HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Werewolf
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Pentathlon
Anna
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Yentl
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Driven
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Gwen
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
Midsommar
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Brightburn
Satanic Panic
Claudine
   
 
Newest Articles
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
   
 
  Days of Wine and Roses 'Lost Weekend' for the 1960'sBuy this film here.
Year: 1962
Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, Jack Klugman, Alan Hewitt, Tom Palmer, Debbie Megowan, Maxine Stuart, Jack Albertson, Ken Lynch, Gail Bonney, Mel Blanc, Jack Riley, Katherine Squire, Lisa Guiraut, Jennifer Edwards, Lynn Borden
Genre: Drama
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Days of Wine and Roses – review

In the 1950’s Hollywood was in trouble, as home entertainment from the new medium of television sent box-office receipts into freefall. One way to fight this trend was more spectacle and new technology (CinemaScope, 3-D). Another was to embrace television, by making movie versions of hit programmes and importing TV talent to work in Hollywood. Days of Wine and Roses was directed on television by John Frankenheimer (The Train, Seconds, Grand Prix), starring Cliff Robertson and Piper Laurie, and on film by Blake Edwards, another TV graduate.

This review of the film will compare it with the television original to illustrate how it was constrained by Hollywood’s dramatic conventions (even though it was adapted by the original author). Usually described as one of the most vivid film depictions of alcoholism, it is actually half romantic-comedy and half-melodrama, with a vaguely optimistic ending.

The credits play over a lilting love song, then we meet Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon), a PR man drinking in a bar as he tries to get a posse of ‘girls’ together to attend a client’s ‘party’. Joe loathes the job, and feels he is just acting as a pimp. At the party Joe mistakes his client’s secretary, Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), for one of the ‘girls’. He tries to make amends by offering her a drink, but she is a non-drinker.

This marks the first difference between the film and TV versions. On TV, Piper Laurie was a hardened drinker from the start. Hollywood couldn’t handle the idea of a woman who actually enjoyed drinking, because in the language of film at that time, a woman who drank was morally tainted. Lee Remick had to be ‘corrupted’ by a man. For men, drinking was an acceptable ‘masculine’ form of social behaviour.

For the first hour we get romantic comedy as Joe makes clumsy efforts to woo Kirsten. Ominously (in the world of the film), he uses Kirsten’s love of chocolate to introduce her to alcohol via Brandy Alexander cocktails. Kirsten finds she enjoys the effect of alcohol.

They decide to marry and visit Kirsten’s father (Charles Bickford) who is very reserved about the news and closes his door on them. Kirsten’s reaction is to ask Joe to take her for a drink. The film’s one effort at psychological insight is to suggest Joe and Kirsten both had parental problems. Kirsten’s father is emotionally repressed, Joe’s parents were in show business and he never had a settled home life.

They marry, have a baby, and Kirsten gives up drinking (in quite a graphic moment for 1962, Lee Remick holds her breasts to emphasise why she can’t drink). This irritates Joe, and to show she is still a supportive wife, Kirsten pours herself a large Scotch - in effect, she has been emotionally blackmailed by Joe into becoming his drinking partner.

Now we change to melodrama as Joe’s drinking gets out of control and he’s demoted at work. He talks through his frustrations with Kirsten at home as they drink together. Here is another change from the TV version: Lee Remick is shown as a passive drinker, simply accepting the drinks Joe gives her. Piper Laurie was shown getting her own drinks, was far more aggressive in her views of the ‘office politics’ that got Joe demoted, and actually dismisses Joe's first concerns that perhaps they are drinking too much: "We're just having fun."

Joe is sent out of town, Kirsten gets drunk and burns their apartment, and Joe gets fired. Time passes (maybe two or three years, the chronology of the film is very fuzzy). Joe is now a ‘bum’ who can’t keep a job and Kirsten is a frowsy housewife drinking beer from the can. There was no such thing as a ‘high-functioning alcoholic’ in 1962 – the only way was down. In a highly-charged scene (original to the film and at least partly improvised, as Lemmon apologises for swiping the beer out of Remick’s hand and lines are fudged) Joe decides it’s time to stop drinking. They will work for Kirsten’s father and get sober.

All goes well until Joe decides too much sober is too much of a good thing and smuggles whisky into their room. The film really betrays its reputation here. Apart from Kirsten asking eagerly “Where is it?” there is no indication that these two are ever actually desperate for a drink (again, unlike the TV version which was much more realistic in this respect). They just want to drink to have fun (as many of us do during our lives). They do have fun until Joe decides they need the extra bottle hidden in a greenhouse. His failure to find it turns him into a raving maniac. Kudos to Jack Lemmon for his energy and commitment in the scene, but the reversal of mood and character is too much. (Kirsten, meanwhile, drunkenly bursts into her father’s bedroom for a goodnight kiss, a hint of repressed incest which plays no other part in the film.)

Joe ends up in a mental hospital, is visited by an AA man (Jack Klugman, overacting) and starts to recover. Irony kicks in because Kirsten won’t quit – the teetotaller is now a committed lush. The role reversal is emphasised as Kirsten goes on a bender and Joe finds her in a cheap motel and she gets *him* to drink with *her*. Here is another change from the original where it is quite blatantly suggested Kirsten is prostituting herself; Lee Remick just goes on a spree (albeit with different men).

In the final scene Joe begs a temporarily sober Kirsten to re-join their family, but she says she can’t face life without alcohol and leaves. The TV version ended here. In the film Joe explains to their daughter that mummy had to go away because she was ‘sick’. Will she get better? “Well, I did, didn’t I?” Fade out.

From a hard-hitting teleplay we get a more superficial Hollywood product. The lead actors were both Oscar-nominated. Jack Lemmon wanted a change of pace and achieved it, but still played safe with the comedy scenes and overall kept his good guy persona. Lee Remick did well, but her character was softened and ‘feminised’, where Piper Laurie's Kirsten was a truer personality.

Blake Edwards directs competently, and seems to have encouraged some improvisation from his actors. At one point in his DVD commentary he says: “Thank God they both smoked” because it added to their performances. As both Lemmon and Remick died of cancer (Remick was only 55), and could surely have faked smoking, this seems a very strange, almost tasteless, remark.

A number of films in the late 1950’s started to question the cost of the rat race and American consumerism (No Down Payment, for example). Days of Wine and Roses tries to cover some of the same ground, but is ultimately constrained by the conventions of mainstream film-making (especially regarding female characters) and the attitudes and beliefs about alcoholism of the time.
Reviewer: Enoch Sneed

 

This review has been viewed 3054 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: