Founded by drunks and run by functioning alcoholics, the movie industry has long seduced the best and brightest, spoon-feeding their fragile egos bathtub gin and rotgut whiskey. The silent comedians were associated with scandals (there's little doubt that Fatty Arbuckle was responsible for the death of Virginia Rappe at his drunken "bottle party"), but these were only the tip of the iceberg for an industry whose grandiose "King of the World" dreams are fueled by the temptations of demon alcohol. With so many amazing stories of stamina and self-abuse off-screen, it makes sense they would inspire some of the greatest stories on-screen. Here are five of the best, in chronological order.

1. The Lost Weekend
(dir. Billy Wilder, 1945) For its time, this was a staggering look at an alcoholic's delusions. It remains so today, despite its pat, happy ending. Like all Hollywood drunk movies, it's a twisted love letter to alcohol. In a speech to his bartender, Don Birnam (Ray Milland) admits: "It pickles my kidneys, yeah, but what it does to the mind! It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm one of the great ones. I'm competent." The alcoholic Academy rewarded Milland with an Oscar.

2. In a Lonely Place
(dir. Nicholas Ray, 1950) The leader of the original Rat Pack (before Sinatra co-opted it), Humphrey Bogart was almost as famous for his private binges as for his tough guy roles. Leaving behind the gin joints of Casablanca for the crumbling studio system of Hollywood, here he plays Dixon Steele, a cynical screenwriter and violent alcoholic accused of murdering a hat-check girl during a drunken blackout. Bogart's off-screen and on-screen persona made him perfect for the part.

3. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(dir. Mike Nichols, 1966) A professor and his wife (Richard Burton and Liz Taylor) invite a young teacher and his spouse (George Segal and Sandy Dennis) for what turns into an all-night drinking binge. The booze loosens everybody's lips, and soon admissions are made that cannot be retracted. Hollywood loves cynical backbiting almost as much as it loves liquor, once again rewarding portrayals of drunkenness with nominations and Oscars.

4. Barfly
(dir. Barbet Schroeder, 1987) Featuring Mickey Rourke in his best role to date, Barfly follows its fatalistic hero as he drinks, gets into fights with bartender Frank Stallone, drinks, writes, drinks, refuses the advances of upscale publishing agent Alice "the Borg Queen" Krige, drinks, and settles into a turbulent relationship with fellow barfly Faye Dunaway. Based on an autobiographical script by acclaimed alcoholic (and part-time misogynist) Charles Bukowski, Barfly is one for the ages.

5. Shakes the Clown
(dir. Bobcat Goldthwait, 1991) In the sunlit town of Palookaville, a dirty political campaign, fueled by prejudice and alcoholism, is being waged over who will be the host of TV's Cartoon Cavalcade, and in Shakes the Clown, our natural distrust of clowns is turned into a portrait of race relations in America. Unfortunately the film came during a down-time for drunk movies, as early '90s Hollywood was more enthralled with harder drugs, but as evidenced by the success of Leaving Las Vegas, the drunks shall rise (and fall) again!

Andy Spletzer enjoys a Vodka Gimlet.