Beggars of Life (1928)
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A rail-riding vagrant becomes the protector of a frightened country girl (disguised as a boy) wanted for murder. A fascinating look at hobo culture (and arguably an influence on Preston Sturges much later Sullivan's Travels (1941)) with a soundtrack including music, sound-effects and some spoken dialogue.
as Oklahoma Red
as Blind Sims
as Arkansas Snake
as Baker's Cart Driver
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Critic Reviews for Beggars of Life
Audience Reviews for Beggars of Life
a gritty and fascinating study of hobo life on the rails. louise brooks plays a girl who kills her abusive guardian and goes on the run dressed as a boy in the company of a young tramp. their journey through hobo jungles and hopping freights was mostly filmed on location with some great stuntwork. this was an experimental sound film but the brief talking sequences, and even a song by wallace beery, are now lost. wellman reportedly invented the boom mike on this picture. a forerunner of the depression era cinema and louise turns in an affecting performance, considered her best in an american film. it was her biggest part to date and her last before leaving for europe to make her mark in the films of georg wilhelm pabst. this film is on the internet archive in decent quality
I enjoyed the first half well enough, with Brooks and Arlen just walking together and hopping trains. The scene in the haystack was really great. The more plot heavy 2nd half didn't interest me as much, and Beery's sudden change of heart is unconvincing. It would have been better without all the heroics at the end, which was actually not bad for its unsentimental ending. Louis Brooks was great here, especially dressed as a man. Even though the print was atrocious and really hurt the film's visual appeal, the night scenes early on were beautifully shot.
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