My Name Is Bill W. [VHS]
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Here's another example of TV giving James Woods the chance to stretch out from the intense-psycho roles he seems restricted to in too many of his movies. In My Name Is Bill W. he plays Bill Wilson, the overreaching businessman from the Roaring '20s who went on to found Alcoholics Anonymous. Woods gets plenty of chances to stretch out here in Bill's headlong slide to the bottom, through the terrors of the Wall Street crash (which amplifies a two-fisted drinking problem) and into the loss of everything he holds dear. Yet Woods also is convincing as the man who understands just how insidious his disease is and learns to try to take everything one day at a time. He receives strong support from James Garner as the alcoholic physician who teams with Bill to make AA a viable proposition. --Marshall Fine

Customer Reviews:

  • Still as Good as I Remember
    I saw this movie originally in 1989. I was glad to find it on DVD. I found it especially interesting that James Woods played the part as he was playing either rogue policmen or assassins in the 1980's. I remember James Garner in the "Rockford Files". The movie is a nice overview of how AA was started. The acting is well done and the story is touching. If anyone is even remotely interested or famliar with the AA story I would definitely recommend this as a good starting point. ...more info
  • The "ROOTS" of "Alcoholics Anonymous"
    Are you an alocoholic? Is someone you love an alcoholic?

    It really doesn't matter. This movie, regrettably is available only on VHS, will give you insight, understanding, and hope. Hope, that most fragile of words, is the basis of this incredible made-for-TV motion picture.

    Bill Wilson comes home from World War I a hero. He then conquers Wall Street. He marries the love of his life, Lois. He then discovers both a new god, a new lover, a new idol; the bottle. This unflinching film looks at the descent of of alcoholic into hell, and his journey back, guided, not by the spirit of Virgil, but by another alcoholic, Doctor Bob. Together, they find a "cure" for an "incurable" disease. The disease of alcoholism.

    Neither could cure themselves, but together, they could find the way out of hell into if not paradise, at least life; life on life's terms.

    This film has been called the AA "Roots." I won't take up that guantlet. This film stands alone. The performances by James Woods, JoBeth Williams and James Garner stand on their own merits. It tells the story of one man's descent into the hell of addiction < and YES, alcoholism is an addiction >, and his return to the land of the living.

    Woods plays Bill W. with remarkable restraint, not denigrating into the hystrionics of Jack Lemmon in "The Lost Weekend"; as brilliant and well-meaning as that film is. Nor does this movie fall into high camp, as did "Reefer Madness" in the late Thirties.

    Instead, in "My Name Is Bill W.", we see a man driven to the depths of despair. A man beaten is beaten into the dust. To quote Cecil B. DeMille, "the dust from which prophets and holy men are formed. . ."

    Yet, this film is not preachy. It tells a story. A true story, all the more frightening, because it is true.

    Watch this movie. Listen to its message of hope, of truth, of honesty, openness, and willingness. Hear the story of the damned, who somehow, someway, found salvation.

    You will be moved. I promise you....more info

  • Every Alcoholic in Recovery needs this!
    This movie was a great addition to understanding how AA was built. In addition, seeing how Bill W. had his own life's challenges and marital issues like MANY people.

    His honesty and life's' work has helped millions. If you are a devote recovering alcoholic you should see this movie. It will show you the roots of the organization you hold dear.


    Pocket of Pearls: A 30-day pocket workbook to start hearing a softer voice inside of you!...more info
  • origins of AA
    A well done/acted movie that acurately depicts the origins of AA and its founders. Well worth watching for all....more info
  • Great visual of Historical moments in AA
    I like the fact James Woods and James Gardner both made sure the movie was as accurate a portrail of what actually occured. they both treathened to quit if they were asked to deviate from the truth. Re-inactment was their goal. And both did great jobs. The death bed scene alone was perfect. every single detail was present. The conversation as best as bill could describe was put into play. This movie is so important.. it is life and death. James W. and James G. both knew this.. so did Gary....and Beth.... thank you cast for bringing to lite the "historical Movement" orgins....more info
  • how AA was born
    James Woods and James Gardner's acting is superb as Bill W. and Dr. Bob who were the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. This movie brings out all the emotions that one can experience. You will laugh and cry. If you ever have had a problem with drinking alcohol, this movie will give you hope to stop drinking....more info
  • Wonderfully Done
    Depicts the basic story behind the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous wonderfully. Several points in this video capture the desperation and utter hopelessness felt by one with the disease. The scene where Bill & Bob are talking on a street corner and see one drunk helping another drunk spells out the whole of the basis why AA works....more info
  • Decent Film
    I'm not sure of the historical accuracy of this film, but it is a good film. It does a very good job of illustrating the addict's reality....more info
  • CD of A Man Named Bill
    Saw this movie years ago and was tickled to learn it is on a DVD. Two of my adult children are alcoholics. Their father was an alcoholic. It must be genetic because he was out of their lives when they were very young. Both have tried AA in the past and haven't stayed with it. AA is probably their last hope. Bought the CD so all of our family can watch it as we pass it around. It shows how "Bill" and the doctor stumbled upon the only way some alcoholics can stay sober, stay alive, perhaps save their marriages, jobs, and self respect. Alcoholism is an insidious desease. I found the movie well written, well acted, and informative. ...more info
  • my name is bill w.
    This is a very real story of how A.A. began and is very beneficial to anyone wanting to learn about this wonderful program to help alcoholics. The people portraying the founders bill wilson and dr. robert smith are excellent and credible james woods as bill wilson and james garner as dr. robert smith-highly recommend!!...more info
  • My Name is Bill
    Was a really good movie and it was a true story. We were interested in the origins of AA and this movie told the whole story....more info
  • My Name Is Bill W

    "My Name Is Bill W" was well produced and really gets a person to be able to understand better what an alchoholic goes through and what alchoholism is. It is so true that only an alchoholic can understand and relate to another alchoholic, but it made me understand the love and patients a relative has to have with a person with this disease.
    I was so thankful for this DVD, and to be able to understand a little of what families in these torturous situations go through.
    AA is a God sent organization for the alchoholic, his/her family, and friends. The alchoholic has to strickly abide by the rules and regulations set before him if he REALLY wants to be in control and not let the disease control him/her. God has to be a very important part of his/her life and the results are so apparent. I have seen God's miracle in a very personal situation!...more info
  • Gripping drama and useful professionally
    I am a clinical professional drug and alcohol/domestic violence counselor. We are currently using this DVD in our drug and alcohol program. The clients get a better feel for how and why AA came about and it's definitely not a dry lecture type treatment. Parts of it will have you emotionally wrung out. Chris ...more info
  • A visual textbook...
    I am a recovering alcoholic with 19 years of continuous sobriety.
    "My Name is Bill W" is a visual textbook I use to introduce new sponsees to the concept of AA.
    A very helpful indoctrinating tool for the newcomer....more info
  • My Name is Bill W
    Excellent acting by James Wood and an accurate story line about the consequences of addiction and the power of recovery....more info
    If you are recovering from any type of substance abuse and want to know the history of how Alcoholics Anonymous was founded, you MUST see this video. It tells the story of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith and their fight in overcoming their life threatening illness of alcoholism. This is the story on how AA got started and if you participate in AA you will gain a new perspective on how hopelessness can turn into peace and serenity in this incredible fellowship. If you've read Bill's Story in the Big Book, you will be amazed at how well this film was done!...more info
  • My Name is Bill W.
    Considering this film was made in 1989 as a made for TV presentation, it very accurately portrays the story of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. The cast is excellent at every turn.
    This film was previously only seen on VHS tapes, and has been out of production for many years.
    The fact that it is now available on DVD will benefit many viewers....more info
  • My Name is Bill W
    I am a recovering alcoholic so this Movie is especially close to my heart. I have read extensively on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and it's development. This is a true depiction of how Bill W accidentally stumbled on to a formula to save millions from the agony of alcoholism. For anyone who is in recovery or a family member who is almost out of hope, this story is for you!...more info
  • In the beginning...
    If you are a "friend of Bill W", you will appreciate this dramatization of Bill's life, the acting is superb and you will find a lot to identify with. Seeing how Bill isn't around to tell it himself (other than the stilted version in the Big Book), you will see the progression of the illness and understand where the program came from....more info
  • My Name is Bill W
    This video was awesome. It was also very entertaining even for those that are not in the program. James Woods and James Garner give a great performance. Very moving drama. I could easily watch it multiple times. Left me with the feeling that no matter how bad things get that there is no situation that is truly hopeless. ...more info
  • Wonderful Movie on The Birth of A. A.
    As a recovering alcoholic myself, I find this movie an accurate and moving portrayal on the life of Bill Wilson and the early history of Alcoholics Anonymous. James Woods is always a marvelous actor, but here he delivers a tour de force performance as Bill Wilson. Also in the cast is the ever-delightful JoBeth Williams of Big Chill fame. James Garner plays Dr. Bob Smith, who, along with Bill, founded A. A. in 1935. Garner also co-produced the project. This was originally aired on television as a Hallmark Hall Of Fame movie in 1989. Very inspiring!...more info
  • There are real video's of Bill W. to be seen!
    There are real video's of the real Bill W. & his wife Lois telling their story from their home (Stepping Stones in N.Y.) late 70's, it's 1 hour long and copied off of old 8mm film. It's located in the AA Literature & Service Material Catalog pg.12, 3rd column, "Bill's Own Story" (VS-21) for only $15.00 and there's also Bill W. with a panel discussing the 12 Traditions (VS-20). They are the real thing. I can't believe hardly anyone knows about them. Sadly before I found these at our AA inter-group office, in the catalog. I always pictured James Woods & Garner's faces when I heard Bill and Bob's names mentioned. These are a must see for AA's. Please call AA World Services @ 1-800-212-870-3312 to order.
    These will blow your mind: Donny S.
    ...more info
  • My Name is Bill W
    I love this movie, however the scene when Ebby goes to visit Bill is totally Hollywood- I guess they didn't want to deal with the truth for some reason and that leads up to a hospital scene which makes no sense. Besides that it is great and gives a really good idea of what life was like for alkies prior to the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous.
    James Woods does a fabulous job. He really was able to get into the dual mind of the drunk and tell it like it is....more info
  • A motivational story for all
    A truly inspirational story of the two men that founded AA. Their efforts have saved countless lives. This movie can be enjoyed by alcoholics as well as non- alcoholics....more info
  • the history of AA
    Just want was needed for me in my recovery..anyone who thinks they may be an alcoholic should watch this movie...more info
  • Bad Acting, Limited Audience
    I bought this movie for my husband as a gift. Although he liked it, I thought it was just OK. The acting is cheesy and the story line is rather dull. It depicts how Alcoholics Anonymous was formed and by whom. I do believe the story line was close to accurate, however, the actors had no real personality and their characters seemed a little strained to fit the parts (with the exception of James Garner. If not for him, this movie would have been a total FLOP). In honesty, I laughed when Ebby staggered down the road. Who really likes to see a drunk stagger, let alone someone doing a rather bad inpression of one while trying to be serious? It was almost humiliating and uncomfortable.
    This movie will always have a limited audience. It is geared for those already interested in Alcoholics Anonymous AND are impartial toward ANYTHING positively related to it. It will probably not win any new converts. If you really want to learn about AA, then attend a meeting or read the Big Book and other AA associated literature. Skip this.

    ...more info
  • Hope for all.
    A good look into the beginnings of the modern day 12 Step program. Recognized now as an effective way in which to confront addictions/issues on many fronts and not just alcohol alone. Prior to this (November 1934), and apart from Divine intervention, the end for most alcoholics was (is) found in, "jails, institutions or death". One of the scenes in the movie that stands out is when Bill calmly acknowledges that although alcohol is ruining his entire life all he can think of is another drink. Contrast this to a subsequent scene when Bill and Dr. Bob first meet. Bob states that others have tried to help him but to no avail, etc. Bill interjects and tells him that he isn't there to help Bob but rather himself. This gets Bob's attention. 'My Name Is Bill W.', is a story of struggle, hope and ultimately of triumph and whose message is available to anyone who would yield themselves to a new but simple approach to everyday living. Theories can be disputed but results can't be denied. A great many people over the years have had their lives touched by the work of Bill W. and Dr. Bob, who themselves had also discovered, "the easier, softer way"....more info
  • My name is bill w
    I recomend this movie to all that seek the beginning journey of bills sucess in conquering alcohol, but its only the beginning of a life time job.

    It all begins with his willingness to seek the god of his understanding, to be uplifted by the spirit of god and would learn the true elements ( twelve steps) or a way of living which answered all his problems. Belief in the power of god, plus enough willingness, honesty, and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements for a happy,peaceful contented life.

    After learning the story and to identify with him as yourself "My story" You are on the beginning road to recovery pick up the book and read it there is lots to understand about the disease. ...more info
  • Great
    This is one movie that parents should show their children so that they can see what drinking can do to them and their future.
    John M....more info
  • Simple and Efficient
    My name is Bill W is a production coherent to its message: like the group theraphy of the Anonimous Alcoholics, it is simple and efficient. The system was the result of an open and fair partnership of two very determined guys: Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. The script of the movie together with art direction and actor's performance succeed to keep the focus on the main message: the only way to fight alcohol is to avoid drinking for the next 24 hours. For this reason it is a brilliant achievement:the big star is the solidarity, there are no celebrities, but common people with drinking problems that share their experience. ...more info

    In reality all `Eureka' moments, like the subject of this film, the discovery of a means to arrest the disease of alcoholism, come slowly and painfully. And although this movie opens with Dr Bob's brilliantly photographed deathbed scene, most of the film drags us along on the long slow trudge through the disease in action.

    Anyone who has been there will identify. It's depiction of the unending and utter hopelessness will be a painful, and salutary, reminder to everyone in recovery.

    While every single performance in it is absolutely, and surprisingly, top notch given the constraints on made-for-television movies, James Woods and Jo Beth Williams, for me, stood out in particular. James Wood's and Jo Beth's window scene always reduces every recovering person who I've ever watched the film with, to tears.

    There are so many standout scenes that it's hard to pick a few. But for me, the first meeting of Dr Bob and Bill Wilson, the movie's `Eureka' moment, was fabulously moving. "Why are you helping me?" asks Dr Bob whom Bill Wilson has been invited to try to assist. "I'm not here to help you", says James Woods, "I'm here to help me". And with that apparent paradox, he has Dr Bob's attention.

    The next great scene is in the meeting at the end of the film where Bill Wilson turns to a newcomer to help him. The camera cranes out and back revealing the two of them alone in the now emptied meeting room. It is the summation of everything that Alcoholics Anonymous stands for - humility and helping others. And, like Dr Bob's deathbed scene, it is a beautifully executed piece of cinematography.

    The story of the years leading up to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous is so complex, dreary and downright depressing that it was hard for me to imagine how this might be handled as a film. However, the film seems to work so well because the script just tells it how it was, warts and all.

    And so when the breakthrough finally happens, its impact on the audience, like its impact on millions of suffering alcoholics, is total. And that is what not only makes this a great film for recovering alcoholics, but also makes it a great film in its own right for a general audience.
    ...more info
  • You can learn a lot from these two
    This is a fantastic story whether you need to learn about drinking or not. A great story, Heroic and humble....more info
  • My Name Is Bill W
    Awesome movie. Depicted almost exactly the way "Bill's Story" is written in the "Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous." I recommend it to any recovering alcoholic. Excellent to share with newcomers.

    Cara G.
    St. Petersburg, FL...more info
  • Identify My Disease!
    I have seen this move twice, and can identify with Bill coming in drunk after swearing off the sauce many times. The scene where he gets money from Lois to buy more boose comes vividly to mind, and always reminds me of the line in Alcholics Anonymous where he talks of stealing from his wifes slender purse. Today I feel that you can take the alcohol out of my life to clear my mind and body of the substance, but we need recovery,unity and service to find a Higher Power to help clear my mind of wrong thinking. My actions are changed to a better lifestyle as a result of the God given program, which the co-founders recieved and carried out. I'm so glad they had the foresight to create The Alcoholic Foundation so this gift could keep saving lives....more info
  • Great introduction to AA and its history...
    I liked this made-for-TV film a lot. While I am not (yet) an alcoholic, I work with people each week who need either residential treatment or self-help group support to quit drinking. Bill Wilson, the chief founder of AA back in the 1930's, along with Dr. Bob of Ohio, had his life ruined by drink, and had a religious vision, and started a 12-step concept which has given hope and help to millions in the past 70 years. James Woods as Bill, and James Garner, in a smaller role as Dr. Bob, are perfect. Anyone with an alcoholic in the family should see this production, as should those who think that perhaps their own drinking is getting to be too large a problem. Non-drinkers can enjoy the movie just as entertainment, because the leads and supporting cast are all first-rate....more info