Capital Celluloid - Day 107: Monday Apr 18, 2011

The Lost Weekend (Wilder, 1945): Black Spring Press and Society Film Club, Sanctum Hotel,
20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF. 7pm

There is surely no better venue for Ray Milland's descent into hell via umpteen bottles of rye than Soho, the site of many similar lost weekends. This movie, based on Charles Jackson’s bleakly realistic semi-autobiographical novel, was the major Oscar winner of 1945 and tells the story of failed writer Milland's alcoholic troubles over a weekend in New York. The central character's addiction to the bottle is such that he betrays his brother and his girlfriend (Jane Wyman), who both attempt to help him and stick by him even when he behaves in the most despicable ways imaginable.

Milland is excellent and Wilder, shooting in the noir style he had previously used for Double Indemnity, does not make life comfortable for his audience, especially in the famous DTs scene involving a mouse and a bat and a visit to a hospital ward for drunks which ends up like a scene from Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor.

[Spoiler alert]
Some criticise Wilder for his "happy ending" but I challenge anyone to believe that Milland's character will mend his ways simply because he is given the idea of writing about the experiences of the weekend he has just lived through. He has already admitted he has done no writing for the best part of a decade since his brother started subsidising his attempt to live as a writer in New York.

The screening is organised by Black Spring Press and you can find more details here on their Facebook page.

Here is the trailer.

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