Lost Weekend (1945) Movie Script

You'd better take this along, Don.
It's gonna be cold on the farm.
- How many shirts are you taking?
- Three.
- I'm taking five.
- Five?
I told them at the office
I might not be back until Tuesday.
We'll get there this afternoon.
That's Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
We'll make it
a long, wonderful weekend.
Sounds long, all right.
It'll be good for you, Don,
after what you've been through.
Trees, grass,
sweet cider and buttermilk...
and water from that well
that's colder than any other--
Wick, please. Why this emphasis
on liquids? Very dull liquids.
Sorry, Don.
I think it'd be a good idea
if we took along my typewriter.
What for?
I'm gonna write there,
get started on that novel.
- You really feel up to writing?
- Why not?
After what
you've been through.
I haven't touched the stuff
for 1 0 days now.
I know.
I know you haven't.
- Where is the typewriter?
- In the living room.
In the closet.
Towards the back.
Are you sure it's in the closet?
I can't find it.
Well, look by the desk.
Isn't it under your bed?
- Did you find it?
- Oh, sure.
Here it is.
Here's some paper. We'll
fix up a table on the south porch.
Nobody will disturb you.
I'll see to it.
Maybe Saturday, we can run down
to the country club.
- I'm not going near that club.
- Why not?
They're all a bunch of hypocrites.
I don't like to be whispered about.
'' Look who's here from New York,
the Birnam brothers.''
Or rather,
the nurse and the invalid.
Stop it.
Nobody there knows about you.
The minute we get off the train,
the alarm is sounded.
''The leper is back.
Hide your liquor.''
- That's Helen.
- I'll take it.
- Helen.
- Hello, Wick. Where's Don?
I'm glad I made it.
I was afraid you'd be gone. Presents.
The new Thurber book
with comical jokes and pictures...
a nice, quiet little double-murder
by Agatha Christie...
cigarettes, gum.
And darling, have a wonderful time.
And don't forget:
lots of sleep, lots of milk--
Lots of cider and lots of
nice cold water from the well.
Bend down.
I must be going.
I'm ten minutes late for the concert.
- So long, Wick.
- What concert?
Carnegie Hall. Bob Roller's conducting.
They gave me two tickets at the office.
- Who are you going with?
- Nobody.
Nobody? What are they playing?
Brahms second symphony, some Beethoven,
Handel and not one note of Greek.
- Sounds wonderful.
- Good-bye, boys. See you Monday.
- Tuesday.
- Wait a minute.
- I just had a crazy idea.
- For instance?
Who says we have to take
the 3:1 5 train?
- We could go on the 6:30.
- What are you talking about?
If we took a later train, Helen
wouldn't have to go the concert alone.
She's got two tickets,
hasn't she?
No, I'm not going to upset
any of your plans.
You're going on the 3:1 5.
Helen, that's so silly.
A whale of a concert,
an empty seat next to you.
Everything's all set.
They'll be at the station to meet us
and dinner will be waiting.
Put in a call that we're taking a later
train, dinner at 9:00, in bed by 1 0:00.
- Nothing doing. We're going.
- Wick is right.
Don't worry about that seat. I'll find
a handsome, South American millionaire.
There you are. Besides, we have to break
our necks anyway to catch the train.
- Five to 3:00.
- You see?
- Don't be so stubborn.
- All right, go ahead.
-Just a minute. I'm not going.
- Then what are we talking about?
- I want you to go, you and Helen.
- Me and Helen?
That's the idea.
Who likes Brahms, you or I?
- Since when don't you like Brahms?
- I'll just finish packing, take a nap.
Nonsense. If anybody goes--
Helen's your girl.
- There's something in that, Don.
- What's more, you shouldn't be alone.
I shouldn't?
I'm not to be trusted, is that it?
- Really, darling.
- After what you've been through--
I couldn't go to the concert.
I couldn't face the crowds.
I couldn't sit through it
with all those people.
Besides, I wanna be alone
a couple hours to assemble myself.
Is that such
an extraordinary thing to want?
Don't act so outraged.
Would you mind?
- All right. Anything else?
- Please, boys.
Come on, Helen.
- You'll stay right here.
- Where would I go?
- Then you'll be here when we get back?
- I'm not leaving this apartment.
You told us a good many things.
If you don't believe me take my keys,
lock me in like a dog!
We've got to trust Don.
That's the only way.
Sorry, Don.
Let's go, Helen.
- So long, Don.
- So long.
Bend down.
- What's this?
- Whiskey, isn't it?
- How did it get there?
- I don't know.
I suppose it dropped from some cloud, or
someone bounced it and it stuck there.
- I guess I must have put it there.
- Yes, you must.
But I don't remember when.
Probably during my last spell.
Maybe the one before.
I don't know.
Don't look at me like that.
It doesn't mean a thing.
I didn't know it was there.
If I had, I wouldn't have touched it.
- Then you won't mind.
- Mind what?
- Now, you trot along with Helen.
- Why? Because of that?
You think I wanted you out
because of the bottle?
I resent that like the devil.
One more word of discussion...
I don't leave on your blasted weekend!
Let's go.
You'll be good, won't you, darling?
Yes. Will you stop
watching me all the time?
Let me work it out my way.
I'm trying. I'm trying!
We know you're trying.
We're both trying.
You're trying not to drink...
and I'm trying not to love you.
Call the farm and tell them
we're taking the 6:30.
So long.
Come on.
He'll be all right.
What if he goes out
and buys another bottle?
He hasn't a nickel.
There isn't a store or a bar...
that'll give him
five cents' worth of credit.
Are you sure he doesn't have
another bottle hidden?
I went over the apartment
with a fine-tooth comb.
The places he can figure out.
Who is it?
Who is it?
Mrs. Foley.
I've come to clean up.
Does it have to be today?
I ought to change the sheets,
and it's my day to vacuum.
- Come on Monday.
- All right, Mr. Birnam.
- Is your brother in?
- No, he isn't.
What about my money?
Didn't he leave my money?
- What money?
- My ten dollars.
- Didn't he leave it?
- Probably. Where would he leave it?
- In the kitchen.
- Where in the kitchen?
In the sugar bowl.
just a minute.
I'm sorry, it isn't there.
He must have forgotten.
I wanted to do some shopping.
- You'll get it Monday.
- All right, Mr. Birnam.
- Two bottles of rye.
- I'm sorry, Mr. Birnam.
- What are you sorry about?
- Your brother was in.
He's not gonna pay for you anymore.
That was the last time.
- Two bottles of rye.
- What brand?
You know what brand.
The cheapest.
None of that 1 2-year-old,
aged-in-the-wood chichi for me.
- Liquor's all one anyway.
- You want a bag?
Yes, I want a bag.
Your brother said not to sell to you
even if you had the money.
I can't stop anybody, can I?
Not unless you're a minor.
I'm not a minor.
And just to ease your conscience...
I'm buying this to refill
my cigarette lighter.
Yes, sir?
Thank you.
- Good afternoon, Mrs. Deveridge.
- Hello, Mr. Birnam.
That's the nice young man
who drinks.
- How is my very good friend Nat today?
- Yes, Mr. Birnam?
This being an especially
fine afternoon...
I have decided to ask
your hand in marriage.
If that's your attitude, I'll have to
drown my sorrows with a jigger of rye.
-Just one, that's all.
- It can't be done.
It can't?
Let me guess why.
My brother was here undermining
my financial structure.
I didn't tell him nothing about
the wristwatch or the cuff links.
Thank you very much, Nat.
Today you'll be glad to know...
we can barter on a cash basis.
- One straight rye.
- That was the idea.
Don't wipe it away.
Let me have my little vicious circle.
You know, the circle
is the perfect geometric figure.
No end, no beginning.
- What time is it?
- A quarter of 4:00.
Good. We have
the whole afternoon together.
Let me know when it's a quarter
of 6:00. It's very important.
I'm going to the country
for a weekend with my brother.
Hello, Mr. Birnam. Happy to have you
back with the organization.
Hello, Gloria.
I wish I could take you along, Nat.
You and all that goes with you...
not that I'm cutting myself off
from civilization altogether.
Now, of course, there arises the problem
of transportation into the country.
How to smuggle these two time bombs
past the Royal Guard.
I'll roll one bottle in a copy
of the Saturday Evening Post...
so my brother
can discover it like that.
I want him to discover it.
It'll set his mind at ease.
The other bottle--
Come here.
That one I'm tucking
into my brother's suitcase.
He shall transport it himself
without knowing it, of course.
Then while he's greeting
the caretaker...
I'll slide it out, hide it
in a hollow old apple tree.
Mr. Birnam, why don't you
lay off the stuff for a while?
I may never touch it
while I'm there, not a drop.
What all of you don't understand is
I've got to know it's around.
I can't be cut off completely.
That's the devil.
That's what drives you crazy.
Yeah, I know a lot of guys like that.
They take a bottle
and put it on the shelf.
All they wanna do is look at it.
They'll corkscrew it to make sure.
Then all of the sudden, they
grab the bottle, bite off the neck.
One more reproving word, I shall
consult our lawyer about a divorce.
Don't forget, quarter of 6:00.
My brother must find me home...
ready and packed.
Shall we dance?
You're awfully pretty, Mr. Birnam.
I bet you tell that
to all the boys.
Why, natch.
Only with you, it's on the level.
- Sit down.
- No, thanks.
Thanks a lot, but no, thanks.
There's somebody waiting.
Him? I bet he wears arch supporters.
He's just an old friend of the folks.
Lovely gentleman.
He buys me scotch.
He should buy you rubies and a villa
in Calcutta overlooking the Ganges.
- Don't be ''ridic.''
- Gloria, please.
Why imperil our friendship
with these loathsome abbreviations?
I could make myself free
for later on, if you want.
I'm going away for the weekend.
Some other time.
I'm just crazy about
the back of your hair.
Nat, weave me another.
- You'd better take it easy.
- Oh, don't worry about me.
just let me know
when it's a quarter of 6:00.
Come on,join me.
One little jigger of dreams.
- No, thanks.
- You don't approve of drinking?
Not the way you drink.
It shrinks my liver, doesn't it?
It pickles my kidneys, yes.
But what does it do to my mind?
It tosses the sandbags overboard
so the balloon can soar.
Suddenly, I'm above the ordinary.
I'm confident, supremely confident.
I'm walking a tightrope
over Niagra Falls.
I'm one of the great ones.
I'm Michelangelo
molding the beard of Moses.
I'm van Gogh painting pure sunlight.
I'm Horowitz playing
the '' Emperor Concerto.''
I'm John Barrymore before
the movies got him by the throat.
I'm JesseJames and his two brothers.
All three of them!
I'm W. Shakespeare.
And out there,
it's not 3rd Avenue any longer.
It's the Nile...
and down it floats
the barge of Cleopatra.
Come here.
'' Purple the sails, and so perfumed
that the winds were lovesick with them.
The oars were silver...
which to the tune of flutes
kept stroke.''
Maybe he's at Mirandi's or Nat's Bar,
that place on 42nd Street.
What difference does it make?
- You're not really going?
- I certainly am.
- You can't leave him alone four days.
- Yes, I can.
Oh, for heaven's sake.
If he's left alone, anything can happen.
I'm tied up at the office every minute
all Saturday, all Sunday.
I can't look out for him.
You know how he gets.
He'll be run over by a car.
He'll be arrested.
A cigarette might fall from his mouth,
and he'd burn in bed.
If it happens it happens,
and I hope it does.
I've had six years of this.
I've had my belly full!
- You can't mean that.
- Yes, I do.
- It's terrible, I know, but I mean it.
- For heaven's sakes--
Who are we fooling?
We've tried everything, haven't we?
We've reasoned with him, babied him,
watched him like a hawk.
We've tried trusting him.
How often have you tried?
How often have I beaten him up?
Scrape him out of a gutter and pump
some kind of self-respect into him...
and back he falls,
back in every time.
He's a sick person.
It's as though something were wrong
with his heart or lungs.
You wouldn't walk out on him
if he had an attack. He needs our help.
He won't accept our help.
He hates us.
He wants to be alone
with that bottle of his.
It's all he gives a hang about.
Why kid ourselves?
He's a hopeless alcoholic.
''The cloud-capped towers,
the gorgeous palaces--
The solemn temples,
the great globe itself.''
Mr. Birnam, you ought to go home.
It's late.
''Yea, all which it inherit
shall dissolve.''
You ought to go home
on account of your brother.
- Who says so?
- You said you're going away somewhere.
- Don't you remember?
- What time is it?
- Ten past 6:00.
- Why didn't you tell me?
What do you think I've been doing
for half an hour?
Your change!
Taxi! Taxi!
I'll give you a lift
as far as Grand Central.
- No, thanks. I'm gonna wait here.
- You're crazy.
Because I won't give up?
Maybe I am.
Let go of him.
Give yourself a chance.
Good-bye, Wick.
I thought you was
going away for the weekend.
What are you doing?
Give me a drink.
Be right with you.
just fixing myself some lunch.
Stop it and give me a drink.
Come on. Come on!
- Can't you hurry it up a little?
- Here you are.
That young lady stopped in
last night looking for you.
- What young lady?
- The one with the leopard coat.
She acted like
she just happened to drop in.
But I know she was making
the rounds after you.
- What did you say?
- You haven't been in for two weeks.
That's good. I can't let her see me,
not when I'm off like this.
- Why don't you cut it short?
- I can't cut it short.
Get on the merry-go-round,
you gotta ride it all the way.
'Round and 'round till that
blasted music wears itself out...
and the thing dies down
and clunks to a stop.
- How about you eating some of this?
- Take it away.
You gotta eat something sometime.
just give me another drink.
Mr. Birnam, this is the morning.
That's when you need it most.
Haven't you learned that yet?
At night, the stuff's a drink.
In the morning, it's medicine.
- Okay if I eat?
- A little to one side.
Are you ever scared when you wake up?
So scared the sweat starts out of you?
No, not you.
With you it's simple.
The alarm clock goes off,
you open your eyes...
brush your teeth
and read the Daily Mirror.
You ever lie in your bed,
looking at the window?
A little daylight's coming through,
and you start to wonder.
Is it getting lighter?
Is it getting darker?
Is it dawn or is it dusk?
That's a terrifying problem.
Because if it's dawn, you're dead.
The bars are closed,
the liquor stores don't open until 9:00.
You can't last until 9:00!
Or it may be Sunday.
That's the worst.
No liquor stores at all, and you guys
wouldn't open a bar until 1 :00. Why?
Because we gotta go to church
once in a while.
Yeah, when a guy needs it most.
What happened to those two quarts?
Did you polish them off last night?
- What two quarts?
- The two bottles you had.
That's right,
I did have two bottles, didn't I?
I hid one of them.
I've still got it.
I'm a capitalist.
I've got untapped reserves. I'm rich!
If you had enough money,
you'd kill yourself in a month.
Nat, was there a gentleman here--
Hello, Mr. Birnam.
- Didn't you go away for the weekend?
- Apparently not.
- Was there a gentleman asking for me?
- Not to my knowledge.
He was supposed to come around 1 1 :00.
He's from Albany.
-Another friend of the folks?
-More a friend of a friend of the folks.
A fellow called me up about him.
Wants me to show him the town.
- Like Grant's tomb, for instance?
- But ''def.''
Ain't it amazing how many guys
come from Albany to see Grant's tomb?
Sometimes, I wish
you came from Albany.
Yeah? Where would you take me?
Lots of places. Music Hall,
the New Yorker roof, maybe.
There is now being presented
at a theater on 44th Street...
the uncut version of Hamlet.
I see us as setting out for that.
- Do you know Hamlet?
- I know 44th Street.
I would like to get your interpretation
of Hamlet's character.
I'd like to give it to you.
Dinner later, I think.
Nothing before.
One should always see Shakespeare
on an empty stomach.
- Not even a pretzel?
- Can I have a glass of water?
Why, sure.
What'll it be for a chaser?
- This is Nat's bar, isn't it?
- That's what the man said.
I'm looking for a young lady,
name of Gloria.
- Are you Miss Gloria?
- Me? No, I'm not.
I just live with Gloria.
She's not here.
- She isn't?
- She's sick. She went to the hospital.
Ruptured appendix,
middle of last night.
Went like that.
Scared the life out of me.
Oh, that's terrible.
- Good-bye.
- Good-bye.
Could I have a word with you?
No, thanks.
Thanks a lot, but no, thanks.
- You're welcome.
- Don't ''mench.''
Now, wasn't it rather rude to send that
nice man all alone to Grant's tomb?
When I've got a chance
to go out with you?
- Don't be ''ridic.''
- Is our engagement definite?
- You meant it, didn't you?
- Surely, surely.
I've gotta get a facial, a finger wave,
the works, right now.
- You're gonna call for me, aren't you?
- What time do you suggest?
- How's 8:00?
- 8:00's fine.
I live right in the corner house
where the antique shop is...
the one with
the wooden Indian outside.
- ''I got the Indian sign in me,'' I say.
- I'll be there.
Second floor, front.
Mr. Birnam,
all I got is a semiformal.
- Will that be all right?
- That'll be fine.
So long, Nat.
One last one.
Pour it softly, pour it gently
and pour it to the brim.
Look, there are a lot of bars
on 3rd Avenue.
Do me a favor, will you?
Buy it somewhere else.
- What's the matter?
- What's the idea of pulling her leg?
- You're not gonna take her out.
- Who says I'm not?
You're drunk and just
making with the mouth.
- Give me a drink.
- That other dame-- the lady, I mean--
- I don't like what you're doing to her.
- Oh, shut up.
You should've seen her last night
looking for you...
her eyes all rainy
and the mascara all washed away.
- Give me a drink!
- That's an awful high-class young lady.
- You bet she is.
- How did she get mixed up with a guy...
- who sops it up like you do?
- It's a problem, isn't it?
That nice young man who drinks
and the high-class young lady.
How did she get mixed up with him?
Why does he drink? Why doesn't he stop?
How did she get mixed up with him?
Why does he drink? Why doesn't he stop?
That's my novel.
I oughta start writing it
out in the country.
Morbid stuff.
Nothing for the Book of the Month club.
A horror story.
The Confessions of a Booze Addict.:
The Long Book of an Alcoholic.
Oh, come on.
Break down, will ya?
You know what I'm gonna call my novel?
The Bottle.
That's all.
Very simply The Bottle.
I've got it all here in my mind.
Let me tell you the first chapter.
It all starts one wet afternoon
about three years ago.
There was a matinee of La Traviata
at the Metropolitan.
Check your hat and coat, sir.
- Here.
- Did you forget something?
No,just going home
if it's all right with you.
- This isn't yours, is it?
- It certainly isn't.
- That's what is says-- 41 7.
- I don't care what it says.
- The checks must've gotten mixed up.
- Maybe they did.
Find my coat.
It's a plain men's raincoat and a derby.
Do you know how many plain men's
raincoats we have on a day like this?
- About a thousand.
- I can find it.
That's against regulations, sir.
I am not gonna wait here
until the end of the performance.
- You can get your coat tomorrow.
- Tomorrow?
Look, there's something in the pocket
of that coat that I--
Well, it so happens I found myself
without any money. I need that coat now!
Listen, if everybody went
diggin' in through those coats--
There's regulations.
There's got to be regulations!
Then what do you suggest?
Wait till the other party arrives
and swap.
I want my coat!
As far as I'm concerned, mister,
that's your coat.
You're a great help.
- That's my coat you've got.
- And that's mine, thank heaven.
- They mixed up the checks.
- I thought you'd never come.
- You couldn't have waited so long.
- Since the first aria of the first act.
Do you always drop in
just for the overture?
just a minute.
My umbrella, if you don't mind.
- Catch.
- Thank you very much.
I'm terribly sorry.
You're the rudest person I've ever seen.
What's the matter with you?
-Just rude, I guess.
- Somebody should talk to your mother.
- They tried, Miss St.John.
- My name's not St.John.
- St.Joseph, then.
- St.James.
First name Hilda or Helen
or Harriet, maybe.
- Helen.
- All right, Helen.
-I also know you come from Toledo, Ohio.
-You do? How?
I've had three long acts
to work you out from that coat of yours.
Initials, label.
Alfred Spitzer Fine Furs, Toledo, Ohio.
Maybe I should've explored
your coat.
- But you didn't, though?
- Didn't have time.
Good. My name is Don Birnam.
How do you do?
- Well, how do you like New York?
- Love it.
- You intend to stay long?
- Oh, 60 years, perhaps.
- I live here now. I have a job.
- Doing what?
- Time Magazine.
- Perhaps you can do something for me.
- Yes?
- Help me become '' Man of the Year''?
- Delighted. What do you do?
- Yes, what do I do?
I'm a writer.
I've just started a novel.
As a matter of fact I've started
several, but I never seem to finish one.
In that case,
why don't you write short stories?
I have some of those--
first paragraph.
Then there's one half
of the opening scene of a play...
which takes place in
the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
It attempts to explain why it leans and
why all sensible buildings should lean.
- They'll love that in Toledo.
- Oh, by the way.
- Are you coming to here Lohengrin?
- I don't know.
Because if you are, I'm not letting
this coat out of my hands.
- Don't worry.
- But I do.
To be really safe,
we should go together.
We could.
Are you in the phone book?
- Yes, but I'm not home very much.
- I'd call you at your office.
Editorial research.
If Henry Luce answers, hang up.
All right.
- Would you like a taxi?
- No, thanks, I'm taking the subway.
- Very sensible.
- As a matter of fact...
I'm going to an extremely crazy party
on Washington Square.
If you like, I'll take you along.
Thank you very much,
but I have to see a friend uptown.
- Good-bye, Mr. Birnam.
- Good-bye.
- Who threw that?
- It fell out of my pocket.
- Do you always carry those things?
- Well, no.
That friend of mine uptown,
he has a slight cold.
I thought I'd take this along
and make him a hot toddy.
See that he gets hot lemonade
and some aspirin.
- I shall.
- Good-bye.
Oh, Miss St.James.
- Yes?
- What kind of party did you ask me to?
- A cocktail party.
- Does the invitation still stand?
Of course. Come on.
So they go to that party, he gets
stinko and falls flat on his face.
He does not. By this time,
he's crazy about the girl.
He drinks tomato juice.
Doesn't touch liquor that whole week.
- For two weeks, for six weeks.
- In love, huh?
That's what's gonna be
so hard to write.
Love is the hardest thing
in the world to write about.
It's so simple.
You gotta catch it through details...
like the early morning sunlight
hitting the gray tin...
of the rain spout
in front of her house.
The ringing of a telephone that
sounds like Beethoven's '' Pastoral.''
A letter scribbled on her office
stationary you carry in your pocket...
because it smells like
all the lilacs in Ohio.
Pour it, Nat.
He thinks he's cured.
If he could only get a job,
they'd be married and that's that.
But it's not, Nat.
Not quite.
Because one day, one terrible day--
Go on.
You see, this girl has been writing
to her people in Toledo.
They wanna meet the young man,
so they come to New York.
They stay at the Hotel Manhattan.
Their very first day,
she's to introduce him to her parents.
One o'clock, lobby of the hotel.
That wasn't enough,
not for New York.
He gave me a shampoo, scalp massage
and a manicure.
I thought they were going to tear off
my shoes and paint my toenails.
I had a lovely morning.
just did a little window shopping.
- Didn't want to get all tired out.
- On account of meeting that young man?
- Now, Mother.
- Who did you get that haircut for?
- I wonder what's keeping Helen.
- She'll be here.
This Birnam fellow
went to Cornell, didn't he?
- I believe so.
- He never graduated. I wonder why.
- How old is he?
- Thirty-three.
He has no job. As far as
I can find out, he never had one.
I wish Helen wasn't so vague.
Maybe he has a little money.
Some people do you know, Father.
- He ought to have a job anyway.
- He's a writer.
What did he write?
I never heard his name.
Father, relax.
You always expect the worst.
I hope he realizes
that Helen's our only daughter.
We ought to know
a few things about him.
It'll all come out--
his background, his prospects...
his church affiliation.
Hotel Manhattan?
Could you page Miss Helen St.James.
Yes, she's in the lobby.
Helen? Don.
I'm terribly sorry, but I won't
be able to get there for awhile.
Go ahead and have your lunch
and apologize to your parents.
Oh, nothing serious.
I'll be there.
Turn off that light.
- Turn it off!.
- For heaven's sake.
I thought you were with Helen
and her father and mother.
What happened?
- Come on.
- I couldn't face it.
Couldn't face what?
Didn't you go to see them?
Certainly I went, 1 :00 sharp.
I saw them, all right,
only they didn't see me.
- How was that?
- Such nice, respectable people.
I couldn't face them.
And all the questions they'd ask me?
I just couldn't do it, not cold.
I had to have a drink first,just one,
only the one didn't do anything to me.
So you had another and another.
You poor idiot.
Won't you ever learn that with you,
it's like stepping off a roof...
and expecting to fall just one floor?
Will you call her?
Tell her something.
Tell her I'm sick, tell her I'm dead.
- Will you call?
- Yes, I'll call.
She must've written them
a lot of nice things about me.
What a gentleman I am,
a prince.
- Which hotel is it?
- The Manhattan.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles St.James
ofToledo, Ohio.
Get up!
just a minute, Helen.
- Hello, Wick. Is Don here?
- Don? No.
- Any idea where he could be?
- Wasn't he meeting you?
He was supposed to meet us for lunch.
He telephoned he'd be late.
Mother's beginning to think
I just made him up.
Do you suppose
something happened to him?
But surely he'd have called back
if he were all right.
- Where did he call you from?
- I don't know.
I think I have an idea.
He called you from out of town.
- Where?
- Philadelphia.
- What's he doing there?
- There's an opening at the Enquirer.
Don wrote them, wired them, and I think
this morning took an early train.
He didn't tell me a word about it.
I'm not supposed to tell you either.
He wanted it to be a surprise.
- He did?
- Yes.
He probably couldn't meet the right
people right away. You know how it is.
It would be wonderful if he got the job
and started working.
Or would it?
With him in Philadelphia
and me in New York.
Don't ever tell him
I said that though, will you?
- Of course not.
- I could never understand...
why somebody like Don,
a person with such talent...
such flashes of real brilliance--
Maybe I'm a bit prejudiced.
What are you doing?
- Nothing.
- Where did that bottle come from?
- It just rolled out.
- From under the couch?
You know, it's my guess
Don caught an early train and--
- Is that Don's bottle?
- What makes you think that?
There was a bottle
the first time we met.
- There was?
- Fell out of Don's pocket.
That was for me.
This one's mine too.
You might as well hear
the family scandal. I drink.
Don thinks I drink too much.
I promised to go on the wagon.
I hid the bottle
so he wouldn't see it.
I'm sorry.
I shouldn't have started
asking questions.
It's really none of my business.
Forget it.
I better be getting back
to the hotel.
Don's probably there already.
And don't worry.
I won't mention a word of it to him.
- Thank you.
- Good-bye.
I'm sorry.
I can't let you go, not like this.
Shut your mouth, Don.
I'll take you downstairs.
Thanks very much
for your Philadelphia story.
Nice try.
- That looks so silly on you.
- Don't listen to him.
She doesn't have to.
just look at the two of us.
What is all this covering up?
Don was nervous at the idea of meeting
your parents, so he had a couple drinks.
Come on. She'd have found out
sooner or later.
Stop it, both of you.
Don's a little tight.
Most people drink a little.
A lot of them get tight
once in a while.
Sure, the lucky ones,
who can take it or leave it.
But then there are the ones who can't
take it and can't leave it either.
What I'm trying to say is,
I'm not a drinker.
I'm a drunk.
They had to put me away once.
- He went to a cure.
- Which didn't take.
You see, that first time we met,
I should've had the decency...
to get drunk
just for your sake.
For my sake?
We're talking about you.
- Is it really that bad?
- Yes, it is.
Can't we go over this tomorrow
when you're feeling more like yourself?
Helen's heard the facts.
That's all there is to it.
Yes, I've heard them,
and they're not too pleasant.
They could be worse. After all,
you're not an embezzler or a murderer.
You drink too much,
and that's not fatal.
One cure didn't take.
There are others.
- Of course there are.
- This has a familiar ring.
But there must be a reason
why you drink.
- The right doctor could find it.
- I'm way ahead of the right doctor.
I know the reason.
The reason is me, what I am.
Or rather, what I'm not--
what I wanted to become and didn't.
What is it you wanna be so much
that you're not?
A writer.
Silly, isn't it?
In college, I passed for a genius.
They couldn't get out the college
magazine without one of my stories.
Boy, was I hot.
Hemingway stuff.
I reached my peak when I was 1 9.
Sold a piece to the Atlantic Monthly,
reprinted in the Reader's Digest.
Who wants to stay in college
when he's Hemingway?
My mother bought me
a brand-new typewriter.
I moved right in on New York.
Well, the first thing I wrote,
that didn't quite come off.
And the second, I dropped.
The public wasn't ready for that one.
I started a third and a forth.
Only by then, somebody began
to look over my shoulder and whisper...
in a thin, clear voice
like the E string on a violin.
'' Don Birnam,'' he'd whisper.
''It's not good enough,
not that way.
How about a couple of drinks,
just to set it on its feet?''
So I had a couple.
What a great idea that was.
That made all the difference.
Suddenly, I could see the whole thing.
The tragic sweep of the great novel,
beautifully proportioned.
But before I could really grab it
and throw it down on paper...
the drinks would wear off
and everything would be gone...
like a mirage.
Then there was despair.
I'd drink to counterbalance despair.
And then one to counterbalance
the counterbalance.
I'd sit in front of that typewriter,
trying to squeeze out...
one page that was halfway decent.
And that guy would pop up again.
What guy?
Who are you talking about?
The other Don Birnam.
There are two of us, you know--
Don the Drunk
and Don the Writer.
The drunk would say to the writer...
''Come on, you idiot. Let's get
some good out of that portable.
Let's hock it. Let's take it
to that pawn shop on 3rd Avenue.
It's always good for ten dollars.
Another drink, another binge,
another bender, another spree.''
Such humorous words.
I've tried to break away
from that guy a lot of times...
but to no good.
You know, once I even got myself
a gun and some bullets.
I was gonna do it
on my 30th birthday.
Here are the bullets. The gun
went for three quarts of whiskey.
The other Don wanted us
to have a drink first.
He always wants us
to have a drink first.
The flop suicide
of a flop writer.
All right, maybe you're not a writer.
Why don't you do something else?
Sure, take a nice job.
Public accountant,
real estate salesman.
I haven't the guts.
Most men lead lives
of quiet desperation.
- I can't take quiet desperation!
- But you are a writer.
You have every quality for it--
imagination, wit, pity.
Come on.
Let's face reality.
I'm 33. I'm living
on the charity of my brother.
Room and board free...
fifty cents a week for cigarettes...
an occasional ticket
to a show or a concert.
All out of
the bigness of his heart.
And it is a big heart
and a patient one.
I've only been
carrying you along for--
Shut up!
I've never done anything.
I'm not doing anything.
I never will do anything!
- Zero, zero, zero.
- Now you shut up.
- We'll straighten it out.
- Look.
Wick has the misfortune
of being my brother.
You just happened
to walk in on this.
If you know what's good for you,
turn around and walk out.
And walk fast,
and don't turn back.
Why don't you make some coffee?
Strong, three cups.
Look, do yourself a favor.
Go on. Clear out.
Because I've got a rival?
Because you're in love with this?
You don't know me.
I'm gonna fight and fight and fight.
Bend down.
All right.
That was three years ago.
That's a long time
to keep fighting, to keep believing.
She knows she's clutching a razor blade,
but she won't let go.
- Three years of it.
- And what?
- How's it come out?
- I haven't figured that far.
Want me to tell you?
One day, a guy gets wise to himself,
he gets back that gun.
If he's only got $1 .1 0, he goes
to the top of the Empire State Building.
And then--
Or you can do it for a nickel
in the subway under a train.
You think so?
What if Helen's right, and this guy
sits down and turns out something good?
And that pulls him up
and snaps him out of it.
This guy?
Not from where I sit.
Oh, shut up! I wanna do it now!
It's all there. You heard it.
- Yes, Mr. Birnam.
- That's why I didn't go away.
I can be all alone up there
and sit down at my typewriter.
This time, I'm gonna do it!
- Maybe you will.
- Thank you.
- Am I all paid up?
- Yes, Mr. Birnam.
Good-bye. I'm going home.
This time, I've got it.
I'm gonna write!
Good luck to you.
You had another bottle.
You know you did.
Where did you put it?
You're not crazy. Where did you put it?
It was so beautiful, so wonderful
The stars above us shone
We were alone
- Check, please.
- Right here, sir.
- Yes, sir?
- Another gin vermouth, please.
Yes, sir.
Thank you.
- Where is your washroom?
- Over there, sir.
How's about a carnation
for your buttonhole?
No, thank you.
Thank you, sir.
- Wash your hands?
- Thank you.
All righty, sir.
- Would you wipe my shoes?
- Yes, sir.
- Carnation, sir?
- I already took one.
- You did?
- For a very kind lady.
Yes, sir.
- Thank you.
- Thank you, sir.
- That's him! That's the man!
- You were sitting here, sir?
I beg your pardon?
You took this lady's bag,
didn't you? Let's have it.
- Of course.
- Somebody call a cop!
No, George. It doesn't matter
as long as I have the bag.
Look in it.
Maybe he took something.
- Ten dollars, to be exact.
- I oughta kick your teeth in.
- He's drunk.
- Come on. Get out of here.
- How about the check?
- That's why I borrowed from the lady.
I didn't have enough.
I'll come back and pay the rest.
Don't you show your face
in here again ever! Mike!
- Take him out of here.
- Somebody stole a purse
I assure you, I'm not a thief!.
I'm not a thief!.
Stop it, Helen.
Stop it.
I'm all right.
I just can't talk.
Please stop it!
You'll never make it.
You'll never make that hock shop.
It's a block and a half away.
- This isn't Sunday, is it?
- Huh?
- I asked, ''Is this Sunday?''
- No. Saturday. Why?
But it's closed.
Nothing else is closed.
Somebody passed away,
most likely.
- What's the matter with you?
- Why are they all closed?
They're all closed,
every one of'em.
- Sure they are. It's Yom Kippur.
- It's what?
- It's Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday.
- It is?
And what about Kelly's
and Gallagher's?
They're closed too.
We've got an agreement.
They keep closed on Yom Kippur,
and we don't open on St. Patrick's.
That's a good joke.
That's funny. That's very funny.
Yeah, Mr. Birnam?
What do you want?
Let me have one, Nat.
I'm dying.Just one.
I thought you was home
writing that book.
They're playing a trick on me,
a dirty trick, Nat. Give me one.
I'll pay you when I can,
only just don't let me die here.
No credit,
and you know it.
All right. It's charity.
I'm begging you. Give me one.
Yeah. One.
One's too many,
and a hundred's not enough.
That's all.
Come on, Nat.
I'll let you have my typewriter.
I'm no writer.
You're the writer.
- Please.
- Go. Go away.
- Please.
- I mean it. Get out of here.
Who is it?
It's me.
Mr. Don Birnam,
as I live and breathe.
Only, if you're coming for our date,
you're a little late, aren't you?
If you're coming to apologize,
no, thanks. Thanks, but no, thanks.
Save your saliva. I've had enough
of you. Deaf, but deaf.
What do you think I am?
I break a business date.
I buy me an evening purse,
a facial, a new hairdo.
You can do that to your ritzy
friends, but you can't to me.
- Understand?
- Gloria.
Okay, what do you want,
Mr. Don Birnam, Esquire?
I need some money.
- You what?
- Could you let me have some money?
Say, you out of your mind?
Don't be ''ridic.''
Get out of here.
Make with those stairs. Go on.
I waited half the night, like
it was the first date I ever had.
The other half I was crying.
- How much money?
- Could you let me have ten or five?
I'll see.
You look awfully sick, Mr. Birnam.
Have you got a fever or something?
I'm all right now.
Thank you a lot.
You do like me a little, don't you?
Why, natch, Gloria.
who have you got out there?
It's a hap-hap-happy day
What's this place?
Hey, what is this place?
I'm talking to you.
Good morning, Merry Sunshine.
How's your head?
Where am I?
What is this place?
This? This is Hangover Plaza.
- What hospital is this?
- Alcoholic ward.
- How's your head?
- It aches.
Thought you had a fracture
till we looked at the X rays.
Everything in one piece.
just a slight concussion.
Why'd they put me
in the alcoholic ward?
Are you kidding? We got a peek
at your blood. Straight applejack.
96 proof.
- What day is it?
- Sunday. Are these yours?
You and the colored fellow
were being undressed at the same time.
- They fell out of somebody's pants.
- They're mine. You a doctor?
I'm a nurse, name of Nolan.
They call me Bim.
- Call me Bim. What's your name?
- Birnam.
- What kind of Birnam?
- Don Birnam.
- Where do you live?
- 209 East Vir--
- What do you need that for?
- For the postcard.
- What postcard?
- To your folks, so they know...
where honey boy is and can pick
him up when he's feeling better.
No address.
We'll get it out of the phone book
or the directory or your wallet.
Look. No postcard,
- Nobody's gonna pick me up.
- The management insists.
If we let you guys go home alone,
a lot of you don't go home.
You just hit the nearest bar
and bounce right back again--
what we call the ''quick ricochet.''
I'm as well as you are.
I can get out of here right now.
- Think so?
- Where are my clothes?
- Downstairs.
- How do I get out?
Right through there.
- Where do you think you're going?
- To get my clothes.
- Got your discharge?
- My what?
- Your release.
- I'm all right. Let me out.
- Get back there. Go on.
- Keep your hands off me!
Come here, Birnam.
- Is this a jail?
- Halfway hospital, halfway jail.
Listen, Bim. In my clothes,
there's five dollars.
That's all for you, if only
you won't send that postcard.
- Nothing doing.
- I don't want anybody to know.
Your folks might as well
get used to our little postcards.
- What are you talking about?
- There'll be more of'em.
- You'll be back.
- Oh, shut up!
Listen. I can pick an alkie
with one eye shut.
You're an alkie.
You'll come back. They all do.
Him, for instance. Shows up
every month,just like the gas bill.
And the one with the glasses.
Another repeater. His 45th trip.
Big executive
in the advertising business.
Lovely fellow.
Been coming here since 1 927.
Good old Prohibition days.
You should've seen the joint then.
This is nothing. Back then,
we really had a turnover.
Standing room only.
Prohibition: That's what
started most of these guys off.
Now, be a good boy
and drink this.
- I don't want it.
- Better take it.
Liable to be a little floor show
later on around here.
- Might get on your nerves.
- Floor show?
- Ever have the D.T.'s?
- No.
- You will, brother.
- Not me.
Like to make a little bet?
After all, you're just a freshman.
Wait till you're a sophomore. That's
when you start seeing animals.
You know that stuff
about pink elephants? That's bunk.
It's little animals,
little turkeys in straw hats.
Midget monkeys
coming through the keyholes.
See that guy over there?
With him, it's beetles.
Come the night, he sees beetles
crawling all over him.
Has to be dark, though.
It's like the doctor
was just telling me:
Delirium is a disease
of the night.
Good night.
Get the restraints and the doctor!
Get him up
to the violent ward.
Over here, Doctor.
Violent ward.
Get the elevator.
- Good morning.
- Shh.
Anything wrong up there?
Anything wrong?
- Are you all right?
- I'm fine, thank you.
- Have you been there all night?
- I've been waiting for Mr. Birnam.
I suppose he stayed overnight
with friends.
- He has friends in Long Island.
- What kind of story's that?
- I beg your pardon?
- I'm his landlady.
I know what goes on in this house.
I know Mr. Don Birnam.
I knew all about him the first week
they moved here five years ago.
Heard those bottles
rattle in the garbage can.
I know all about you.
You're Helen St.James.
You're working on Time magazine,
and you're his best girl.
I also know he's not staying
with any friends in Long Island.
He's off on another toot,
and you know I'm darned right.
Now, come on down,
and I'll make you some breakfast.
I don't care for breakfast nor that
talk, even supposing you're right.
Which I am. I could've
kicked him out 50 times--
the last when two taxi drivers
dumped him into the entrance hall...
out cold on the floor with
all my tenants going in and out...
and children leaving
for school!
- Please!
- Well, I didn't put him out...
not as long as his brother
could pay the rent.
You couldn't help liking him anyway,
he was so good looking.
He had such nice manners.
He always had a little joke.
Stop talking about him
as if he were dead.
Best thing for you
if he was!
Quarter rye, quick.
- Okay if I take off my coat?
- No!
No cracks. No questions.
just a quarter rye.
- Be 2.1 5.
- Come on. I need that liquor.
I want it, and I'm going to get it,
I'm going to walk out with that
quarter rye, one way or another.
Miss St.James?
He's back. He's upstairs.
This is Mrs. Deveridge.
Yes, he's back up in his apartment.
I heard him yelling.
Open the door. Please.
Don, won't you let me in? I know
you're there. Please open the door.
Don, don't you hear me?
I want to help you.
Don, I won't go away.
Do I have to go down...
and get the janitor
with the passkey to let me in?
- Yes, Mrs. Deveridge?
- Come on up with the passkey.
Come on.
- Thank you very much.
- You'd better let us come too.
- You can't go in there alone.
- I'll be all right. Thank you.
Come, Sophie. Let's go.
- Don, darling.
- Go away, Helen.
- I'm here to help you, darling.
- No, no.
Look at you. You want to get up,
Don. Put your arm on my shoulder.
You'll have a bath,
and I'll help you shave...
and you'll eat and sleep...
and when Wick comes back,
everything'll be all right.
No! Don't!
- What's the matter?
- That wall.
- What wall?
- The mouse and the bat.
- ''The mouse and the bat''?
- That hole in the wall behind you.
- There's no hole in the wall.
- Yes, there is.
There isn't. Don,
please look for yourself. Come on.
Come on, Don. Please look.
Everything's going to be all right.
I'll stay right with you.
It's little animals,
always little animals, Bim said.
You're not
making much sense, Don.
You know what Nat
said about the ending?
Like this...
or like that.
Like this or like that.
Where are you going,
Don? Don?
- Give me the pawn ticket.
- No scene, please.
just give me the ticket.
I don't want you to go in and
claim it now. It would look queer.
You're ashamed of what
the pawnbroker thinks, is that it?
- It doesn't matter what I think.
- Wick'll get you back your coat.
You couldn't have taken my bracelet
or my paycheck? It had to be that!
The one that brought us together?
Stop being sentimental.
I have, Don. I assure you.
It's finished. It's dead.
For three years,
they couldn't talk me out of you.
I was the only one
that really understood you.
I knew there was a core
of something. Well, there is.
And now I know
what it is: a sponge.
To soak it full, you'll do anything
that's ruthless, selfish, dishonest.
- I asked you not to make a scene.
- Then give me the ticket.
- Not now. Please.
- I don't want the money!
You can get as drunk as you like
for all I care!
Thank you.
A gentleman came in a while ago.
How much did you give him for that?
- Why?
- I want it back. It's my coat.
- It's your coat?
- It's all right. He had permission.
- How much did you give him?
- He didn't want any money.
- He wanted to swap it.
- Swap it? For what?
Something he hocked here
a long while back.
- What?
- A gun.
A gun.
Now, if you want the coat back,
I can--
What is it, Helen?
What's the matter?
Dave gave me the keys.
I didn't think you were here.
- What do you want here?
- I couldn't get a taxi.
I thought I could borrow a coat
under the circumstances.
Sure. How about my raincoat?
Funny that we should wind up after
all these years just as we met.
- I with your raincoat.
- And I with your leopard coat.
I always get the best
of the bargain.
Good-bye, Helen.
- What are you looking for?
- I thought perhaps...
maybe you might
have something for my hair.
- Would you care to wear my derby?
- Any old thing. Any old scarf.
All right.
- Here you are.
- Thank you.
So long.
There was some whiskey left
in the bottle after I cleaned up.
- Was there?
- Like to know where I put it?
- Don't you want a drink, Don?
- No.
Here it is. Right here.
Why don't you have one? Just one.
- What are you up to?
- Nothing.
I'm just ashamed of the way
I talked to you--
like a narrow-minded, insensitive
small-town teetotaler.
I told you I don't feel
like a drink. Not now.
Come on, Don.Just one.
I'll have one with you.
I'm in no hurry.
This is my easy day at the office.
Helen, there are a few things I want
to put in order before Wick comes.
Let me stay. Please.
I don't want to sound rude,
but I'm afraid you'll have to leave.
- Here, Don.
- You're very sweet.
- Don't let me bend for nothing.
- You need this, Don. Drink it.
I want you to drink it. I'll get you
more. I'll get you all you want.
- What kind of talk is that?
- I'd rather you be drunk than dead.
- Who wants to be dead?
- Stop lying to me.
Give it to me!
All right. Now, go.
No fuss, please.
And don't call the neighbors.
It won't do any good, I promise.
I won't.
You've made up your mind.
But could you tell me why? Why?
'Cause it's best for everybody:
for you, Wick and for me.
- That's not true. We love you.
- Then for me. Selfish again.
- That's a sad final word, Don.
- Look at it this way:
This business is a formality.
Don Birnam is dead already.
- He died over this weekend.
- Did he? What did he die of?
A lot of things. Of alcohol.
Of moral anemia.
- Of fear, shame, D.T.'s!
- Oh, that Don Birnam!
-And now you want to kill the other?
-What other?
There were two Dons. You told me:
Don the drunk and Don the writer.
Let's not go back to a fancy figure
of speech. There's only one Don.
He's through.
I'm all right.
I still have enough strength left.
I know you have. I can see it.
Don't waste it by pulling a trigger.
Let me get it over. You want me to
give another promise I can't keep?
I don't want your promise. I don't
want you to give your promise...
to anybody but Don Birnam.
It's too late!
I wouldn't know how to start!
The only way to start is to stop.
There is no cure besides stopping.
- Can't be done.
- Other people have stopped.
People with a purpose,
with something to do!
-But you've got talent and ambition!
-Talent! Ambition!
That's dead long ago.
That's drowned.
That's drifting around with a
bloated belly in a lake of alcohol.
No, it isn't.
You still have it.
Quit trying to stall me, Helen.
It's too late.
There's no more writing left in me.
What do you expect? A miracle?
Yes! If I could
just make you un--
Yes! If I could
just make you un--
- Who is it?
- It's me, Mr. Birnam.
- What is it, Nat?
- I got something for you.
- I hope I ain't intrudin'.
- What is it?
You know when you had that accident?
Afterward, I found this floating...
around on the Nile.
She writes good.
I oiled her up a little.
And I didn't oil her up
so you can hock her.
- I'll take it, Nat.
- Hello, miss.
- Thank you, Nat.
- How are them lilacs in Ohio?
Well, Don, here it is.
What do you say now?
- Say about what?
- This.
Someone somewhere sent it back. Why?
Because he means you to stay alive.
Because he wants you to write.
I didn't ask for a big miracle.
Write with these hands
and a brain all out of focus?
It'll clear up again.
And I'll be sitting there staring
at that white sheet, scared.
No, you won't. You've forgotten
what it feels like to be well.
- What am I going to write about?
- What you've always wanted.
- Where was the page I found?
- The Bottle. A novel by Don Birnam.
- What was that to be?
- About a messed-up life.
About a man and a woman
and a bottle.
About nightmares, horrors,
all the things
I want to forget.
Put it all down on paper.
Get rid of it that way.
Tell it all:
''To whom it may concern.''
- And it concerns so many.
- Yeah.
I'll fix us some breakfast.
We have quite a supply
of milk.
You'll notice
I didn't even find the first line.
You couldn't write the beginning
because you didn't know the ending.
Only, now--
Only, now you know the ending.
I'm going to send one copy
to Bim...
one to the doctor
who loaned me his coat...
and one to Nat.
Imagine Wick
standing in front of a bookstore.
Great, big pyramid of books,
and a novel by Don Birnam.
- ''That's by my brother, you know.''
- ''That's by my fellow.
- Didn't I always tell you?''
- I'm gonna put this weekend down.
- Why not?
- The way I stood in there, packing.
Only, my mind wasn't
on the suitcase.
It wasn't on the weekend.
Nor was it on the shirts I was
putting in the suitcase, either.
My mind was hanging
outside the window.
It was suspended
just about 1 8 inches below.
And out there in that
great, big concrete jungle...
I wonder how many others
there are like me--
poor, bedeviled guys
on fire with thirst--
such comical figures
to the rest of the world...
as they stagger blindly
towards another binge...
another bender,
another spree.