The Lost Weekend (1945)

The Lost Weekend



Critic Consensus: Director Billy Wilder's unflinchingly honest look at the effects of alcoholism may have had some of its impact blunted by time, but it remains a powerful and remarkably prescient film.

Movie Info

Billy Wilder's grim, realistic treatment of alcoholism stars Ray Milland as Don Birnam, a troubled novelist with a drinking problem. Escaping from the apartment his worried brother (Phillip Terry) has confined him to for the weekend, Don makes his way to his favorite tavern, where he knocks back drink after drink, transforming from a trembling wreck into a garrulous charmer into a brutish lout. For the remainder of the weekend, he sinks further and further into his drunkenness, resorting even to … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 6, 2001



as Don Birnam

as Helen St. James

as Nick Birnam

as Nick Birnam

as Gloria

as Mrs. Deveridge

as Mrs. Foley

as Mrs. St. James

as Charles St. James

as Opera Attendant

as Mrs. Wertheim

as Mr. Brophy

as Piano Player

as M.M.'s Escort

as Washroom Attendant

as Male Nurse

as Male Nurse

as Male Nurse

as Doctor

as Pawnbroker

as Jewish Man

as Jewish Man

as Opera Singer

as Opera Singer

as Shopkeeper

as Irishman

as Mrs. Frink

as Shaky and Sweaty

as Washroom Attendant
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Lost Weekend

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Lost Weekend

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (6)

Under Wilder's imaginative direction, Milland has been able to convey just what an uncontrollable craving for liquor does to a man's mind, his body and soul.

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Director Billy Wilder's technique of photographing Third Avenue in the grey morning sunlight with a concealed camera to keep the crowds from being self-conscious gives this sequence the shock of reality.

Full Review… | February 17, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

It is intense, morbid -- and thrilling. Here is an intelligent dissection of one of society's most rampant evils.

Full Review… | February 20, 2008
Top Critic

Today it's less impressive but not without its virtues.

Full Review… | December 12, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

What makes the film so gripping is the brilliance with which Wilder uses John F Seitz's camerawork to range from an unvarnished portrait of New York brutally stripped of all glamour.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A shatteringly realistic and morbidly fascinating film.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Lost Weekend


A boozing writer tries to reform himself with the love of a good woman.
My one-sentence plot summary is inaccurate, but it's as close as I can come to briefly restating the plot of this film. It's inaccurate because he doesn't spend much time trying to reform himself. This is the film's primary problem. Don is a dick. There's nothing to like, and it's impossible to understand what Helen sees in him because as he's portrayed here, there's nothing to see. Normally I think that characters can be interesting even if they're despicable, but Don's not interesting. He's just a drunk.
What can be said of the film is that it's gritty and searing. It's portrayal of alcoholism is tough to watch and ugly, and it takes a brave performance by Ray Milland to give it its power.
Overall, if only Don had a few scenes in which he did something nice, we might be able to side with him, but as it is, I find it difficult to care about his troubles.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


A harrowing depiction of an alcoholic writer (Ray Milland) who is convinced he has nothing to live for except for getting drunk, and how his addiction takes a turn for the worst one weekend as he goes on a drinking binge. Although a little simplistic in its explanation for the lead character's reasoning as to why he's destroying himself (he can only get inspiration for story ideas when he drinks), the force this film packs is still unmistakably powerful. Milland's performance singlehandedly carries this film from start to finish and makes it arresting, all the way to its hair-raising, suspenseful conclusion. It is not as effective as the absolute devastating "Leaving Las Vegas", another film concerning the troubles of alcoholism, but it was definitely a film ahead of its time, willing to tackle a difficult subject with skill, not to mention its paced to near perfection. Highly recommended.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


Billy Wilder's "The Lost Weekend," which beat "Mildred Pierce" for the Best Picture Oscar of 1945, must have felt like a watershed event for those who saw it back then. This film, with its horrific, realistic depiction of alcoholism, surely helped kick-start the Alcoholics Anonymous movement that has so transformed America.

Is "The Lost Weekend" a great work of socially committed journalism? Yes. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely. Is Ray Milland's performance, which won him the Best Actor Oscar, a tour de force? Yes. But is the film a great work of art? No.

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

The Lost Weekend Quotes

– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Félix C (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Lost Weekend on our Movie forum!