The Lost Weekend

The Lost Weekend quotes

37 total quotes (ID: 361)

'Bim' Nolan
Don Birnam
Gloria
Multiple Characters


Helen: ...they could be worse. After all, you're not an embezzler or a murderer. You drink too much and that's not fatal...There must be a reason why you drink, Don. The right doctor could find it.
Don: Look, I'm way ahead of the right doctor. I know the reason. The reason is me - what I am, or rather what I'm not. What I wanted to become and didn't.
Helen: What is it you want to be so much that you're not?
Don: A writer. It's silly, isn't it? You know, in college, I passed for a genius. They couldn't get out the college magazine without one of my stories. Boy, was I hot! Hemingway stuff. I reached my peak when I was nineteen. Sold a piece to The Atlantic Monthly. Reprinted in the Reader's Digest...My mother bought me a brand-new typewriter and I moved right in on New York. Well, the first thing I wrote - that didn't quite come off. And the second I dropped - the public wasn't ready for that. I started a third and a fourth, only by then, somebody began to look over my shoulder and whisper in a thin, clear voice like the E string on a violin. 'Don Birnam,' he whispered, 'It's not good enough, not that way. How about a couple of drinks just to set it on its feet, huh?' So I had a couple. Oh what a great idea that was! That made all the difference. Suddenly, I could see the whole thing. The tragic sweep of the great novel beautifully proportioned. But before I could really grab it and throw it down on paper, the drinks would wear off and everything would be gone like a mirage. Then there was despair, and a drink to counter-balance despair, and then one to counter-balance the counter-balance. I'd sit in front of that typewriter trying to squeeze out one page that was half-way decent and that guy would pop up again...the other Don Birnam. There are two of us, you know. Don the drunk and Don the writer. And the drunk would say to the writer, 'Come on, you idiot. Let's get some good out of that portable. Let's hock it. Let's take it to that pawn shop over on Third Avenue. It's always good for ten dollars.' Another drink, another binge, another bender, another spree. Such humorous words. I've tried to break away from that guy a lot of times, but no good. You know, once I even got myself a gun and some bullets. I was gonna do it on my thirtieth birthday. Here are the bullets. The gun went for three quarts of whiskey. That other Don wanted us to have a drink first. He always wants us to have a drink first. The flop suicide of a flop writer.
Wick: All right, maybe you're not a writer. Why don't you do something else?
Don: Sure, take a nice job, public accountant, real estate salesman. I haven't the guts, Helen. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can't take 'quiet desperation.'
Helen: But you are a writer. You have every quality for it - imagination, wit, pity.
Don: Come on, let's face reality. I'm thirty-three. I'm living on the charity of my brother. Room and board free. Fifty cents a week for cigarettes and an occasional ticket to a show or a concert - all out of the bigness of his heart. And it is a big heart and a patient one...I've never done anything, I'm not doing anything, I never will do anything. Zero, zero, zero! Look Helen, do yourself a favor. Go on, clear out.
Helen: I'm gonna fight, and fight and fight...


Helen: Don't you want a drink, Don?
Don: What are you up to?
Helen: Nothing. I'm just ashamed of the way I talk to you - like a narrow-minded, insensitive, small-town teetotaler.
Don: I told you, I don't feel like a drink. Not now.
Helen: Oh come on, Don, just one. I'll have one with you. I'm in no hurry. This is my easy day at the office.
Don: Look Helen, there are a few things I want to put in order before Wick comes.
Helen: Let me stay. Please!
Don: No! I don't want to sound rude, but I'm afraid you'll have to leave now.
Helen: Here, Don. [She hands him a drink glass]
Don: You're very sweet. Goodbye...
Helen: You need this, Don. Drink it. I want you to drink it. I'll get you some more. I'll get you all you want.
Don: What kind of talk is that?
Helen: It's just that I'd rather have you drunk than dead.
Don: Who wants to be dead?
Helen: Stop lying to me.
[He wrestles the gun from her]
Don: 'Cause it's best all around for everybody. For you, for Wick, and for me...Look at it this way, Helen: this business is just a formality. Don Birnam is dead already. He died over this weekend...of a lot of things - of alcohol, of moral anemia, of fear, shame, DT's.
Helen: There were two Dons. You told me so yourself. Don the Drunk and Don the Writer.
Don: Let's not go back to a fancy figure of speech. There's only one Don. He's through...I'm all right. I still have enough strength left.
Helen: I know you have. I can see it. Don't waste it by pulling a trigger, Don.
Don: Oh, let me get it over with. Or do you want me to give you another one of my promises that I never keep?
Helen: I don't want you to give me your promise. I don't want you to give your promise to anybody but Don Birnam.
Don: It's too late. I wouldn't know how to start.
Helen: The only way to start is to stop. There is no cure besides just stopping.
Don: Can't be done.
Helen: Other people have stopped.
Don: People with a purpose, with something to do.
Helen: You've got talent and ambition.
Don: Talent, ambition. That's dead long ago. That's drowned. That's drifting around in the bloated belly of a lake of alcohol.
Helen: No, it isn't. You still have it.
Don: Quit trying to stall me, Helen, it's too late. There's no more writing left in me. It's gone. What do you expect - a miracle?
Helen: Yes, yes, yes - if I could just make you...
[the buzzer sounds]
Wick: I found this floating around on the Nile. She writes pretty good. I oiled her up a little. And I didn't oil her up so you can hock her.
Helen: Someone somewhere sent it back - why? Because he means you to stay alive. Because he wants you to write. I didn't ask for a big miracle.

Helen: If he's left alone, anything can happen. And I'm tied up at the office every minute, all Saturday, all Sunday, I can't look out for him. You know how he gets. He'll be run over by a car, he'll be arrested. He doesn't know what he's doing. A cigarette might fall from his mouth and he'll burn in bed.
Wick: If it happens, it happens and I hope it does. I've had six years of this. I've had my bellyfull...Who are we fooling? We've tried everything, haven't we? We've reasoned with him. We've baited him. We've watched him like a hawk. We've tried trusting him. How often have you cried? How often have I beaten him up? Scrape him out of a gutter and pump some kind of self-respect into him and back he falls, back in every time.
Helen: He's a sick person. It's as though there was something wrong with his heart or his lungs. You wouldn't walk out on him if he had an attack. He needs our help.
Wick: He won't accept our help. Not Don, he hates us. He wants to be alone with that bottle of his. It's all he gives a hang about. Why kid ourselves? He's a hopeless alcoholic. Let go of him, Helen. Give yourself a chance.

Gloria: A fella called me up about him. Wants me to show him the town.
Nat: Like Grant's Tomb, for instance?
Gloria: But death.
Nat: Ain't it amazin' how many guys come down from Albany just to see Grant's Tomb?
Gloria: [To Don] Sometimes I wish you came from Albany.
Don: Yeah? Where would you take me?
Gloria: Lots of places. The Music Hall, then The New Yorker roof, maybe.
Don: There is now being presented in the theatre on Forty-Fourth Street the uncut version of Hamlet. Now I see us as heading out for that. Do you know Hamlet?
Gloria: I know Forty-Fourth Street.
Don: I'd like to get your interpretation of Hamlet's character.
Gloria: I'd like to give it to you.

Don: Let me have one, Nat. I'm dying. Just one.
Nat: No credit and you know it. Yeah, one. One's too many, and a hundred's not enough. That's all...Now go, go away...I mean it, get out of here.

Don: [describing his book] About a messed-up life, about a man and a woman and a bottle. About nightmares, horrors, humiliations, all the things I want to forget.
Helen: Put it all down on paper. Get rid of it that way. Tell it all to whom it may concern. And it concerns so many people, Don...Of course, you couldn't write the beginning 'cause you didn't know the ending. Only now - only now you know the ending.

Don: Pour it softly, pour it gently, and pour it to the brim.
Nat: There are a lot of bars on Third Avenue. Do me a favor, will ya? Get out of here and buy it somewhere else...I don't like you much. What's the idea of pullin' her [Gloria's] leg? You know you're not going to take her out...You're drunk and you're just makin' with the mouth...I know the dame, the lady, I mean. I don't like what you're doin' to her, either...You should have seen her come in here last night looking for ya. Her eyes all rainy, and her mascara all washed away...That's an awful high-class young lady...How the heck did she ever get mixed up with a guy who sops it up like you do?

Don: I'm a writer. I just started a novel. As a matter of fact, I've started several but I never seem to finish one.
Helen: Well, in that case, why don't you write short stories?
Don: Oh, I have some of those - first paragraphs. And there's one half of the opening scene of a play which takes place in the leaning tower of Pisa that attempts to explain why it leans and why all sensible buildings should lean.
Helen: They'll love that in Toledo.

I'm gonna put this whole weekend down, minute by minute...The way I stood in there packing my suitcase, only my mind wasn't on the suitcase, and it wasn't on the weekend. Nor was it on the shirts I was putting in the suitcase either. My mind was hanging outside the window. It was suspended just about eighteen inches below. And out there in that great big concrete jungle, I wonder how many others that are like me. Poor bedeviled guys on fire with thirst. Such comical figures to the rest of the world as they stagger blindly towards another binge, another bender, another spree.

Mrs. Deveridge: I know what goes on in this house. I know Mr. Don Birnam. I knew all about him the first week they moved here five years ago. Heard those bottles rattle in the garbage can. I know all about you. You're Helen St. James, you're working on the Time Magazine, and you're his best girl. I also know he's not staying with any friends in Long Island. He's off on another toot and you know I'm darned right...I could have kicked him out fifty times - the last when two taxi drivers dumped him into the entrance hall out cold on the floor. With all my tenants going in and out and children leaving for school!...Well, I didn't put him out. Not as long as his brother could pay the rent. You couldn't help liking him anyway. He was so good-looking. He had such nice manners.

Old Lady: That's the nice young man who drinks.

Don: Let me work it out my way, I'm trying. I'm trying!
Helen: I know you're trying, Don. We're both trying. You're trying not to drink and I'm trying not to love you.

Don: Goodbye.
Helen: Oh, oh, just a minute. [She holds out his derby hat. He takes it from her and begins walking off] My umbrella, if you don't mind?
Don: Catch. [He tosses it in her general direction and it falls on the floor at her feet]
Helen: Thank you very much.
Don: I'm terribly sorry.
Helen: You're the rudest person I've ever seen. What's the matter with you?
Don: Oh, just rude, I guess.
Helen: Really, somebody should talk to your mother.
Don: They've tried, Miss St. John.
Helen: My name's not St. John.
Don: St. Joseph, then.
Helen: St. James.
Don: First name Hilda or Helen or Harriett maybe?
Helen: Helen.
Don: All right, Helen.

Don: Shall we dance?
Gloria: You're awfully pretty, Mr. Birnam.
Don: I'll bet you tell that to all the boys.
Gloria: Why natch! Only with you, it's on the level.

Mrs. St. James: [about Don] A writer. What did he write? I never heard his name.