IMDb > On the Bowery (1956)
On the Bowery
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On the Bowery (1956) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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7.3/10   432 votes »
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Release Date:
19 July 1962 (Hungary) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
The Bowery is a neighborhood in New York City populated largely by the down and out, and largely by transients... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 2 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Striking record of off-grid life 55 years ago See more (6 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Ray Salyer ... Himself
Gorman Hendricks ... Himself
Frank Matthews ... Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George L. Bolton ... Himself - Minister, Bowery Mission (uncredited)

Directed by
Lionel Rogosin 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Richard Bagley  uncredited
Lionel Rogosin  uncredited
Mark Sufrin  uncredited

Produced by
Richard Bagley .... produced in collaboration with
Lionel Rogosin .... producer
Mark Sufrin .... produced in collaboration with
 
Original Music by
Charles Mills 
 
Cinematography by
Richard Bagley (uncredited)
 
Film Editing by
Carl Lerner 
 
Music Department
Harold Gomberg .... conductor
 
Other crew
Newton Avrutis .... technical staff
Darwin Deen .... technical staff
Martin Garcia .... technical staff
Lucy Sabsay .... technical staff
Greg Zilboorg Jr. .... technical staff
 
Thanks
Gorman Hendricks .... to
 
Crew believed to be complete


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USA:65 min
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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
Striking record of off-grid life 55 years ago, 13 December 2009
Author: ofumalow from United States

This movie must have seemed very startling to audiences at the time, when "homelessness" wasn't yet a concept (only the somewhat more abstract, accusatory "bums" or "winos").

Like many "documentaries" made before the 1960s, when a more purist approach was introduced, it is partly staged and acted, albeit by nonprofessional principals who were purportedly playing themselves, surrounded on real locations by real people who clearly aren't following any script. Thus the line between staged drama, improv and documentary is thoroughly blurred.

You could call this falsification by strict verite standards, but that would deny "In the Bowery's" extraordinary capture of a particular underside that mainstream society (let alone movies) preferred to ignore until the 60s myriad social-change movements focused more attention on the urban poor and disenfranchised.

The loose "story" focuses on ruggedly handsome thirtysomething ex-railroad worker Ray. He lands in NYC, buys drinks for some Bowery drunks, passes out on the street and has his threadbare suitcase of possessions stolen by Gorman, the one who'd befriended him. Ray does day-laboring gigs, attends a rescue mission sermon, sleeps at a charity flophouse (where most sleep on newspapers on the floor) and tries to avoid the demon alcohol--but he free-falls nonetheless.

It's worth reading the Wikipedia article about the movie, which offers a number of interesting facts about its creation and reception. (It won a Venice Fest award and an Oscar nomination, though the unflattering if poignant expose of Skid Row also got it attacked by the New York Times and other significant voices.) Supposedly Ray Salyer was "offered a Hollywood contract but chose to remain on the Bowery"--which sounds just-possible, but also unlikely enough to require further proof.

This is a unique and striking memento of a disappeared world (though the issues remain very relevant--only the neighborhoods and racial mix have changed).

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