The Days of Wine and Roses (Discussion)

Based on Mitchell’s review, I went out a rented this film.

Here’s what he said on 12/28/05 in the “Recent Movies: Second Round” thread:

Days of Wine and Roses
(non-spoiler)

Holy mackerel. What a great movie.

Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick star in this 1962 film about a “social drinker” who leads his (former teetotaller) wife down the self-destructive path of alcoholism. Lemmon and Remick, greatly in love, don’t notice alcohol abuse threatening their relationship, their lifestyle, and their lives, even as they lose jobs, alienate family, and set their house on fire.

The acting is first-rate; I can’t think of when Lemmon has been better, and Remick is mesmerizing. Also terrific is Jack Klugman as a friend of Lemmon’s. I couldn’t help thinking, “Hey, it’s Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison,” but only briefly, because the performances are so strong in this film.

If you haven’t seen this, you just gotta. I guarantee that you won’t consider it a waste of time, at the very least, and I think you’ll be impressed with the quality of the story and film (directed by Blake Edwards).

I am tempted to give this a 9/10, but want to let some time pass before I give it a for-sure rating.

For now, 9/10 and the best film I’ve rented in a year.

On 1/31/06 Burgess made the following comment in the same thread:

Mitchell,
I watched Days of Wine and Roses a few days ago. I almost returned it without actually watching it because I’m not much of a fan of old movies, which might be a strike against the movie before I even saw it.

I didn’t like the movie, though I’m not sure this is a movie that’s supposed to be likeable. I wouldn’t go as far to say “Holy Mackerel! What a great movie”, but I thought it was a good movie. I didn’t think there was enough of a story for a two hour movie.

The acting performances were superb, especially with Remick and Lemmon as angry drunks.

There were some interesting moments in the film, based on the date of the movie. It was almost like entering another world–the lack of cell phones, computers, AC; people smoking in buildings and offices, and the notion that beer is more of a poor man’s drink and liquor is for the more well off, this was especially noticeable when Lemmon’s character is away on business, and gets an invite to a barbeque and the host promises Lemmon all the Bourbon he can drink.

5 Responses to “The Days of Wine and Roses (Discussion)”


  1. Reid

    The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
    Dir. Blake Edwards
    Star. Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Jack Klugman, Charles Bickford
    117 minutes

    6/10

    (spoilers)

    Burgess mentions “entering another world” when seeing this film, and I think I know what he means, except the word that came to mind was, “dated.” I felt that when Joe (Lemmon) wants Kirsty (Remick) to drink even though she’s still breast feeding her baby. Smoking in buildings also created the “dated” sensation.

    More than those scenes, however, I thought the overall treatment of alcoholism was a bit dated and not entirely convincing. The film handled alcoholism in a similar way that the film, In Cold Blood handled serial killing. I believe dealing with both subject matter was relatively new at the time, and–based on what we know know and have seen in films since–the handling of each didn’t seem assured and completely authentic. By “assured” I mean filmmakers know seem more comfortable and possess more of an understanding of both subjects.

    As for authenticity, I’m sad to report that I didn’t find the acting/script entirely convincing. I found both to be a little too theatrical versus natural and realistic. One scene in particular stood out for me in this regard. It was the first scene where Joe speaks about having a problem with alcoholism. I thought his talking about it was a little too honest and aware; they didn’t show the character have to work to get to that point. I also felt I could tell the actors were acting. This is the reason I describe the acting as too theatrical.

    There have been many films with characters addicted to some form of drug/chemical since that film, and I think is what is affecting my perception. I’ll try to think of other films that I thought had more realistic and effective depictions of this. One of the best is Samuel L. Jackson’s in Jungle Fever–to me his best performance period. (In the same film, I recall Halle Berry’s performance of an addict to be not very well-acted.) On a side-note, I also thought the Kirsty’s father (Charles Bickford) dramatic scene where he admits Kirsty is missing was poorly acted.

    I thought of “Felix and Oscar” when I saw Klugman, too. Eventually, I thought of Quincy because Klugman was in his earnest mode. I found it kind of hokey, overdramatic and annoying. In a way, he’s sort of like William Shatner. He has dramatic mannerisms that would be funny to see impersonated.

    Even though I had some trouble with the acting, I like Lemmon and Remick and the chemistry between them. I was rooting for them to work things out. FWIW, I didn’t think this film was that great, not bad, but not great either. The film did keep my attention, and I kept rooting for the couple.

    John,

    What is it about older films that you don’t like?

  2. burgess

    When I saw Lemmon and Klugman together, I didn’t think of Feliz and Oscar, but I did think of Quincy, and it’s probably because of the intensity of the character.

    I don’t know what it is about older movies that I don’t like. I don’t not like all old movies. One of my favorite movies, and like the masses, what I think to be the best movie of all time Citizen Kane. I’m guessing that I don’t care for old movies because I don’t watch them very much, and why don’t I watch them very much, because I don’t like them, and Days of Wine and Roses didn’t really help my opinion of old movies.

  3. Reid

    You know, perhaps, Quincy doesn’t get as much credit as it should. It’s the forerunner to all these csi type shows.

    As for older films sometimes I don’t like older films because I associate older looking films with “squareness” or something out-dated and remote. Part of this goes back to my feelings when I was younger. LIke many young people I had a bias against older films, music, etc. Well, there were some older films or music I could get into, but there was a point at which a film got “too old.” That still happens when I see a film with really beat up black-and-white print. I immediately feel like I won’t like the film. Or it could be the way the actors talk, behave or dress? There is often a dated quality to the acting and filmmaking overall, and I think getting used to working around this took some getting used to for me. Is this the sort of thing that goes on with you?

  4. Mitchell

    (spoilers)

    Here’s what I really like about this movie. It doesn’t pretend that any of this is over. In that last scene, where Lemmon tells Remick goodbye, pretty much once and for all, he looks out the window and we can see in the reflection the flashing neon bar sign across the street, calling to him like a beacon.

    Lemmon’s character doesn’t know for sure, either, whether he will answer the call, and I imagine this is what it must be like for alcoholics.

    I think the acting is terrific.

  5. Reid

    (spoilers)

    The ending seemed real and honest, and I liked that part of it, including the details you mentioned. Alcoholism is not easy to overcome, and seems to be a neverending battle for alcohoics.

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