A Halloween Ode to Lionel Atwill

October 31, 2009

There are many people who come to mind on October 31st if you're a classic film fan-- primarily Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price. Maybe Lon Chaney, Jr., Val Lewton, and Hitchcock, too. But tonight, when the sun goes down, the lights are turned out and I'm ready to watch a film that will make my hair stand on end-- I'm turning to Lionel Atwill.

Lionel Atwill isn't usually associated with horror, probably because, unlike Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, he made so many films outside the genre that he isn't immediately linked to it. But just watch him in Doctor X and try to sleep with the lights off the same night. It's not possible.

Lionel Atwill starred in the original Mystery of the Wax Museum -- I know I'll probably be burned at the stake for mentioning this (on Halloween of all days, too!) but I really prefer his to the Vincent Price version. The huge selling point is the two-strip technicolor. This process was also used on Doctor X (in my opinion, the scarier of the two) and it gives both films a deathly, greenish pallor that makes them look like they were filmed in a morgue. Of course, the other selling point is Lionel Atwill-- his performances give creepy a whole new meaning.

What I love about his horror film characters is that he isn't playing a supernatural monster. You can turn your television off after Dracula, safe in the notion that a vampire will not be slipping through your window while you're asleep. But Lionel Atwill's characters are often mad scientists or crazy people who really could exist in real life. Walk down the wrong alleyway, and you could become the next victim in his crazy experiment!

While he was also very successful in other genres and roles, (most notably playing a ham actor in To Be or Not To Be) to me he'll always be my favorite horror movie villian- a real life monster whose presence on film makes my hair stand on end!


I had this all written up, and ready to post when I started looking for images of Lionel Atwill on the internet. Even though he usually plays kind of creepy men on screen, I always fancied that he was a reserved gentlemen in real life. He just seemed that way. Boy was I wrong! According to wikipedia & imdb (oh-so-reliable, you know) he was famous for throwing crazy parties, and was actually arrested after a Christmas party turned into an orgy with illegal pornographic movies being shown! Lionel! He wouldn't say who any of the guests were, so he was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years probation. Because of the scandal, he was blacklisted and worked in b-movies until he died from pnemonia in 1946. Isn't that awfully sad?!

Elsa Lanchester

October 29, 2009

Today Elsa Lanchester would have been 107 years old. I know it's kind of cliche for me to paint her as the Bride of Frankenstein, but how could I pass up the opportunity to paint that hair?! Besides, it's kind of fitting what with Halloween coming up in a few days.

Personally, I love the characters she played when she got older -- in Mary Poppins as the fed-up nanny, in Bell Book and Candle as a wacky witch and in Witness for the Prosecution as Charles Laughton's nagging nurse. But I also like her earlier performances with Charles Laughton, like in The Big Clock and Tales of Manhattan.

Okay, to be honest, I love every movie she's in. She was a fantastic character actress and her presence in a film guarantees that you are in for an enjoyable movie experience!

The Mind Benders (1963)

October 22, 2009

I think that generally there are two kinds of films -- films that you watch and films that you experience. The Mind Benders is definitely the latter. And during a month when "scary" is defined as monsters and ghouls, this movie scared me out of my wits without one hint of the supernatural.

Conventional monster movies always give me the spooks, but I'm only really petrified when the terror in a film seems like it could actually happen - or when the main character is so dreadfully afraid in the film that you become just as afraid yourself. The Mind Benders deals with one of the most frightening experiences that man could suffer through- complete isolation. Isolation from sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and human contact. The experience is made so real, so absolutely horrifying that I actually felt sick to my stomach at one point. Now this might not seem like a selling point, but it is. I was so engulfed in this film that I want to pop the disc in my dvd player again tonight. I want to be with it again, to see it again. I'm not a sadist or anything- the film isn't torture. While it has it's unsettling moments, it is actually incredibly moving and really makes you think.

The film opens with an elderly scientist committing suicide by jumping off of a moving train. Next to his body they find a suitcase filled with cash, apparently the money he was given for leaking top-secret scientific information to the Communists. What seems like a simple open-and-shut case of treason is actually much, much more complicated. The scientist, Dr. Sharpey, was working on a disturbing project called Isolation in which he was attempting to find out what happens to the human brain when all of the senses are taken away. The guinea pigs in the study were Dr. Sharpey himself, and his colleague, Dr. Longman-- played by Dirk Bogarde.

Longman realizes that the only way to prove that Sharpey wasn't the kind of man who would commit treason is to show that once you go through "Isolation" you don't come out the same man. The only way to prove this is to go through Isolation himself. While the plot seems to be about espionage and proving someone's innocence, it really isn't. It's about what makes us human, and how fragile that something is.

I can't tell you how much I want to go into more detail about the plot and the twists, and how DB's character progresses throughout the film but I think that if I had known any of that before I watched it, the intensity of the movie would have definitely been blunted. You need to see this film fresh for the first time, with no preconceptions and no spoilers, in order to full appreciate it. One thing to look out for, though-- Dirk Bogarde's eyes before and after Isolation. They seem to get darker in color, but they don't. It's not a special effect; it's a cold, icy look -- and it is remarkable.

This was by far, hands down the best DB performance I've seen so far. I don't know how he didn't have a nervous breakdown while acting this part. He is so emotional and intense it is almost incomprehensible. When I first discovered DB back in August, I had no idea how much talent he had-- I thought he was a handsome, skilled actor and that I'd like to see more of his films. I am so glad that I followed through, because I think his might be the single best performance I've seen by an actor in my entire life. It was absolutely brilliant, and I think that it actually enriches my life to have seen him in this movie.

I loved this film so much (can you tell?) that I really wanted to write the most brilliant blog post ever about it, but I'm so tongue tied (or keyboard tied, as it were) that I can't express myself. Good films do this to me, they knock all of the wordiness out and just leave me gaping and staring at the screen. Since I watched it last night, I've gone to sleep, woken up, eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner, worked and had fun. But inside I am still gaping and staring at the screen. It has a hold on me and I think I need to watch it again tonight. I'm sorry, I mean I need to experience it.


Netflix has the film in its database, but it doesn't have it available to rent yet. You can buy it on amazon here or on ebay here. It's pretty cheap (about $4) and well worth every penny!!

Or if you're broke & desperate, email me and I'll make you a copy from my tape. I want everyone who's interested to see this movie, it's really one of the best films I've ever watched.

The "after Isolation" eyes

I took over 20 screenshots from the film--
to see the rest, click here.

A cure for what ails you

October 21, 2009

Whether you are suffering from depression, boredom, the flu or bogardeitis (the excessive desire to watch Dirk Bogarde movies) I have the perfect medicine for you -- The Doctor series.

Made between 1952-1963, The four films in the Doctor series follow a young Doctor Simon Sparrow (DB) as he experiences the ups and downs of joining the medical profession. Each film is a blast with beautiful innuendo and that biting British wit that you don't find in American comedies.

The one thing that can be a bit befuddling is the lack of continuity. The same actors appear in every film, but Dirk Bogarde is the only person who played the same character in all four installments. James Robinson Justice's character Sir Lancelot Spratt (a big, burly and grumpy doctor) appears in three of the films -- but in the second movie he is named Captain Hogg. Simon Sparrow seems to be engaged to a different woman at the end of each film, but she isn't mentioned in the next movie. And while DB is a shy, introverted student who is almost afraid of women in the first three, he is a full-fledged womanizer in the last movie! Maybe the fact that these were released with a span of at least two years between each one, they hoped the audiences would just forget what had happened last time..

Doctor in the House is the first Doctor film, which introduces us to Dr. Sparrow - a first year medical student who is inexperienced in medicine and love. The first one is actually my least favorite. Usually sequels are pitiful, but I think that in this case the series improved with each installment. I attribute that mainly to the script and the fact that the characters were more finely tuned in the later films.

Another reason for the progressive improvement of the series is that Dirk Bogarde was given the opportunity to act in more substantial, challenging films after his first turn as Dr. Sparrow. Up until this point he had been type-cast as seedy young hooligans, often in low budget pictures with so-so scripts. Personally I think he excelled in these roles, but it is obvious that his talent improved tenfold after he was really given the chance to show his acting chops. Doctor in the House was such a rip-roaring success that DB was offered more prestigious roles from then on.

Doctor at Sea is the second film in the series. After being scared away from his previous job by a homely, and overly amorous, woman, Simon Sparrow gets a job as the doctor on a ship. An under-stocked supply cabinet, sea-sickness and reluctant patients are just a handful of the problems that he has to deal with at sea. One particular scene when DB tries to extract a tooth from a scared shipmate is laugh-out-loud hilarious! Of course, his bad sea voyage changes course when a buxom beauty joins them on board. Doctor at Sea stars a really young brunette Brigitte Bardot Bardot as DB's love interest. This was her first English-speaking film, and she sings a really cute song when she makes her entrance.

Don't they look cute together?

In Doctor at Large we get the first glimpse of Simon Sparrow: the wolf. He's still kind of pathetic at it, but he does convince a woman to spend a night in a country hotel. Granted, things don't go as planned- but he's trying! He doesn't become a bona fide wolf until the last film, when the 1960's are in full swing and staying overnight with your girlfriend is much more acceptable anyway. This film sees Dr. Sparrow through a series of jobs - from a swank doctors office where he treats Maharajahs and movie stars to a small country practice where he is paid with stolen fish. His girlfriend from the first movie is back, but there is no reference to them having ever dated. It's one of the funniest Doctor movies, but the girlfriend thing is kind of confusing.

My favorite was Doctor in Distress. You can definitely see that this is now the swinging sixties in London-- the women's outfits are fantastic and Simon Sparrow has THE most awesome couch in history.

The plot revolves around Sir Lancelot Spratt's discovery of love. Now an expert on the subject, Simon Sparrow dispenses advice on how to hook the girl. The story is much more cohesive than the other three films, and rather than just barking and being grumpy all the time, Spratt is quite a teddy bear in this one. Simon Sparrow deals with some issues at the hospital, but the situation which causes the most distress is a dinner party with beautiful, but aggressive, Swedish twins. (Yup, it's the sixties.) The twins are just two of the really fun characters in this movie- it's filled to the brim with great supporting roles. And if you look carefully, Richard Briers (Tom Good from The Good Neighbors, my favorite Brit Com!) plays a student intern in the first few minutes of the film!


The couch!!!

It seems fitting that DB made his last Doctor film the same year that he made The Servant. The Servant represented a new chapter in DB's career-- the roles from here on in were much edgier and avante garde. And so he ended his long stint as a matinee idol by playing the same character that started it all, Doctor Simon Sparrow.


Celluloid and Canvas - Dirk Bogarde

October 19, 2009

This is the first post in a new series I'm starting called "Celluloid and Canvas," about actors and actresses who were bursting with so much creativity that acting was simply not enough to exhaust all of their talents. Although "canvas" does refer to painting, this also includes filmmakers who sculpted and wrote as well.

First up-- surprise surprise-- is my inspiration for the series, Mr. Quadruple-Threat himself, Dirk Bogarde. Yes, he could act and sing. But did you also know that he was a talented artist?

According to my Fan Star Library biography (I haven't purchased an official biography yet, sue me!)

"On D-Day itself, which was June 6, he was among the first troops to land in Normandy, and as a result of the rather rough crossing of the English Channel his sketch book was rather damp. But he just had to do a bit of sketching, and found a piece of blotting paper which he used instead.

Two of his D-Day sketches were later bought by the British War Museum. Two others went to America."
DB's mother had hoped he would consider studying to become a commercial artist, definitely a more reliable career than acting. Despite his insistence to become an actor, it is obvious from the artwork posted on the Dirk Bogarde Estate website that he certainly had the talent to be a professional artist if he had chosen that path. All of the artwork featured on the site is exceptional, and it displays the same kind of skill that you see in sketches by Picasso or Van Gogh. Some of the drawings are from his wartime service, some are random doodles and some were used to illustrate his several books.

Oh, right-- he also wrote books. Tell me, is there ANYTHING this man could not do??

Miriam Hopkins

October 18, 2009

Today Miriam Hopkins would have been 107 years old.

Out of all the actresses I admire, I think that Miriam Hopkins is the most underrated. Her skill as a serious actress and a comedienne rivaled that of her more famous contemporaries like Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck. Like Jean Arthur, she had an unconventional beauty, unique voice and the ability to speak rapid fire dialogue without missing a beat. She made the transition from risque pre code (some of the most risque of that era, if you ask me!) into the more tame post-code films with ease. She was brilliant when playing the leading lady, but was strong enough to hold her own when sharing the top billing with such heavyweights as Kay Francis or Bette Davis.
She had enormous range and was capable in every genre -- from her light performances in the Lubitsch comedies Design for Living and Trouble in Paradise, to her melodramatic turns with Bette Davis in Old Acquaintance and The Old Maid, to her oh-so-pre-code roles in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Story of Temple Drake.

And when her age began to show, Miriam Hopkins seamlessly transitioned into character roles in top notch films. And she continued playing character roles until two years before her death in 1972.

Miriam Hopkins might be remembered now as a bit of a drama-queen, and for her epic feud with Bette Davis. But she was a tremendously talented actress and deserves to be remembered, and respected.

Here is the opening scene from my favorite Miriam Hopkins movie, Design for Living (the whole movie is on YouTube & DVD.. no excuses not to see it!)

Nora Prentiss (1947)

October 15, 2009

One of my all-time favorite film noirs is Nora Prentiss -- a movie about a clean cut doctor, a punctual family guy who gets tangled up with a sultry nightclub singer who is most certainly not his wife. One night Ann Sheridan (Nora Prentiss, of course) ends up in his office with a slightly beat up leg after getting blind-sided by a car. The first meeting is innocent enough, if you discount the good doctor's glazed-over look when Ann lifts up her skirt to reveal her hurt leg.

Naturally they meet up again... and again... and again... until Doc is missing his favorite daughter's birthday! Nice going, Dad! Little by little the weight of the affair is crushing him- he can't bear it anymore. He does something drastic. And this, my friends, is where the sad but harmless love affair story becomes a whole lot grittier. I won't give anything away, but it's really interesting!

I have to admit, regardless of how fond I am of the movie as a whole, I really just look forward to two brief moments. They last about 2 minutes or less each, but they are certainly the highlights of the film. Ann Sheridan.... she sings!

By the way, I desperately want this dress.

Is that mustache really necessary?

October 14, 2009

I bet you didn't know that there are necessary mustaches, and unnecessary mustaches.

The necessary ones? Ronald Colman, Clark Gable, William Powell, Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx. Sure, Ronald Colman still looked remarkably debonair sans 'stache in A Tale of Two Cities, but when you picture these men you picture them with their trademark facial hair. The two go hand in hand. The look really suited them.And then there are the unnecessary ones.Oh, boy.Sure, sometimes it's a period picture and that was the fashion of the time. Maybe the producer thought that the actor needed a little machismo to add some age to a boyish face. Maybe it was just a really bad costume decision. But for some reason, these men ended up on screen with mustaches and the results are not pretty.

James Cagney sported this little mustache in Torrid Zone and Ceiling Zero. Torrid Zone was on TCM last night and the fact that his facial hair was distracting me from paying attention to the actual plot was the spark for this post.

Gary Cooper displayed a kind of messy looking mustache in Peter Ibbetson --granted, a period piece-- but really, I've seen many movies that take place in this time period in which the lead actor is not forced to look like this. Goodness he was so handsome without it. Why, Gary? Whyyyy????????

Heavens to Betsy, I think this is the worst. Robert Montgomery had one of the most beautiful faces, gorgeous and delicate. Who on earth decided that this was a good look? No seriously, who was it? If they are still alive I am writing to them to complain. (From Trouble for Two)

This image showed up when I typed in "Gary Cooper mustache" in a google search-- no clue what movie it is from but I kind of wish I did because I think I'd avoid that movie now.

Oh, Montgomery Clift. You looked so handsome for 90% of The Heiress. This is another example of the "years have passed, so to show a progression in age we will simply add a mustache to his face" syndrome.

My beloved Dirk. What have you done to your face?
Another example of the syndrome that befell Monty.
(From Esther Waters.)

I think this is actually the easiest to swallow. His face hasn't actually been ruined by the addition of facial hair, it sort of fits. And it doesn't look smarmy like a lot of the others do. But still, Henry Fonda's face looks so much better without it. (From Fort Apache)

Dick Powell.... I take back what I said about good old Bob Montgomery. I'm afraid you are the worst offender. If ever a face did not need a mustache, this one is it. Boyish, cute face + mustache = disaster! (From It Happened Tomorrow)

Did you even know this was Franchot Tone? I know, he doesn't even look like himself!

Poor James Stewart. Another victim of the passage-of-time syndrome. Couldn't a little grey around the temples have done the trick? A little salt and pepper in the hair? Wrinkles? False teeth? Anything?? (From The Last Gangster)

Thanks to Mercurie for reminding me about Gene Kelly's awful mustache in The Three Musketeers (And The Pirate) -- this definitely belongs on the list!

Thanks to Mythical Monkey for posting a link in my comments to Humphrey Bogart's facial hair disaster in Virginia City! This one is pretty bad!

Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter, thanks to Mantooth's suggestion in the comments -- if ever a face didn't need hairy ornamentation it was his.

Ye Gads!!! What have they done to Dana Andrews?!

If you haven't been able to tell by my captions, this was a totally satirical post. Please don't take it seriously, and please keep this in mind if you leave any comments. I did not mean to offend anyone, and I am, in fact, a big fan of all of the men in this post (I mean, come on- I included Dirk Bogarde!)

Damn the Defiant! (1962)

October 11, 2009

As you can probably tell by how few and far between my Dirk Bogarde film reviews have become, I have resorted to rationing. I thought I only had a few more films left to view, so I wanted to make sure that I didn't watch them all in one spurt. Luckily, I found someone that had more than 15 Dirk Bogarde films I thought were unavailable, and I'm expecting them in the mail this week! Now I can binge instead of ration ;)

While I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Dirk Bogarde (hereto after referred to on this blog as DB) stash, I watched Damn the Defiant!, which was described on Netflix as a British version of Mutiny on the Bounty. It really wasn't.

I actually thought it was better than Mutiny on the Bounty. (I'm referring to the Clark Gable version, I've never seen --nor do I care to see-- the Marlon Brando version.) Alec Guinness stars as the soft spoken, gentle Captain Crawford. DB is the blustery, brazen and hard-nosed Lieutenant Scott-Padget. (A name that was really fun to hear them repeat over and over. Just say it aloud, isn't it a fun name? Scott-Padget!) While the Captain thinks that his crew works better if they aren't pushed too hard, the Lieutenant prefers to brow beat the poor men, and punish them for even the slightest wrongdoing. And Lt. Scott-Padget has a history of undermining the Captains of ships he has sailed on before-- a trait that reminded me very much of his character in The Servant. Perhaps it was this role that made the producers of The Servant realize how perfect DB would be for that part.

There are a few things that make this movie completely different from Mutiny on the Bounty. First of all, the Captain is a teddy bear! No Charles Laughton is he. The real problem child on this ship is DB, whose very presence makes the crew mutinous. Additionally, the crew remains committed to serving their country despite their mutinous intentions. And one more thing. This movie will literally make you sea sick. The camera constantly bobs up and down, from side to side as if you're standing on the boat with the actors. It makes for great technique but you might want to take a Dramamine before viewing!

(You can see how lopsided the camera is in this shot.)

This also contained some of the most graphic episodes of violence that I've seen in a film from this period. There were quite a few battles scenes that turned my stomach (I mean in addition to it already being upset from the rough seas.) Nothing like a modern slasher, mind you, but enough to be a little disturbing.

Damn the Defiant! is definitely one of my favorite DB movies. As ruthless and sadistic as his character was, I couldn't help but like him! Perhaps it has something to do with how devastatingly handsome he was in this movie... just maybe...


Creative Blogger Award

October 09, 2009

I received the Kreativ blogger award from Trixie and Lolita-- I've seen this going around before, and I thought it was about time that we just spelled it correctly :)

There are some rules attached to the award, so here they are:

1) Tell you seven things that you don't already know about me.
2) Name seven other blogs to receive this award.
3) Leave a comment on each of the blogs I have nominated letting them know that I have given them an award.
4) And lastly, thank the blog that gave you the award.First, seven things about me. I'm doing all movie-related ones!
1. I used to own the domain name silentsandtalkies.com from 2005-2008, which housed a pretty in-depth website with pictures and information about stars and movies from the 1930's. I couldn't afford the hosting fees anymore so I had to let the domain expire last year.

2. My first big classic movie crush was Jimmy Stewart in 2000. Since then I've also had a thing for Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, John Mills, Robert Redford, Dana Andrews and now (of course) Dirk Bogarde.

3. It's a good thing I didn't have a blog when I first got hooked on Dana Andrews-- you would have been
bombarded with reviews, pictures and lots of girly gushing -- much like you're suffering through my current obsession with Dirk Bogarde :)

4. To celebrate her 100th birthday, I drove four hours round trip to see two Barbara Stanwyck movies on the big screen in 2007 (Meet John Doe and Remember the Night)

5. I believe with all of my heart that I was born in the wrong era, and sometimes I literally feel trapped in this time period.

6. I know this feeling is shared by a lot of people and I actually have a solution
(albiet an expensive one) to this problem, which I'm going to elaborate on in a post later this month. No, it doesn't involve a time travel machine.

7. I'm going to be celebrating my 10th anniversary of discovering classic movies (yup, I know the exact date when I first fell in love with them) in about two months, and I have oodles of exciting things planned for my blog to commemorate the occasion :D

I really just can't pick seven blogs to give the award to-- but I wish everyone would give themselves the award and write the seven things list! I'd really love to see more movie-related ones too :D

Thank you again to Trixie and Lolita!

The Lost Weekend (1945)

October 08, 2009

I was looking through Billy Wilder's filmography today, trying to decide which of his movies was my favorite. Going through the list, I realized that many of Wilder's films have one or two casting decisions that bother me. I think that Billy Wilder's first choices were often better than the people he ended up with. For instance, in Witness for the Prosecution Billy Wilder originally wanted William Holden for the part of Leonard Vole. He wanted Cary Grant for the leads in Sabrina and Love in the Afternoon. I can't help but imagine how much better those films might have been with his first choices in those roles.

Putting that pet peeve aside, it also seems like some of the films have one single character actor who annoys me. Cliff Osmond gets on my nerves in Kiss Me Stupid and Joe E. Brown wears on me a little in Some Like it Hot.

Usually when I have a huge issue with casting or supporting characters I find it impossible to watch a movie. However, I throroughly enjoy all of the films I've mentioned. In fact, some of them are my favorites. I think that my ability to overcome small annoyances and enjoy the film overall is thanks entirely to the direction and writing of Billy Wilder. His films have a continuity and ease that make them a cinch to enjoy, even if one or two little things feel out of place. Cary Grant might have made a much better Linus Larrabee, but Billy Wilder's direction makes us believe Humphrey Bogart is well suited for that role. And, frankly, Joe E. Brown is supposed to be a strange little fellow in Some Like it Hot, so it's okay if I think he is such.

But Billy Wilder also made four films that, in my opinion, are without flaw. They are actually completely entirely 100% perfect films: Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment, Irma La Douce and The Lost Weekend. Despite the fact that many consider Sunset Boulevard to be his seminal work, I actually think it is The Lost Weekend that proves what a fabulous director and writer he was.

Like with many of his other films, Billy Wilder didn't get his first choice for the lead in The Lost Weekend. (I'm not clear why he seems to have had such bad luck getting his first choices for actors, if anyone would like to clue me in!) His first choice was Jose Ferrer, an understandable choice for such a dramatic part. However, I think that Ferrer's heavy theatrical style of acting would have taken away from the realism. Choosing Ray Milland for the part of Don Birnam was one of the best casting decisions Billy Wilder ever made. Milland's subtle style of acting was perfectly suited to this role. Milland brought a disturbing level of authenticity to the part, making the audience believe that he really was a suffering alcoholic, struggling on screen and internally.

Alcoholism had never been addressed in such a stark, realistic manner before. Quite frankly, Ray Milland's depiction of the suffering and trauma that accompanies an addiction to drink is enough to convince me to stay dry my entire life. As an artist, I can sympathize with his struggle to write, and how the fear of not being able to create something fantastic can drive you to do crazy things. Though I'd never drown my sorrows in a bottle of scotch, the torment of thinking that you will never live up to your own expectations is definitely strong enough that I can understand why Ray Milland's character (and so many artists and writers) did so.

At the time that The Lost Weekend was made, Ray Milland was generally regarded as a debonair, handsome leading man. Being cast in such a dark, disturbing film was something new for him -- and the transformation from dashing young matinee idol to a serious, deep actor was remarkable. His performance won him an Academy Award-- one of the most deserved ones in Oscar history, if you ask me!

All of the supporting roles in this film were perfectly cast as well-- Jane Wyman was a few years away from her own Oscar winning performance in Johnny Belinda and her acting prowess is already quite clear in The Lost Weekend, as the long-suffering girlfriend of Ray Milland. Her appeals for him to stop drinking are so heartfelt and sincere that your heart aches for her as well.

A movie is good-- really good-- when you can watch it over and over again and never tire of it. But a movie is great-- really great-- when you can watch it so many times and find new meaning, new reasons to love it even more than you did the last time you watched it. The Lost Weekend is a great movie, and one that, regardless of his other outstanding directorial achievements, reserves Billy Wilder a place among Hollywood's greatest directors.