Louise Brooks’ penetrating charisma and transcendent naturalness made her an icon of 1920s silent cinema. In director William Wellman’s early Depression-era portrait of transient life, she gave one of her absolute strongest performances during her brief stint in the Hollywood, playing a girl who must go on the run after killing her abusive stepfather in self-defense. Fleeing, she meets the handsome drifter Richard Arlen and the two hit the road, one step ahead of the law and soon encounter Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery), a tough, high-spirited hobo. Together they ride the rails, with Brooks dressed as a boy, through a hobo underworld where danger is always close at hand. This empathetic, darkly realistic drama is loaded with stunning visuals and is one of the great late silent-era features. The Warhol Museum continues its partnership with the world-renowned photograph and motion picture archives, George Eastman House, to bring rarely shown silent and early sound masterpieces from its extensive collection exclusively to Pittsburgh.
Preservation funded by the Film Foundation
Print courtesy of George Eastman House
Beggars of Life (1928) Directed by William A Wellman.
Newly restored, 35mm archival print, b/w, 81 minutes, silent with live musical accompaniment.
Starring Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery, and Richard Arlen.
Live musical accompaniment by Pittsburgh’s own Daryl Fleming and friends.
The George Eastman House Official Site