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Flying High?

Friday 1 February 2013, 16:50

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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The big movie released this week is Flight with Denzel Washington as a pilot with an alcohol problem. This seems like the perfect time to list my five most memorable screen drunks - but what are yours?

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Mark reviews Flight

Denzel Washington interviewed by Simon Mayo

Denzel's Top Five

 

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    Comment number 1.

    All great choices Mark, they'd all be in my list. I know Film 2013 beat everyone to it, but Robert Shaw in Jaws is a must.

    Personally, when I saw The Master I thought that Joaquin Phoenix made one of the most spectacularly wrecked screen drunks I'd seen since... Joaquin Phoenix, in Walk The Line.

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    Comment number 2.

    Matt Dillon in 'Factotum'
    Steve Buscemi in 'Trees Lounge'

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    Comment number 3.

    How about Dennis Hopper in Rumble Fish? You can smell the sweat and whiskey dripping off him. Nobody played drunk quite like Dennis Hopper.

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    Comment number 4.

    I really like John Heard as Alex Cutter in Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way. He plays the role like a drunk pirate but also functions as a reminder of post-Vietnam social trauma

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    Comment number 5.

    One of the greatest has to be Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Just as scary as Liz Taylor with the added bonus of Joan Crawford spitting bile. Also it was directed by on of my favorite film makers - Robert Aldrich.
    My personal favorite is Jeff Bridges as 'The Dude' - nuff said. The ultimate slacker slacker style guru.
    Also consider Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.

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    Comment number 6.

    One of my favourites, and it's only a very small part of the film, is Ron Cook in Hot Fuzz. Truly no one has ever captured the humour of the Britishman's tendency to get stupidly drunk as Cook in his small role before his character is blown to kingdom come (SPOILERS SORRY!)

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    Comment number 7.

    I have just got in from seeing Flight, and i was surprised just how involved i got in the film and Denzel Washington thoroughly deserves his Oscar nomination, as he made the film in my opinion. Although that flight sequence is heart stopping stuff.

    Onto the topic of discussion, my first suggestion is Judi Dench's M in Skyfall. Throughout the film she's seen drinking and when she first meets Ralph Fiennes he pours her a drink. The woman is clearly a lush, who needs alcohol to function.
    2. Blanche Du Bois from A Streetcar Named Desire.
    3. Holly Martins in The Third Man. A man who by his own admission "drinks too much and falls in love with girls"
    4. Susan Hayward in I'll Cry Tomorrow. Made in 1955 this one to track down.
    5. Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial. A film not many people remember, the character is essentially Archie Rice as a school teacher.

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    Comment number 8.

    What a coincidence; I just saw Withnail & I for the first time last night! What timing!

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    Comment number 9.

    Forget the drunken messes already mentioned - surely Raiders' Marion Ravenwood has to be one of the heaviest drinkers in cinema? Twice in the space of one film we see her drinking (or finishing up drinking) vast amounts of spirits one second before almost immediately being involved in a fight scene the next, apparently none the worse for wear. Just how much has Marion been putting away to leave her virtually immune to alcohol's intoxicating effects?!

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    Comment number 10.

    Withnail & I is wall-to-wall with drunkeness and I believe Richard E Grant is a teetotaller!

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    Comment number 11.

    Sterling Hayden as the alcoholic novelist Roger Wade in The Long Goodbye. A man who drinks because he's forgotten how to write

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    Comment number 12.

    Great list. There's a long history of drunks in cinema (for a long time it was the only acceptable vice!). Charlie Chaplin famously got his break when he was spotted playing a comic drunk on stage by Mack Sennett.

    My five in no particular order:

    Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa
    Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend
    Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses
    Richard E Grant in Withnail & I
    Paul Giamatti in Sideways

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    Comment number 13.

    James Coburn's Oscar winning role in Affliction.
    The dark, brooding intensity between Nolte and Coburn's father son relationship makes for an amazing performance.

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    Comment number 14.

    Er? OLIVER REED?!?!? I mean, seriously, Mark!

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    Comment number 15.

    Might be cheating a bit, but for my its Harvey Keitel in Abel Ferrara's masterpiece Bad Lieutenant. Keitel is both a drunk and a drug addict and his performance is so visceral and graphic that it would shock even the strongest human being, so much so that the world and psyche of Keitel's anonymous character is narrowed to just drink, drugs and.... Daryl Strawberry, thus leaving him rotten to the core without a name and an identity.

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    Comment number 16.

    Love 'The Lost weekend' which also happened to be a favorite of Charles Bukowski whose alter ego was played by Mickey Rourke in 'Barfly' which you also mentioned. I'd also like to thrown in another film that was based on the works of Charles Bukowski and that is 'Tales of Ordinary Madness' which starred the late Ben Gazzara. The film hasn't got much praise but I found his portrayal of an alcoholic more restrained and downbeat, less glorified than Rourke's.

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    Comment number 17.

    I always get pleasure from the scene in Hellboy 2 where the lovesick Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and Abe Sapiens (Doug Jones) get blind drunk. As well as singing a hideously off-key version of Barry Manilow's 'Can't Smile Without You', they exchange the following dialogue:

    ABE: Oh, my body's a temple.
    HELLBOY: Well, now it's an amusement park.

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    Comment number 18.

    It has to be the drunk dad from Rita,Sue and Bob to.

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    Comment number 19.

    My top 5 lushes would be:

    1) Jack Lemon/sympathy and therapy (days of wine and roses)
    2) Robert Downey Jnr/for real and unrelenting (zodiac)
    3) Ralph Fiennes/hell on toast (schindler's list)
    4) Toby Jones/tortured artist (infamous)
    5) Anthony Hopkins/high functioning (Nixon)

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    Comment number 20.

    Peter O'Toole in My Favourite Year. That is all.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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