On the Bowery: The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Vol. 1 [2 Discs] [DVD]

Often regarded as the "cinematic equivalent" of Dust Bowl Balladeer Woody Guthrie, documentarian Lionel Rogosin (1924-2000) used his movie camera as a weapon of conscience. With a keen eye and an even sharper intuition for muckraking, Rogosin routinely sought out social injustice and brought it to public attention on the nation's movie screens. Issues that he covered included such hot-button topics as alcoholism, poverty, homelessness war, and labor conflict. This box set offers three key works by the nonfiction pioneer: On the Bowery (1956), which observes three days in the life of railroad worker-cum-alcoholic Ray Salyer; Good Times, Wonderful Times (1965) wherein Rogosin makes jarring cross-cuts between the superficial conversation at a British cocktail party and wartime atrocities committed around the world; and Out! (1957), a short subject film shot for the UN, about Hungarian refugees fleeing to Austria.
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Special Features

  • On the Bowery [Disc 1]:
  • Martin Scorsese introduction
  • The Perfect Team: The making of On the Bowery directed by Michael Rogosin
  • A Walk Through the Bowery directed by Michael Rogosin
  • Bowery Men's Shelter. Directed by Rhody Streeter and Tony Ganz (1972). Courtesy of the reserve film and video collection of the New York public library for the performing arts
  • Street of Forgotten Men. USA. 1933. Courtesy of Oddball film + video, San Francisco
  • On the Bowery theatrica trailer
  • Good Times, Wonderful Times [Disc 2]:
  • Out. courtesy of United Nations multimedia resouces unit
  • Man's Peril: The making of GTWT. Directed by Michael Rogosin and Lloyd Ross


On the Bowery
Audiences in 1956 expected documentaries to be antiseptic extended advertisements, or a series of pretty pictures of faraway places. Adventurous young filmmaker Lionel Rogosin shattered these preconceived notions with his first effort, On the Bowery. This devastating tour of the Lower East Side and the derelicts residing therein may be difficult to look at, but the unvarnished truth often is. Rogosin concentrates on a representative cross-section of Bowery habitues: their matter-of-fact acceptance of their miserable lot in life is ten times more powerful than any Hollywoodized dramatic re-enactment. Filmed on a budget consisting of Lionel Rogosin's life savings, the 60-minute On the Bowery was nominated for an Oscar and won top prizes from the British Film Academy and the Venice Film Festival. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Man's Peril
The Perfect Team
Good Times, Wonderful Times
Director Lionel Rogosin used stock footage combined with interviews of retired military officers at a posh party in this offbeat but compelling documentary. The human wreckage in the wake of World War II atrocities is in stark comparison to the civility of the officers' party. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

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