HALCYON DAYS … before the fall
This is a poignant poster advertising the 1962 award winning movie “Days of Wine and Roses”. All these many years later I still think that it’s one of the most powerful movies ever to address the problems of alcoholism and the family involvement.
Jack Lemmon plays a public relations man, Joe, whose work life revolves around wining and dining his clients. His ability to consume alcohol seems boundless and he‘s sure that it makes him a vibrant and top notch ad man. When he meets Kirsten (Lee Remick) she prefers chocolate to alcohol but he quickly convinces her that Brandy Alexanders (made up of brandy and creme de cocoa) are just as delicious and much more “fun”.
They eventually marry but their love is insufficient to prevent them from the downward spiral that alcohol brings to them. After a near-death escapade Joe is visited by a man from AA and he starts the long journey to put his life back on a sober path. Unfortunately Kirsten has sunk too far into addiction and is incapable of this. It is truly heartbreaking to watch her demise.
In 1994 Jack Lemmon was the guest star on the Bravo TV show “Inside the Actors Studio”. The host, James Lipton, asked him if he had a favorite role and he said it was the role of Joe in “Days of Wine and Roses” and especially the part where he stood up in the AA meeting and he said “my name is Joe and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Which I am, incidentally”, he went on to say and when Mr. Lipton asked “Are you talking as Joe or as Jack Lemmon?” he replied, “No, as Jack Lemmon. I’m an alcoholic.” James Lipton was taken completely unaware and says that Mr. Lemmon's quiet admission was one of the most powerful moments that he’s ever had on his show.
The movie and it’s stars were nominees for Oscars in 1963 and, though the stars didn’t win, the song “Days of Wine and Roses” (written by Henry Mancini and words by Johnny Mercer) was a winner. The film may be old but the message is timeless and the song will always be one of my very favorites.