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CaveGirl

On the Bowery

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Forget "The Lost Weekend". Sure it is good Hollywood fare about alcoholism if you only want to see the sanitized version which ends on a happy or hopeful note.

TCM's showing of "On the Bowery" [1956] the other day was revelatory. Directed by documentary filmmaker. Lionel Rogosin it was a hard hitting yet compassionate telling of the true daily life of men and women whose drinking issues often derail them.

Rogosin was an admirer of the works of Flaherty and DeSica supposedly, and won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival for the above film. It was said of him that "To tell the truth as someone else sees it" was seemingly his goal. John Cassavetes revered his work in the documentary field. In "OTB" Rogosin combines some scripted scenes mostly performed by Ray Salyer and Gorman Hendricks, along with true life vignettes of men and women ensconced in the Bowery missions for overnight stays and sustenance. The verisimilitude of such settings along with actual dialogue between real folk, reminded me a bit of the usage of real criminal elements in the denouement judgment scene of Fritz Lang's film "M". But the Rogosin film utilizes much more of a reality based storyline for its occupants, who make Ray Milland look like a piker in "TLW". Both Salyer and Hendricks had tragic endings after making this hard hitting tale sadly.

If I sound like I had any previous knowledge of Rogosin or his oeuvre, I did not. Having been a movie fan since childhood with numerous books I've absorbed, my lack if knowledge of this film or any of his other documentaries seems a glaring omission but it just proves that in the world of movies, one always can find something new to admire that perhaps they never experienced or knew of beforehand. It makes me happy to think that there are still gems that I have yet to view in the cinema world.

I would like to really thank the TCM programming crew for picking this fine documentary for viewing. Anyone else lucky enough to catch this film the other day or saw it previously?
 

 

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I didn't see it this time around but saw it on TCM a couple of years ago.  I found it compelling because it is real and not sanitized.  As much as I've enjoyed the Hollywood fiction movies about alcoholism, most do tend to end on a somewhat optimistic note but ON THE BOWERY is sadly true.  

By the way, isn't the Bowery undergoing gentrification now?  

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2 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

I didn't see it this time around but saw it on TCM a couple of years ago.  I found it compelling because it is real and not sanitized.  As much as I've enjoyed the Hollywood fiction movies about alcoholism, most do tend to end on a somewhat optimistic note but ON THE BOWERY is sadly true.  

By the way, isn't the Bowery undergoing gentrification now?  

Thanks so much for confirming my opinion of the quality of this film, Christine.


As for gentrifying the Bowery, you would be better served by asking one of the Dead End kids like Gabriel Dell, since I only attend events on Skid Row!

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I don't ever recall any of THE BOWERY BOYS drinking all that much. ;)  And it always did seem that if a film maker wanted to receive great praise as a "film maker", the best way to go about it is to exploit those whose situations are seemingly hopeless  and "expose" the existence of them to the public hoping THEY will do something to help them.  Which really never happens. 

Sepiatone

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20 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

CaveGirl, if you only attend events on Skid Row then I'm sure you've visited a certain little shop of horrors.

Yes, that's where I first encountered Dick Miller and conceived our first child, Audrey Junior.
 

Thankfully, as a baby she never cried or babbled out the words "Feed meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!"

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5 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

I don't ever recall any of THE BOWERY BOYS drinking all that much. ;)  And it always did seem that if a film maker wanted to receive great praise as a "film maker", the best way to go about it is to exploit those whose situations are seemingly hopeless  and "expose" the existence of them to the public hoping THEY will do something to help them.  Which really never happens. 

Sepiatone

Sorry, Sepia I guess I was confused. It was I who was drinking a lot after watching the Bowery Boys...

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Some I know usually drink a lot BEFORE watching them.  But, those are the guys I know who drink a lot before doing ANYTHING.  Like having BREAKFAST!  :o

Sepiatone

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Lionel Rogosin was fortunate in that he was an independently wealthy self-taught indie film maker.
In the days before PBS, Rogosin was able to finance his own projects and their distribution.

TCM has shown two of his works before, Come Back, Africa (1959) and his first one, On the Bowery (1956)
A quasi documentarian (like his role model, Robert Flaherty) he primarily used non-professionals as his "actors" and filmed "off-the-cuff" on location with impromptu scripting. That is why his films are so gritty and "real."

Rogosin was a WW2 veteran and had a sense of conscience, he sought to enlighten a limited public through his work so most of his films dealt with subjects of societal and political injustice, both in the states and abroad.

I was in a funny kind of mood when I rewatched On the Bowery this last time.
Couldn't get the TCM wino commercials out-of-my head.
During the next to last bar scene I began imagining all of the "characters" as TCM board members and posters.
I then attempted to amuse myself by trying to identify and label as many of them as I could based on the "on-screen" actions and the numerous posts that I've read in these forums.

I eventually drifted off in a vino induced stupor, dreaming of drought-ridden California communities and the flush vineyards next door to them.

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On 2/10/2018 at 7:48 AM, Sepiatone said:

I don't ever recall any of THE BOWERY BOYS drinking all that much. ;)  And it always did seem that if a film maker wanted to receive great praise as a "film maker", the best way to go about it is to exploit those whose situations are seemingly hopeless  and "expose" the existence of them to the public hoping THEY will do something to help them.  Which really never happens. 

Sepiatone

That reminds me of what the late, great Sam Kinison had to say on a similar subject.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKNoJ2BzSRU

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Yikes, Stephan...I hope I was not identified as the chick who was swatting Ray during some of the heavy drinking scenes. She was one scary customer. Thanks for your very sobering take on Rogosin. As for Sam Kinison, I wonder if he was buried in his fur coat and that beret?

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On 2/9/2018 at 9:09 AM, CaveGirl said:

Forget "The Lost Weekend". Sure it is good Hollywood fare about alcoholism if you only want to see the sanitized version which ends on a happy or hopeful note.

TCM's showing of "On the Bowery" [1956] the other day was revelatory. Directed by documentary filmmaker. Lionel Rogosin it was a hard hitting yet compassionate telling of the true daily life of men and women whose drinking issues often derail them.

Rogosin was an admirer of the works of Flaherty and DeSica supposedly, and won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival for the above film. It was said of him that "To tell the truth as someone else sees it" was seemingly his goal. John Cassavetes revered his work in the documentary field. In "OTB" Rogosin combines some scripted scenes mostly performed by Ray Salyer and Gorman Hendricks, along with true life vignettes of men and women ensconced in the Bowery missions for overnight stays and sustenance. The verisimilitude of such settings along with actual dialogue between real folk, reminded me a bit of the usage of real criminal elements in the denouement judgment scene of Fritz Lang's film "M". But the Rogosin film utilizes much more of a reality based storyline for its occupants, who make Ray Milland look like a piker in "TLW". Both Salyer and Hendricks had tragic endings after making this hard hitting tale sadly.

If I sound like I had any previous knowledge of Rogosin or his oeuvre, I did not. Having been a movie fan since childhood with numerous books I've absorbed, my lack if knowledge of this film or any of his other documentaries seems a glaring omission but it just proves that in the world of movies, one always can find something new to admire that perhaps they never experienced or knew of beforehand. It makes me happy to think that there are still gems that I have yet to view in the cinema world.

I would like to really thank the TCM programming crew for picking this fine documentary for viewing. Anyone else lucky enough to catch this film the other day or saw it previously?
 

Wow! Sounds like a pretty depressing flick here, CG.

Ya know the only other thing that might've made it sound even more depressing? Yep, if it would've ended with the following scene:

On a cold and gray New York morn'

Another little baby child is born

On the Bowery

And his mama cries

On the Bowery ♪♪

(...Dargo has left the building)

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HaHa!
I used sing that Elvis song a lot, back when it was first on the radio. 
Too funny Darg.

For a moment there, I actually thought you were going to use the lyrics from the real Bowery song:

 

Verse 1
Oh! the night that I struck New York,
I went out for a quiet walk;
Folks who are "on to" the city say,
Better by far that I took Broadway;
But I was out to enjoy the sights,
There was the Bow'ry ablaze with lights;
I had one of the devil's own nights!
I'll never go there anymore.

Refrain
The Bow'ry, the Bow'ry!
They say such things,
And they do strange things
On the Bow'ry! The Bow'ry!
I'll never go there anymore!

Verse 2
I had walk'd but a block or two,
When up came a fellow, and me he knew;
Then a policeman came walking by,
Chased him away, and I asked him why.
"Wasn't he pulling your leg?," said he.
Said I, "He never laid hands on me!"
"Get off the Bow'ry, you Yap!," said he.
I'll never go there anymore.

(Repeat Refrain)

Verse 3
I went into an auction store,
I never saw any thieves before;
First he sold me a pair of socks,
Then said he, "How much for the box?"
Someone said "Two dollars!" I said "Three!"
He emptied the box and gave it to me.
"I sold you the box not the sox," said he,
I'll never go there any more.

(Repeat Refrain)

Verse 4
I went into a concert hall,
I didn't have a good time at all;
Just the minutes that I sat down
Girls began singing, "New **** in Town,"
I got up mad and spoke out free,
"Somebody put that man out," said she;
A man called a bouncer attended to me,
I'll never go there anymore.

(Repeat Refrain)

Verse 5
I went into a barbershop,
He talk'd till I thought that he'd never stop;
I: "Cut it short," he misunderstood,
Clipp'd down my hair just as close as he could.
He shaved with a razor that scratched like a pin,
Took off my whiskers and most of my chin;
That was the worst scrape I'd ever been in.
I'll never go there anymore.

(Repeat Refrain)

Verse 6
I struck a place that they called a "dive,"
I was in luck to get out alive;
When the policeman heard of my woes,
Saw my black eye and my batter'd nose,
"You've been held up!" said the copper fly.
"No, sir! But I've been knock'd down," said I;
Then he laugh'd, tho' I could not see why!
I'll never go there anymore!

(Repeat Refrain)

The Bowery
by Charles H. Hoyt and Percy Gaunt
From the Broadway play A Trip to Chinatown (1891)

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Have to say here Stephan that just now after finding the above song via the following YouTube clip...

...I recognized the tune of the refrain portion of the song, as in the past I have seemed to remember that portion of the song being played instrumentally and minus the lyrics in period movies set in NYC during the Gay '90s.

However, this would be the first time I've ever heard either the lyrics and/or the complete version of the song.

And so thanks for enlightening me to this little bit of musical history.

(...yep, it was kind'a like that time I remember discovering as a kid that "Kill da Wabbit" had it actual roots with some German dude named Wagner...WHICH btw I hear is supposed to be pronounced as "Vagner" with a "V" for some strange reason...oh those crazy Germans!!!)

;)

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On 2/14/2018 at 1:22 AM, Dargo said:

Wow! Sounds like a pretty depressing flick here, CG.

Ya know the only other thing that might've made it sound even more depressing? Yep, if it would've ended with the following scene:

On a cold and gray New York morn'

Another little baby child is born

On the Bowery

And his mama cries

On the Bowery ♪♪

(...Dargo has left the building)

That is one of my favorite Elvis Aron songs, Dargo! He sang it so beautifully when I saw him in concert.

 How vile of you to make fun of it. Changing the word "ghetto" to "Bowery" is just wrong.

Tsk tsk!!

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On 2/14/2018 at 2:04 AM, Dargo said:

Have to say here Stephan that just now after finding the above song via the following YouTube clip...

...I recognized the tune of the refrain portion of the song, as in the past I have seemed to remember that portion of the song being played instrumentally and minus the lyrics in period movies set in NYC during the Gay '90s.

However, this would be the first time I've ever heard either the lyrics and/or the complete version of the song.

And so thanks for enlightening me to this little bit of musical history.

(...yep, it was kind'a like that time I remember discovering as a kid that "Kill da Wabbit" had it actual roots with some German dude named Wagner...WHICH btw I hear is supposed to be pronounced as "Vagner" with a "V" for some strange reason...oh those crazy Germans!!!)

;)

Just for you, Dargo!
 

John, Paul, George and Ringo in German.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCCfdiSv0Zk

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3 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

That is one of my favorite Elvis Aron songs, Dargo! He sang it so beautifully when I saw him in concert.

 How vile of you to make fun of it. Changing the word "ghetto" to "Bowery" is just wrong.

Tsk tsk!!

Ha Ha, Dargo got in trouble, Dargo got in trouble..... :D;)

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Well, WIKI came up with this:

In the 17th century, the road branched off Broadway north of Fort Amsterdam at the tip of Manhattan to the homestead of Peter Stuyvesant, director-general of New Netherland. The street was known as Bowery Lane prior to 1807.[4] "Bowery" is an anglicization of the Dutch bouwerij,derived from an antiquated Dutch word for "farm": In the 17th century the area contained many large farms.[2] s

So, I'm guessing the guys in that film were just relaxing after a hard day tending the crops. ;)  

Sepiatone

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