Days of Wine and Roses
) is a film
directed by Blake Edwards
screenplay by JP Miller
adapted from his
own critically acclaimed 1958
for Playhouse 90
of the same name (see:
Days of Wine
and Roses, 1958 TV drama
). The movie was produced by
with Henry Mancini
music, and features Jack Lemmon
, Charles Bickford
The film depicts the insidious nature of addiction
in modern life, following the downward
spiral of two average Americans who succumb to alcoholism
and attempt to deal with their
An Academy Award
went to the film's
theme, composed by Henry Mancini
lyrics by Johnny Mercer
. The film
received four other Oscar nominations, including ones for Best
Actor and Best Actress.
Public relations man Joe Clay meets and falls in love with Kirsten
Arnesen, a secretary
. They marry, conceive
a child and make a home for themselves.
Kirsten is a teetotaler until Joe introduces her to social
drinking. Reluctant at first, after her first few Brandy Alexanders
, she admits that having a
drink "made me feel good."
Jack Lemmon as Joe Clay and Lee Remick
as Kirsten Arnesen Clay.
Joe slowly goes from the "two-martini
lunch" to full-blown alcoholism
. It affects his work and, in due time,
he and Kirsten both succumb to the pleasures and pain of
One day, Joe walks by a bar
sees his reflection in the window. He goes home and says to his
wife: "I walked by Union Square Bar. I was going to go in. Then I
saw myself, my reflection in the window, and I thought, 'I wonder
who that bum is.' And then I saw it was me. Now look at me. I'm a
bum. Look at me! Look at you. You're a bum. Look at you. And look
at us. Look at us. C'mon, look at us! See? A couple of bums."
Joe is demoted due to poor performance brought on by too much
booze. He is sent out of town on business. Kirsten finds the best
way to pass the time is to drink, and drink a lot. While drunk one
afternoon, she sets fire to their apartment and almost kills
herself and their child.
Joe finally gets sober for a while, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous
, a dedicated
sponsor named Jim Hungerford and regular AA meetings. He explains
to Kirsten: "You remember how it really was? You and me and booze —
a threesome. You and I were a couple of drunks on the sea of booze,
and the boat sank. I got hold of something that kept me from going
under, and I'm not going to let go of it. Not for you. Not for
anyone. If you want to grab on, grab on. But there's just room for
you and me — no threesome."
But by now Kirsten is too far gone. She begins disappearing for
long stretches of time and picking up strangers in bars. Her father
blames Joe for exposing his daughter to this kind of life. They
work together for a while in Mr. Arneson's business and succeed in
staying sober, but a one-night drunken binge results in Joe's
horrifying stay at a sanitarium.
His life ultimately returns to normal, and he has become a more
responsible father to his child. Kirsten attempts a reconciliation,
but it becomes obvious to both that they can be together no
found his title in the 1896 poem "Vitae Summa
Brevis Spem Nos Vetet Incohare Longam" by the English writer
Ernest Dowson (1867-1900):
- They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
- Love and desire and hate;
- I think they have no portion in us after
- We pass the gate.
- They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
- Out of a misty dream
- Our path emerges for a while, then closes
- Within a dream.
Miller's teleplay for Playhouse
also titled Days of Wine and
had received favorable critical attention and was
nominated for an Emmy in the category "Best Writing of a Single
Dramatic Program - One Hour or Longer." Manulis, a Playhouse
producer, decided the material was ideal for a
groundbreaking movie. Some critics observed that the movie lacked
the impact of the original television production. In an article
written for DVD Journal,
critic D.K. Holm noted numerous
changes that altered the original considerably when the material
was filmed. He cites as an example the hiring of Jack Lemmon. With
his participation "little remained of the founding teleplay, except
for actor Charles Bickford reprising his role."
Northern California locations
included San Francisco, Albany and the Golden Gate Fields racetrack.
music by Henry Mancini
and lyrics by
. Single records by Andy
Williams and the Henry Mancini chorus made the Billboard Top
Director Blake Edwards became a non-drinker a year after completing
the film and went into substance recovery. He said that he and Jack
Lemmon were heavy drinkers while making the film. Edwards used the
theme of alcohol abuse often in his films, including: 10
), and Skin Deep
). Both Lemmon and Remick sought help from
they had completed the film. Lemmon revealed to James Lipton
on Inside the Actors Studio
past drinking problems
and his recovery.
The film had a lasting effect in helping alcoholics deal with their
problem. Today Days of Wine and Roses
is required viewing
in many alcoholic and drug rehabilitation clinics
The producers used the following ironic tagline to market the film:
picture was released in the United States on a wide basis on December 26, 1962.
- This, in its own terrifying way, is a love story.
box office receipts for the film were good given the numbers
reported are in 1962 dollars. Total sales were $8,123,077.
of the film was released on January 6,
2001 by Warner Home Video
. The DVD
contains an extra commentary track by director Blake Edwards, and
an interview with Jack Lemmon. A laserdisc
was released in 1990.
New York Times
critic, Bosley Crowther
is a commanding picture, and it is extremely well played by Mr.
Lemmon and Miss Remick, who spare themselves none of the shameful,
painful scenes. But for all their brilliant performing and the taut
direction of Blake Edwards, they do not bring two pitiful
characters to complete and overpowering life."
The staff at Variety
magazine liked the film, especially the acting, writing, "Miller's
grueling drama illustrates how the unquenchable lure of alcohol can
supersede even love, and how marital communication cannot exist in
a house divided by one-sided boozing...Lemmon gives a dynamic and
chilling performance. Scenes of his collapse, particularly in the
violent ward, are brutally realistic and terrifying. Remick, too,
is effective, and there is solid featured work from Charles
Bickford and Jack Klugman and a number of fine supporting
In a review of the DVD critic Gary W. Tooze lauded Edward's
direction and the acting, writing, "Blake Edwards's powerful
adaptation of J.P. Miller's Playhouse 90
Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick in career performances, remains a
variation in his body of work largely devoted to comedy...Lemmon is
at his best and ditto for Remick in this harrowing tale of people
consumed by their mutual addiction. This turns to an honest and
heartbreaking portrayal of alcoholism as deftly done as any film I
Parsons, film curator at the National Gallery of Art, said, "[The film] remains one of the most
gut-wrenching dramas of alcohol-related ruin and recovery ever
captured on film...and it's also one of the pioneering films of the
The review aggregator Rotten
reported that 100% of critics gave the film a positive
review, based on 7 reviews.
Academy Awards Wins
Sebastián International Film Festival: OCIC Award Blake
Edwards; Prize San Sebastián, Best Actor, Jack Lemmon; Best
Actress, Lee Remick; 1963.
- Fotogramas de Plata, Spain: Fotogramas
de Plata; Best Foreign Performer, Jack Lemmon; 1964.
- Golden Globes: Golden Globe; Best
Motion Drama Picture; Best Motion Drama Picture Actor, Jack Lemmon;
Best Motion Drama Picture Actress, Lee Remick; Best Motion Picture
Director, Blake Edwards; 1963.
Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Film Award; Best
Film from any Source, USA; Best Foreign Actor, Jack Lemmon; Best
Foreign Actress, Lee Remick; 1964.
- Joe: My name is Joe Clay. I'm an
- Kirsten: Thanks for the compliment, but I know
how I look. This is the way I look when I'm sober. It's enough to
make a person drink, wouldn't you say? You see, the world looks so
dirty to me when I'm not drinking. Joe, remember Fisherman's Wharf? The water when you looked too close? That's
the way the world looks to me when I'm not drinking.