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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Lost Weekend [Blu-ray]

 

(Billy Wilder, 1945)

 

Also available as a Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook HERE:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #45

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:45.039

Disc Size: 48,011,457,225 bytes

Feature Size: 28,342,745,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 25th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 709 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 709 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Exclusive new video introduction by director Alex Cox (6:37)
• The three-part 1992 BBC Arena programme Billy, How Did You Do It? directed by Gisela Grischow and Volker Schlöndorff, featuring Schlöndorff in conversation with Billy Wilder
(3:03:16)
• The 1946 Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of The Lost Weekend – starring Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, and Frankie Faylen (30:01)
• The original theatrical trailer (2:06)
• 36-PAGE BOOKLET featuring a new essay on the film by critic and filmmaker David Cairns; a reproduction of the famous hallucination sequence in three forms: an excerpt from Charles R. Jackson’s novel, an excerpt from Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder’s screenplay, and a presentation of actual frames from the corresponding scene in the film; a vintage public service advertisement by Seagram’s about The Lost Weekend and the broader social dilemma of alcoholism; and rare archival imagery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Directed by Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot), this gut-wrenching adaptation of Charles Jackson's The Lost Weekend horrified its studio, was rejected by test audiences, and was lobbied by temperance groups, yet went on to huge success and became the awards sensation of its year.

Ray Milland stars as Don Birnam, a New York author struggling with years of alcoholism and writer's block. Trying to keep him on the path to rehabilitation are his straight-laced brother Wick (Philip Terry) and devoted long-time girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman). When Don absconds from a country excursion, he embarks on a four-day binge, spiralling towards rock bottom.

Winner of the Grand Prix at the first ever Cannes Film Festival, as well as Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay, this brutal noir provided one of cinema's first in-depth studies of addiction. Crackling with rapier dialogue, vivid performances, and Wilder's superlative direction, The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present The Lost Weekend for the first time anywhere in the world on Blu-ray. Released in the UK in a standard edition & limited edition steelbook.

 

 

The Film:

Billy Wilder's searing portrait of an alcoholic features an Oscar-winning performance by Ray Milland as Don Birnam,... a writer whose lust for booze consumes his career, his life, and his loves. The story begins as Don and his brother Wick (Philip Terry) are packing their bags in their New York apartment, preparing for a weekend in the country. Philip, aware of his brother's drinking problem, is keeping an eye of him, making sure he doesn't sneak a drink before the departure of their train. Arriving at the apartment is Don's girlfriend, Helen St. James (Jane Wyman), who has tickets to a Carnegie Hall concert that night. Don persuades Wick and Helen to go to the concert without him, hoping to find one of his well-hidden bottles of booze. But when Wick and Helen go to the concert, Don discovers that Wick has gotten rid of the liquor. Don has no money, so he can't visit the neighborhood bar -- that is, until the cleaning lady arrives to reveal money hidden in a sugar-bowl. Don grabs the cash and hits the street, heading off to Nat's Bar. Nat (Howard Da Silva), a bartender who has seen it all, is surprised to see Don. But when Don shows he can pay for his drinks, Nat reluctantly serves him, telling Don, "One's too many and a thousand's not enough." Soon Don plunges in an alcoholic haze, his boozing landing him in a harrowing drunk tank, presided over by the cynical attendant Bim (Frank Faylen).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A scarifyingly grim and grimy account of an alcoholic writer's lost weekend, stolen from time intended to be spent on taking a cure and gradually turning into a descent into hell. What makes the film so gripping is the brilliance with which Wilder uses John F Seitz's camerawork to range from an unvarnished portrait of New York brutally stripped of all glamour (Milland's frantic trudge along Third Avenue on Yom Kippur in search of an open pawnshop is a neo-realist morceau d'anthologie) to an almost Wellesian evocation of the alcoholic's inner world (not merely the justly famous DTs hallucination of a mouse attacked by bats, but the systematic use of images dominated by huge foreground objects).

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide  located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Pretty sweet. The Lost Weekend appears very strong on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema arm of Eureka Cinema in the UK.  Black levels are quite intense and may have been boosted - but I think it looks quite good and quite close to theatrical. Like Double Indemnity - there is an issue with contrast flickering - notable in the backgrounds. I didn't find it distracting nor would let it deter my viewing pleasure. Grain is very textured and pleasing. Details is surprising for such thick visuals - only a few minor speckles as damage although there are some less consistent parts of the film (source) where density may have been compromised. It has no gloss and the dual-layered high bitrate produces a very rich image. This Blu-ray has a nice realistic feel with a reasonable film-like sense to it. Visually this gets high marks.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Masters of Cinema offer an uncompressed DTS-HD Master track with nothing extraordinary but a probable strong replication of the film's theatrical. The lossless track does its job well with clear dialogue and no prominent effects. Miklós Rózsa's score is impeccable being a large part of the viewing experience and it sounds superb via the uncompressed track. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Masters of Cinema have added some solid extras - we get a 6.5-minute video introduction by director director Alex Cox and his keen interpretations and appreciations are always welcome. The colossal three-part 1992 BBC Arena programme Billy, How Did You Do It? directed by Gisela Grischow and Volker Schlöndorff, featuring Schlöndorff in conversation with Billy Wilder is here in its 3-hour plus entirety and could have a full page review of its own. Wonderful passion in creating this - and Wilder fans shouldn't miss out. Included is the 1946 Screen Guild Theater radio adaptation of The Lost Weekend – starring Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, and Frankie Faylen running about a 1/2 hour and an original theatrical trailer - looking worse for wear. The package has a 36-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay on the film by critic and filmmaker David Cairns; a reproduction of the famous hallucination sequence in three forms: an excerpt from Charles R. Jackson’s novel, an excerpt from Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder’s screenplay, and a presentation of actual frames from the corresponding scene in the film; a vintage public service advertisement by Seagram’s about The Lost Weekend and the broader social dilemma of alcoholism; and rare archival imagery. Excellent!

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is intense cinema - grim and realistic - one of Wilder's best dramas. While totally melancholy - the sentiment is underplayed with the right chords and distress, desire and subtle bonding to Don - accepting and understanding his disease. I think this was a fabulous choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. - a very unforgettable film - a masterpiece and one we can easily recommend as part of your digital library. A brilliant and essential package. 

Gary Tooze

June 12th, 2012

Also available as a Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook HERE:

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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