DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES SYNOPSIS
In the fast-moving milieu of Madison Avenue, social drinking is almost an occupational necessity, and one that fast-rising young Joe Clay adopts with too ready ease. Unfortunately the girl he meets and marries shares his proclivity, and while they continue to tell themselves that they drink because they choose to, it is soon apparent that their habit has become a serious problem. But their failure to acknowledge this plunges them headlong into the shattering events of the play — a career in shambles, a marriage destroyed, the esteem of friends and family lost, and a child who has become the innocent victim of their obsession. In the poignant ending of the play a spectre of hope arises but, more important, so does a galvanizing awareness of the depth of their torment, and of the lesson which their compulsive self-destruction must have for others.
MORE ABOUT THE PLAY
Days of Wine and Roses was an acclaimed 1958 teleplay by JP Miller which dramatized the problems of alcoholism. John Frankenheimer directed the cast headed by Cliff Robertson, Piper Laurie and Charles Bickford.
The 90-minute telecast was presented live with tape inserts on October 2, 1958 and was the second episode of the third season of the anthology series Playhouse 90 on CBS. The teleplay was turned into a film in 1962, directed by Blake Edwards with a screenplay by JP Miller. The movie was produced by Martin Manulis with Henry Mancini music, and features Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Jack Klugman and once again, Charles Bickford. Three and a half decades after uttering the line “My name is Joe Clay, and I’m an alcoholic”, Lemmon confessed on the TV show ‘Inside The Actors Studio’ that he didn’t need his acting ability to deliver that line in 1962...and that he was indeed a recovering alcoholic himself.
JP Miller found his title in the 1896 poem "Vitae Summa Brevis" by the English writer Ernest Dowson:
- They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
- Love and desire and hate;
- I think they have no portion in us after
- We pass the gate.
- 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.
Dowson’s poetry contained many vivid phrases such as ‘gone with the wind’, and inspired numerous well known titles in both literature and song. He died alone in the winter of 1900 of alcoholism, at the age of 32.