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Days of Wine and Roses
Reviewer: Ricardo Barberini
Director: Blake Edwards
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, Jack Klugman

A movie made by an alcoholic director (Blake Edwards) and two heavy drinkers (Jack Lemon and Lee Remmick), yet preaching the virtues of abstinence!

Even though this movie is set in the 1950’s San Francisco, it is still relevant in this day and age and it will be going forward forever, I’d dare say. The story is about a successful man Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) who meets a very attractive non-drinker Kirsten Arensen (Lee Remick.) Most alcoholics start as social drinkers. So, Joe tempts her into becoming his drinking partner. They fall in love, marry and have a wonderful girl. Then the drinking gets out of hand. He loses his job and becomes a bum while she spirals down into being a slovenly slut. After several attempts at giving up drinking and failures at sobriety, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, Joe eventually succeeds in getting rid of his addiction. His wife however, is not so lucky.

This movie was based on a teleplay by JP Miller. Black Edwards could not have picked up better actors than Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon to play the role of Joe and Kirsten. The movie is sad and yet has many funny moments, especially in the beginning, when Joe and Kirsten are just drinking for fun. One of the funniest scenes is when they spray the kitchen in the old apartment building and release a torrent of cockroaches on their neighbors.

Both actors were nominated for Academy Awards. Unfortunately, 1962 was the year of blockbusters and major stars. Lawrence of Arabia won for the best picture, Gregory Peck won for To Kill a Mockingbird, Anne Bancroft for the Miracle Worker and David Lean as the director for Lawrence of Arabia. Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon were nominated but did not win. The Days of Wine and Roses was not even nominated, neither was the director, Blake Edwards. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick were relative newcomers and did not stand a chance against Gregory Peck and Anne Bancroft. The movie, however, won the Oscar for its theme music by Henry Mancini. Gregory Peck and Anne Bancroft are gone. Lawrence of Arabia is still playing on TV and The Days of Wine and Roses is a classic. Not only that but it remains a great motivator for people trying to kick the habit and is still a required viewing in many drug and alcohol rehabs.

According to Wikipedia, Blake Edwards and Jack Lemmon were drinking heavily during the making of this film and Blake eventually became a teetotaler shortly after completing this movie. In a way, that is what makes this movie great, the ups and downs of the director while making this movie makes the story more realistic. Lee Remick also developed a drinking problem and sought help from the AA.

A happy beginning and then a depressing movie! Recommended for viewing by all the family. Four stars.