According to the TIFF website: "Recently rediscovered, this almost-lost silent classic directed by the great William Wellman was a remarkably prescient precursor to the rail-riding reality that would face many during the Great Depression. Loosely adapted from the autobiographical 1924 novel by Jim Tully, which described the author's hardscrabble life during the recession years of the 1890s and 1900s, Beggars of Life stars Wellman's Wings leading man Richard Arlen as Jim, a handsome young hobo who hooks up with abused young orphan Nancy (Louise Brooks) after she perforates her incestuously inclined stepfather. Disguising Nancy as a boy, Jim takes her on the road with him; but when Nancy's identity is eventually revealed when the pair stops at a hobo camp, the local kingpin Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) claims the girl as his royal right."
"[Wellman] stages exciting and brilliantly parsed action scenes aboard moving freight trains … Though the sentimental spark of love may conquer all, [he] leaves a sour air of disgust on the dusty trail" (Richard Brody, The New Yorker)."
This special screening of Beggars of Life will feature piano accompaniment by William O'Meara. More on this event can be found HERE.
William O'Meara has accompanied films for the Toronto International Film Festival, the Ottawa International Silent Film Festival, the National Gallery of Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Goethe Institute, the Picolo Spoleto Festival (Charleston, South Carolina), Toronto Film Society, Cobourg Vintage Film Festival, Pacific Cinematheque (Vancouver), the Elora Festival, the Toronto Theatre Organ Society, and for the world's largest festival of silent films: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone, Italy). He was also the piano accompanist for Cinematheque Ontario screenings at Jackman Hall. William is also accompanist for many choirs in Toronto including Toronto Choral Society, Victoria Scholars and the choirs of St. Michael's Choir School.
If you enjoy the film and want to learn more, be sure an check out a new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, by Thomas Gladysz and with a forward by William Wellman, Jr. This just published work features more 50 rare images.