On The Bowery (1957)

Like a night of drinking, On the Bowery takes on many moods. While it is easy to laugh along with the drunken antics of the barflies that inhabit the stools and gutters of the Bowery, there comes a time when laughter turns to sadness and empathy. I am more inclined to over look the minor faults of the picture and simply praise the Lionel Rogosin for his open, nonjudgmental depicting of a destructive lifestyle. The weathered and craggy faces of the derelicts that stumble through this picture is as harrowing as it is honest. The authenticity of both the faces and places that fill each frame of this picture are miles apart from Hollywood. No wonder if comes from New York and the mind of a true independent. When Lionel Rogosin shifts the picture from pure documentary into the realm of docudrama through a rather contrived narrative, its easy to groan. He allows a happy ending to gives us an escape route, though I cannot personally believe that our protagonist, were he real, could so easily escape. No, I am sure he’d find his way back to the Bowery and even Rogosin hints at this unforeseen fate.


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