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A haunting portrait of a would-be writer’s self loathing, which has led him to alcohol.

Review by Louise Keller:
This film masterfully addresses the pain of the alcoholic. The combination of a powerful script, sensitive direction and a simply superlative performance by Ray Milland make this an unforgettable view of life on the edge. Ray Milland’s memorable portrayal of Don Birnam is haunting. Milland shows every possible despair, while managing to be totally likeable all at once. We empathise with Don’s solitary life and his relationship with himself, his bottle and the bartenders. His girlfriend Helen, played most sympathetically by Jane Wyman, is trying desperately to help him and we empathise with her plight. She remarks at one point that they’re both trying - he’s trying not to drink, she’s trying not to love him.

In fact this film was almost never released because of the poor reaction by preview audiences in 1945 who were not used to such stark realism from Hollywood. And what a loss that would have been. Production values are excellent with stunning moody black and white cinematography and a strident musical score by Miklos Rozsa.

This film contains some of the most memorable scenes ever portrayed. Who could ever forget the frightening scene in the alcoholic ward (Hangover Plaza) where we meet male nurse Bim, who tells Don that "Delirium is a disease of the night" and tells him to drink up his medicine, because he will experience the DTs. And the scene where he experiences the DTs is quite terrifying - a scene that will stay with you forever.

We get inside the head of Don, whose relationship with the bottle is both a love affair and the epitome of loathing and despair. But it is a film of hope, and very highly recommended as an addition to your personal video library.

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(Black & White)

CAST: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman with Phillip Terry, Howard da Silva, Doris Dowling, Frank Faylen

DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder

SCRIPT: Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder (from the novel by Charles Jackson)

MUSIC: Miklos Rozsa

STUDIO: Paramount Pictures

YEAR: 1945

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes


AWARDS: Academy Award 1945: Best Film; Best Actor: Ray Milland; Best Director: Billy Wilder; Best screenplay: Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder

RRP: $24.95

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