Days of Wine and Roses
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Rob Hunt (5th July 2005).
The Film

The subject of alcoholism is rarely treated with such panache in films as it is in "Days Of Wine And Roses". The story is based around the character Joe (Jack Lemmon) and his relationship with Kirsten (Lee Remick). It details their experiences in life, together in love, through both the bad times and the good, and ultimately where their romance will lead them.
For what could well be seen as a purely-serious drama, this film has elements of comedy in it, thanks to Director Blake Edwards. Jack Lemmon wanted Edwards to direct due to the bleak subject matter on offer, and Edwards adds scenes of humour as well as remaining true to the sombre tone of the story. Despite revelling in the emotions of the characters and their predicaments, the film is never depressing but is rather more intriguing. Whilst there is sympathy for the main characters and their lives, it is also fascinating to see how everything can fall apart and rebuild itself. The characters are explored thoroughly and the effects of alcohol on their situations are shown very well, for both comedic and deliberate effect.
The performances by Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick are both used appropriately, despite the rush into a relationship at the beginning. Jack Lemmon, especially, gives a perfect performance for the role, as does the father of Kirsten (Charles Bickford) - appearing loving, caring, irritated and withdrawn simultaneously.
The settings used were well chosen, although most of the action happens within a small area that only changes sporadically throughout the film.
The music used is well suited to the film, with a slow, romantic theme tune and good build-up during the more serious (and tense) scenes.

Video

Warner Brothers have provided a 1.78:1 Anamorphic transfer for this film, and it's very good indeed. The black and white image is sharp throughout and only begins to suffer in the darker scenes. Edwards notes on his Commentary this has been sourced from a 'lighter' print, but it still holds up well regardless. For a film made a while back there is little to no grain or problems on the image and it appears very clean and well preserved.

Audio

There are two tracks on this DVD - an English language track, presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono. The track services the film well and is clear and distortion-free. Although predominantly dialogue-based, the music is presented well when it appears and the track is very balanced in terms of the sounds it is producing. This is another film which would not have benefitted from an upmix of any kind and as such I am more than happy with the Mono track.

Extras

Warner Brothers have included some quality extras on this release, but sadly there are not many of them. First off is the Commentary by Director Blake Edwards. This track is both deeply honest and informative, revealing personal experiences, thoughts and feelings, and is very enjoyable to listen to. The only problem is that there are many gaps in the track - although Edwards does apologise for this at the beginning (and at some points through the film) - but when he does talk he has very worthwhile things to say. It may have been better, however, to include this as a Scene-Specific Commentary, but this was still the highlight of the extras on this disc for me.

The remaining extras include a brief Vintage Interview with Jack Lemmon (5:06) - which consists of half a phone conversation (his half). Although worth a watch once this was slightly disappointing, especially given it's limited 5 minute runtime.

Finally rounding the disc off are 2 Theatrical Trailers, running 3:24 and 0:46 respectively. These are interesting to watch, thankfully not giving the plot away. Both include short messages from Jack Lemmon at the end, and it (along with his performance in the film) show that this film was a very personal piece of work to him.

Overall

"Days Of Wine And Roses" is an important film that explores the life of alcholics and relationships between alcoholics well. Both Star Jack Lemmon and Director Blake Edwards have presented a film that has meaning for both of them, and that remains a fond memory (at the least for Edwards). The acting throughout is very good, and serves the film well. As Edwards mentions on his Commentary, it is sad that Lemmon lost out to Gregory Peck at the Oscars - as Jack's acting is deserving of such an award.
Overall I was pleased with the disc Warners provided - the image and sound were well put together and the extras (although nothing truly substantial) were worthwhile, especially Edwards' Commentary.

The Film: A Video: B Audio: C+ Extras: B+ Overall: B+

 


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