22 June 2014

You are tops as a director!

Although its subject matter -alcohol addiction- was quite controversial at the time, Billy Wilder's "The Lost Weekend" (1945) became a huge success. The film was not only a hit at the box office, but critics also named it one of the best films of the decade. Furthermore, "The Lost Weekend" won many awards including Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (which Wilder co-wrote with producer Charles Brackett) and Best Actor (Ray Milland), not to mention Golden Globes and awards at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Billy Wilder accepts the Golden Globe for Best Director, March 1946
Wilder had finished filming in December 1944, but "The Lost Weekend" would not be released until almost a year later. Paramount kept the film from being released due to a catastrophic sneak preview, after which certain scenes were reshot in April 1945. It was thanks to positive press screenings that the studio finally decided to release the film mid-November. The letter for this post is dated 22 January 1945, a month after initial production had ended, and was written by Jane Wyman to Billy Wilder. Having seen "The Lost Weekend" for the first time (which apparently wasn't the film's final version), Wyman thanks and praises Wilder for his picture, hitting the nail on the head by predicting it will be a "smash hit". The letter can be read below.

Source: rr auction/ image reproduced with owner's permission


January 22, 1945

Dear Billy:

I do so want to thank you for running Lost Weekend for me. I was thrilled to pieces to see it. Think it is wonderful, and proves what I have always known- that you are tops as a director. Milland, of course, is out of this world in it. 

I'd like to lay you-- ten to one-- that it is going to be a smash hit! And the best I can hope is that I can see it "but fr-r-r-requently!"

Thanking you again, and hoping that you know that working with you was one of the pleasantest experiences I have had, I am 

Sincerely yours,

Janie (signed)

Ray Milland and Jane Wyman in a publicity still for "The Lost Weekend"
This post is my entry for the Billy Wilder Blogathon, hosted by "Once Upon A Screen"" and "Outspoken & Freckled". Click on the link to either blog to see all the other entries.


  1. I love this original and unique entry to honor Wilder for the blogathon. Thanks so much for participating. What fun it is to be so close to the stars and classic Hollywood in this way.


  2. This is very different and unique approach to the Billy Wilder Blogathon.
    I really enjoyed reading it.
    Nuwan Sen