks are portrayed as comic characters, but there is little humour in the life shown in Lost Weekend, only degradation. This all rather makes the film sound dull and unappealing. It is anything but. Often with Billy Wilder's films it is the dialogue which is most memorable and Lost Weekend has some great lines. I particularly enjoyed the language and forties slang of sympathetic bad girl Doris Dowling. It seems amazing that Wilder, who co-wrote the film, grew up in Austria. He must have really listened to those around him to pick up all the nuances of contemporary speech. I would not say that Lost Weekend is Wilder's best film. The story is a little bit too predictable. This is always the case with message films. Here the message is the horrors of alcoholism, so we rather know where we're going. Nevertheless it is a fine film by one of the finest directors ever.The quality of the DVD is very good. It has few extras, just a trailer really, but the quality of the picture and sound is superb. My only quibble is with Universal who issue the DVD and no doubt own the rights to the film. They should not put their globe symbol at the beginning of the film in front of the Paramount mountain. This might seem petty, but it is still `A Paramount Picture' whoever owns it now."
"Talent, ambition. That's dead long ago. That's drowned.
Steven Y. | Marvel Universe 616 | 11/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Billy Wilder pulls no punches in showing the horrors of alcoholism in "The Lost Weekend." So ahead of its time was this film upon its original release that it still holds up pretty well to modern sensibilities.

Writer Don Birnam (Ray Milland) is an alcoholic. Both his brother, Wick (Phillip Terry), and his girlfriend, Helen St. James (Jane Wyman), have tried to get him to sober up. Don is making progress but he gives into his demons once more during one harrowing weekend. During this time, Don lies, steals, and does whatever he can to get his hands on booze and more booze. After staying at the drunk ward of a hospital and experiencing a series of terrifying hallucinations, his journey enters even darker territory when he contemplates ending his life

Wilder's unwavering direction coupled with Milland's remarkable performance gives "The Lost Weekend" a dramatic power that disturbs and frightens. The scenes in the film are so well staged that they attain a heightened sense of realism that is impressive for a non-documentary. The only problem with "The Lost Weekend" is an ending that feels a little too neat and tidy. Specifically, Don's final proclamation has a dubious ring to it. Wilder undoubtedly wanted to end his film on a hopeful note but the ending just feels awkward. Yet, even though "The Lost Weekend" ends oddly, its depiction of one man's total meltdown remains a powerful viewing experience to this very day."