Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

In Blake Edwards' devastating cautionary tragedy about a self-destructive couple due to alcohol:

  • the elevator scene of alcoholic, San Francisco advertising PR executive Joe Clay (Oscar-nominated Jack Lemmon) making a face behind pretty, Encyclopedia-reading secretary Kirsten Arnesen (Lee Remick), after she had slapped him in the face, when he insulted her about her 'special qualifications' for her job: ("What special qualifications do you feel that you have for a job that allows you to sit around all day and chat with the boss? I heard about your job. Maybe answer a few personal letters for him and accompany him to parties? Hmm? You spend half your working day reading a book while two typists who get less money than you do all the work? Hmm? ...I'll tell you what special qualifications you have. You're pretty. That's what 'special qualifications' you have. And that old lech loves to have you around to look at and lean on when he gets drunk, like he did last night. And who knows what else. That's what 'special qualifications' you have")
  • Joe's enticement: ("It's special, for you. It's chocolate. Go on, try it") of tee-totaling, chocolate-addicted Kirsten with a chocolate-flavored (with crème de cacao) Brandy Alexander cocktail at dinner: ("Oh, it's good, it is")
  • when invited to Kirsten's second-floor apartment ("the roach kingdom") for a "home-cooked meal", Joe's toast to her: ("To men of principle, wherever they may be") while spraying roach killer and threatening the pests: ("Cockroaches. Come out, wherever you are...You're gonna go to cockroach heaven")
  • the abrupt visit of neighbor Dottie (Maxine Stuart) who complained about the cockroach spraying: ("Oh, well, now, you ought not to do that. I mean, you get 'em all stirred up, and what's the good? Now you made a mess. You gotta think about other people, you know. Well, I mean, look, look, I don't like to complain, but, I mean, this is ridiculous. They don't bother anybody. They don't destroy anything. You know they're there. You leave 'em alone, they leave you alone. You lock up what you don't want crawled over, and that's that. But all of a sudden, you start spraying that stuff on the walls, and look at the mess"); when they ducked away, Kirsten laughed and joked with Joe - with a warning: "You've undermined the whole base of metabolism of the building" and that the cockroaches would track him down: "You'll be a goner!"
  • while drinking one night together by the SF Bay, Kirsten told boozing Joe about a dream she had of being murdered, and the fact that her father Ellis Arnesen (Charles Bickford) was very private and uncommunicative during her upbringing; then, she recited poetic words to him: "They are not long the days of wine and roses: Out of a misty dream, our path emerges for a while, then closes within a dream"
Boozing by SF Bay
Confession: Marriage Had Become a "Threesome" With Booze
"Look at us!...A couple of bums"
  • the scene of Joe's honest assessment to his mutually-boozing wife Kirsten of how alcoholism had made their marriage relationship a "threesome" - after he had looked at his reflection in the Union Square Bar window: ("And I thought, 'I wonder who that bum is.' And then I saw it was me. Now, look at me, I'm a bum. Now, look at me, look at you. You're a bum! Look at you. And look at us. Look at us, come on! Look at us. (He dragged her to a mirror) See? A couple of bums. Now, look! You've gotta listen to me. It came to me all of a sudden. I saw the whole thing. You know why I've been fired from five jobs in four years, and it's not politics, like we always say. It's not office politics or jealousy or any of that stuff. It's booze! It's booze!...We have more than a couple of drinks, we get drunk! And we stay drunk most of the time")
  • the 'bender' scene of a desperate Joe madly tearing apart his father-in-law's greenhouse-nursery to search for a hidden bottle of liquor
  • the sequence of Joe's experience of detoxifying and suffering delirium tremens in a hospital ward, while confined in a strait-jacket
  • the film's ending in Joe's apartment when Kirsten (sober for only two days) attempted a reconciliation (but admitted she was uncertain that she could conquer her alcoholism, or admit that she was an alcoholic); and Joe (now sober for a year after becoming a member of AA) told her in very clear terms that they could reestablish their marriage ONLY if she stopped drinking: ("I'm afraid of you. I'm an alcoholic, I can't take a drink. And I'm afraid of what we'd do to each other....You and I were a couple of drunks on the sea of booze, and the boat sank. I got ahold of something that kept me from going under. And I'm not gonna let go of it. Not for you, not for anyone. If you want to grab on, grab on. But there's just room for you and me, no threesome")
  • in the ambiguous ending, Kirsten wandered off after their failure to come together, and Joe told their young daughter Debbie (Debbie Megowan) that she might not return: ("Honey, Mommy's sick. And she has to get well before she can come home"); however, a huge flashing neon "BAR" sign reflection from outside also beckoned Joe

Elevator Scene: Slap

Joe Making a Face Behind Kirsten's Back

Teetotaler Kirsten Enticed by Joe with Brandy Alexanders

Joe's Toast to Kirsten

Neighbor Dottie: Cockroach Spraying

Joe's Bender in the Arnesen Greenhouse-Nursery in San Mateo

Joe Confined in a Strait-Jacket and Recovering in a Hospital Sanitarium

"BAR" Sign Beckoning Joe Again


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