Movies about addiction date in interesting ways. Seen today, Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend, whose lurid treatment of alcoholism made the film a bombshell of controversy in 1945 (it may have been the first movie to present alcoholism as a disease rather than a character flaw) and won it a shelfful of awards, looks antiquated now. Its overwrought dialogue and posture of appalled shock at behaviour that subsequent films have made familiar to the point of cliche haven't aged well.
BIGGER THAN LIFE (USA, 1956, colour, 95 minutes) directed by Nicolas Ray and starring James Mason, Barbara Rush, Christopher Olsen and Walter Matthau. In English with optional English subtitles. Extras include a commentary track by Ray expert Geoff Andrew, a discussion of Bigger Than Life by novelist Jonathan Letham, interviews with Nicolas Ray and with his wife Susan Ray, and more. Criterion, Blu-ray or DVD.
The years have also taken a toll on Otto Preminger's once potent The Man With the Golden Arm, which harrowed 1955 audiences with its portrayal of heroin addiction, then a subject that Hollywood considered dangerous. It is probably only a matter of time until recent screen treatments of addiction like Requiem for a Dream, so wrenching when it was released a decade ago, begin to look like souvenirs their era.
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