Sunday, February 15, 2015

More on Jim Tully and Beggars of Life

As the world awaits the tonight's premiere of the television documentary Road Kid to Writer - The Tracks of Jim Tully on Western Reserve PBS (WNEO Channel 45.1 / WEAO Channel 49.1) in northeast Ohio, why not check out this excellent 14 minute radio documentary which aired last November on Southern California Public Radio. An online article, images, and a link to listen can be found HERE.

Jim Tully on the MGM lot.

Jim Tully's 1924 novel, Beggars of Life, was a big deal in its day. It also figures significantly in the life and career of Louise Brooks.

Tully wrote it while in the employ of Charlie Chaplin; and later, in the summer of 1925 and while they were having an affair, Chaplin and Brooks went to see the stage adaption of Tully's book in New York City. (That stage play, incidentally, starred a Tully look-alike redhead by the name of Jimmy Cagney.)

Earlier, in the spring of 1925, Brooks was hired to play a small part in the Herbert Brenon directed film, The Street of Forgotten Men. Like Beggars of Life, it too features a story with a down and out theme. In its review of the film, the New York Daily News even went so far as to name check Tully's then famous work, stating "The Street of Forgotten Men dips into the dark pools of life. It shows you the beggars of life - apologies to Jim Tully - and in showing them it shows them up."

Three year's later, Louise Brooks co-starred in the William Wellman film adaption of Beggars of Life (1928). It is widely considered today the actress' best surviving American film, and one of her best performances.

Louise Brooks on the back and front covers of the British dust jacket of Beggars of Life, which was published
at the time the film was released in 1928. (image courtesy of Frank Thompson)

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