Beggars of Life

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Beggars of Life
Beggars of Life poster.jpg
1928 lobby card
Directed byWilliam A. Wellman
Written byJim Tully (autobiography)
Maxwell Anderson (play)
Produced byJesse L. Lasky
Adolph Zukor
StarringWallace Beery
Louise Brooks
Richard Arlen
CinematographyHenry W. Gerrard
Edited byAlyson Shaffer
Music byKarl Hajos
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
September 22, 1928
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited States

Beggars of Life is an American film directed by William Wellman and starring Wallace Beery and Richard Arlen as hobos, and Louise Brooks as a young woman who dresses as a young man and flees the law. The film is regarded as Brooks's best American movie.[1]

The actress recounted her memories of working on the film in her essay, “On Location with Billy Wellman,” which is included in her 1982 book, Lulu in Hollywood.[2]

Beggars of Life was released as both a silent and sound film (the latter with added music, sound effects, and dialogue) in September 1928. The sound sequences, which included train noises and Beery singing a song, are now considered lost. This was Paramount's first feature with spoken dialogue and the first time Beery's voice was recorded for a film, although Beery's spoken dialogue was limited. Today, only the silent version of Beggars of Life is known to survive.[3][4]

The film is based on Outside Looking In, a stage play by Maxwell Anderson adapted from Jim Tully’s 1924 autobiographical book, Beggars of Life. The play debuted September 7, 1925 at the Greenwich Village Theater. Among those who attended a performance was Charlie Chaplin, who was accompanied by Louise Brooks. Paramount purchased the rights to Tully's book and Anderson's play in early 1928.[5]

Arlen and Brooks had appeared together the previous year in Rolled Stockings, which is considered a lost film. Beery and Brooks had appeared together the previous year in Now We're in the Air, which was considered a lost film until 2016 when an incomplete copy was found in Czech Republic.[6][7]

In 2017, the best surviving copy of Beggars of Life was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas Gladysz. Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, PandorasBox Press, 2017.
  2. ^ Louise Brooks. Lulu in Hollywood, Knopf 1982.
  3. ^ Thomas Gladysz. Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, PandorasBox Press, 2017.
  4. ^ The Library of Congress/FIAF American Silent Feature Film Survival Catalog:Beggars of Life
  5. ^ Barry Paris. Louise Brooks, Knopf, 1989.
  6. ^ Long Missing Louise Brooks Film Found on Huffington Post
  7. ^ Outside Looking In, the Broadway play upon which Beggars of Life is based, was staged at the Greenwich Village Theatre and 39th Street Theatre Sept.7, 1925-Dec 1925;


  • Brooks, Louise (1982). Lulu in Hollywood. Knopf. ISBN 0394-520718.
  • Gladysz, Thomas (2017). Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. PandorasBox Press. ISBN 978-0692879535.
  • Paris, Barry (1989). Louise Brooks. Knopf. ISBN 0394-559231.

External links[edit]