It took me a little while to get into my first season of Cracker Mysteries but once I did, I couldn’t stop. Robbie Coltrane is simply perfect as the highly-flawed psychologist, Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald. I mean, he’s smart and good at “seeing” into people’s minds and souls to help solve cases, but this guy really has a messed up life. He drinks too much, he gambles uncontrollably and his marriage is usually on the rocks (because of the gambling and drinking). But, somehow, someone that is that messed up can really pull it together when it comes to solving crimes. And he not only is able to help the police find the right man or woman, but he also helps the criminals themselves by being able to help them work out their demons. After all, Fitz knows a lot about inner demons…he has more than his fair share himself.

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One of Paul Newman’s strongest performances is given here…in his fourth decade of film acting. Some actors start to rest on their laurels toward the end of their careers. Not Mr. Newman. Sidney Lumet’s movie features one of the strongest, fiercest performances ever put on screen, nevertheless one of Newman’s strongest. Starting out at the beginning of the film, Newman’s character is an alcoholic mess…rarely sober and never thinking about the law or his clients. He sees any new case as a way to buy more liquor…and even when the case of the century comes to him, he almost blows it. Crusty and unkempt, Newman is spot-on here as the attorney who has one last chance to save himself and his client. Can he do it? I would tell you, but I am insistent that people see this film that I wouldn’t dare.

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Next time you over-do the wine during a dinner party, you might want to watch this one to remind you of how alcohol destroys people. This film is one of the few that really captures what it is like to be an alcoholic. Unlike others, such as The Days of Wine and Roses and When a Man Loves a Woman which mostly deal with the FAMILY’S struggle, The Lost Weekend is about THE INDIVIDUAL’S struggle with drink. Ray Milland stars as a writer who has taken his “social” drinking habit way too far. When he meets a girl, he tries to hide it from her at first, but that doesn’t last too long. The drinking begins to affect every aspect of his life, his personality and even his mental state. Directed by Billy Wilder, who is most know for his darkish comedies, Wilder takes this very serious subject matter and gives it a life of its own…mostly due to Milland’s powerful performance.

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