The Lost Weekend | 1945
This grim, realistic study of alcoholism from Billy Wilder, took the Best Picture Oscar in 1945, and Best Actor for Ray Milland as booze-dependent novelist Don Birnam. It was made largely on location in New York.
The bar in which Birnam pickles his liver is PJ Clarkes Saloon, 915 Third Avenue at East 55th Street. This wonderful institution is, amazingly, still open for business, a tiny oasis among the highrise real estate of the East Side. This is the legendary bar in which Johnny Mercer wrote One For My Baby (“So set ’em up, Joe...”). The barman's name was Tommy – but that didn't scan.
The rumble of the old ‘Third Avenue el’ – the elevated railway which ran past the bar – meant that many of the interiors had to be re-shot in a detailed recreation of PJ Clarkes in Hollywood.
Birnam dries out at Bellevue Hospital, First Avenue at East 29th Street.
His painful trek along Third Avenue, north from 55th Street to 110th Street, desperately searching for a pawnbroker on a public holiday, was filmed by a hidden camera – inside a bakery truck – one quiet Sunday.