Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Heart Jack Klugman: Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

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. 


  1. I have to say that this is another one of Jack Klugman's performances that always impressed me. In some ways I think it is sad that most people only know Mr. Klugman from The Odd Couple and Quincy. Oh, they are both great shows and I love both of them, but Mr. Klugman has done so much more. He's had a long and varied career, and I don't think he ever gave a bad performance! Like many other actors best known for television (the late John Forsythe being another example), I really wish more people knew about his movie roles!

  2. I remember watching this film a few years ago, primarly because of Jack Lemmon. I didn't really know much about Jack Klugman then and really not much more now - other than the Odd Couple of course. Thanks for shining a spotlight on Klugman. I'll be more aware of him when I'm rewatching some of the films he was in.

  3. I absolutely *love* Days of Wine and Roses. This post reminded me it needs another re-watch.

  4. Great movie, but it is so hard to watch. Klugman is incredible in this role. You are right about the smoking at the AA meeting. Actually there is a church down from our house that hosts AA and NA meetings. There are always several attendees outside smoking. One vice at a time, I guess. ;)

  5. What a fabulous post. A great tribute to Jack Klugman. Loved the Odd couple.Don't know if you mentioned in other posts, but jack was in the original drama 12 Angry Men. he later reprsed a comic version in The Odd Couple with Felix being the stick-in-the-mud who held everything up. Priceless.

  6. Some films have strange effects on me. This is exactly one of them.I feel like I am in the film, for some people this may seem to be a fun element but I am real. I feel like I am one of them, there was another film like this, it was the green mile. I was John coffee then :)


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