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On the Bowery (1956)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Drama | 19 July 1962 (Hungary)
At the time of this film, the Bowery was a neighborhood in New York City populated largely by the down and out, and largely by transients. Those that can work generally can only find short ... See full summary »

Director:

Lionel Rogosin
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ray Salyer ... Himself
Gorman Hendricks ... Himself
Frank Matthews ... Himself
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Storyline

At the time of this film, the Bowery was a neighborhood in New York City populated largely by the down and out, and largely by transients. Those that can work generally can only find short term employment on a day to day basis, their daily earnings which primarily go into booze. Those that can't or won't work generally sponge off whoever they can, especially for that next drink. New to the neighborhood is Ray, who most recently had been working the rails in New Jersey. He is one of those who can and still does work, but like the others spends what little money he has on booze, which means he usually sleeps on the streets in a drunken stupor. The only person he would probably consider a friend in the neighborhood is the elderly Gorman, who in turn takes advantage of his new friend at whatever opportunity. When he's sober, Ray understands that alcohol is ruining his life, and as such states that he will try to stop drinking. The questions become whether Ray has either the will or the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 July 1962 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

Auf der Bowery See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,236, 19 September 2010, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$13,236, 19 September 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Rogosin Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Third Avenue El, featured prominently in this film, was closed a couple months before filming began, but demolition had not yet began. That is why no trains are seen are heard on it in this picture. See more »

Quotes

Ray Salyer, Himself: I was thinking about that most of the places you go there's always a place you can get a day's labor.
Gorman Hendricks, Himself: Down here, you can get a job dish-washin', for a day.
Ray Salyer, Himself: That's what I need now - a day's work, not a full week's work.
Gorman Hendricks, Himself: Well, there are plenty of jobs, according to all I hear. But, you got to be there when they're open, that's all.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Road Less Traveled
14 March 2013 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

As I read the admiring comments about this movie, I find myself confused. Yes, this is an excellent documentary -- and the question of whether some scenes may have been staged bothers me less than it does another commenter. Yet, good as it is, this sort of documentary did not spring newborn from the mind of Lionel Rogosian, like Athena from Zeus' brow. There are clear antecedents, like the photography of Walker Evans and even movies like Boris Kaufman's LES HALLES CENTRALES (1927).

In many ways it is a remake of the 1941 Passing Parade short THIS IS THE BOWERY, without the voice over commentary. Instead, it reserves its commentary to its cinematic choices: the editing that cuts faster and faster as arguments rage and the uncredited photographer, who carefully composed and key lit portrait shots that scream "This is a human being", Film is a medium that can lie or tell the truth twenty-four times a second, but which lies or truths the film maker chooses to tell.... that's the real point.

Having thus demonstrated my learnedness and balance as a film critic, let me turn again and note that such issues are irrelevant. A movie is made for an audience, and how would this movie strike its audience, who probably could not recall having ever seen anything like it before? Like a thunderbolt. This sort of cinema vérité film making was something usually seen in post-war Italian movies where the producer couldn't afford a studio. To see it applied to reality in the United States was devastating and changed documentary film-making permanently. At least, until the next new and greatest thing came along.


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