April 13, 2010
 

LOST WEEKENDS: ALCOHOLISM IN THE MOVIES

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By Wendy McHale, Publisher

For as much as we make light of how contemporary culture intersects with the business of Madison Avenue, we actually take it very seriously. Anyone who has been with us for the last two years knows we don't pull punches. This is another example of that, which I am thrilled to announce here.

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Mad Ave Journal Culture Editor, Kurt Brokaw has conceived, packaged and produced a new break-through series which explores the issues of how alcohol and alcoholism is portrayed in American film. It covers some of the greatest Academy Award winning titles, including such early classic films as "Lost Weekends" made in 1945, to Charles Bukowski's inimitable "Barfly" and all the way through to recent gripping films such as "Leaving Las Vegas".

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"Lost Weekends" is a 10-Week Fall film series at The New York Society for Ethical Culture, a New York landmark, located at 2 West 64th Street and Central Park West. It will include screenings and discussions of the rarest and classic feature films on drinking and drinkers. As you know, Kurt Brokaw holds an MS and also teaches at The New School and The 92nd Street Y.

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Registration: Tuesdays 7:00-9:30 p.m. starting October 2. By subscription only, series $195. NYSEC member's special series price $125. Click on Subscription Form to register or call 212-874-5210, ext. 117. Click on Map for directions.

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Oct. 2: Introduction. "The Struggle," D.W. Griffith's final and only talking film (1931, 77 min.),. The first feature about an alcoholic. Script by Anita Loos. Plus key scenes from "Nightmare Alley," "Bottom of the Bottle," "Come Back Little Sheba," "8 Million Ways To Die," "Leaving Las Vegas" and "My Name Is Bill W."

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Oct.9: "The Lost Weekend." From Charles Jackson's novel, the most harrowing portrait of a drunk in 20th century fiction, with Ray Milland and Jane Wyman, directed by Billy Wilder. 1945 Oscars: Best Picture, Actor, Director, Screenplay.

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Oct.16: "Smash-up, The Story Of A Woman." Susan Hayward, a powerhouse actress, stars as a nightclub singer and failing parent In 1945 Manhattan who descends into alcoholism. Eddie Albert is a supportive songwriter.

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Oct.23: "Something To Live For." (1954) Ray Milland returns as a recovering alcoholic who 12th-steps Joan Fontaine, losing his sobriety. With Teresa Wright, directed by George Stevens. Plus scenes from Milland's drunken "Night Into Morning" (1954).

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Oct.30: "I'll Cry Tomorrow." Susan Hayward returns in 1955 as Follies beauty and Hollywood star Lillian Roth in this stirring, biographical drama. Eddie Albert co-stars again, this time as a recovering alcoholic.

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Nov.6: "Come Fill The Cup." A great 1951 performance by James Cagney as a drunken Chicago news reporter. With Phyllis Thaxter, From Harlan Ware's boozy gangland novel. Cagney's one lost film, rarely seen.

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Nov.13: "The Country Girl." Bing Crosby's astonishing 1954 role as an alcoholic actor trying for a last comeback, based on Clifford Odets' play. William Holden is his director, Oscar-winning Grace Kelly is his wife.

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Nov.20: "Days Of Wine and Roses." PR exec and drunk (Jack Lemmon) plunges his wife (Lee Remick in her finest role) into alcoholism with him. Blake Edwards directs this 1962 classic from J.P. Miller's script with unflinching realism.

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Nov.27: "Under The Volcano." Albert Finney is the alcoholic counsel In John Huston's stark 1984 drama set in Mexico, based on the auto-biographical 1947 novel by Malcolm Lowry. With Jacqueline Bisset, Katy Jurado. Quite rare.

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Dec.4: "Barfly" and "Drunks." 7:00-10:00 p.m. double feature! First Charles Bukowski's 1987 LA bar scene with Faye Dunaway and Mickey Rourke. Then Peter Cohn's 1995 fictionalized Times Square AA meeting. Sharing are Faye Dunaway, Dianne Wiest, Richard Lewis, Amanda Plummer, Howard Rollins, Parker Posey...and Spalding Gray.

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About The New York Society for Ethical Culture

According to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor the "pro bono" tradition among lawyers started with a speech by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis at an Ethical Society event in 1905.

Founded by Felix Adler in 1889, the society adopted as the condition of membership a positive desire to uphold by example and precept the highest ideals of living and to aid the weaker to attain those ideals. With members from the highest levels of government and academia, Nobel peace prize winner and member of the NYSFEC, Albert Einstein noted on the organization's 75th anniversary, Humanity requires such a belief to survive, Einstein argued. "Without 'ethical culture' there is no salvation for humanity."

Today the NYSFEC is actively involved in global affairs and in Washington, where it works with legislators interested in advancing the cause for human rights. Today there is a new Ethical Society located in cyberspace, the Ethical Society Without Walls.

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Facts about Felix Adler:
- Founded the first free kindergarten for the children of working people.
- Instrumental in the formation of the National Child Labor Committee and in calling for the formation of the NAACP.
- Organized The Bureau of Justice, the organization that preceded the Legal Aid Society.
- Served on the first Executive Board of the National Urban League.
- Served on the Civil Liberties Bureau, which later became the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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