One of the most justly celebrated "problem films" of the 1940s. Though hailed in its time as a great advance in screen seriousness, this film just barely missed being shelved. The script by the noted team of Wilder and Brackett is dispassionate and unrelenting but also occasionally
poetic. The film's emotional power is greatly abetted by Seitz's evocative black-and-white cinematography, ranging from unvarnished realism to delirious Expressionism. Finally, Milland's virtuoso work as the hopeless alcoholic is surprising, shocking and utterly riveting.
Don (Milland) is a struggling writer who waters down his writer's block with booze. The film opens with the camera zooming through the window of a New York apartment building which Don shares with his responsible brother Nick (Terry, Mr. Joan Crawford No. 3), who is about to go away for the
weekend. Nick is somewhat worried about leaving his brother alone, but Don assures him that he will be settling down to do some serious writing. It's all downhill from there.
THE LAST WEEKEND is candid and brilliantly conceived from shot to shot. Wilder builds his film slowly and utilizes low-key lighting and deep-focus photography to emphasize objects that suggest the menace of alcohol, with scenes photographed through shot-glasses and bottles. A likable lead of light
comedy and romance, Milland initially felt unequipped to handle such a serious role, but his wife encouraged him to try it. He was also encouraged by the fact that Wilder and Brackett had never had a flop. Faylen, though only onscreen for a few moments, makes an indelible impact as a bitchy male
nurse in the sanitarium. Wyman forever escaped dumb blonde roles with her work here, and da Silva is excellent as a conscientious bartender.
Oddly, Paramount executives took one look at the finished film and told Wilder they were seriously considering not releasing it. They had received an avalanche of protest from temperance advocates who felt the film would encourage drinking. Powerful lobbyists for the liquor industry offered as
much as $5 million for the negative of the film so it could be destroyed. But, at Wilder's urgings, Paramount released the film on a limited engagement in New York City, and the critics fell all over themselves praising it. It eventually became one of Paramount's biggest hits of 1945.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: One of the most justly celebrated "problem films" of the 1940s. Though hailed in its time as a great advance in screen seriousness, this film just barely missed being shelved. The script by the noted team of Wilder and Brackett is dispassionate and unrelen… (more)