In the 1962 film "Days of Wine and Roses," a married couple played by Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick share nearly everything -- including alcoholism. Lemmon plays a public relations man saddened by his crumbling career and addiction-ridden marriage who seeks out Alcoholics Anonymous. Film historians say it is one of the first films to present alcoholism as a disease and the 12-step program as a means to healing.
The film will be shown tonight at Silver Spring's AFI Theatre, kicking off a series of six free screenings of films about overcoming addiction, called "Under the Influence: The Film Series." These include characters rocked by cocaine addiction and denial in "Requiem for a Dream" on Sept. 27 and "Clean and Sober" on Oct. 11. A discussion among filmmakers, mental health professionals and audience members will follow all screenings, which begin at 6:30 p.m.
"The stigma of alcoholism is that it's a moral weakness," but in post-film discussions it will be considered a treatable disease, said Robyn Leary, executive producer of the film series and president of the Recovery Network Foundation, a sponsor.
For each screening, two tickets per person will be available one hour before show time at the AFI box office, AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. For a complete series schedule, see www.undertheinfluencethefilmseries.com.
-- Samantha Sordyl