I bloody love this film, the quintessential ‘Eighties film no matter which way you look at it. It’s directed by the same guy who did SIXTEEN CANDLES, WEIRD SCIENCE, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, PRETTY IN PINK, UNCLE BUCK, HOME ALONE, BEETHOVEN and BABY’S DAY OUT, so you can see that it was in safe hands, the hands of a master craftsman of the American teen comedy genre.

It’s the story of five disparate individuals who, much to their disgust, get called into their high school by their headmaster for an all-day detention on a Saturday, of all days.

They are highly suspicious, dismissive and even contemptuous of each other at first, because they each fall into different ‘categories’ of American high school-goer that don’t often mix or gel with each other, namely, the princess, the athlete, the brainiac, the social recluse and the rebellious bad boy-slash-criminal.

But, by the end of the long, often trying day, the five end up coming together and discovering that they have a lot more in common with each other than they could ever have imagined.

They’ve learned a lot about themselves and about each other over the course of this day, and, going forward, what they’ve learned might just help them to feel a little more compassion for their fellow students whom, in the past, they might have simply dismissed as not being relevant to them and their lives.

 All five actors and actresses belong to a group that, in ‘Eighties film-making terms, was known as the ‘Brat Pack,’ a group that also included the likes of Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. My favourite Brat-Packer is Molly Ringwald; I’ve just always liked her for some reason. I loved her in the Stephen King mini-series, THE STAND, as well.

Here, she plays Claire Standish, the ‘princess.’ She’s rich, pretty and popular, so how could she possibly have any problems or underlying worries? You’d be surprised. I love when she takes out her lunch at lunch-time and reveals it to be a beautifully packed and presented sushi dish, complete with chopsticks…!

When Judd Nelson as angry rebel and loner John Bender asks her what it is, she looks at him as if he must have been living under a rock not to have heard of sushi. She’s such a privileged girl…! Bender, of course, has no lunch, as he comes from a violent, abusive and neglectful home, the kind of trailer trash set-up you might see in an Eminem video.

This goes some way to explaining why he has such a massive chip on his shoulder and why he rails against authority at every opportunity. He and the Vice-Principal of Shermer High, Mr. Vernon, go at each other hammer and tongs, because Vernon gets his kicks out of domineering over the kids in his care. It makes him feel like a big man, helps him to forget his frustrations about how his own life has turned out.

Bender is like a mixture of bad boy Bart Simpson and school bully Nelson Muntz from THE SIMPSONS, and Vernon makes an ideal Principal Seymour Skinner, who can’t bear to have his feeble authority questioned or his prissy Sunday school sensibilities affronted.

There’s one scene in which Vernon keeps assigning Bender detention on top of detention, for his mouthy inability to shut his trap when it matters, that could have come straight from THE SIMPSONS. Bender even says ‘Eat my shorts’ at some stage, and when he turns his attentions to prom queen-in-waiting, Claire, it’s like the time good girl Lisa Simpson has a crush on bad boy Nelson Muntz.

The handsome Emilio Estevez as Andrew Clark, the athlete or ‘jock,’ rubs Bender up the wrong way because they’re both alpha males. Andrew is ashamed of the reason he’s here in Saturday detention, maybe because he’s a better man than his dad, whose motto, ‘winning is everything,’ is ruining Andrew’s life.

Anthony Michael Hall as nerdy virgin Brian Johnson has another incredibly sad reason for being here in detention. If Vice-Principal Vernon had dug a little deeper into the flare gun business, instead of just laying down the law as usual, he might actually have been able to help a kid in his care for once, and earn those $31,000 buckaroonies a year…!

Ally Sheedy plays friendless goth recluse Allison Reynolds, a girl whose reason for being in Saturday detention is perhaps the saddest of all. Who is she really? Slutty nymphomaniac? Compulsive liar? Or just a girl who desperately needs a friend?

Will the Shermer Five discover that it’s actually peer pressure and parental pressures that are the real enemies here, and not each other? Will Cupid’s arrow land anywhere significant? Will Bender do his nine or ten extra detentions? Who will pay for the damage he does to the vent and various other parts of the school he’s ruined? God knows. Don’t worry about it. Just sit back and enjoy a delicious slice of nostalgia served piping hot with a side-order of comedy.



So much has been written and said about TAXI DRIVER, one of Martin Scorsese’s best and most memorable movies. It’s too violent. It’s a vigilante film, but one in which the vigilante is experiencing a severe existential crisis. Travis Bickle is an anti-hero-slash-murderous thug. Jodie Foster as Iris was too young to be witnessing such violence as takes place in the climactic shoot-out. The film’s too dark/too bleak/too grim. It has no redeeming features. Well, these things might be true or they might not be true, but one thing is for sure. TAXI DRIVER is an unforgettable slice of cinema pie.

Robert De Niro is superb as lead character, Travis Bickle, an ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran who’s trying to find his way back to the world after the horrors of war. Even if we didn’t know he was a Vietnam veteran, we’d still know he was someone who’d been away somewhere for a while- prison, maybe, or a mental asylum- and who was having trouble adapting or acclimatising back to real life. He looks at the world and its occupants like he’s seeing them for the first time and doesn’t quite know what to make of it all.

He lives in one room, a room which he doesn’t know how to make comfortable for himself or how to make it feel like a real home, which surely he must have had once. Travis Bickle suckling on mother’s milk? Hey, everyone, even a half-baked vigilante assassin-type, had a mother once…

He works nights as a taxi driver because his nights are miserable, too long and fraught with insomnia and over-thinking. He occasionally mixes with the other cabbies, who’ve all been in the cabby-ing game for a long time now. He even confides in the much older, worldy-wise driver Wizard, but Wizard hasn’t got the answer to Travis’s problems.

After messing up his fledgling relationship with posh girl Betsy (a gorgeous Cybill Shepherd), who’s working on the political campaign to elect Senator Charles Palantine as President, Travis’s existential crisis comes on him like a cloak of fog on a country road at night. What the hell is the point of living, anyway? What’s it all about?

Travis stocks up on guns and teaches himself to shoot in order to fill the emptiness inside him that started long before Bitchy Betsy left him outside the porno theatre where he’d taken her for an ill-judged night out.

God Almighty, Travis man! You don’t take your classy Uptown Girl to a seedy porno cinema where the only other customers are sleazy old men with their hands inside the raincoats they wear to cover their shame! That’s Dating 101, that is. It’d be like taking the fucking Queen to see Roy Chubby Brown in fucking concert, that would.

Anyway. Alone Again, naturally. Travis spends hours alone in his untidy, uncomfortable bedroom, which resembles at this stage a sort of overnight army camping spot, practising his moves with his guns in the mirror and perfecting his by now iconic speech:

“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

He’s the only one here. How very true that is. Travis is desperately lonely, unsure of his purpose in life. He sees the people all around him interacting effortlessly with each other, and wonders in the back of his mind why he can’t manage to do the same himself. Is it the post-Vietnam PTSD that’s responsible? Or maybe Travis is autistic and doesn’t know it. It would explain his difficulties talking to people, his lack of social skills.

Travis then attempts to save twelve-year-old prostitute Iris, played by an already competent and professional Jodie Foster, from herself, her grim situation and her manipulative pimp Matthew (Harvey Keitel, but he’s not running around in the nip in this one, that’s THE PIANO you’re thinking of!), nicknamed Sport. She hasn’t asked to be saved, by the way.

It’s Travis’s way of going some good in the world, of making his mark, whether little Iris wants to be returned to her parents or not. After all, didja see ‘em in the newspaper? They’re no spring chickens, I’ll say that for them…!

Travis may even be feeling that he won’t come out of the showdown alive. He could be contemplating suicide-by-cop, or suicide by lowlife, drug-dealing pimping scumbags. He might equally be thinking of taking his own life.

Either way, Travis Bickle will meet his destiny in the scruffy, ill-lit landings of the shabby brothel where Iris works. He acts like a man on a mission that must be kept secret at all costs, a man preparing for a war that only he knows about. God help us all.

What kind of guys do you think carry out school or mosque shootings? Guys like Travis, maybe, who think that society has abandoned them and nobody cares about them? If only we could look into everyone’s bedrooms and see which people are standing in front of their mirrors trying on guns for size and practising the speech they’ll make if they ever get the audience they crave. But of course privacy laws wouldn’t allow it. We will have to figure out some other way to identify these ‘involuntary celibates,’ as they’re becoming known, before they commit their ill-judged crimes.

What do you think of the very last scene, anyway? I prefer to pretend it doesn’t even exist, lol. TAXI DRIVER ends when Travis Bickle puts his fingers, gun-shaped, to his own head, and don’t you be telling me any different. Are you talkin’ to me, or what…?

I adore the musical score, composed by Bernard Herrmann, who also did the iconic theme tunes to Alfred Hitchcock movies, PSYCHO, VERTIGO, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. He also did the music for the stone-cold classic film, CITIZEN KANE. What fabulous stuff to have on your CV. There’s one guy I’d like to play Celebrity Dinner Party with.

This is one of my personal favourites of Martin Scorsese’s films. I love GOODFELLAS too, of course, and CAPE FEAR, CASINO, MEAN STREETS and RAGING BULL. Robert De Niro’s association with the director has done him no harm at all, and vice versa. Travis Bickle is a guy we can alternately pity, admire, identify with and be repulsed by. He’s a complicated mix of good and bad, scared and fearless, repugnant and loveable. Love him or hate him, you won’t forget him.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:


falling down



I bloody love this film. Michael Douglas as the film’s anti-hero Bill Foster, a man who helps to make missiles for a living until he is made redundant, is a kind of Everyman, at war with the reality of everyday life.

One morning while sitting in traffic on the freeway in sweltering heat, surrounded by angry morons, he suddenly decides that he’s mad as hell with everything and he’s not going to take it any more. (Although, the signs are that this rebellion against life in this particular man has been brewing for some time.)

He abandons his car, telling other pissed-off motorists that he’s ‘going home.’ By this, he doesn’t mean the home he shares with his jumpy mother who’s terrified of his mood swings and explosive temper, but the house where he used to live with his wife Elizabeth, their daughter Adele and their beautiful Labrador dog. Until he was kicked out for, guess what, his mood swings and explosive temper.

Now he’s got it into his head that he’s going home for his daughter Adele’s birthday, despite the fact that the frightened Elizabeth has a restraining order out against him and keeps calling the police out to the house to reassure her that she and Adele are safe enough. Bill’s journey home is an extraordinary one.

He encounters various situations and people as he travels, throughout the course of one day, back to his former family’s home. They are the kinds of situations and people that drive most of us demented but, unlike the rest of us, for whom grumbling passive-aggressively is the only real outlet for our frustrations, Bill Foster actually takes the law into his own hands, while immediately putting himself outside the law for ever after because of it.

Most of us are probably cheering loudly as he steadily dispatches the villains of everyday life, such as the shopkeeper who charges over the odds for a can of fizzy drink and the burger place that stops serving breakfast on the dot of half-eleven, even if you’re gagging for a bite of scrambled egg and you’re only a measly seven seconds late.

My favourite bit in the whole film is when Bill compares the flat soggy burger they serve him in the Whammyburger to the juicy, succulent-looking burger in the advertised picture on the wall in front of him. This is a favourite bugbear of mine own, lol. Aren’t I always complaining about that exact same thing in real life? My kids are vigorously nodding yes, yes she is…!

There’s also the Latino punks who try to rob him because he’s inadvertently wandered onto their crappy derelict ‘pissing-ground,’ and the rich old white man who tries to keep him from walking across his precious golf-course while a game is in mid-play. Rich people in their exclusive golf-courses with glittering lakes and acres of lush green rolling parkland where the poor are forbidden to enter are really pissing Bill Foster off today.

I love the bit where he tells the homophobic and racist guy in the Army Surplus Stores, when the guy tries to make out that he and Bill are the same: ‘We’re not the same. I’m an American, and you’re a sick asshole.’ Woo-hoo! Go, Bill.

The guy is like Herman, the menacingly soft-voiced, one-armed surplus stores owner in THE SIMPSONS, and there’s a similar set-up in Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION as well. Something about a spider catching itself a nice juicy fly…

There’s an hilarious episode of Irish clerical sitcom FATHER TED which sees the titular Fr. Ted inheriting a room full of Nazi memorabilia from a priest who clearly supported that side during the war. ‘Eh, would you have anything there from the Allied side at all, Seamus?’ a bewildered Ted asks his friend. ‘Oh no,’ replies Fr. Seamus instantly. ‘That type of thing wouldn’t interest me at all…!’ Very funny stuff indeed.

Anyway, as Bill Foster gets ever closer to his family home and his little daughter’s birthday party, accumulating scalps and ever bigger and more dangerous weapons along the way, Robert Duvall is superb as Martin Prendergast, the cop with literally one day left before he’s due to take early retirement.

He takes it on himself to track down Bill Foster, the square little man in the short-sleeved white shirt and tie (like Homer Simpson’s beloved Detective Sipowicz, lol!) with the pens in his breast pocket and a buzzcut you could set your watch to.

Prendergast has been virtually emasculated by his neurotic wife Amanda, who is pushing him to leave the force early and retire to some place where he’ll be utterly miserable for the rest of his life. She’s worried to death that something will happen to him in his life as a cop that will take him away from her. She doesn’t seem to be at all worried about the fact that he’ll resent her forever if she takes him away from a job he’s good at and enjoys. Meantime, however, he has the thrill of the chase (with Foster as the prey) to remind him that he’s alive and still a good cop.

The end is both chilling and sad, as we learn what Bill has in mind as a grande finalé for his little family and compare it against what actually happens to Bill, a man who was so tightly wound that, like the delicate mechanism to which we’re comparing him, he was bound to snap and break after so long.

He’s not evil, just sad and confused, pissed-off and fed-up after losing his job and his family. He not only was made redundant, but he feels that he is redundant. No-one needs or wants him any more. Like that other poor guy in the movie, he feels like he’s ‘not economically viable’ any longer.

This is a terrific film. I’m not condoning Bill D-FENS Foster’s violent methods, but I challenge you to watch this film and not cheer him on at least once for his decision to take no more shit from modern life.

Life can be crowded, noisy, sweaty, confusing, irritating, unfair, clogged up with pettifogging bureaucracy and downright baffling and bewildering at times for the people trying to get through it. Is it any wonder that, one day, it should prove too much for someone…?


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

You can contact Sandra at:






I’ve loved this film since I first saw it years ago. It’s a gorgeous film, with just the right amount of pain and suffering in it to please an emotional wreck such as myself, lol. It’s the story of a family torn apart by love, or at least the love of an eighteen-year-old college boy from a well-to-do family for a much older single mother of two who works part-time as a shop-girl. Get the picture? It could be love, but it’s probably mostly just lust. Bloke’s at his sexual peak at that age, isn’t he, so no wonder the older ladies come sniffing around.

Frank Fowler is the handsome young school-leaver in question. He literally has the world at his fingertips. He shows great promise as an architect and he’s going to college in the fall, after one last long lazy hazy summer fishing for lobster on the coast of Maine, where he lives with his parents.

His dad Matt is the local doctor, well-liked and respected by everyone in the community because he’s genuinely a lovely guy, and he worships his son and only child. Frank’s mother Ruth, a choral music teacher at the local school, loves Frank too; after all, he’s her beloved only child as well. She’s not as likeable as her husband, however. She was the hard-ass parent, apparently, while Matt was the soft touch, which is the opposite to how it probably is in most other families.

She’s prickly, touchy, a bit of a cold fish, even, and over the course of the marriage, the doctor and his wife have drifted apart. The lines of communication are, if not exactly shut down, then at least not as open as they might once have been. It’s sad, but it happens. And it’s not irreversible. It can actually be fixed, by that one little word: communication. But you gotta work at it.

The main (Maine, geddit?) problem the Fowlers have at the moment is that Frank has been seeing a local, much older single mother called Natalie, who’s beautiful in a washed-out, faded, tired kind of way that has captivated the youthful Frank, and, let’s be honest here, his old man Matt as well. Matt and his bezzie mate Willis can hardly keep their eyes off Natalie at family gatherings, she’s such a tidy piece of ass.

Natalie comes with complications, however. She has two young sons who are at the age where they need a man to look up to, and they’re already getting dangerously attached to Frank. If/when the young couple break up, as Frank’s mother certainly wants them to do, it will be hard on the two young lads. They do have a father of their own, though, and he’s the biggest fly in Frank and Natalie’s ointment…

Richard Strout is an obnoxious, womanising, beer-swilling yobbo. He even looks the part, with the sleazy little douchebag moustache he wears. He can’t stand that his ex-wife is seeing someone, especially someone to whom Strout clearly feels socially and educationally inferior.

He’s jealous and possessive, and yet he was such a bad husband and unreliable father in the past that Natalie wants nothing to do with him now. So it’s all his own fault he’s in the position he’s in, but people like him will always find someone else to blame for their own shortcomings. In this case, that person is College Boy Frank Fowler…

Frank assures his mum, when pressed, that he and Natalie are just a ‘summer fling’ before he goes off to college in the fall, but Natalie and her boys are already coming to depend on Frank. Someone’s going to get hurt if there’s a break-up. And, if the violent sociopath Richard Strout has his way, someone’s going to get hurt even before there’s a break-up. Can the Fowler family withstand the aftershocks of inviting someone with Natalie’s kind of baggage into their little domain…?

Tom Wilkinson (Gerald from THE FULL MONTY, 1997) does a fantastic job as the father whose heart is broken by the one thing guaranteed to break any father’s heart. It takes guts to take the stand he takes and to do the things he does, and his bitchy, passive-aggressive wife had damned well better stand by him for doing them.

Sissy Spacek (the original Carrie) is superb here also as the mother of Frank. You can tell how much she loathes the idea of her precious baby boy sleeping with the shop-soiled Natalie by the way she’s so passive-aggressively polite to Natalie in person…! There’s no way she thinks Natalie is good enough for her boy.

Matt’s lifelong friends the Grinnells, Katie and Willis, are the perfect example of a big sprawling American family, with their ten or eleven grandchildren and all the photo albums and scrapbooks that record every triumph, every disappointment, every skinned knee and every Prom Night.

That scene where poor Ruth has to listen to Old Ma Grinnell counting her grandchildren while Ruth is having to fake an interest in each one individually is hard and sad to watch, but it happens. Life goes on, and people tend to forget after a while that you’re still nursing a tragedy in your bosom. It’s not their fault. It’s just the way life is.

The Eastern European choral music Ruth is teaching the schoolgirls is beautifully haunting, and the scenery in the film is just gorgeous. Maine is Stephen King country, isn’t it? No wonder he loves it so much. I’d love to go there sometime and wander around and see the things he’s seen and walk in the places where he’s walked. Maybe one day…

By the way, Karen Allen from the INDIANA JONES films has a small role in the film. And the reason the film is called IN THE BEDROOM is lobster-related, of all things. It took me many viewings to work this out for myself, lol, and here I am giving it to you lot for free. Enjoy the film, anyway. I certainly hope you get as much out of it as I did. I’ve watched it many times and it’s lost none of its beauty or poignancy yet.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

You can contact Sandra at:





‘Say, don’t I know you from someplace? Aren’t you Norma Desmond, the silent movie star? Didn’t you used to be big?’

Joseph Gillis.

‘I AM big. It’s the pictures that got small.’

Norma Desmond.

‘They (the silent movie stars) had the eyes of the world back then. But that wasn’t enough for them. They wanted the ears as well. So they opened their mouths, and what came out? Talk, talk, talk…!’

Norma Desmond.

‘We didn’t need words back then. We had faces!’

Norma Desmond.

This magnificent film lost out on the Best Picture Oscar for that year to ALL ABOUT EVE, another excellent film. SUNSET BOULEVARD should have won, but some of the bigwigs in Hollywood weren’t exactly thrilled at the way their precious industry was portrayed as being so cynically soul-destroying and merciless towards the stars it routinely chewed up and spat out, and also ruthlessly dismissive of its older, washed-up stars. If you were hot, you were hot, and if you were not, well then, goodbye for ever and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Still, we know SUNSET BOULEVARD should’ve won the Best Picture Oscar and that’s what matters.

Beefcake William Holden does a stellar job as Joe McGillis, the hack writer who keeps trying to write that bestselling Hollywood film script that’ll make his name and keep him in clover for the rest of his days. At the moment, however, all his ideas are dull and derivative and he’s up to his cojones in debt, because Hollywood doesn’t pay you for rubbish script ideas, only for good solid polished script ideas, see?

Joe has just about decided to throw in the towel and return home to Dayton, Ohio, where he’ll go back to working for the local rag and live out his working life reporting on Bonnie Baby beauty contests and charity bring and buy sales, when a strange thing happens.

Whilst fleeing from a pair of heavies who want to re-possess his jalopy, he accidentally finds himself in the grounds of a fabulous but decaying old Hollywood mansion from the ‘Twenties, the kind of house that was built by the super-rich silent movie stars of bygone years for them to enjoy their wonderfully privileged lifestyles in.

Swimming pool, deserted now, ruined tennis court, unswept deserted courtyard. Joe is inclined to think that the queer but fascinating place has actually been abandoned when a strange female figure appears from behind a curtain and imperiously bids him to hurry up and get his arse inside. He’s just been mistaken for a monkey-undertaker (that’s right, you heard me, lol!), and he’s also just had his first experience of Norma Desmond, star of the golden era of the silent screen…

Norma Desmond is rude, haughty, selfish and self-obsessed. She lives in her crumbling mansion surrounded by framed photographs of herself in her hey-day and the memorabilia of her long-lost film career, including a home cinema on which she never tires of playing her old movies. Talk about narcissism.

She’s all alone but for a solemn little foreign man called Max who carries out her every wish and whim, no matter how ludicrous. Max has gone to ridiculous lengths to hide from ‘Madame’ the fact that her legions of fans have not only deserted her, but forgotten her as well. He’s an enabler to Norma’s sick visions of herself as still a huge star.

It would have been kinder altogether to let her know the real truth about her washed-up career twenty years ago, but Norma’s so used to thinking of herself as Queen of the Cinema Screen that maybe Max feels that the shock of a good hard dose of reality might actually kill her. Well, he should know. After all, he’s her butler, ex-husband and the film director who discovered her, all rolled into one obliging package, lol.

This is the bizarre household in which Joe finds himself suddenly embroiled. Madame takes an enormous liking to Joe, the prime slice of ‘Fifties beefcake, and immediately hires him to live in her house and edit a long messy screenplay she’s written, with herself in the starring role of Salome.

She has every intention of presenting it to her old director, Cecil B. DeMille, when it’s finished. It’ll be her comeback film, even though she hates that word, lol (she prefers ‘return’), and it will be humongous. The notion of a comeback is entirely in her own head, by the way, and everyone but Norma knows it, even the mysterious little Max.

Joe soon finds himself rapidly becoming more than just an editor to the delusional Norma. He’s her gigolo now too, her toyboy, her plaything, and with every gift of cufflinks, gold cigarette cases and vicuna coats she buys him, he feels worse about himself. (What’s a vicuna, by the way? Does anyone know? Is it an animal or summat?) Norma has bought him lock, stock and barrel, and they both know it, and their card-playing friends (the waxworks) know it too.

Worst of all, he gives up writing altogether and just gives in to this meaningless lifestyle of indolence and luxury. Just look at the most uncomfortable New Years’ Eve party ever at Norma’s house! This is his life now, and how sad it is too.

In case you guys think all this indolence and luxury sounds terrific, and nice work if you can get it, etc, hear ye this. Anyone with a gift for writing, or indeed painting, playing music or running very, very fast, can’t just squash this gift into an old biscuit tin and slam a lid on it. It will out, like a plague of zombies under the stairs.

Joe’s real gift for writing ‘outs’ when a pretty young reader of scripts for Paramount Pictures, Betty Schaefer, encourages him to re-write a tired old script of his into something new and vibrantly exciting. He enters into this project with Betty with great enthusiasm, but their writing sessions have of necessity to be a secret from the jealous and possessive Norma.

Norma, you see, has a disturbing habit of harming herself, or even just threatening to, every time Joe’s five minutes late coming back from ‘t’ privy. Max and now Joe have got to watch her pretty closely because of it, just like Norma is watching Joe. What a strange, uncomfortably paranoid household it is!

It’s not like Norma wouldn’t have any reason to be jealous, either. Pretty soon, the sparks flying between Joe and Betty are enough to ignite a fire on the Paramount lot where they meet in secret, in Betty’s little office.

But there are two things standing in the way of their happiness. One thing is Joe’s own hatred of himself for submitting to being Norma’s kept man. After all, he could have said no, couldn’t he, if he wasn’t so morally weak and detestable in his own eyes? The other thing, of course, is Norma Desmond herself…

There are so many iconic scenes to single out for praise. I adore the monkey burial ceremony, carried out in the dead of night ‘with all the solemnity of a state funeral.’ Also, Buster Keaton and two other stars of the silent era, Anna Q. Nilsson and H.B. Warner, playing cards (bridge?) with Norma while Joe looks on, bored, emptying the ashtray when Norma tells him to like a good, obedient little stud. (H.B. Warner, by the way, plays Mr. Gower who clouts George Bailey over the ear in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!)

Then there’s Cecil B. DeMille, resplendent in his riding boots, playing himself when Norma makes her first visit to Paramount Studios since her career as a silent film star ended, and the uncomfortable scenes where poor Norma undergoes a series of gruelling ‘beauty treatments’ in order to look young and beautiful for her big ‘comeback.’

The poor, poor woman. It’s all an illusion, a big rip-off. Being boiled, squeezed into bandages and made to look like a gimp-slash-mummy will not lead to her appearing one iota younger or feeling a jot happier.

(Joan Crawford goes through the same ridiculous tortures in the film MOMMIE DEAREST). It’s hard for women to look at these scenes when we’re fully aware that Norma’s only fooling herself. How out of pocket would she have been as well?

Her final scenes- ‘I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille’- are pretty damned near heart-breaking to witness. Oh Norma, poor poor Norma. Has she cracked under the strain of it all? And will Joe find the courage to walk away from all that lovely money for ever, to live as an impoverished script-writer with the real love of his life, Betty Schaefer? You’ll have to watch this legendary movie for yourselves to find out, folks. Enjoy your stroll down Sunset Boulevard…


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

You can contact Sandra at:


ray milland & jane wyman - the lost weekend 1945



That a film of this calibre was made as early in cinematic history as 1945 is a fact that constantly staggers me. This is a powerhouse of a screenplay, but don’t just take my word for it. Ask the Academy, the Academy that bestowed upon it the Award for Best Screenplay in the year of its release.

The writing translates itself easily into a fantastically tight film about the grim subject of alcoholism that I’ve watched several times now without once getting bored. Let’s take a look at the film and see if I can’t infect you guys with a little of the enthusiasm I feel for it myself. Don’t worry, it’s a nice infection, not the kind that leaves you with rheumy eyes and a shiny red hooter to rival Rudolph’s…!

Ray Milland, an actor who’s also co-starred with the divine Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER and the screen adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s THE PREMATURE BURIAL, is utterly superb as the alcoholic would-be writer, Don Birnam.

I say ‘would-be writer’ instead of actual ‘writer’ because he hasn’t written a word since University, when his Hemingway-esque short stories were the pride of the college rag.

Now, some twenty-odd years later, he’s a full-blown alkie, unemployed (and unemployable?), living on his brother Wick’s charity and wallowing in self-pity, self-loathing and self-disgust every day until the pubs open. Then you’ve lost him. Till he’s chucked out at closing-time, that is…

Even his barman and confidante Nat, of Nat’s Bar, knows that Don Birnam’s an alkie. Nat’s not without human feelings, though, and he can’t help his revulsion when Don bails out of a cleansing weekend away in the country with his brother Wick on account of the booze. As in, Don is hoping to get in some serious boozing while the cat’s away.

Desperate for a drink, Don’ll do anything to get one. He’ll beg, borrow, steal, wheedle and cajole until he’s got one. But you can’t stop at just one, of course. Or ‘natch,’ as Gloria would say. You’ve got to have another one, and another one, and so on until you eventually wake up on your own couch without any memory of how you got there. Given all the things that could have happened to Don, he’s lucky it was only the couch…!

Don isn’t so lucky the time over this particular ‘lost weekend’ that he wakes up in the alkie ward of a hospital. You’ll be back, matey, the rather smug orderly tells him. It’s got you in its grip and it won’t quit. I’m paraphrasing here but you get the gist.

Don breaks out of this terrible place, convinced he’ll never get the DTs as the orderly Bim has foretold for him. Another guy in the drunk-tank of the hospital had those. Surely nothing like that can ever happen to him, he’s not a lowlife scumbag loser like those lads at the hospital. But the dreaded DTs follow Don home. After meeting them in person, Don begins to feel like there’s only one way out for a washed-up failure like him…

A word about the ladies in the film. Helen St. James, Don’s girlfriend, is passionately played by Jane Wyman, who later went on to portray the fearsome, ball-breaking business tycoon Angela Channing in glamorous television soap opera FALCON CREST.

Helen adores Don, despite his affliction or maybe even because of it. Maybe she’s the kind of dame who finds herself a mess of a guy and tries fervently to fix him. She devotes herself to Don, probably to the detriment of her own work at TIME magazine. She worries about him incessantly and vows to stay with him regardless of his alcoholism, but she’s deluded. Don is the only one who can fix Don, but Don isn’t ready to man up yet and just quit.

What Don does to Gloria, the feisty but lonely prostitute who frequents and meets clients at Nat’s Bar, Don’s favourite spot, is not nice. Even Nat thinks it’s despicable for Don to make the needy girl think he’s going to take her out on a date when all he’ll ever want from her is a few bucks to buy his next fix of booze. Taking Gloria for a fool is not Don Birnam’s finest hour.

I sympathise with Don up to a point. Not the alcoholic bit, I hasten to add! But I was the bright shining star of the school and college magazines also, who then got all caught up in the business of ruining relationships and having kids and who subsequently never wrote another word for nearly twenty years. I allowed myself to be distracted by the nuts-and-bolts of life instead of just sitting down and damn well writing about it.

Every time I had a spare minute, which luckily wasn’t very often, I hated myself with a passion for not writing. Now I write every day, thank God. But this is why I totally feel Don’s pain. No-one self-loathes like a writer who’s not writing. Trust me, I know. Do make sure you watch this magnificent tour de force of a movie. Your life will be the richer for it.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

You can contact Sandra at:

ray milland & jane wyman - the lost weekend 1945