Beggars of Life - On the Bedside Table
A couple of weekends back I was at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and I allowed myself to purchase only a couple of items. This is usually a very hard thing to do, restricting myself, there are so many tempting items to choose from. I purchased some cool silent film movie poster fridge magnets (Valentino, naturally) from the Niles Film Museum table and secondly, Thomas Gladysz' new companion book to my favorite of Louise Brooks films, Beggars of Life. I have to confess, I also love Richard Arlen in this film, even though they did not really get along.
My review is a bit overdue, I cannot help but give this an enthusiastic two thumbs up. It really is the perfect companion, before or after you have seen the film. The volume might be slim, but, it is packed with information and rare photographs. It has been impeccably researched and beautifully executed. The forward is by William Wellman, Jr., which is pretty amazing all by itself.
There is a chapter on Jim Tully, the author of the book on which the film is based, a brief bio of William Wellman, capsule bios of each of the players, contemporary critical reviews from magazines, newspapers and, best of all, the trade rags of the day. Some of which, from the exhibitors, are a real hoot to read. We're also treated to Louise Brooks own recollections of the making of the film. The book is filled with rare images, scene stills, production shots and well as candids taken during filming on location. The photographs are fantastic, so many I'd never seen before. You also see examples of sheet music for the tie-in music, cue sheets for the organist or combo and much of the poster art for the film seen in the press books. Back in 1928 a three-sheet poster would cost .45 cents, I shudder to think what the hammer price for that poster would be today!
|Publicity portrait of Louise Brooks holding a hobo sign, |
code used by the weary travelers. In this case,
the sign is telling you that the cops are hostile at this port of call.
This is a thorough examination of the film from start to finish and written in a breezy style that is not only informative, it is a very entertaining read. The only pity is that the it is so short. This reader was left wanting more.
Thomas' book can be found on amazon for a pittance, $10 and it is worth every single penny. If you pay attention to The Louise Brooks Society, you might well be able to score an autographed copy as I did.
Beggars of Life has also been restored and is slated for a blu-ray/DVD release on August 22, 2017. Pre-order now! This book by Thomas Gladysz is the ideal companion to the soon to be released DVD. In fact, I feel it is required reading. Thomas has also contributed to the commentary track for the new DVD. If it is half as informative as the book is, it will be well worth it.