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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES (1962)


Blake Edwards often needs a reel or two to get his films up & running, but this earnest study of a marriage tumbling into alcoholism takes a full hour to find its footing. The problem is partly in tone (J. P. Miller’s klunky adaptation of his own tv script), and partly in Jack Lemmon. Post-THE APARTMENT/’60, Lemmon accumulated a veritable actor’s armor of tics & mannerisms, a security blanket he was unwilling to lose. In his very first film, the delightful IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU/’54, George Cukor advised him to stop acting, but it didn’t take. Once the arc of the film demands showy scenes (DTs & such), Lemmon is able to focus his scattershot technique powerfully, but you’ll hang in there for Lee Remick’s uncommon grace in capturing a debased soul unwilling to take a chance on recovery. There’s nice support from Charles Bickford as her sorrowful dad and from Jack Klugman’s AA sponsor, who finds a bit of character in an unactable role.

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