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On The Bowery - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Vol. 1

4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

For songwriter Woody Guthrie, his guitar was a machine that "kills fascists." For Lionel Rogosin, the weapon of choice was a movie camera, and his first battle was waged on the streets of New York City. Exploring the underworld of the city's skid row, Rogosin developed his signature style. After months drinking with men he met on the Bowery, Rogosin worked with his buddies to write a screenplay that reflected their lives-and then cast them as themselves. This technique of making films "from the inside" allowed Rogosin to film ordinary people caught up in universal problems. His films explored alcoholism, homelessness, racial discrimination, war, labor conflict, and poverty with great compassion and honesty. On the Bowery chronicles three days in the drinking life of Ray Salyer, a part-time railroad worker adrift on New York's skid row. When the film opened it 1956, it exploded on the screen, burning away years of Hollywood artifice, jump-starting the post-war American independent film movement and earning an Oscar nomination. Now gloriously restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, On the Bowery is both an incredible document of a bygone era and a vivid and devastating portrait of addiction that resonates today just as it did when it was made. Good Times, Wonderful Times was Rogosin's powerful response to militarism and fascism. For two years, Rogosin traveled to twelve countries, amassing footage of war atrocities from national archives. He then interspersed these harrowing images with scenes of a London cocktail party's inane chatter. The juxtaposition satirizes the tragic irresponsibility of modern man. Good Times, Wonderful Times, released at the height of the Vietnam conflict, became one of the great antiwar films of the era. Out, a documentary by Rogosin made for the United Nations, tells the plight of Hungarian refugees fleeing to Austria in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Review

A must-see for anyone who cherishes the old soul of New York. --New York Times

A vivid, electrifying time.... Do not miss it. --The Oregonian

The ultimate New York movie. --Village Voice

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Gorman Hendricks, Frank Matthews, Ray Salyer
  • Directors: Lionel Rogosin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Milestone
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
  • Run Time: 257 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005Z3EAYE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,115 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Doros on January 2, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
The Blu-Ray and DVD editions contain two feature films: ON THE BOWERY and GOOD TIMES, WONDERFUL TIMES as well as Rogosin's "lost" film, OUT.

For songwriter Woody Guthrie, his guitar was a machine that "kills fascists." For Lionel Rogosin, the weapon of choice was a movie camera, and his first battle was waged on the streets of New York City.

Exploring the underworld of the city's skid row, Rogosin developed his signature style. After months drinking with men he met on the Bowery, Rogosin worked with his buddies to write a screenplay that reflected their lives--and then cast them as themselves. This technique of making films "from the inside" allowed Rogosin to film ordinary people caught up in universal problems. His films explored alcoholism, homelessness, racial discrimination, war, labor conflict, and poverty with great compassion and honesty.

On the Bowery chronicles three days in the drinking life of Ray Salyer, a part-time railroad worker adrift on New York's skid row. When the film opened it 1956, it exploded on the screen, burning away years of Hollywood artifice, jump-starting the post-war American independent film movement and earning an Oscar nomination. Now gloriously restored by the Cineteca di Bologna, On the Bowery is both an incredible document of a bygone era and a vivid and devastating portrait of addiction that resonates today just as it did when it was made.

Good Times, Wonderful Times was Rogosin's powerful response to militarism and fascism. For two years, Rogosin traveled to twelve countries, amassing footage of war atrocities from national archives. He then interspersed these harrowing images with scenes of a London cocktail party's inane chatter. The juxtaposition satirizes the tragic irresponsibility of modern man.
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Format: DVD
I am 63 years old, and the product of an alcoholic father. Though it skipped me in some ways--I am not addicted to the usual substances or behaviors--addiction has had a devastating effect on my life. My daughter was in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction for ten years, from age 13 until 23. This caused untold pain and misery in our family.

I am also a movie fanatic. I've seen literally thousands of movies. In particular I admire and deeply appreciate documentary films, because they show us reality, and, more than fiction films, they have the power to influence our thoughts and actions. They often shine a light into the dark corners of this world. This is such a film. I watched it last night on Turner Classics. I was astounded. I am embarrassed and reluctant to admit it, but prior to last night, I had never heard of Lionel Rogosin. Based upon this single film, I would rate him as one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time. This is a truly singular, extraordinary piece of work, simply amazing. It is tremendously sad and moving, frightening film, because while I watched it I could not help but think "there but for the grace of God."

There was a movie made years ago called The Exiles which came close to this. Then there is the monumental Eugene O'Neill play, The Iceman Cometh, which could have inspired, or was inspired by, this film.

Rogosin lived and drank with these alcoholic men of NYC's Bowery for many months, his aim being to befriend the men and to be accepted by them. I am sure he bought plenty of drinks in this time. None of these guys were actors; they were real people, real 'winos' and boozers who lived on those mean streets. They got so used to him that when he started filming them, they didn't bat an eye.
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Format: Blu-ray
"On the Bowery" is one of those movies that will not ring a bell for most audiences, but may be recognized by true film connoisseurs. I certainly didn't know about it, and I have to thank the hard-working folks at Milestone, folks that truly love films and try to preserve some of the best ones before there are sent to oblivion. Thanks to them, we got to see restored versions of such classics as "I am Cuba," "Killer of Sheep," "Araya," and many others. Now we have the historically important and remarkable "On the Bowery," helmed by Lionel Rogosin, who was described by John Cassavettes as "probably the greatest documentary filmmaker of all time."

"On the Bowery" is one special film, in which it is a documentary, with a scripted and improvised story, and with some willingly and unwillingly unprofessional actors. Makes sense? It shouldn't, but it does. Director Rogosin tried to show to the world life at New York's Bowery area, kind of what we today refer to as skid row, an area inhibited by what appears to be unemployed men and women - mostly men --, who are either waking up each day on its street or having "breakfast" at a bar. Sadly, alcohol is the common factor. For this noble purpose, Rogolin enlisted some of the men that actually frequented the bowery. The main one, Ray Salyer, plays himself, and we see him arriving to the bowery with just a suitcase and some money; he claims to be a railroad worker. He looks fine and well-kept, and, for some reason chooses to go to a bar as his first stop. Even though he has seen and felt the evil of booze, he is weak and agrees to have a drink with some fellows that he meets in the bar.
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