Days of Wine and Roses

Synopsis: When Blake Edwards’ powerful film of J.P. Miller’s heartrending teleplay Days of Wine and Roses hit movie screens, it won critical raves, box-office success and shone brightly as a career highlight for its two Oscar-nominated stars, Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, playing a couple caught in alcoholism’s web. A San Francisco public-relations hotshot is a “social” drinker…who never stops socializing. His vivacious wife starts drinking to keep him company. They live for good times. But eventually good times turn bad.

Days of Wine and Roses earned a total five Academy Award nominations and a Best Song Oscar for its haunting Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer title tune. A poignant, harrowing portrait of human lives at their lowest, it also reflects filmmaking at its height.
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Days of Wine and Roses 8.0

I knew very little about this film, going in, aside from what the original poster art suggested. It didn’t sound like a lovely time, but I had the impression that it would be a worthwile experience nonetheless – if only because of Jack Lemmon and Blake Edwards’ participation.

Was it ever!

This black and white film essentially recounts the disintegration of a relationship through the lens of alcoholism. It’s not a walk in the park, because it takes the characters on the wagon and off the wagon time and again throughout the film. It also soberly shows us the impact that this can have on the individual and his or her loved ones.

It’s not an easy film to watch, but, by virtue of being an older film, it’s not gritty like more modern films would be. Still, it had me in tears a couple of times, as I watched Lemmon and Remick deal with alcoholism in their own unique ways, their relationship frayed to the ends. Who says that Hollywood is all glamour and gloss? oO

In truth, I would have given the movie and extra half point if the story didn’t jump through long stretches of time with too much of an ease. Sometimes months would pass and the only reference would be the characters making a ungraceful point of saying so. One of the things that irks me the most in ANY story is when characters blatantly tell each other things that they can simply assume the other already knows. I mean, these things don’t need to be established in real life and there are, in film, more subtle means by which to do this.

As well, I found that Lemmon’s comedic chops impeded his dramatic ones – some of his usual quirks and broad physicality were unrealistic and, thus, unsuitable for a drama (which is less forgiving than comedy can be). However, having said this, he did show tremendous ability in many intense scenes. It’s hardly surprising that, by the time he did ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, he was in full form and delivered completely.

All in all, I’d say that this heartwrenching film is a definite “must-see”. Whether there’s much appeal in repeat viewings, however, may be another matter altogether.

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