"The Days of Wine and Roses" was an acclaimed 1958 teleplay by JP Miller which dramatized the problems of alcoholism. John Frankenheimer directed the cast headed by Cliff Robertson, Piper Laurie and Charles Bickford.
The 90-minute telecast was presented live with tape inserts on October 2, 1958 and was the second episode of the third season of the anthology series Playhouse 90 on CBS. Costume changes were made possible because Frankenheimer taped the Alcoholics Anonymous scenes on the day prior to the live telecast. During a rehearsal, according to Miller, the producer Fred Coe dropped by and watched as Robertson and Laurie "played some of the most realistic drunk scenes ever seen anywhere. Frankenheimer was ecstatic but was quickly grounded by Coe's drawled comment, 'John, you've got the Wine. Now let's see if you can get the Roses.'"
The drama depicts the slow deterioration of a marriage due to alcoholism as ambitious ad man Joe Clay (Robertson) gets his wife Kristen (Laurie) to join him in drinking bouts that soon begin to destroy their lives. John J. O'Connor reviewed the 1983 video cassette release in The New York Times:
Mr. Miller reveals that the idea for the play came to him one sleepless night when "I got to thinking about an uncle of mine who was a drunk." He settled on two young people who like to drink and then "fall in love with the bottle more than each other."... As Mr. Robertson observes with admirable detachment, it is raw and imperfect but "it was emotionally honest." Using the framework of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Joe gets up to address the gathering and his story is told in flashbacks that begin 10 years earlier. He meets Kirsten (Miss Laurie) at a business cocktail party. He is a young advertising executive. She is a bright secretary whose self- improvement activities have reached the point of her reading the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. The drinking gets serious early on, and gradually their lives dissolve in puddles of cheap liquor. Her father (Mr. Bickford) tries to help, but the process has gone too far for mere sympathy to help... Several of the scenes remain searing.
JP Miller found his title in the 1896 poem "Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetet Incohare Longam" by the English writer Ernest Dowson (1867–1900):