Not all prisons have walls

The Lost Weekend (1945)
Ray Milland in Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend (1945)

The floor is strewn with empty bourbon bottles.  You’re shaking.  You stare at the bottom of the empty glass and see only a vision of hell – your face.  Your insides are aching and your throat is burning.  You need a drink.  Water won’t put out this fire.

Tarantulas tip-toe on the ceiling and red-eyed rats scurry across the wall.

An insane voice screams inside your head.  It won’t stop until you get a drink.  The same voice at other times is smooth almost dulcet:  “just one more”.   But it never is just one more, and then there is no more. The hidden bottle is lost – smashed against the wall by a demon you know and don’t know.

Stumbling and crashing against the furniture, you struggle to put on the fetid pair of pants lying on the bed or once was. Now it is a stinking stained crumpled mess that would make you retch if you could.

You careen down dark sordid stairs, the grime-ridden banister holding you upright.  You’re short of breath and the remaining stairs are a dizzying spiral you want to shut your eyes against.  Raving mad eyes that have only a single purpose  – same as your legs –  get you to the bar downstairs.

One thought on “Not all prisons have walls”

  1. “Tarantulas tip-toe on the ceiling and red-eyed rats scurry across the wall.”

    Greetings from Wildwood Crest New Jersey, Tony!

    Well, the above passage reminds me of two far more recent films, Terry Gilliam’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS and Werner Herzog’s BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF NEW ORLEANS, where Johnny Depp and Nicholas Cage are under the influence. But the reference here to Milland, is of course the original one, and for many THE LOST WEEKEND remains the best film of its kind even today. I remember the great review of it that was written last year on these pages!


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