Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Beggars of Life and Wild Boys of the Road

If you appreciate the  charm and realism of the 1928 William Wellman film, Beggars of Life, than you simply must see Wellman's 1933 film, Wild Boys of the Road. I just watched the later for the first time, and was WOWED.

From Wikipedia: "Wild Boys of the Road is a 1933 Pre-Code Depression-era American film telling the story of several teens forced into becoming hobos. The film was directed by William Wellman from a screenplay by Earl Baldwin based on the story Desperate Youth by Daniel Ahern. The film stars Frankie Darro. In 2013 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant'."

But what's more, like Beggars of Life, this latter film also features a young woman (Dorothy Coonan) who dresses as a boy as she rides the rails. It is a terrific, unapologetic, and at times harrowing film.  And like Beggars of Life, it is also in the words of review for Wellman's earlier film, "pungent, powerful, appealing, masterfully directed and superbly acted."

Dorothy Coonan as Sally is real cute, Sterling Holloway as Ollie, another hobo, is oh so likeable, and Grant Mitchell as Mr. Smith is also pitch perfect. The film also has Claire McDowell as Mrs. Smith. She had a similar, motherly role in The Show-Off (1926), which featured Brooks.

The film is available on DVD as part of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume Three (which includes Other Men's Women / The Purchase Price / Frisco Jenny / Midnight Mary / Heroes for Sale / Wild Boys of the Road). Each is a Pre-Code film directed by William Wellman, one of my very favorite directors. Copies are available through amazon.com

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