Director Blake Edwards’s 1962 drama is one of the cinema’s best films about the dangers of drink, perhaps second only to The Lost Weekend (1945).
Jack Lemmon stars as clever but over-pressured advertising executive Joe Clay, who becomes an alcoholic, marries doting Kirsten (Lee Remick) and gets her on the bottle too – until fellow Alcoholics Anonymous member Jim Hungerford (Jack Klugman) tries to help them to kick the habit.
This long, complex, detailed film is harrowing but vintage material, delivered in a straight-talking, effortlessly smooth style by director Edwards, and driven by the inspired performances from an immaculate cast. The actors also include Charles Bickford, Alan Hewitt, Debbie Megowan, Jack Albertson, Tom Palmer, J Pat O’Malley and Maxine Stuart.
It is superbly written by J P Miller from his TV play. Philip Lathrop shoots it in strikingly stark black and white.
Lemmon and Remick were Oscar nominated as Best Actor and Best Actress, and so was Donfeld for Best Costume Design and Joseph C Wright and George James Hopkins for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, but it was Henry Mancini (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) who won the film’s only Oscar for the title song. It was Remick’s one and only Oscar nomination.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4053
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