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Beggars of Life (1928)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 22 September 1928 (USA)
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 »


William A. Wellman


Benjamin Glazer (adaptation), Jim Tully (book)

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Complete credited cast:
Wallace Beery ... Oklahoma Red
Louise Brooks ... The Girl - Nancy
Richard Arlen ... The Boy - Jim
Blue Washington ... Black Mose (as Edgar Washington Blue)
Kewpie Morgan ... Skinny (as H.A. Morgan)
Andy Clark ... Skelly
Mike Donlin ... Bill
Roscoe Karns ... Lame Hoppy
Bob Perry Bob Perry ... The Arkansaw Snake (as Robert Perry)
Johnnie Morris Johnnie Morris ... Rubin
George Kotsonaros George Kotsonaros ... Baldy
Jack Chapin Jack Chapin ... Ukie (as Jacques Chapin)
Robert Brower ... Blind Sims
Frank Brownlee ... Farmer


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 <starmist@buffnet.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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


Adventure | Drama


Not Rated






Release Date:

22 September 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mendigos da Vida See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (sound)

Sound Mix:

Mono (MovieTone) (talking sequences and musical score)| Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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: [title card]
  • And if there's a gal in my the gang, she's my gal.

See more »

Crazy Credits

On the movie's title card the order of the star cast names is as follows: Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Louise Brooks. In the cast list the order is: Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen. See more »


Featured in Arena: Louise Brooks (1986) See more »


Beggars of Life
Music by Karl Hajos
Lyrics by J. Keirn Brennan
See more »

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User Reviews

Visual Appeal
8 September 2007 | by movingpicturegalSee 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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