Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is a very successful San Francisco Public Relations man. Unfortunately, a big part of his job entails drinking booze – and Joe’s ability to consume alcohol knows no bounds.
When he meets the very pretty Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), a charming girl who prefers chocolate to alcohol, Kirsten is not unduly perturbed by his leaning towards the bottle. But by the time they marry and have a baby girl, the pressure of Joe’s work has driven him to excessive drinking.
When he complains it’s dispiriting to arrive home “feeling high” and find his wife disapprovingly sober, Kirsten makes the mistake of joining him in a drink.
This leads to her drinking alone when Joe is away on business and both continue on the downward spiral until Joe is fired on account of his inebriations.
They make a desperate effort to climb on the wagon by going to work at nurseries run by Kirsten’s father (Charles Bickford) but the sobriety and self-respect they regain is short-lived, for they make the mistake of celebrating with whisky.
After going berserk, Joe finds himself in an alcoholic ward. He is visited by a member of ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ (Jack Klugman), with whose help he eventually recovers. Joe now tackles the question of Kirsten’s recovery.
Days of Wine and Roses marks something of a break from the light comedy which Jack Lemmon built a reputation for, and here he proves without a doubt that his talents extend to high drama.
The film had a lasting effect in reinforcing the growing social acceptance of the ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ movement.
Kirsten Arnesen Clay