Louise Brooks — Beggars of Life (1928) 🇺🇸

Louise Brooks — Beggars of Life (1928) 🇺🇸

November 19, 2021

Delight Evans Reviews: The Big Parade of the Hoboes — Beggars of Life

Here’s what I call a good picture. It’s different. Instead of the dainty trippings of débutantes, or the measured tread of marching men, or the clump clump of comedy villains, you have the tramping feet of the begging brotherhood, eternally hitting the road. Beggars of Life is the Big Parade of the Hoboes. It reveals the private life of the knights of the road, from haystack to box-car; and it maintains its originality until the very end; the handsome youngest hobo does NOT turn out to be the missing son of the wealthy farmer. He is last seen bumming his way west and telling the girl of his choice where she gets off.

William Wellman directed this picture which was based on Jim Tully’s book. Wellman also directed ‘Wings’. It seems to me his latest soars much higher than the aviation special. There’s good stuff on and off fast-moving freight-trains; there is equally good drama packed in one small cabin, between Wallace Beery, a good bad man, Louise Brooks, and Richard Arlen. Louise is a fugitive from justice — wanted for murder. Richard is trying to protect her from the law and from Wally at his worst. Beery does his best to get the girl away from Richard. Then he looks at the two youngsters quizzically, shrugs, and says: “I’ve heard of it — but I never saw it before. It must be love!” And you feel it is love — you’d swear it is, even though when you think it over later you realize it can’t be because Richard Arlen is happily married to somebody else. Mr. Arlen is the most intense young man in the movies. You never feel when you are watching him that he is a capable actor. He fools you into believing that he is only a very earnest young man wanning his way through sheer force of personality. This is the bunk. He’s one of the best actors you ever saw. Wallace Beerys Oklahoma Red is the best thing he has done in a long time. He sings a song, too — justifying this picture’s claim to sound distinction. But a picture like Beggars of Life doesn’t depend upon sound. It speaks for itself.

Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen are at their best in ‘Beggars of Life.’

Have you been following these reviews? They are sprightly reading — but do not let the clever style deceive you. Delight Evans calls the turn on pictures with unfailing accuracy.

Collection: Screenland MagazineDecember 1928

Directed by: William A. Wellman