Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Days of Wine and Roses
Directed by Blake Edwards
Written by J.P. Miller
Jalem Productions
First viewing/Netflix rental

Joe Clay: Well, anything worth having is worth suffering for, isn’t it?

Love story meets horror story in this well-acted drama about alcoholism and its consequences.

Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) works as a Public Relations man.  It is the age of Mad Men and business is conducted over plenty of martinis.  Joe is fonder of the booze than he is of his job.  One of his more distasteful duties is to line up “girls” to entertain clients.  When he meets Kirsten he assumes she is one of these.  She turns out to be the boss’s secretary and after a rocky start they fall in love.  Kirsten is a teetotaler.

Joe keeps getting deeper and deeper into the sauce.  As he grows more dependent and more frustrated with his life, he craves an at-home drinking buddy.  Thus Kirsten becomes hooked herself.  Things get worse and worse until they get better – at least for one of them.  With Charles Bickford as Kirsten’s father.

We are in Lost Weekend territory – complete with violent DTs – here but with a romance at its core.  Both leads are fantastic at every stage of their disease.  We like these people while they are destroying family and each other. Recommended.

Director Blake Edwards did the commentary on the DVD I rented.  One thing that made it particularly interesting was that he was watching it for the first time since it came out.  He was pleased with his handiwork.  We also hear about his own battle with the bottle.

Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s title tune won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song.  Days of Wine and Roses was also nominated in the categories of Best Actor; Best Actress; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White; and Best Costume Design, Black-and-White.


4 thoughts on “Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

  1. Truly one of the most depressing movies ever – and the ending so desolate. However, a tour de force of acting – (a Best Actor nod for Jack Lemmon) and well-worth watching. Interesting that Blake Edwards was watching it for the first time in years. Thanks for all you do, Bea!

    • Agreed. Humans are really something, aren’t they? Edwards had nothing but admiration for both of his leads. Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. Recently, I re-watched DAY OF WINE AND ROSES. I was riveted and decided it should be required viewing. Doubtless, its message has saved more than one life. So powerful. I need to listen to Blake Edwards’ commentary. I didn’t know he had a drinking problem.

    • The commentary is top-notch. Edwards says Lemmon had a drinking problem as well and he took longer to get over his. Edwards never went to AA – he was too busy – but it was the film that made him decide to stop.

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