Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beggars of Life celebrated in New York City

Seemingly, it's Jim Tully week in New York City. On Monday, Film Forum screened Beggars of Life, the 1928 Louise Brooks film based on Tully's novelistic memoir of the same name. According to Bruce Goldstein, who heads the NYC film venue, the screening was a complete sellout.

I had written an article about the event which was published on Huffington Post. And, I had noticed a lot of Twitter activity linking to the article and referencing the screening. Among the tweeters was Roger Ebert, a fan of Brooks.

How cool! Wouldn't it be great if Kino or Milestone or Criterion or Flicker Alley released Beggars of Life on DVD. And wouldn't it be even more cool if they paired it with Louise Brooks' unavailable first film, The Street of Forgotten Men, from 1925. I for one think they would go well together - both are dark tales and both cast Brooks in an unusual, dramatic role.

Jim Tully week continues today when Tully biographers Paul J. Bauer and Mark Dawidziak speak about the author at New York University's Ireland House at 7 pm. I received an email from the biographers, and they mentioned that they will also speak a bit about Beggars of Life and Brooks' role in the film. I wish I could be there.

Their biography of the author, Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler (Kent State University Press), is really, really good. The book includes a forward by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (yes, that Ken Burns - of PBS fame) who calls it "hugely important." You should check it out, as Tully led an interesting life and worked a lot in Hollywood.

Here is the press release from New York University's Ireland House:
Biographers Mark Dawidziak and Paul Bauer present the remarkable life of Jim Tully (1886-1947), the Irish-American vagabond and hard-boiled writer who rocked Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties. 
 The son of an Irish ditch-digger, Jim Tully spent most of his teenage years in the company of hoboes. After six years on the road, he jumped off a railroad car with wild aspirations of becoming a writer. While chasing his dream, Tully worked as a chain maker, boxer, newspaper reporter, and tree surgeon. All the while he was crafting his memories of the road into a dark and astonishing chronicle of the American underclass.

After moving to Hollywood and working for Charlie Chaplin, Tully began to write a stream of critically acclaimed books mostly about his road years, including Beggars of Life, Circus Parade, Blood on the Moon, Shadows of Men, and Shanty Irish. He quickly established himself as a major American author and used his status to launch a parallel career as a Hollywood journalist. Much as his gritty books shocked the country, his magazine articles on movies shocked Hollywood. Along the way, he picked up such close friends as W. C. Fields, Jack Dempsey, Damon Runyon, Lon Chaney, Frank Capra, and Erich von Stroheim. He also memorably crossed paths with Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, and Langston Hughes.

Mark Dawidziak is the television critic for the Plain Dealer newspaper and has been a theater, film, and television reviewer for thirty years with many nonfiction books to his credit. He is also a novelist, playwright and Mark Twain scholar. Paul Bauer is the owner of Archer's Used and Rare Books in Kent, Ohio, and is the co-author of Frazier Robinson's autobiography, Catching Dreams: My Life in the Negro Baseball Leagues.

Introduction by Linda Dowling Almeida, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU, who teaches Irish-American history and literature.
Free admission to Members of Glucksman Ireland House and to all students / faculty with a valid NYU I.D. card. For non-members: $10 donation at the door for the general event series. In order to ensure a seat at events, please RSVP to 212-998-3950 (option 3) or email ireland.house@nyu.edu

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