These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

the lost weekend

the other day i sat down and watched "the lost weekend." i'd heard about it and had seen the tape at the library, but hadn't picked it up until this past week. i hadn't even read the synopsis on the back cover to find out what it was about.

so i grabbed it and read it was about an alcoholic. sounds interesting. ray milland played the role. he won an oscar for it. it won best picture in 1945, best director (billy wilder) and screenplay.

since it played in 1945, i wasn't sure what to expect. i thought maybe a watered-down version of an alcoholic doing through a bad weekend. well, i was pleasantly surprised by what i saw. it had everything you'd expect from a modern-day movie - minus the sex and language.

quick synopsis: milland's character and his brother wick are supposed to go off to a farm for the weekend. milland's off booze for 10 days.but when wick and milland's g-friend go off to see a show (on milland's insistance instead), milland goes off ona binge he spends the weekend drinking instead. eventually he falls down stairs and ends up in an alcohol ward, where he escapes and makes his way back home. his g-friend is there and attempts to prevent him from killing himself with a gun.

milland played the role with such intensity that you'd think he was actually craving the alcohol. he had such desperation in his face and body language. he wanted the alcohol. it was sad to him beg and steal (in a flashback scene) to garner enough money to buy a bottle of rye or whiskey.

one of the most intesting parts of the movie took place in the detox ward when one of the patients starts screaming that he's seeing beetles. that's what he sees at night when the lights go out and he's going through the withdrawals. so when milland escapes and makes his way home, he wakes up and sees a rat sticking out of a hole in the wall. thenhe sees bats flying. one of the bats lands on the rat and is eaten by the rat. blood oozes down the wall. it's crazy. never expected that.

i enjoyed the movie but was saddened by it. while i am not addicted to alcohol or anything, i know what it's like to see one. my grandfather was an alcoholic for many years. but unlike milland's character who is a pitiful one, my grandfather was a mean one. i was old enough to see him get liquored up and become nasty a few times. his eyes would get small in their sockets as he'd chug half a can of beer. he'd start slurring and laughing. and he was ok like that. but if you said the wrong thing, he'd go off.

i remember once when i was probably 12 or so, we were there one saturday night and he was boozed up. my mom made some comment about some politico in the town. they got into it and he became really nasty. my dad keep telling him to stop. we left, my mom crying. they didn't alk for a long time after that. even us kids, me and my brother, wouldhave a hard time going over. he wouldn't really talk to us much. it was pretty shitty. and that was my grandfather in his late 60s. i never knew what he was like in his 30s, 40s and 50s, when he was worse.

don't get me wrong, i loe my grandfather. he's now about 87, still married to my grandmother. he stoppd drinking (a six-pack a day in his older years) and smoking (several packs of pall malls unfiltered) a day when the doctor told him to stop or he'd die. so he did cold turkey. pretty amazing, i must say. he fell of the wagon a couple of times, sneaking a beer here and there at gatherings, then he simply stopped drinking altogether. now he's picked up another habit: pop.he downs cans of them like crazy. but it's better than booze any day.


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