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The Morning After (1974 film): Wikis


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The Morning After was a 1974 ABC made for television movie starring Dick Van Dyke and Lynn Carlin. It was based on the best selling novel by Jack B. Weiner, with a screenplay by Richard Matheson. Van Dyke played a successful public relations writer who has a serious drinking problem that threatens his marriage and life. It was around this time that Van Dyke admitted he really was an alcoholic and had been seeking treatment (one of the first celebrities to do so). This film also marked Van Dyke's first real attempt to escape his Rob Petrie image. Van Dyke was nominated for an Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Drama but lost to Hal Holbrook. Today the film is still shown in some treatment centers.

As the movie opens we are introduced to Van Dyke's character one Charlie Lester. He is a public relations speech writer for an oil magnate. He is married with two children. As the film opens we see him drinking heavily at an office party and then having an argument with his wife Fran after he tipsily returns home. She refers to him as a "43 year old drunk". The song "Yesterday", sung by Joey Scarbury, is played several times in the film as Charlie continues in a downward spiral. He is given a jolting reason to quit drinking after his boss scolds him for appearing half drunk at an important business meeting and after he ruins a dinner party at his home and even hits his wife in a drunken rage. He is shown afterwords literally sobbing on his knees begging her forgiveness.

It is revealed in the film that both Charlies parents died young, his father was an alcoholic and his mother was abusive lavishing her affections on his younger brother. He breaks down as he tells this story to a therapist. In massive denial and pain, he drops out of therapy and continues to drink culminating in a physical assault on Fran as she tries to drag him out of a bar. When he returns home, she informs him she is seeing a lawyer and filing assault charges. Charlie then becomes violently ill and throws up blood. His doctor informs him he may be suffering from liver damage and "either you stop drinking or you're going to drink yourself to death!"

In a desperate attempt to stop, Charlie takes a vacation and goes alone to a seaside resort. He winds up passed out on the beach. He suffers a terrifying attack of delirium tremens and wakes up in a mental ward. Even in this desperate circumstance, Fran stays with him and his sympathetic doctor informs him he can be helped but it is entirely up to him. Shortly afterward, Charlie escapes from the hospital and goes to a bar. He calls Fran and tearfully apologizes for all the pain he has caused her. He tells her he loves her and their children with all his heart but "Its no use...there's just no point...I'm no damn good I never was...goodbye my heart". Unlike most television films, there is a completely downbeat ending to The Morning After. We see Charlie alone, drunk and hopeless on a deserted beachfront. He is a filthy, disheveled derelict as the film ends.

Despite the fact this film was widely praised by both viewers and critics, it has never been available either on VHS or DVD.



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