Friday, June 10, 2011

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.


Blogger Syd said...

I did not know that Jack Lemmon was an alcoholic. I saw that movie when I was a kid. I need to watch it again.

4:27 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Never saw the movie. Do remember the song, tho.
Alcohol is quite a heartbreaker... Thank god for AA and the lives they have saved.

3:55 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

That movie does go back a long way. I'm not sure if I even saw it all, but I did see some of it, and it stuck.

4:35 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Mine too, Ginnie, although when I saw it in the 60's I just thought it was depressing. I have seen it a few times since then and the acting is superb.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous said...

I saw this film on the big screen when I was a teenager and I did not like it then. years later I saw it again and appreciated it a bit more.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

This was a timely post, Ginnie. This week, I was reading the liner notes on the VHS copy of this film that came in at the thrift store where I volunteer. I remember seeing it years ago and recall it was depressing.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

I absolutely love this movie. I can't tell you how many times I've seen it. The acting is quite excellent by both actors. Love Di ♥

10:46 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

It's one of my all-time favorites as well.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Big John said...

I've seen the movie a few times and it still shocks today.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Today's movies are nothing like the ones they made years ago.

Movies like "Wine and Roses" had a message, great acting and a wonderful song.

I remember that movie very well. it had a lasting impression on me.

Thanks for an informative post.

5:18 PM  

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