Reel/Real Impact: Billy Wilder’s Lost Weekend

Radio Play

The Lost Weekend, which won the 1945 Best Picture Oscar, was adapted as a radio play on the January 7, 1946 broadcast of the Screen Guilf Theater, starring the same cast, Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, and Faylen in their original film roles.


On March 10, 1946, three days after winning the Oscar, Milland appeared as a guest on the radio broadcast of  the Jack Benny Show. In a spoof of The Lost Weekend, Ray and Benny played alcoholic twin brothers.  Phil Harris, usually cast as Benny’s hard-drinking bandleader on the show, played the brother who tried to convince Ray and Jack to give up liquor. (“Ladies and gentlemen,” said an announcer, “the opinions expressed by Mr. Harris are written in the script and are not necessarily his own.”)

In the alcoholic ward scene, Frank Nelson played the ward attendant who promised Ray and Jack that they would soon start seeing DT visions of strange animals. When the DT visions appeared (Mel Blanc providing pig squeals, monkey chatters, and other animal sound effects), Ray chased them off. “Ray, they’re gone!” Benny shouted. “What did you do?” Milland replied, “I threw my Oscar at them!”

In the 1947 Bugs Bunny cartoon Slick Hare, a caricatured Ray Milland is shown sitting at a bar and paying for his drink with a typewriter. He gets small typewriters as his change.

In Tex Avery’s 1947 cartoon King-Size Canary, a mouse character is shown reading a book called “The Lost Squeak-end”.

In Stephen Fry’s novel The Liar, the main character, Adrian, quotes The Lost Weekend talking about alcohol, when he is expressing his love for a boy at his public school to a friend.

Elements of the film were put into Steve Martin’s parody of film noir, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.