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Remind Me

Trivia & Fun Facts About THE LOST WEEKEND

Sunday September, 8 2019 at 01:45 PM

Films in BOLD will Air on TCM *  |   VIEW TCMDb ENTRY

In order to avoid real intoxication on the set, iced tea was substituted for the hard stuff during the shooting of Milland's scenes in The Lost Weekend.

The legendary saloon, P.J. Clarke's, on New York City's Third Avenue, was reconstructed down to the smallest detail on Paramount's stage five. Promptly at 5:00 p.m. everyday, humorist, writer and New York aesthete Robert Benchley would walk through the stage door and saunter up to the fake bar. Actor Howard Da Silva, playing the bartender, would unearth a real bottle of bourbon, pour a shot, followed by Benchley belting said shot down before departing the stage. Apparently, the precise detail of the reconstructed saloon was too much for the native New Yorker to resist.

Phillip Terry, the actor playing Ray Milland's brother, was married to Joan Crawford at the time. Coincidentally, Crawford won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in Mildred Pierce (1945), the same year Milland won for The Lost Weekend.

The character of Mrs. St. James is played by screen newcomer Lillian Fontaine, mother of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.

Ray Milland's Oscar-winning role was the pinnacle of his career, but it also became a thorn in his side; he was the butt of alcohol jokes for years, starting on Oscar night. When Milland accepted his Oscar, emcee Bob Hope cracked, "I'm surprised they just handed it to him. I thought they'd hide it in the chandelier." When going out with his wife, Milland was accosted by drinkers who wanted to score him some drinks so that they could watch him fall over in a drunken stupor. He was also hounded by drunks looking for help in overcoming their addiction.

Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett decided to add a personal touch to Don Birnam's apartment by decorating the set walls with pictures of themselves. A three-year-old Wilder poses with his brother; Brackett, age two, stands in front of a Christmas tree with his mother. Unfortunately, they are impossible to see when watching the film itself.


Don Birnam: It shrinks the liver, doesn't it, Nat? It pickles my kidneys, yeah. But what does it do to my mind? It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can sail. Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm competent. I'm walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the great ones. I'm Michelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh, painting pure sunlight. I'm Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto. I'm John Barrymore before the movies got him by the throat. I'm W. Shakespeare. And out there is not Third Avenue anymore - it's the Nile, Nat, the Nile - and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra.

Don Birnam: Don Birnam died this weekend - of shame, the DTs, moral anemia. He wanted to kill himself.

Don Birnam: Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can't take "quiet desperation."

Don Birnam: What I'm trying to say is, I'm not a drinker. I'm a drunk.

Don Birnam: There are two Don Birnams. Don the drunk and Don the writer - I've tried to break away from that guy a lot of times, but it's no good - that other Don always wants us to have a drink.

Don Birnam: The way I stood there, packing my suitcase. Only my mind wasn't on the suitcase and it wasn't on the weekend. Nor was it on the shirts I was putting in the suitcase either. My mind was hanging outside the window. It was suspended just about eighteen inches below. And out there in that great big concrete jungle, I wonder how many others there are like me. Those poor bedeviled guys on fire with thirst. Such comical figures to the rest of the world as they stagger blindly towards another binge, another bender, another spree.

Compiled by Scott McGee