Directed by multiple Oscar winner William Wellman, Beggars of Life (1928) tells the story of a girl who goes on the run after killing her abusive stepfather. She dresses as a boy, and together with another young vagabond, they hop freight trains, confront a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police and reach Canada. The film stars future Oscar winner Wallace Beery as rail-riding hobo Oklahoma Red, Louise Brooks as Nancy, the girl on the run, and Richard Arlen as her vagabond companion.
Many consider Beggars of Life Brooks' best American film. An American film magazine of the time, Picture Play, described it as "Sordid, grim and unpleasant," though added, "it is nevertheless interesting and is certainly a departure from the usual movie."
This special screening is an example of how invigorating the combination of a great silent movie and contemporary live music can be. The Dodge Brothers, an Americana-drenched quartet featuring the English film critic and BBC commentator Mark Kermode, will set the musical mood. When The Dodge Brothers accompanied Beggars of Life at the British Film Institute, the Bradford International Film Festival, at Barbican, and elsewhere across England at earlier outings, they wowed an appreciative audience each time.
The Dodge Brothers are composed of Aly ‘Dodge’ Hirji (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Mike ‘Dodge’ Hammond (lead guitar, lead vocals, banjo, dobro), Mark ‘Dodge’ Kermode (double bass, harmonica, ukulele, accordion, vocals), Alex ‘Dodge’ Hammond (washboard, snare drum, percussion), and Neil ‘Dodge’ Brand (piano). More on the band can be found on their website at http://www.dodgebrothers.co.uk/
Bryony Dixon, Curator of silent film at the BFI National Archive, has said "Beggars of Life and the Dodge Brothers - deep dish Americana, rail-riding hoboes and Louise Brooks - they were made for each other."