Beggars of Life (1928)

Beggars of Life





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

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.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Jim Tully, Benjamin Glazer, Julian Johnson
In Theaters:


as Oklahoma Red

as Hopper

as Blind Sims

as Skelly

as Arkansas Snake

as Baker's Cart Driver
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Critic Reviews for Beggars of Life

All Critics (1) | Top Critics (1)

Though the sentimental spark of love may conquer all, Wellman leaves a sour air of disgust on the dusty trail.

Full Review… | April 27, 2015
New Yorker
Top Critic

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

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


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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