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 »
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 <email@example.com>
To give the film authenticity, actual hobos - homeless, unemployed men - were employed as extras during the production. See more »
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.
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This is an entertaining film containing passages of alarming sentimentality that are neutralised by frank brutality (the brutality being provided by the indomitable Oklahoma Red - Wallace Beery - a thug with a conscience, and the psychopathic Black Mose - Edgar Washington).
Louise Brooks does very well as an imp of promise escaping a sinister rapist, and Richard Arlen is effective as her practical-minded (but not overly intelligent) beau. In fact I think this is just about the only one of her American films where Brooks gets the opportunity to do some real acting. It is thought that this was one of the first films to pioneer the androgynous look. The other stock players add to the drama, and the cinematography is well done.
Although Beery gets top-billing we do not see him until the latter half of the picture. This is just as well, because he does enough scene-stealing to compensate for his absence in the first half.
Brooks did not care for William Wellman, who appears to have been a hard task-master, and as she remarked in her memoirs: 'I knew Billy was a phoney brave man and consequently a woman-beater - all cowards revenge themselves on women - just by feel, especially when my ass hit the pavement in "Beggars of Life"'. This might be a reference to her failed attempt to board a moving train where the viewer (for once) gets some idea of how difficult a task this is. Of course Wellman might have been a little harsh with her because she was fast acquiring a reputation as an actress who was difficult to handle.
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