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On the Bowery

On the Bowery

A restored print of Lionel Rogosin’s one-of-a-kind snapshot of that “mile of pavement between Astor Place and Chatham Square” circa 1955, On the Bowery, which somehow managed to win an Academy Award for Best Documentary, despite both its quality and the fact that it’s hardly a conventional documentary at all, starts today at downtown NY’s Anthology Film Archives. And RS staff writer Nick Pinkerton has your essential viewing companion all ready to go:

“Under the steelwork silhouette of the Third Avenue El, bums splay out across doorjambs in mid-afternoon; anyone who has scraped together enough money already has their binge underway. It’s a few stops downtown from P.J. Clarke’s and Don Birnam’s apartment in The Lost Weekend, but formally it’s another universe—shots of winos being scooped into police vans seem cut-in direct from life, seemingly surreptitiously filmed; people, buildings, everything in sight shows marks that could only come of long, terrible attrition. There are no open-armed, redemptive Jane Wymans here, only men, specimens in advanced states of decay, in-and-out-of-Bellevue types not quite able to fill out their rusty, piss-scented trousers. Enter a new guy, Ray (Ray Salyer), whose biceps still fill out his sleeves, his chest not yet concave, looking preoccupied as he enters the Confidence Bar & Grill. He’s railroaded into buying a round of drinks, learns a few names, and just like that he’s part of the Bowery.”

Click here to read of Nick Pinkerton’s Glasses Full of Rye in its entirety.

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