William A. Wellman1921-1930DramaQueer Cinema(s)SilentUSA

William A. Wellman – Beggars of Life [+commentaries] (1928)

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.

O Brooks-ey, Where Art Thou?

Everything you need to know about the mystique of Louise Brooks is contained in the first five minutes of this picture. We meet her dressed in men’s clothes, standing above a recently deceased body, dead from a gunshot to the temple. Brooks has killed him and looks like she would cheerfully do it again.

Then we see the events leading up to the murder – an attempted rape, which she desperately fends off with a shotgun. She’s a terrified child in this scene, her face pale and wide with fear.

Brooks was more than just a great hairstyle (although it is a great hairstyle). She was an actor of huge range whose unpredictability added tension to each scene. Halfway through the picture, there’s a moment when her traveling companion is about to be thrown from a moving train while she’ll be taken prisoner by a horny hobo. Will she break down and beg mercy? Will she jump from the train? Will she shoot the hobo? Will she talk her way out of it? Brooks is so dynamic and enigmatic, there’s really no way of knowing.

The film itself is a rattling yarn, a kinetic chase movie with some excellent train-based set pieces. It’s the kind of movie that the Hayes Code set out to ban, with tons of sex, violence and disrespect for law and polite society. The scene where Brooks and Richard Arlen snuggle up in a haystack is one of the hottest things I’ve ever seen.

— bleary (Letterboxd)

Two extra commentary tracks included:
1. Commentary by actor William Wellman Jr.
2. Commentary by Thomas Gladysz, founding member of the Louise Brooks Society

2.46GB | 1h 22m | 778×576 | mkv


Language(s):English (inter-titles)

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