Secretly Scary: 1962’s DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES

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Author Lee Gambin’s SECRETLY SCARY is a celebration of movies that were not marketed as horror films but contain hidden horrors ripe for discovery and discussion.

“You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to go to a nice place and have a drink.” – Kirsten Clay

With a tagline reading: “In it’s own terrifying way it is a love story”, Blake Edwards’s harrowing exploration into the disastrous effects of alcoholism DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES is a devastating character study that reads like a monster movie in that it presents its two leads as desperate loners isolated by their overwhelming addiction. This heartbreaking and bleak doomed romance is written, directed and performed with such bloodletting sensitivity, stark awareness and revelatory sophistication that it is thoroughly gripping and determinedly unsettling. The film sets itself up as a hangover from the romantic comedies of the fifties starring the likes of Rock Hudson and Doris Day, but is painted with such sinister undertones that that entire mood is completely destroyed and swept away as we are swiftly introduced to two characters who hold each other captive as accountable crutches, with a half empty bottle of booze in each hand.

Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is in public relations (but considers himself more so a corporate pimp), and he is the kind of guy that is in charge of other people’s happiness and never really considers his own. He is also an alcoholic, but not truly aware of how severe his drinking is. On a job he meets a pretty secretary named Kirsten (Lee Remick) who doesn’t touch alcohol, but is “nuts about chocolate”. After a couple of failed attempts, he finally convinces Kirsten to go on a date with him, and it is here that he buys her a chocolate-flavored drink that she takes a liking to. Joe, like many alcoholics, is desperate to find a devoted drinking partner and sees potential in Kirsten – here the film jets off like a vampire movie, in that the original…

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