Black SplatLost Weekend (1945)

"He's a hopeless alcoholic."

The Lost Weekend - Don Birnam drinks away his sorrows

Description: Philip Terry as Wick Birnam who reaches the conclusion, that his brother Don Birnam (Ray Milland) is hopelessly addicted to alcohol in the motion picture Lost Weekend (1945).

Don Birnam is an unemployed writer with writer's block who lives in a Manhattan apartment with his brother Wick. A chronic alcoholic, Don will lie, scheme and do whatever it takes to get his hands on a bottle of booze, which he dangles on a rope outside of a window to hide it from his brother.

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can't take quiet desperation!" - Don Birnam

Concerned about Don, Wick talks with Don’s loyal girlfriend, Helen St. James (Jane Wyman):

“Who are we fooling? We've tried everything, haven't we? We've reasoned with him. We've baited him. We've watched him like a hawk. We've tried trusting him. How often have you cried? How often have I beaten him up? Scrape him out of a gutter and pump some kind of self-respect into him and back he falls, back in every time.”

About Wick’s diagnosis, Helen says, "He's a sick person. It's as though there was something wrong with his heart or his lungs. You wouldn't walk out on him if he had an attack. He needs our help."

Frustrated, Wick continues, "He won't accept our help. Not Don, he hates us. He wants to be alone with that bottle of his. It's all he gives a hang about. Why kid ourselves? He's a hopeless alcoholic."

His friends may call Don an alcoholic, but Don believes that drinking, although it "shrinks" his "liver" and "pickles" his "kidneys," elevates his mind:

"It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm competent. I'm walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the great ones. I'm Michelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh painting pure sunlight. I'm Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto. I'm John Barrymore before movies got him by the throat. I'm Jesse James and his two brothers, all three of them. I'm W. Shakespeare. And out there it's not Third Avenue any longer, it's the Nile. Nat, it's the Nile and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra."

For a time, Don goes on the wagon for ten days, but then he decides to blow off a weekend in the country with his friends and stays home. Alone with his addiction, the cravings for a drink gets the better of him and Don goes on a four-day drinking binge that eventually gets him admitted to a hospital ward after falling down a flight of stairs. He escapes the hospital, buys more booze and goes home where in a drunken delirium he imagines a mouse emerging from a hole in the wall and a bat flying around the room that attacks the mouse.

The Lost Weekend - Don's suicide note

Contemplating suicide, Don writes a note to his brother, but is interrupted by his girlfriend who does her best to convince him to live. Things turn around when the door buzzer sounds and Nat the bartender returns the typewriter Don lost. Believing there is hope, Don sits down and begins to write a book entitled "The Bottle" that chronicles his lost weekend. Don dedicates the book to his girlfriend: "To Helen With All My Love."

The Lost Weekend - Movie Poster

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