On the Bowery (1956)
*** (out of 4)
Lionel Rogosin's first film is part documentary and part scripted story as we visit the Bowery, which at the time was one of the worst sections of New York. The film centers on a man who enters a bar and becomes mixed up with various drunks. The "documentary' aspect of the film gives us a little trip around the Bowery where we get to see various portions of the people who live there. ON THE BOWERY was nominated for an Academy Award and even over fifty-years later you can't help but be blown away by some of the images. I must admit that the scripted stuff was probably my least favorite but at the same time it was fascinating seeing these men in their daily lives. If you caught this movie on Turner Classic Movies there was some interesting details told by the host about the fate of some of the men involved. It's clear that none of them wanted help or an acting career so what we get here really does seem real and authentic. The shots of the Bowery were certainly very interesting to see today simply because you get to see what the place used to look like. There were some shorts made about the Bowery and of course everyone knows The Bowery Boys but this here is just so much more. The best stuff is actually the editing of the picture, which is quite remarkable and among the best I've ever seen. The flawless way the film and characters just flow from one scene to the next is pretty amazing to watch. It certainly doesn't hurt that the cinematography is top-notch from start to finish and it really captures the mood of these men and the Bowery.