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|PREVIOUSLY AT FILM FORUM NOV 19-25, 2010|
|“EDITORS' PICK! Lionel Rogosin's On the Bowery is THE MOST IMPORTANT MOVIE PLAYING IN NEW YORK.” |
– David Edelstein, New York magazine
[five stars - highest rating]
“CRITICS' PICK! An invaluable New York time capsule and a searing piece of celluloid journalism... On the Bowery remains a definitive portrait
of the nation's down-and-out in their natural habitat. More than a half century later, the film still hits you in the gut like a shot of two-bit hooch. ”
– David Fear, Time Out New York
Click here to read full review
“In a very real sense THE ULTIMATE NEW YORK MOVIE,
“EXTRAORDINARY! A fine-grained picture of stasis and a pioneering documentary hybrid...
(1956) New York, the 50s, stark, sharp, beautiful
black and white; men sleeping on the street, on park benches, in doorways — one reading an old Esquire stretched out on a pushcart — men being rousted by the cops, being kicked out of bars, arguing at the top of their lungs; men listening to patently sincere pep talks from recovered drunks at the mission, marking out their spots on the floor for the night with newspapers, looking up through the chicken wire ceilings over their beds at the flophouse: three days in the life of straight-from-the-road Ray Salyer, still good-looking and well spoken, a new arrival on the Bowery, America’s #1 Skid row (which then included parts of today’s SoHo). Taken in hand by old-timer Gorman Hendricks, a puckishly charming bull slinger, Salyer goes on two benders, quits twice, hops on a truck for a day job, but finally states, “Me, I only care for one thing.” Wealthy scion of a major fabrics firm (and later owner/operator of the Bleecker Street Cinema), Rogosin found himself drawn to world injustice, then, starting close to home, spent six months hanging out on the Bowery, often under the tutelage of Hendricks, a cirrhosis of the liver sufferer who held off from a fatal last bender until the end of shooting. Shooting for four months with cameraman Richard Bagley (The Quiet One), Rogosin staged scenes improvised from a sketchy story line, alternating with sequences taken by hidden cameras — all with non-pro Bowery denizens. The result: Best Documentary, Venice Film Festival and Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, along with critical attacks from the likes of Bosley Crowther and Clare Booth Luce for showing the dark side of America. On the Bowery will be shown with THE PERFECT TEAM, a 45-minute account of the making of the film by Rogosin’s son Michael, with new and archival footage, and visits to The Bowery then and now.
“A quintessential chunk of New York history and not just because the old Third Avenue elevated is a harsh and haunting presence.
Rogosin used a hidden camera and some cannily staged scenes to dramatize a particular white working class culture where desire under the El
is mainly for a bottle of cheap muscatel... Closer to an underground movie than cinema vérité. The final montage of this classic human document
is an unanswerable j’accuse: scores of life-battered faces staring down the camera.”
“Balances gritty documentation with obviously scripted interludes, affirming that the greatest nonfiction films aren’t a question of nominal objectivity, but morality.
A must-see for anyone who cherishes the old soul of New York.”
Listen to Rob Hollander, co-founder of the Lower East Side History Project, and Michael Rogosin,