My Name Is Bill W. (1989) - full transcript

This film reconstructs the true story of stockbroker William Griffith Wilson, a World War I veteran whose small drinking problem becomes a serious addiction after he loses his fortune in the stock market collapse of 1929. Wilson's career and his domestic life are in tatters when he meets Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith also struggling with a drinking problem. The two form a support group that becomes the basis for the organization Alcoholics Anonymous.

How's Dr. Bob,

He didn't
touch a thing.

Since Anne died,
he just doesn't care.

At this rate, he's not
going to last long.

Well, I wish we didn't
have to leave.

Thank you, Lizzy,
for everything.

All loaded up.

Time to say goodbye?


Well, smitty,

I'm finally getting
my man out of town.

Way out.

You have
a wonderful trip, Lois.

You've earned it.

Thank you for spending
these few days with me.

I'll send you a whole
bunch of postcards.

I promise.

Thank you again,

For everything.

Nah. You got that
backwards, Billy.

I owe you the debt.

Remember that
very first day?

"Make it snappy,"
you said.

"I'll give you
15 minutes."

I talked
for six hours.

How far we've
come together.

Brought a lot of people
along with us.

Over 100,000,
last reckoning.

It's been a bumpy trip
at times.

I'd take it again
in a minute.

So would I, smitty.
So would I.

When I think how much
our lives have changed

just because
we didn't drink.

No matter what,
we just don't drink.

It's that simple.

That's what we've
got to remember, Billy.

Keep it simple.
Always keep it simple.

None of that
freudian stuff, right?


Keep putting one foot
in front of the other.

One day at a time.

Goodbye, smitty.

Goodbye, old friend.

You're going
to miss him.

Yeah. Smitty's always
been my anchor,

and now he
won't be around.

Well, you'll always
have the fellowship.

And me.

I've always
needed you, lo.

Now more than ever.

But when
smitty goes,

I just don't know
how I'm going to...

Bill Wilson!

One day you can stand up
at an a.A. Convention

and mesmerize thousands,
and the next,

you're still wondering
if it'll all work out.

You, the man who,
by his own admission,

won the world war
all by himself.

I want you to know
I did just that.

I know.

No, I did. I did.

You were
my conquering hero.

* pack up your troubles
in your old kit bag *

* and smile, smile, smile

hey, bill!
Bill, thanks again.

You're leaving?

Say hello to
Mrs. bill Wilson.

Ward t. Hogg, ma'am.

Your husband
saved my life.

Let's stay in touch.

Brooklyn's not far
from new Jersey.

He just
got married.

Bill, I'll sure
miss you.

How's your dad gonna keep
you down on the farm

now that you've seen paree?

Hey! We did it.

We won, and I'm back
with the two people

I love the best
in the whole world.

Now it really begins.

* what's the use
of worrying *

* it never
was worthwhile *

* so pack up
your troubles in... *


I just realized.

I won't get
saluted anymore.

Did you like that?

I loved being
an officer...

Being a leader,
giving orders.

I was good at it.
My men liked me.

I understood
how they felt...

Away from home,
alone and afraid.

It was
the first thing

I was ever
really good at.

Oh, not so.

Oh, yeah?

Here we are.
Third floor.

You like it?

It's great.

Real cozy.

It's nice.

Bill... Wait.

I was expecting
when you went overseas.

I didn't find out
until you were gone.

I wanted to write.
I tried to.

I lost the baby three months
into the pregnancy.

It's all right, lo.

We'll have a dozen kids.
You just wait.

What if...


You're all I need.

You're more than I
ever deserved.

You're the most...

Can't believe
you turned them down.

That's right.

You came out
top in the exam.

You won the prize.

Let's conduct
this conversation

in more civilized

You're crazy to turn down
a job with Thomas Edison.

Why'd you do it?

Thomas Edison is top
banana in that outfit.

I'm going to be top banana
in my own outfit.

How will you
do that?

Where's the real money
being made?

Right here.

Ha! In a speakeasy?

Not here, dummy.
Wall street.

I've made the world
safe for democracy.

Time to stop fooling around
and get on with it.

But I need your help.

Sure. How?

Put in a word for me
with Frank Shaw

at the brokerage firm.
He's a partner, right?

All I need is a start.

One break,
and I'm on my way.

May you die with the teeth
you were born with. Ha!

Telephone, 85 1/2.

Big steel, 59 1/4.

Jersey oil, 177.

General auto, 119 1/4.

Chicago pacific, 55 1/4.

Northwest, 78 5/8.

So he says, "Mr. Wilson,
we button our collars"

at rice & company."

Buttoned collars,
high socks, no smoking.

It's dumb. It's not
what's important.

It's the industries,
the companies,

the stocks, the missed

You haven't been there
that long.

Writing numbers
on a chalkboard.

This is definitely
not for me.

Bill, I have something
to tell you.

I've got more ideas
in my behind

than they got
in the whole company.

I... i saw
the doctor today.

If I could just get
Frank Shaw's ear.

I've got this project

that could
change wall street.

Bill, the doctor says
I'm pregnant again.

Hey. That's great.

I'm so frightened.

I burst into tears
when the doctor told me.

I'm just so afraid
of being happy now

and then
losing it again.

It can't happen again,
can it?

Absolutely not.

The second time's
a charm.


Me, a father.

Oh, wow.

Lois, I just had
a couple of beers.

I'll be home in an hour.
I got to sell this guy.

Honest. Absolutely.
I promise.

Ok. Yeah. Yeah, me, too.
I got to go. Bye.

Sorry. Had to talk
to the wife.

She's not feeling
good... pregnancy.

If you need
to get home...

No. This can't wait.
It's too important.

We're in New York

guessing about
what's happening.

We don't know
those companies.

We only hear what
they want us to.

Companies go belly-up
like northeast metals...

General fasteners.

A guy in the field
could've seen that coming.

Let me go there. Get on
the inside and report.

How would you travel?

As inconspicuously and
as cheaply as possible.

It's a great idea,

A great idea.

It's an interesting

but it's a little too
unorthodox for my blood.

Thanks for thinking of me.
I wish you luck.

Ebby, give my best
to your dad.

Hey, wait a minute.



What's the matter?
Why didn't you bore in?

To hell with that guy.
To hell with all of them.

If they don't have
the eyes to see,

they can roast
in their own fat.

I'll show them all.

Hey, pat.



Yeah. Ebby?

Make it two.

* Barney Google

* with the goo-goo-googly
eyes *

* Barney Google

* had a wife three times
his size *

* she sued Barney
for divorce *

* now he's living
with his horse *

* Barney Google

* with the big
goo-goo-googly eyes *

* Barney Google

* with the
goo-goo-googly eyes *

* Barney Google

* thought his horse
would win the prize *

* but when the horses
ran that day *

* sparkplug ran
the other way *

* Barney Google

* with the goo-goo-googly
eyes *

nurse, I was told
that Mrs. Wilson...

Lois Wilson was
on this floor.

Are you a relative?

Her husband.

Mrs. Wilson's father...
I mean Dr. burnham...

Would like to
see you before...

He assisted the surgeons
and is still waiting.

Please have a seat.
I'll go get him.

She had a hysterectomy.

She would've bled to death
waiting for you.

I had to use force
to bring her in.

She's lost her uterus
and fallopian tubes.

The surgeons
saved her ovaries.

They don't expect
any complications.

Have you understood?

That's all I have to say.
You'll excuse me.

Mr. Wilson? This way.

Did you talk to father?

No babies for me... Ever.

I got drunk, lo.

I didn't intend to.

Or mean to.

It never seems to matter
what I tell myself.

I start...

And then...

Oh, lo... lo.

Forgive me.

I promise
I'll never...

Shh, shh, shh.


Let's get out
of this, lo.

Let's just get out
and start over.

I've got an idea.

Frank Shaw
turned me down,

but I can
prove him wrong.

Trust me, lo.

Will you trust me?

I'm so sorry, lo.

Bill: Thanks a lot.
I really appreciate it.

Great guy.
Really talkative.

He says they're
building another

generating facility
across the river.

The whole region will
double in 10 years.

The stock's
a terrific buy.

I'll wire Shaw
the information.

He'll change his tune.

You're so good at
getting people to open up.

Oh, there, there.


Ok. Now smile.
Will you smile?

Those frogs
are noisy.

Tell them
we want to sleep.

That's the way
they make love.

I like our way

So do I.

Can we just stay
like this always?

Even better, lo...

I'm going to buy you
the world,

have it tied up in beautiful
ribbons just for you.

I don't want the world.

Just you and this...


Tell me again what
the telegram said.

Well, I'm glad you asked.
"Good work, bill.

"Excellent report
Portland cement.

"Holding bonus stock
certificates for you.

"Want you to investigate company
called general electric.

Welcome to the payroll."

"Frank Shaw."

I'm sorry,
Mr. Wilson.

I wish there was more
we could tell you,

but, well,
general electric

is in a very
competitive industry.

What about
a plant tour?

That's out of the question.
All our manufacturing,

especially our
research and development,

are off-limits.

However, I do have brochures
I can show you.

It was the first day
on the job.

I didn't know
they'd do that.

Bill here works
for Thomas Edison.


New York.

We're working
on amazing things.

Well, so are we.

All three of us work at
the g.E. Research plant.

So wade was telling me.
All due respect,

I don't think a company
on earth could match.

Edison's technological
advances. Amazing.

You couldn't
be more wrong.

Let's take this
New York refugee

and show him stuff
that'll make his eyes pop.

I like that. "Refugee."
Ok. Sure.

Come on.


I did it!

Lois, I did it!

Lois! Lois!

You won't believe th...

A knife?
What's the matter?

I've been so frightened.

I've been hearing noises
all night.

Oh, what's the matter?

Bill, you've
been drinking.

You promised.

Lo, a few beers
to prime the pump.

That's all, honest!
Sweetheart, I'm fine.

I can even whistle.
[Whistling badly]

It was only business,

just to loosen
some guys up.

Lo, what I've seen
tonight is incredible.

It's an honest-to-God
look into the future.

Radios that can
reach Canada, Europe.

Moving pictures
that can talk.

A wireless so small

you could fit
two or three in this tent.

New electric appliances,

and, God, what they're

It's unbelievable.

Something great's happening
in this country.

I can feel it. I want
to be a part of it.

First thing tomorrow,
I'll wire Frank Shaw.

I'll tell him
buy, buy, buy.

Honey, honey,
we're on our way.

And said, "mister,
if I could do that",

I'd be babe Ruth."

Excuse me
just for a second.

Leonard, Dorothy,
join the party.

How's my darling sister?
Hi. How are you?

Lo, there's another
doctor in the house.

It's like
a convention.

I'll take this.

What a beautiful place.
I had no idea.

Told you the man's
a wall street whiz kid.

Didn't a Butler
come with these digs?

Gave him
the night off.

Come on in. Lo!
Like a drink?

Trust me on this,

Get your money
out of those bonds.

going nowhere.

Let me put you
into stocks.

It's 1929.

Stocks is where
everyone should be.

Bill, I get nervous.

Have I been
wrong yet?

I guess not.

Then give me

I'll put it
into $200,000

of penick and Ford
on margin.

You'll be
a millionaire

before Dr. burnham
can yank out

another appendix.
Ha ha!

If he feels better
keeping it diversified,

let him have
his peace of mind.

No speculation here.

I just don't want
him to be a bum.

I'd have
to support him.

More wine? Can't let
a 1912 richelieu spoil.

Can't stand
on one leg, either.

You know, Dr. b.,

you should visit
the stock exchange someday.

I could
show you around.

Not on your life.
It's like a zoo...

A bunch of wild animals

all trying to get
to the water hole.


parade of heart failures.

You don't have to worry
about my heart. Aah!

My hands, yes.

My heart, no.

Not everyone
would try that trick

a 1912 richelieu.

Well, it's
getting late.

I have patients
to see in the morning.

Bill's drinking is
no longer a joke, Lois.

I've talked to him, father.
He's trying harder.

Tonight he's just excited
about everything,

that's all,
just celebrating.

Now, don't you
delude yourself.

He should see
a specialist.

I could never
tell him that.

If he loves you,
he'll do it.

Dr. silkworth
at towns hospital

specializes in people
with drinking problems.

Now, you call him
before it's too late.

All right.


How old are you,
Mr. Wilson?


When did you
start drinking?


during the war.

Made efforts
to quit?


Ever have
any memory loss,


Uh, no, not
that I can recall.

Shakes, tremors?




Does it interfere
with your job?

I work for myself.
I'm an investor.

Does it interfere
with that?

Interfere? You don't
understand, doctor.

It's part
of my business.

I've made over half
a million in two years.

I've got a maid,
radios in every room.

I'll charge

I'm just answering
your question.

If drinking interfered
with anything,

I'd stop, wouldn't I?

Your liver's enlarged.

I beg your pardon?

Your liver's
somewhat enlarged.

You can
probably feel it

when you tuck in
your shirt.

I'll show you.


Look, Nate, I know
everybody's going crazy.

It's just one
of those days.

How are my margins
holding up?

What about
my penick and Ford?

What did
the doctor say?

I'm on the phone!

I just wanted to know
if everything's all right.

Yeah, Nate, sorry.

Sell some of the Portland
if you need to.

Shore up my margin
on penick and Ford.

I gotta keep that baby
going. Ok? Good.

Good. I'll see you at
Joe hirschorn's party.

Ok. Good. Bye.

Now can you tell me
what the doctor said?

I have some enlargement
of my liver... minor.

Did he prescribe
any medication?

He says I should stop
drinking for a while.

Oh, good.

It's temporary.
The liver repairs itself.

I don't think so.


Lois, lay off!


Oh, tom. Hi.

Yeah, uh, can you hold on?

Sweetheart, I'm sorry.

Let me finish this call,
and we'll talk about it.

Hi, tom. How are you?

Uh, did Nate call?

Well, uh, I got
a great buy for you.

The way the stock
market's tumbling,

I'm losing my confidence.
What do you think?

It's a temporary

See, the smart money
looks into the future.

The surface is a mirage.

It's what's underneath
that counts,

a record
budget surplus,

a rising production rate,
record profits.

Yes, some stocks
are overpriced,

but they
will correct.

I'd be more cautious
than that.

Let's hope
bill's right.

I'd like to
drink to that.

Oh, well, thank you.


After what
the doctor said?

That's wine,
not booze.

There are some people
I need to see.

I'll be back
in a minute.

Hi. I'm lottie rich.
I live next door.

Nice neighborhood.

It'll do.
And you?

Bill Wilson,
lowly stockbroker.

Want some dessert?

What did you
have in mind?


Have you seen bill?

I think he was trying
to sell the Petersons

last time I saw him.

When was that?

Not too long ago.

Bill: Hey!

Look at...



Ah! Oh!


You like it?


Oh! Ebby!

looking for you.

Hey, look, pal.

Hey, come on.
Have a drink.

No, no.

This is lottie...
Jeez! Frank!



What's going on

Lottie wasn't
feeling good, so...

Her husband's
waiting upstairs

to take her home.

No! Stay.

This isn't one
of your dives.

It's my dearest
friend's home.

Frank, we were just
having a glass.

Don't you have
any self-respect

or respect for me?
Our reputation?

Frank, if I wanted
a lecture,

I'd... I'd buy
a Professor.

Frank, we can take care
of all this.

You bet we can.

We're through,

I don't want a bum
for a partner,

not me.

Hey, Frank!


I'm so sorry, lo.

I didn't think I could
ever feel so ashamed...

So terribly humiliated.

I know
I've said it before,

but I swear...

Lo, after tonight,
I will never...

Stop it!
I don't want to hear

any more promises
or apologies.

I can't take this
anymore, bill.

It's not just the drinking.

It's simple,
common decency.

And when you've lost that,
where does it end?

Ebby! Hey!

I can't reach Frank.
Where is he?

How bad is it?

Everybody's getting
called in.

Their margins are being
closed all over town.

Gotta get to a phone.

Good luck.

I'm not going down
with everybody else.

I can tell you that.

Hey, tom!
I need a phone.

Can you help me?

They're all tied up.

You must
have something.

Use the one
in the back room.

Great. Thanks.
I won't forget.

Excuse me.

Oh, damn.


Operator, yes, give me
bowling green 0075, please.

Mr. Wilson?

Hold on. Yes?

Oh, thanks.


Oh, Nate, good man.
Right where I need you.

Where's Shaw? Huh?
Thank you. Uh-huh.

How bad is it?

So what can we salvage?

Ok, listen.

Dump the Portland
and the g.E.

Sell emerson only
if you have to.

Please tell dink to stop
pushing it so hard.

You're a good man. Bye.

Oh, man,
it's hot in here.

Sid, hi.
Bill Wilson.

Yeah, boy, I know.

Well, there's always
a port in a storm,

and have I got one...
Penick and Ford.

It's a safe bet.

Solid as a rock.

Yeah, well...

Yeah. Sure.

Hey, no problem, sid.

Yeah. Next time.

God damn!

I called
everywhere, ebby.

No one's seen him
at all.

He was here before.

He looked as crazy as
everyone else around here,

but he's gone now.

You are not
notifying me, dink!

But Nate said we have
a couple of hours.

He said
two or three hours!

No, you're not!

Dink, you're...
Hello? Din...

Yes, who is it?

This is your landlord,
Mrs. Wilson.

Bill, honey?

Bill, come up.

I said
it's your landlord.

I have
bad news for you.

You're being

the first
of the month.

It's over!


You hear me?
It's over!



Bill, come back.

Please come back!



Come on, old-timer,
watch your step.

Get in.

I'll go in first, ok?

it's only temporary,

until you can get back
on your feet...

And get well.

We both appreciate
this, father.

And there won't be
any problems, I promise.

Only I know it's difficult
to understand

that he's still drinking,
but he keeps trying.

He really does.

Oh. Trying, my God.

A little spunk,
that's all it takes.

I... I keep alcohol
in the back office.

Should I lock it up?

Yes, but it won't
make any difference.

Lois, why do you
put up with it?

Because I see things in him
that he can't see in himself,

wonderful things.

He wants to stop,
and I want to help.

But you have tried
and you have tried.

Just how much longer?

Well, if we can
just find Adele.

Good morning.

Ah, here she is.

Good morning, Adele.

This is Lois.
Lois Wilson.

It's good
to meet you.

Adele gentry
manages our children's wear.

She'll show you
the ropes.

Any more questions,

you know
where to find me.

And remember,
it's guy, not Mr. kolb.

Thank you.

He's a nice
friendly executive.

Mmm. Real nice.

Just keep your girdle on
and your collar buttoned.

Look at this.

Oh, what a mess.

Look at this.

I can't

to get my hat.

It's ok.

Trying to get my hat.

Let's get him

I have something
that will help him.

You big palooka.
Stop, ugh.

Lois... oh, God.

I love you.

I don't care about
anything except you.

get out of this now.

This will
quiet him down.

You don't deserve it.
Just get out.

Get away from me.

Just get away
from it all.

He's right, darling.
Get out of this now.

For your own good.

You can't help him

Lois, don't leave me.

I need you.
Don't leave me, please.

Father moved out
when mother died,

and it's just gotten
more difficult to manage.

So you'd like a raise.

Just a small increase.

You've been here what,
a year and a half now?

You're the most cheerful
person on the floor,

and you go home
every night to a drunk.

I had no idea.

I just wanted you
to know why...

Does he ever
sober up?

He's sober now.

He goes a whole
month sometimes.

A woman like you
shouldn't have

to measure out
her life like that.

Want my advice?

You chain that guy
to a radiator.

Go out and
have some fun.

How about some dinner?
Maybe a little dancing?

I just asked you for
a raise. That's all.

If I can't have it,
just say so.


How are you?

It's a struggle,

but we're making it.

That about describes
all of us these days.

So, what can I do
for you?

I got another winner
for you, Frank.

I got a really
big winner.

[Clearing throat]

A company
in new Jersey.

I made
some notes on it.

It's a real steal.

Seems interesting.

It's a good one.

Look, bill, here's
a small advance

until I have time,
to study it further.

Don't worry, Frank.

I'll trust you
for the balance.

Well, I'm sorry.
I've got to run.

I've got people
in the office.

No problem, Frankie.


You'll like this.


are you going?

You have to leave.
I'm working.

Not anymore
you're not.

look at this.

Look, uh...

be quiet.

We need someone
from security

in the children's

We can get out of here,
you can pack it in.

What are you
talking about?

I can't quit.

Come on. This way.

Why... why not?

Why not?

May I help you, sir?

I'm talking
to my wife.

Get your hands
off me!


Oh, my God!

You grab his head,
I'll take his nose.

It's paraldehyde,
buddy boy.

Come on.
Down the hatch.

It will stop
the shakes.

How is he,
Dr. silkworth?

The contusions
and bruises will heal.

It's the other condition
that alarms me.


His liver
isn't cirrhotic,

but it's
badly swollen.

He's in
the early stages

of delirium tremens,
the shakes,

and quite possibly

he may have
some brain damage.

Brain damage.
Oh, my God.

I've seen a lot of men
like bill.

I've got a theory

not too popular
with my fellow doctors.

Excessive drinking
is a disease,

an allergic addiction.
It's got nothing to do

with a lack of willpower
or moral fiber.

Some people can't be
temperate drinkers.

I told this to bill.

What good is knowing it
if he can't stop?

I know,
but he has to.

Otherwise, you're going
to have to confine him,

lock him up someplace,
if he's to stay sane or alive.

The way he's going,
he can't last the year.

I'm glad
you're home.

How are you feeling?

All right, I guess.

Can I ask you

I guess
I've been afraid.

Does it have anything
to do with me?

Your drinking?


It's not you.

It's me.


Why do you do it
to yourself?

I've been standing here
all afternoon

asking myself
the same question.


I look out the window,
and I watch

all the normal people
walking by.

It's funny,
I don't think

I've ever felt really
normal all my life,

I mean,
like other people.

I feel differently

like I don't quite
measure up.

Ever since I can remember
I've had this feeling...

Deep down in my gut.

I see people...

At ease
with each other.

I'm on the outside
looking in,

afraid maybe
that I won't be accepted.

And then...

Overseas, I found
that a drink...

A few drinks makes me
feel comfortable,

like I always
want to feel.

It gives me courage...

To be with people,
do things.

To dream.

The money, the success,
the respect,

it was all good
for a while,

but it never
seems enough.

I always want doubles
of everything

to make me feel alive,
worthwhile inside.

But then...

That all began
to slip away.

I feel cheated.

Always so full of fear,

so I drink... More...

And it makes it ok
for a while.

I convince myself that things
will turn around, tomorrow,

soon, that I'll make it
all up for you,

but it only gets worse.


I keep promising you,
others, myself,

that's it, no more,
going on the wagon.

That's it!

And I think
I mean it, but...

But the guilt...

And the depression...

I can't look
in a mirror...

Or... At you.

Especially you.

Especially at you.

I've stopped believing
in everything.



Mysel... myself.

I know it sounds
insane, Lois,

but in spite
of all this...

What I want right now
more than anything else

is another drink.

Have a seat. Mr. partlin
will be right with you.

Thank you.

I'm sorry I'm late.

Thank you for coming.

I don't think
I could do this alone.

I had no idea things had
gotten this bad, Lois.

When I stopped by to see you
at the store last week...

You know I'd do
anything for bill...

And you.

I only wish
it wasn't this.

I almost wound up
in a place like this.

You look
so much better.

How long have you
been sober?

Almost four months.

What's your secret?
How did you do it?

I got religion.

Mrs. Wilson?


I'm Jeremy partlin,
administrator of elmwood.


This is Mr. Thatcher,
a close friend of ours.

May I show you
our facilities?

This way, please.

Don't be alarmed,
Mrs. Wilson.

He's not in real pain.
More imagined than physical.

Here, we can tell
the difference.

They imagine things,

see things,
if you know what I mean.

Dr. silkworth
tells me

your husband
has been drunk

for more than
three months.

Does he still have bowel
and bladder control?

Yes, of course.
He's not...

Yes, certainly,
Mrs. Wilson,

but we have to ask,
you understand.

I wanted to show you
our sun room.

The admitting office
will answer your questions

about the legal procedures
for committing your husband.

I hope I've helped.

You have.
Thank you.

Please forgive me,

but I have
a patient to see.

Oh, you'll have to leave
the way we came in.

These doors are locked.

Oh, ebby.

I know.

I can't put him
in here.

If you've found
something that works,

you have to
talk to him.

One thing I've found, Lois,

is you can't help somebody
that doesn't want help.

But you have to try.
I know bill wants it.

Please talk
to him. Please.

I will.

I'll give him a call.


Ebby, come in.

Come in.

Let me
take your hat.

Sorry. I was, uh...

Just getting dressed
when you phoned.

Oh, out of the blue.
God! Ha!

How you been, ebby?

Why haven't
we heard from you?

I was in
pretty bad shape.

I guess didn't want
anyone to see me...

Even you.

Oh, a man on... whom
the sun never sets.

Let's go get us
a little pick-me-up.


Sit down.

We got a lot
of catching up to do.

Here we go.

A little gin
to clear the vision.

No, thanks, bill.

Can't drink gin?

I don't drink
anything anymore.

I gave it up.

Come on, ebby.

Come on. Just one
little hooker.


I found a way
to stay sober, bill.

Well, here's a toast...

To whatever it is
you found...

And to old times,
if that's ok with you.


Let me tell you
about this...

So what's this thing
you found, ebby?

Huh? Dame?


Actually, it's a...

It's a form
of religion.

Oh, cripes.

Well, I just finally
threw in the towel.

I hit bottom.

I admitted
I was licked.

What brand of religion
did you buy, ebby?

It's no
special brand.

It's called
the Oxford group.

We have meetings.

We try to be absolutely
honest with ourselves.

We pray.

You pray?

Yes, and we reach
out to others.

It keeps me sober
and alive.

You have to believe
in something, bill.

I've talked to
all those people.



I just can't swallow
the way they peddle God.

If you don't
buy their God,

then you choose
your own.

It begins by admitting
that there's a power,

whatever you want
to call it,

that's greater
than ourselves.

Now you listen
to me, ebby.

I know you're from
an old family,

but I didn't know

you were on the guest list
of the last supper.

You might just
think about it, bill.

That's all.

Can't hurt.

I know you...

I know you
mean well, ebby.

You stay in touch, ok?


If you ever
need to talk...



Are you home?

Is that you
in there?

No. It's the crazy man
you think you're gonna

put away in
some sanitarium.

But... but
you're not going to.

Not bill Wilson,
you're not.

Just... Who do you
think you are,

trying to play
this game?

Who am I?

Who am I?

Don't you even
recognize me anymore?

I'm Lois burnham Wilson,

the wife of a helpless,
hopeless, drunken sot,

a selfish,
sick alcoholic

who's kept me

in this dismal

for more years than
I care to remember.

Who am I?
I am your nurse,

your caretaker,
your cleaning lady!

When all I ever wanted
to be was your wife.

I let you drag me
down with you,

deprive me of love,
warmth, friendship,

even common decency!

But I won't go on
with it anymore.

I can't! If you
want to die, die!

But I won't let you
take me down with you.

I want to live.

I'm going to live.

I'm... I'm going to live!

I'm going to live.

I'm not...
I'm not crazy!

Not going
to put me away.

I'm not crazy.

I'm not crazy...

Not crazy.

She's not going
to put me away.

God, man!

Why don't you watch
where you're going?

You bum!

Hey! Get out
of the street!

You want
to get killed?

What's the matter
with you?

You, too! You don't know
what you're talking about!

Hey. Hey,
you ok, buddy?

I want...
I want to...

I... I need to...

I... I want...

No... No...

Oh... Oh...


What is it?

All I remember is...

I was asleep...

And yet I wasn't.

I had this
terrible fear...

Sense of dread...
That I was...

Going out
of my mind, dying.

And yet
I wouldn't let go...


And then...

How do I explain this?

The room was filled
with light...

From out there.

And I was at peace.

A kind of comfort
I have never known before.

And then
the light was gone...

But the peace
still remained.

Dr. silkworth...

Tell me this is not
another hallucination,

the condition
of a damaged brain.

From the look of you,
bill, right now,

I'd say no.

But, well,
I'm a man of science.

I don't pretend
to understand

something like this.

Whatever happened,
hang on to it.

It's so much better than
what you had yesterday.

Ahh... I know I keep
saying it, Lois,

but I can't tell you
how different I feel.

I can taste again
and feel and smell.

I'm alive.
Really alive.

I haven't felt
this way in years.

You are different.
I can tell.

I called ebby
this morning and told him.

He understood.

He said in order
to keep it,

I've got
to share it.

Gave me a lot
to think about.

Think about this.

What about this?
Ha ha ha!

Watch your step.

A little soup
sound good now?

I'm still dizzy.

Hey, ebby? Al?

Hey, fellas,
this is monk.

He spent the past few days
in bellevue.

He could use
a good meal.

Take him in the kitchen.
Make him feel at home, ok?

Eb? His teeth are
in his left front pocket.

Where's Lois?

She's upstairs.

I think she's
pretty done in.

You're not
asleep yet.


Maybe we can talk
a minute.

Bring home
another convert?

Yeah. I think
this one's serious

about not drinking,

He's been through the mill
and back again.

That's kind of what I wanted
to talk to you about, lo.

You still working and all
and this added burden...

Cooking and cleaning after
all these guys I bring home.

I mean, it's a lot
to ask, isn't it?

If it's what you really
want to do...

How am I ever going
to make things up to you?

You keep giving,
and I keep taking.

Maybe... Maybe someday.

I've been
missing you, lo...

being near you.

I have, too.

Bill! Bill!

Bill, we need your help.
That new guy's going berserk!

He's throwing things
and threatening Al.

I'll be right back.
They need me, Lois.

Let them handle their
own problem for once.

Go to your
fool drunks.

I should know by now
who comes first.

He's not
the man you knew.

He feels
he has a mission.

He finds drunks and
tries to help them out.

He brings them home.

That can't be easy
on you, Lois.

Well, especially
not now.

not one of them

has remained sober...
Except bill, of course.

And, well, I think he's
getting pretty depressed

about the whole thing.

How long's
he sober now?

Five months.

That part must be
great for you.

I mean, really being
together again.

it's better, but...

Oh, it's not him.
It's me, too.

For years I prayed
he would get sober.

And now it's not what
I expected it would be.

Is he working?
Does he need a job?

That's really why
I came to see you.

I thought if we could
resume our lives...

Sort of
a new beginning...

Well, some
investors I know

have a situation
in akron.

Something bill's good at...
A proxy battle.

That sounds wonderful.
Thank you.

Maybe if you tell me
I'll understand.

I thought you'd be grateful
for this chance.

It's a little late
for gratitude, isn't it?

What do you mean?

My whole damn life!

Even these
past five months...

Hauling bums
to salvation.

Where did it get me?

all still drunk.

And me? Well...

It wasn't
a bad thing to do.

What did it prove?

That you can
stay sober.

Sober? What's sober?

All that proves is I'm still
a drunk who doesn't drink.

Do I have
another shirt?

One downstairs
I haven't ironed.

Why don't you
wait another day?

I can't wait another day!

The investors want me
in akron tomorrow

for the proxy fight.

You're afraid
I'll get drunk.

It's written
all over your face.

Put your mind
at rest.

I didn't say that.

Put your mind
at rest!

I've had
my last drink, Lois!

I'm not going back
to it... Ever.

No. It's still
going badly, Frank.

I'm having trouble
getting on the inside.

These akron steel folk
are pretty conservative.

No, I can't say
how much longer.

Oh, I'll give it
a few more days,

but it doesn't look
so hot right now.

Yeah. Ok.


You, too, Frank.


Excuse me.

I've got some time
on my hands.

I'm awaiting the outcome...
Well, anyway...

Are there any tours?
Anything to see in akron?

There's the tire plants,

but they're having
a sit-down strike.

Not much else, really.

I suppose I could
always go to a movie.

The rialto's just
down the street.

Thank you.

Sir, what's
your pleasure?


Can I have
some nickels?

Nickels? Sure.

Yes, can I speak to
the reverend Holland, please?

Yeah, I'll wait.

Reverend Holland,
I got your name off the...

Well, I'm
a stranger in town.

I'm a drunk,
an alcoholic,

and I need to talk
to another drunk.

Can you tell me
where I could find one?

I know
it sounds peculiar.

No, no, I'm not drunk!

I said I have to talk
to another drunk.


Oh, oh.

Well, thank you anyway.

Is father John peestrock
there, please?

When will he be back?

Thank you very much.

"Reverend Walter tunks."

Thank you, reverend tunks,
thank you.

Yeah, 5 P.M.,

the gatehouse of
the seiberling estate.

It's Mrs.
Henrietta seiberling?

The name of the man
I'm to meet

is Robert Smith?

Dr. Robert Smith.

Yes, I have it all.

Thank you again.


Bill Wilson.

I'm from New York,

here in town
on some business.

I really appreciate
reverend tunks

and Mrs. seiberling

getting us together
like this.

I'm not really feeling
too well today, Mr. Williams.

Bit of a headache.

I told henrietta I couldn't
spend too much time,

but as
an accommodation, I'd...

Strange you
should be a doctor.

My father-in-law
was a doctor.

I don't mean to rush you,
Mr. Williams, but...



Oh, I'm sorry,
Mr. Wilson. Yes.

The reverend tunks
and henrietta are...

Good friends.
They're caring people,

and it's because of them
that I... Well.

Look, I...

I've had more than
my share of, uh, help,

you might say.


Let me tell you
straight out...

I consider
my problem personal.

I don't ask help from
well-meaning strangers.

Doctor, I'm a...

No, listen to me,
Mr. Wilson.

The best have tried
their wares on me...

Medical men,
psychiatrists, ministers.

I've been prayed over
and carved up

more than
a Christmas Turkey.

So just
what do you think

a man like you
could do for me?

Dr. Smith, I didn't
come here to help you.

I came here to help me.

And on that occasion,
I was so hung over

I turned in three
empty exam books

and was summarily asked
to leave medical school.

Oh, henrietta.

I was only going to give
this mug 15 minutes.

But is it ok if we stay
a while longer?

Of course. I'm in no hurry
if Mr. Wilson isn't.

Mr. Wilson, I can't
thank you enough.

We're just
jawboning, Annie.

That's all,
nothing more.

Of course.

Those two would do

almost anything
in the world for me.

They mean well, but...

We got to do it
for ourselves.

Oh, I've tried that.

Once I was on the wagon
for two years,

but I always
came back to it.

Then one day I stayed.

I don't mean
by ourselves.

I mean
for ourselves...


You mean, two drunks
helping each other?

Of course, I didn't want
to admit it at the time,

but I could actually see
the light in his eyes.

Uh-oh. Good grief.

I'd better
get Annie home

before she
flays me alive.

Are you busy tomorrow?

Not too busy for this.

It's what our lives have
to be about from now on...

Staying off the booze.

When I think about what
I threw away...

10 years ago,

I was one of the best
doctors in the state.

I had
a wonderful practice,

I was respected
by my peers. Now...

I know.
Believe me, I know.

Of course you do.
I saw that yesterday.

The strangest feeling,
yet a...

A calm, safe
kind of feeling.

You really understood.
I like that.

Sure this is ok
with Anne?

Me in your spare room,
the star boarder?

Anne is delighted.

I'll bet the coffeepot's
perking already.

I'll tell Lois
what happened,

that we'll be here
a while longer.

I got it.

Nah, you just
lead the way.

"Smitty and I have
discovered more together

"these past four weeks

"than I learned through
my months of failure

"back in New York

"when I was trying to shove
religion down the throats

of those poor, confused,
and unwilling drunks."

He adds a few
personal things.

He says to give you
his very best

and he'll
keep in touch.

Keep in touch.

I only heard from him
one time

since he's
been out there.

Ebby, what's wrong?

I know you miss bill.
So do I.

I haven't seen you
this way in a long time.

Oh, I'm all right.
Really, Lois, I'm fine.

It's just one of
those down days, I guess.

It might work, bill.

It never occurred
to me to help others

as a way of staying
off it myself.

But it can't be like
my New York experience.

I gathered up guys like these,
dragged them home,

lectured them,
preached at them.

A real Bible thumper.
Here you go.


It just didn't work.

Getting preached at would
ruffle my feathers, too,

even though
I'm a believing man.

that's the secret.

Do just as you did
with me...

Shared your
booze experience.

No preaching.

Smitty, look.

See? That makes
you realize

that drunks
care for each other.

Drunk or sober,
there is a bond.

Buddies on
the stormy sea of booze.

We'll start with guys

who are ready to admit
they've had enough

and help them find a God
they'll be comfortable with.

Yeah. No matter
who they are,

where they're from,
how much they make,

none of that means
a damn thing.

And they shouldn't fear
being found out.

We've got to promise
they'll be anonymous.

Every drunk should feel
like we do together...

Safe, secure.

We haven't been
at this very long,

but it's
working for us.

How about we find
someone else

to try it out on?

I'm game.

It's good to see you,
Dr. Smith.

How've you been?


I'm glad.
You look very good.

Mr. dotson's
in room 1204.

He knows you're coming,
but he's not in good shape.

He struck a nurse
the other night.

He's vicious
when he's drunk.

Well, thanks for
your help, Meg.

Take care.

Thank you.


I'm Bob Smith.

Bill dotson.

Bill did you say?

My name's bill, too.

I'm a doctor, bill.

I'm a doctor
who's also a drunk.

We're both drunks.


I hit a nurse
last night,

a young woman.

She was just
trying to help.

Well, we know
how you feel.

We've both done
terrible things,

things that...

That we're
ashamed of.

Would you like
to get off it, bill,

stop drinking?

If you think you could
lick it all by yourself,

stay dry the rest of your life,
that would be great.

We found we couldn't...

Not alone
we couldn't.

We think we can
do it together.

How long
have you been dry?

seven months now.

A few weeks.

You some kind of
religious people?

No. We're just drunks
like you.

Well, we know you're
not feeling too well.

We'd be happy
to come back tomorrow

and talk about it,
you know,

if you're...

Well, bill.

Goodbye, bill.

Goodbye, bill. I...

Hope you feel better.



I'll see you

You bet.


Thanks for coming
to meet me.

Have I got a lot to tell you.
Let's grab a taxi.

Ebby, something great
happened in akron.

It could be what
we've been looking for.

Come on.
I'll tell you about it.


Ebby, you're drunk.

No. No. I just don't
feel so good.


In heaven's name,

Be-because I...

I don't know. I guess
I just felt that...

No. No. It's stupid.

What? Tell me.

It used to be
you and me.

all our lives,

you and me.

Then Lois told me
about you

and that Dr. Smith,

about all that work
you were doing with him,

and it wasn't
you and me anymore.

That's not true!

If you'd called,
I would have been back.

It'll always be
you and me, pal.

Hell, you're the one
who got me sober.

Ha! Well, I'm glad
one of us made it.

You'll make it, ebby.

Look, we're going
to start getting together,

people like you and me.

Having meetings.
There's so much to do.

I'll need your help.

Yeah. That's...

That's not what
I need right now.

You... you know
what I need.

No. Ebby, don't.



Ebby, no!


Still thinking
about ebby?

I'm sorry, lo.
This is my homecoming.

I'm nuts to louse it up.

Anything wrong?

You went out there
for a few weeks

and stayed four months.

You came to visit.

For a week.

And I loved it,
but akron isn't our home.

It was something
I needed to do.

Tell me something.
Now that you're sober,

why are we drawing
so much further apart?

It isn't just me.
Be honest, Lois.

You don't seem to...

I don't know
how I feel anymore.

Can you say why?

Neither can I.

It's strange.

I used to think,
being a drunk,

that one day I'd just
quit, be rid of it,

and then I'd feel
different, better.

No more knots inside.

What I know now

is that I will
never be rid of it,

and I'll spend
the rest of my life

dealing with it,

facing the truth
about myself,

and trying
to make it better.

When I saw ebby today,

it made me realize
that not drinking

is the most important thing
in my life.

It's the only thing

I really care about,
can think about.

our marriage?

I found out what I have
to do not to drink.

In my case, I have to be
with other drunks.

You tried that

I'll try it again

because I know now
it really works.

I don't know
where that leads to,

but it's what
I have to do, Lois.

And it's what
I'm going to do...


You're right about this
one-day-at-a-time stuff.

Hell, after I broke
my sixth pledge,

I broke
Barney Stein's jaw.

Now he won't let me

in his stinking
poolroom anymore.

He's doing you
a big favor, arty.

Look, I got
three months now.

My wife called me

She might want me back,
being sober and all.

Trouble is, one look
at my mother-in-law,

and I'll be drunk again.

Not so, Mike.
I have to believe

that if bill here
can stay sober,

any of us can.

Charley's right, Mike.

If what Dr. Bob and I
found can work

for this drunk,
it can work for anybody.

By the way, the meetings
in akron and Cleveland

are getting bigger
and bigger every day,

much like our experience
here in New York.

Which brings me
to a point.

Hank and I found this
building on 24th street.

It's a bigger
meeting place.

It'll probably
make Lois happier, too.

The only problem is

there's going to be
rents, expenses...

Maybe we ought
to have dues.

Some can't afford it.

They could afford
to drink.

Some drunks get awful cheap
when they sober up.

Well, passing the basket's
worked so far.

Besides, things
are looking up.

The book I wrote with
a lot of help from all of you

about our a.A. Experience,
how it works,

is getting attention from
the public and the press.

Told you my promotions
would pay off.

Dr. Bob's coming next week
for an interview

that Hank set up with
the Saturday evening post.

You're going
to be big shots.

Anonymous big shots,

The writer's agreed to use
only our first names.

That's ok. We just hope
it helps spread the word.

Ok, is that it?
I guess that's it,

except to say thanks for
keeping me sober one more day.

All right. See you
Thursday night.

Bring another drunk.
We can always make room.

I need volunteers so Lois
doesn't yell at bill.


I was wondering
where you were.

I've been out walking
since I left work.

It's after 10:00.

Did a lot of walking...

And a lot of thinking.

What about?

Us mostly...

And other things.

Like what?


Will things ever be
normal between us?

Will you ever
get a regular job

and come home
at night for dinner?

Will we have a home?

We could
be dispossessed

with all the bills
piling up.

Will our lives
ever be simple,

Like other people?

I don't know.

Nor do you seem
to care.

I care, Lois.

It's just that I could
never go back to...

To the way it was.

It may have had
some satisfactions for you...


Wait. Are you...

Saying I wanted you
drunk all those years,

all that heartache?

Not consciously, no.
But I was a drunk.

It was our whole life.
You stayed with that.

You're saying that
I wanted you drunk?

You... You...

I can't
believe this.

Maybe I should
start drinking.

Then I'd get
the same consideration

you give your
alcoholic friends!

You being sober,
it's what I prayed for,

but I prayed that
it would also include me.

Maybe it never will.

This story is wonderful.

It'll carry the a.A. Message
to so many people.

Today the Saturday
evening post,

tomorrow time magazine.
They called.

They want to do a cover story.
Can you beat that?

I thought only
presidents and babe Ruth

made the cover of time.

You know? Our plane has
finally taken off.

I think we should keep
our feet planted

firmly on the ground.

Flap your wings a bit.
You deserve it.

Bill, you and I know
from hard experience

that the alcoholic
has no tolerance

for the limelight.

That's why we harp
on anonymity.

Not just to protect the
drunk from public stigma,

but mainly to keep our darn
fool egos under control.

It's that simple.

That's what we've got
to remember, Billy.

Always keep it simple.


You bet.

Just keep putting one foot
in front of the other.

One day at a time.

Now, don't you
keep Lois waiting.

On your way.

Goodbye, smitty.

Goodbye, old friend.

We've come a long way,
haven't we, lo?

Who ever
could've dreamed

of all the things
that have happened?

Well, you always wanted
to be somebody.

Now you are.

of my humility.

Oh, what humility?

There, look at that.

There is civilization
in California.

Just 26 more Miles.

Good. We'll have time
to bathe and eat.

Shall we get
some coffee?

Uh, yeah.
We have time.

Uh, howdy.

Oh, hi.

Welcome to
our a.A. Group.

I'm Zack.
Just visiting?

you might say.

My name's bill.

Bill w.
From New York.

This is
my wife Lois.


Pete, norene.

I'd like you to meet
bill and his wife Lois.

Bill w.

How do you do?



Bill and Lois.

Hi, bill.



Have you been
around before?

Oh, no, they're just
traveling through.

Been in the program
a while, bill?

You might say that.

How long?

Well, since 1935.

1935? I didn't know
it went back that far.

You must've known
some early members.

Matter of fact...
Yes, he did.

I did.

Back east?

In New York.

Didn't it
begin there?

Yes, that's
where we...

No, it didn't,

It was
akron, Ohio.

You sure?


We're glad to have you
and your wife visiting.

Get a seat now.

The meeting's
going to start.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Now, if everybody would
take their seats now.

Please take a chair.
Take your places.

Well, before we close,

if anyone
has anything else

they'd like to share,
now is the time.

In that case,

after a moment
of silence,

we'll close
with the serenity prayer.

God grant me
the serenity

to accept the things
I cannot change,

the courage to change
the things I can,

and the wisdom
to know the difference.

Keep coming back.

It works.
It works.

That was
a nice meeting.


I love the west,
little towns like this.

What makes
that noise, locusts?

I don't know.
I don't know.

Are you upset

because they didn't
recognize you?


Oh, maybe
just a little bit.

I'm going to get
some coffee.

Do you want some?

No, thanks,



Them insects.

They're cicadas.


My name is bill.


Is this
your first time?


You look like
you have some doubts.

Well, I only come 'cause
the missus walked out on me

and took the kids.

Says she ain't
coming back

unless I make
an effort.

You know,
maybe this meeting

wasn't enough
for you.

Could you use
another one?

Just you and me.

I want my kids back.

It's like
any journey, Fred.

It begins with
the first step.

I thought you might
like some anyway.

Thanks, lo.



I may be a while.
Is this ok?

I'll be waiting
back at the motel.

Thanks, lo.
I'll be there.

I lost
part of my family

once long ago
when I was drinking,

and then after
I got sober,

I gained
so much more back.

How long have you
been drinking?

Since I was 17.

That sounds
about right.


Did it click

the first time
you had a drink?

Did it click? Yeah.

You know that click?

You know that one,
that little click?

Been going downhill

ever since that click.


But this is it,
I mean...

My boys.

How many boys
you got?

I got two boys.

Two boys.
They're 6 and 9.

Oh, you're
very lucky.