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Beggars of Life (1928)

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After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl tries to escape the country with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal ... See full summary »



(adaptation), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: Beggars of Life (1928)

Beggars of Life (1928) on IMDb 7.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
The Girl (Nancy)
The Boy (Jim)
Blue Washington ...
Black Mose (as Edgar Washington Blue)
Kewpie Morgan ...
Skinny (as H.A. Morgan)
Andy Clark ...
Mike Donlin ...
Lame Hoppy
Bob Perry ...
The Arkansaw Snake (as Robert Perry)
Johnnie Morris ...
George Kotsonaros ...
Jack Chapin ...
Ukie (as Jacques Chapin)
Robert Brower ...
Blind Sims
Frank Brownlee ...


After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl tries to escape the country with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police, and reach Canada. Written by Kevin Coughlin <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

train | based on novel | See All (2) »


Adventure | Drama





Release Date:

22 September 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mendigos da Vida  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (sound)

Sound Mix:

(MovieTone) (talking sequences and musical score)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The train wreck in this movie (an actual derailment) was filmed in Carrizo Gorge in the Southern California desert; the wreckage is still there. See more »


The Boy: Ain't it funny when you think of the millions o' people in warm houses and feather beds, an' us just driftin' 'round like the clouds? But I guess it's about even when you boil it down. Even them people in feather beds ain't satisfied - we're all beggars of life.
See more »


References The Sheik (1921) See more »

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User Reviews

Visual Appeal
8 September 2007 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Artfully photographed, dark and riveting silent film following the story of a handsome tramp (Richard Arlen) who has entered a house looking for work, finds a man slumped over at the table and discovers he has been shot to death. A young lady (Louise Brooks) appears at the top of the stairs dressed in male clothing - she admits she killed the man (he "adopted" her from the orphanage two years before - okey dokey), but reasons that she did it to protect herself from being raped. So - they run off together and hitch a ride on a rail car to get out of town. The two of them soon arrive at a side of the railyard hobo camp where they encounter one really hardened, bully of a hobo (Wallace Beery) who actually ends up helping them. When she is recognized by one of the hobos as being a woman, the bunch want to get her away from her fellow and have her for themselves - oh dear, that struck me as a pretty bad/scary situation for a female to find herself in (the looks on these men's faces as they stared in lust at this poor girl were enough to frighten anyone)! Later "Wanted" posters begin to appear on signposts, as they discover she is now wanted for murder with a $1,000 reward offered for her capture.

I found this to be a very interesting and enjoyable film, full of some beautifully photographed scenes - Brooks and Arlen in close-up as they hide out one night in a hay loft, Brooks falling from a train into a grassy field, a montage of images in the beginning showing the decadence of the girl's "father" as he paws and pursues her. The plot is, in a few ways, reminiscent of the early 40s comedy "Sullivan's Travels" - the female dressed in male clothing stealing rides on rail cars with a male friend/lover, the hobo camp, etc. Interestingly, I thought Louise Brooks looked even more beautiful dressed as a boy than when she puts on a dress! All in all, this is a visual treat and a highly entertaining film.

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