A blend of documentary and scripted narrative, "On The Bowery' is an in-depth examination of New York City's skidrow during the 1950s. Men talking and arguing among themselves, drowning the little monetary gains they have on booze, sleeping on sidewalks- this is life on the Bowery. The narrative revolves around Ray, a young man who arrives in New York with some money in his pocket. On his first night he drinks himself into a stupor and is subsequently robbed by one of the men who befriended him earlier in the night. Through Ray's experiences the film paints a vivid, grim portrait of how living on the Bowery drains the life out of men. The contrast between Ray, a young good-looking man and the older men of the Bowery is particularly affecting. Lionel Rogosin takes full advantage of this with a series of close-ups of these men's old battered faces, there skin reminiscent of old worn leather, faces full of sorrow with little hope. Running a little over an hour long, 'On the Bowery' captures this lifestyle in a succinct, efficient way. The film provides a window into the monotonous grim world of lower class individuals, with an observational eye aiding the narrative structure. While not particularly "entertaining", this is definitely an important film, in that it captures a time and place genuinely and efficiently.
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