WYSW: Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Let me just say this before anything: I have always loved black-and-white films more than the multicolored ones, for that je ne sais quoi that they gloriously possess. I think they have their own distinctive appeal that today’s blockbusters lack (pitifully). Anyway, to me this movie - directed by one of my favourite directors, Blake Edwards - is magical. Not in a fantastically avant-garde, jolly wonderful way, but in a bittersweet and painfully realistic way that is just touching. The story revolves around an everyday-life couple, Joe and Kirsten Clay, played by Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick.
1. Lemmon and Remick are, hands down, one of the best (messed up) couples out there.
I cannot stress enough about just how stunning these two actors are in here. Their portrayals of two alcoholic people married to (and deeply loving) each other are so palpably real and painful that it just aches your heart when you watch them. The story itself is lovely, because it doesn’t focus on any exterior obstacles that could be threatening to their relationship, but centers on their own interior problem that is the addiction and strong dependency of alcohol (and each other). This isn’t a happy movie, if I have to be honest, since in the end Joe and Kirsten ultimately separate ways for the better, knowing full well that if they continue to live together like that, they will only destroy each other.
At first I actually disliked Days of Wine and Roses since I find Remick’s Kirsten irritating and Lemmon’s Joe weak (and I honestly hate it when on-screen couples part ways, like in Roman Holiday), but I eventually find myself loving them, with all their flaws, despite everything. I just find them very sympathizing, even lovable in their own world of reckless intoxication.
2. Award nominations!
Both Lemmon and Remick received Academy Award nominations for their roles, for Best Actor and Actress (evidently), much to my delight. I have loved Jack Lemmon since I saw him in Some Like It Hot, and I’ve been on a quest of catching up with his greatest and most notable films. Remick, on the other hand, is just perfect as his other half here. You’ve got to watch the film to understand why.
A movie about alcoholism usually brings out sensitive topics and are sentimental in terms of carrying out the story. So is Days of Wine and Roses. But the difference here is, there's a class in this film. The level of sensitive issues and sentimentalism about lovers being parted because of alcohol is... well, in a word, high-classed (is that a word?) This film does it with honour, not like todays' films. They deal with the issue of alcoholism with no shame, with brutally open and honest acting and to-the-point dialogue. That's why I highly applaud Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick for really getting into their characters, from their facial expressions to the way they wear their clothes to the way they talk, trying to be all philosophical and romantic and yet are hopelessly lost in their own world... We can all honestly relate to it, whether or not we're alcoholics.
4. Henry Mancini's theme.
Seriously, who doesn't love Henry Mancini? Moon River, Pink Panther, this?
If you’re interested I suggest you go watch the movie yourself (or at least Wikipedia it) because I don’t want to elaborate in detail about the entirety of Days of Wine and Roses. Trust me, this film is worth your time. I, for one, love it (of course)! I encourage you to watch this if you are a sensitive person who indulges in bittersweet romance with no hint whatsoever of cheap vulgarity or nonsenses, but is full of classic Hollywood scenes and deep, engaging conversations that make you think.
Click for trailer.