Dir William A. Wellman | 1928 | United States | U | 100 mins | Silent
Louise Brooks is best known today for her starring roles in GW Pabst’s 1929 classics, Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, but before that pair of masterpieces, she teamed up with one of early Hollywood’s greatest action directors, William Wellman, a former WW1 flyer with a reputation for hard drinking, punch-ups, and dangerous stunts. The Beggars of Life shoot was notorious for all of these and the speeding train stunts still startle today – Brooks herself was nearly thrown beneath the wheels during one shot.
Based on an autobiographical novel by Jim Tully, Louise Brooks plays Nancy, who goes on the run disguised as a boy and falls in with a handsome young hobo, Jim, played by Richard Arlen. Amidst all the action thrills, Beggars of Life is a tender, touching story of unlikely love and in it we see the first inkling of the Louise Brooks who would go on, two years later, to become not just an international star but an imperishable icon.
As usual, the film will be brought to life by Jonny Best’s live, improvised score.
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