BEGGARS OF LIFE (William A. Wellman, 1928)

Although the film eventually veers into unconvincing melodrama hinging on a villainous predatory hobo’s self-sacrificial change of heart, the early parts of Wild Bill Wellman’s silent Beggars of Life are very beautiful and atmospheric. Indeed, the opening passage tries to prepare us for Oklahoma Red’s transformation with back-to-back reversals of expectation. Jim, a hobo in […]

A STAR IS BORN (William A. Wellman, 1937)

“You know, Esther, there will always be a wilderness to conquer. Maybe Hollywood is your wilderness now.” — Lettie, to her granddaughter Tremendous and overwhelming, the original A Star Is Born is the one substantial film among the three versions. People will continue to argue whether Janet Gaynor or Judy Garland gives the better performance […]