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Beggars of Life (1928)

After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl tries to escape the country with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal ... See full summary »



(adaptation), (book)

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Complete credited cast:
Blue Washington ...
Black Mose (as Edgar Washington Blue)
Skinny (as H.A. Morgan)
Andy Clark ...
Lame Hoppy
Bob Perry ...
The Arkansaw Snake (as Robert Perry)
Johnnie Morris ...
George Kotsonaros ...
Jack Chapin ...
Ukie (as Jacques Chapin)
Blind Sims


After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl tries to escape the country with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police, and reach Canada. Written by Kevin Coughlin <starmist@buffnet.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

train | based on novel | See All (2) »


Adventure | Drama





Release Date:

22 September 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mendigos da Vida  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (sound)

Sound Mix:

(MovieTone) (talking sequences and musical score)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Thanks to a few lines of dialog being added to the music/special effects track (similar to Warners' The Jazz Singer (1927)), this was Paramount's first feature with spoken words. The studio's first all-talking feature, Interference (1928), would be released at the end of 1928. Wallace Beery's bawdy song as he walks down the street was shot post-production and became Paramount's first-ever dialogue. Neither director William A. Wellman nor producer David O. Selznick liked the idea. See more »


The Boy: [title card]
  • And if there's a gal in my the gang, she's my gal.

See more »

Crazy Credits

On the movie's title card the order of the star cast names is as follows: Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Louise Brooks. In the cast list the order is: Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen. See more »


References The Sheik (1921) See more »


Beggars of Life
Music by Karl Hajos
Lyrics by J. Keirn Brennan
See more »

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User Reviews

New DVD release from Grapevine
3 April 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I write to amend this earlier complaint about an earlier print from Grapevine (see below). The newest release - 2015 - is much improved. Although a few parts seem to be from a 16mm reduction print (I'm no expert on this), most of the film is much easier to watch. It is brighter, correctly tinted and much sharper than the earlier film I had watched and reviewed here. Moreover, a completely new score by Jack Hardy matches the action on the screen and improves this release by 100%. While shopping, be sure to obtain this newest print released on January 16, 2015. EARLIER REVIEW: I finally obtained a copy of Beggars of Life having read and heard so much about it over the years. William Wellman does some remarkable things in this film including an interesting flashback technique superimposing a close-up of Louise Brooks as she relates details of the altercation with her adoptive guardian. Brooks is not quite at her Pandora's Box level, but she's close. Brooks' filmography is actually rather sparse. However this film coupled with Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl justify all the accolades she receives to this day. These films are true artistic achievements. In Beggars of Life, Wallace Beery is at his sleazy best as the hobo alpha-chimp who turns out to have a soft heart of gold and Richard Arlen, while maintaining his matinée idol good looks, is superb as he slips out of his boy-next-door persona. Roscoe ("Shapley's the name and that's how I like 'em") Karns and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams also have parts and each adds spice to the story. Unfortunately the only copy I could find was a VHS tape produced by Grapevine Video out of Arizona that appears to be dubbed off of a 16mm television print with music that has nothing to do with the story. I like Beery, Brooks and Arlen as well as Beethoven, but not in this particular mix. Grapevine Video even had the nerve to claim a copyright to the music!!! I am sure the film is in the public domain and I KNOW Beethoven is. As others have noted, a crisp DVD would be greatly appreciated. I understand a better print exists and that the Mont Alto Motion Picture orchestra accompanied the film at the SFSFF in 2008. Let's hope they get together and prepare a decent video release! It would be worth the effort as Beggars of Life is truly one of the great films of the late silent era and ranks, in my opinion, up there with The Crowd and Sunrise in its realism and with its fine performances.

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