Sober Film

"They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream:Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream. "
~ "Vitae Summa Brevis" ~ Ernest Dowson

I am a film "head". I have always taken great counsel from cinema. I was raised in Santa Monica and film was all around me. Old actors were a part of my church's parish. I went to school with child actors and kids of adult actors. My Mom lived for the movies and told me of how on any given Saturday with a quarter and a bag of homemade sandwiches ,she would watch a double feature as many times as it ran at her local movie house in Altoona, PA. I went to the Aero on Montana, doing much the same for a little more money.I love old movie houses. It is generally the best feature of a small town.

On the path of sobriety, film would become a tool. A tool for enlightenment and commonality. A way for me to witness in someone else what was going on in my self. Here are some films for your sober consideration. They can be therapeutic as well as cathartic. Touching and tender. You may find out you are one or all of these characters. Or in the end quite simply part of the universe and part of God. You will certainly be entertained and you may even have your eyes opened. Sobriety is just another paver on the path of life. Your life doesn't end when you get sober, it begins. Here are some drunk endings with great sober beginnings. The greatest thing all of these films offer is hope or at least a glimpse of the long held truth that we are all connected to something greater than ourselves. The drunk drinks to fill a hole. And God loves a drunk.

When A Man Loves A Woman (1994)
Directed by: Luis Mandoki
Writers :Ronald Bass & Al Franken

Plot:A pilot and his wife face the consequences of her alcoholism when her addictions threaten her life and their daughter's safety. While the woman enters rehab and then returns home, her husband must face the truth of his enabling.
I loved the writing! Al Franken and Ronald Bass found great words for my truth as an alcoholic mother and partner.

The Lost Weekend (1945)
Director Billy Wilder
Writers: Charles R. Jackson (novel),Charles Brackett (screenplay)

Plot:The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four day drinking binge. It is brave and perhaps a little dark for this era in film It's truth speaks volumes about addiction.Won 4 Oscars including the Best Picture of 1945 has lost none of it's power in this uncompromising look at the devastating effects of alcoholism. This brilliant film was almost never released because of poor reactions by preview audiences due to the power of it's message. The film has since gone on to be regarded as one of the all-time great dramas in movie history. Ray Milland's haunting portrayal of a would-be writer who, dissatisfied with his life, goes to any lengths for booze. Sending him on a self-destructive three-day binge. Filled with riveting imagery, the multiple Academy Award-winner offers an unforgettable view of life as drunk.

I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
Directed by Daniel Mann
Writers: Lillian Roth (book) ,Mike Connolly (book)
Filmed on location; inside a woman's soul.

Plot:Deprived a normal childhood by her ambitious mother, Lillian Roth (Susan Hayward) becomes a star of Broadway and Hollywood before she is twenty. Shortly before her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, he dies and Lillian takes her first drink of many in quiet desperation with her feelings of loss. She enters into a short-lived marriage to an immature aviation cadet, followed by a divorce and then marriage to a sadistic abuser. After a failed suicide attempt played out as a "lost weekend in dingy hotel room", Burt McGuire (Eddie Albert) comes to her aid and helps her find the road back to sobriety and life through AA. It is one of the first films to bring AA.carefully,into the spot light.
Won Oscar.

The Days Of Wine and Roses 1962
Directed by: Blake Edwards
Writer: J.P. Miller (writer)

Plot: An alcoholic falls in love with and gets married to a young woman, whom he systematically addicts to booze so they can share his "passion". It is a very tragic tale about how alcoholics take "hostages" in love and life. The end is not uplifting and barely hopefully. It is however sobering and brutally honest. Blake Edwards who is known for his comedy, directs this film as a poignant tragedy. The Days of Wine and Roses earned a total of five Academy Award nominations and a Best Song Oscar for its haunting Henry Mancini/Johny Mercer title tune. A harrowing portrait of human lives at their lowest.

Clean and Sober (1988)
Directed by: Glenn Gordon Caron
Starring: Michael Keaton
Written by: Tod Carroll

Plot: National Society of Film Critics Best Actor Award.Keaton plays real-estate broker, whose cocaine habit nearly consumes him until he enters a local rehab program promising escape. He is hiding from the police after a drinking & drugging binge with a young woman, ends in her death. Great work from Kathy Baker as one of Keaton's "inmate" buddies in rehab. An all too true portrayal of what it takes to get sober and how easily it can be lost on the "outside":in the real world. Getting sober is one thing and staying sober another.

My name Is Bill W. (1989)
Starring James Woods
Directed by: Daniel Petrie
Written by: William G Borchert

Plot: Chronicles the beginning of the AA movement. James Woods plays Bill Wilson, the overreaching businessman from the Roaring '20s who went on to found Alcoholics Anonymous. Woods depicts Bill's headlong slide to the bottom, through the terrors of the Wall Street crash (which amplifies a two-fisted drinking problem) and into the loss of everything he holds dear. Woods is convincing as the man who understands just how insidious his disease is and learns to try to take everything one day at a time. James Garner plays the alcoholic physician who teams with Bill to create AA.

28 Days (2000)
Starring Sandra Bullock
Directed by: Betty Thomas
Written by: Susannah Grant

Not my favorite film. I am sure Anne Hathaway checked this for what "not to do" as an actor portraying an alchy. A quirky look at the seriousness of alcoholism and substance abuse, it sometimes succeeds without compromising the gravity of the subject matter.Bullock's character is a formulaic portrait of a 27-year-old boozer and pill-popper.Gwen is an alcoholic in denial about her alcoholic mothers tragic death and her own alcoholism and substance abuse.A bender with boozer boyfriend Jasper (Dominic West) ruins the wedding of her sister (Elizabeth Perkins) and lands her in a 28 day rehab program with a group of struggling drunks and addicts. Steve Buscemi conveys the weary commitment of a counselor who's seen it all. The addition of singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III (as a kind of Greek chorus crooner) is sublimely inspired. (love Rufus too,but he isn't in this film..and should have been)

Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Jenny Lumet

This film was like being inside a cap-cam on one of the characters heads.
A searing look at life in recovery from... everything.
From loss,grief,addiction,obsession....they were all a mess..all of them.
The ensemble of actors builds a veritable "house of emotional cards" that topple in the end to expose the characters humanity. Don't want to ruin it. See it.
I love the constant play of the wandering musicians.

Barfly (1987)
Starring: Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway
Directed by: Barbet Shroeder
Written by: Charles Bukowski
"Barfly", is my favorite... "just stay freakin loaded til ya die" epic.
Mickey Rourke's , Henry Chinaski is kind of like...well... Mickey Rourke,except that Mickey Rourke is kinda wacky without the booze. With Fay Dunaway as his ironweed accomplice, Wanda. They are two for the road in this whiskey driven soap opera. It is pretty harsh for 1987,thus creating a new kind of film, the "Drunk Film Poem".
If this movie does not get you out of your own "booze soaked" haze the morning after. You need to call the Dr and get checked into the "Betty"
This film was hard on my tender little "alchy" nerves...before I got sober.
This is the one you show your friend who has just gotten their third DUI and crashed their fifth car,while running from their forth wife, instead of saying..."do you think you might...just...have... a tiny drinking problem?"

I will keep building this list of titles into a kind of "Sober Film Library" and publish it in future blogs.

Other Titles:
The Great Lie
The Morning After
Leaving Las Vegas
And Three On Match

If you have a film you think should be on the list,please,let me know below in the comments section or email me @

My thoughts and feelings about the curative and restorative powers of films are my own "brain-balm" in this sometimes lonely and alcohol challenged world. I can pop in one of these and feel a little victory about what I did for myself as a mother,daughter,friend,sister and lover:in getting sober.
If the only thing I do right today is not take a drink:it is a good day.

Thank you to IMDB for information about the films.
Go to for more info on your favorite films.

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