Day of Wine and Roses (1962) was directed by Blake Edwards and stars Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. Lemmon plays Joe Clay, a public relations man whose job is to make rich clients happy. Even if that means providing them with lots of liquor and hot girls. He meets Kirsten Arnesen (Remick), the secretary of one of his boozing and womanizing clients. Kirsten is a girl from the country determined to make a life for herself in the big city, in this case San Francisco. Joe is absolutely smitten with Kirsten and they go on a date. Joe introduces Kirsten, whose only vice is a penchant for chocolate, to the wonders of alcohol. They marry, have a child and go on a wild alcoholic bender that last for years and gets worse and worse as time passes on. Can they make the marriage work? Can they raise their daughter? Can they pull themselves out of their alcoholic haze and stay sober for good?
Jack Klugman has a small role as Jim Hungerford, the leader of a local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Jim (Klugman) reaches out to Joe (Lemmon) at the rehab center that Joe has been placed in after a major binge drinking freak out. For any of you familiar with Jack Klugman as Oscar from The Odd Couple TV series, seeing Jack has a buttoned-up sober gentleman might throw you off. Klugman's character is the only person who shows real empathy for Joe. Jim is the beacon of hope of the story. He's the person whom Joe looks up to as a role model. He's the voice of reason and the speaker of hard truths. Jim is the epitome of stability as well as an example of how someone can lead a sober life for 14 years after being an alcoholic for 12. I always think opposites work very well in stories and in this case Joe and Jim are opposites because Joe represents before and Jim represents after. Through Jim (Klugman) we see what Joe (Lemmon) could become. If only he could stick to AA long enough for it to happen. While I didn't get to see much of Klugman in this film, what I did see I enjoyed very much. And boy, did he look good all cleaned up in a nice suit.
The irony of the AA scenes in the film is that the alcoholics are also big smokers, including Klugman and Lemmon's characters.