Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

My Name is Bill W. (1989) (TV) 1989

Directed by Daniel Petrie. Written by William G. Borchert. Cast: James Woods (Bill Wilson,) JoBeth Williams (Lois 'Lo' Wilson,) James Garner (Dr. Robert Holbrook,) Gary Sinise (Ebby, Bill's best friend,) Fritz Weaver, et al. 100 minutes.

Saw this movie in 2003. Based on facts, and faithful to them, it deals with the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. It begins in 1935. Bill Wilson (James Woods) is a successful stockbroker whose personal and professional lives are on the rocks because of excessive, compulsive drinking.

Lois, his loving, gutsy wife has to get a job, in a department store. She is played by JoBeth Williams, one of my favorite actresses who is also good-looking in a special, very distinctive way. Bill’s best friend Ebby (Gary Sinise) witnesses helplessly his buddy’s descent to a sort of Hades.

James Woods, one of our best thespians, gives here another bravura performance, and as usual it is quite convincing. When he goes over the top ­ which is a specialty of his-- he is entirely credible.

The story covers a longish period of time. Things are as gloomy and hopeless as can be. To make matters worse, Bill is often hospitalized after accidents.

Eventually he contacts Robert Holbrook Smith, aka Dr. Bob. The latter is an intelligent, warm physician who is himself an alcoholic. Bill and Bob become friends and after a number of steps, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Often, TV-films have economic production values, but here they are just like those of “legit” movies. The entire cast is excellent. This powerful docudrama received a host of nominations for awards, with Woods getting an Emmy.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel