On the Bowery a Success at Film Forum

Posted on: October 1st, 2010 at 6:20 am by

When Lionel Rogosin’s On the Bowery premiered at Film Forum on September 17, the local press was jazzed.  Here was a classic piece from 1957 that showed a thin slice of life on our beloved thoroughfare.  And it delivered.  Cash money.

This image has been archived or removed.

In its twelve-day limited run, the independent film grossed $41,802 in box office receipts.  A tweet from distributor/restoration house Milestone Films confirms the figure, and adds that the final day (Tuesday) grossed $4,002 alone. Modest success, indeed.

This image has been archived or removed.

Now let’s take a ride in the Delorean, if you will.  Upon its initial release in 1957, the New York Times panned the film:

True, the candid photography of actual Bowery scenes—gin-mills, flop-houses, missions and drunk-cluttered doorways at dawn—is sharp and unrelenting. Carl Lerner, who edited the film, has done a fine job of assembling these sordid and pitiful scenes. And Charles Mills has given the assemblage an affecting musical score. As a piece of straight documentation, “On the Bowery” makes a tough, arresting film.

But the thread of story that runs through it—the two-day fall and rise of a young man who finds himself sidetracked on the Bowery—appears just a shade too fictional to be believed by anybody, except those who take sightseeing bus tours of lower New York. And its performance by Ray Sayler as the young man and Gorman Hendriks as a sly old bum, while remarkably true in many details, looks consciously directed, as it was.

And to top it off:

Much more enjoyable on the program is a thirty-minute Walt Disney film, “Man in Space,” which explains with animations a projected launching of a manned rocket satellite outside the atmosphere of the earth.

[Film screengrab via Walking off the Big Apple]

Recent Stories

Under Presure from Chinatown, Mayor Pledges $80M to Restore 70 Mulberry Street

The fire-scorched school building at 70 Mulberry Street will see life anew, thanks to massive city funding. Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday in his morning press briefing that the new budget contains a line item for $80 million dedicated to restoration of the historic building. Hizzoner spent a solid four minutes discussing how Chinatown was […]

Fearing COVID-19 Resurgence, De Blasio Halts Indoor Dining Indefinitely

Not so fast. Phase 3 of the reopening plan is slated to launch on Monday. However, it arrives without the resumption of indoor dining at bars and restaurants, as initially conceived. Mayor de Blasio announced the news at his morning presser yesterday, citing the nationwide surges of COVID-19 cases and the elevated dangers of indoor […]

When Rivington House Wouldn’t Clean its Garbage Mess, a Neighbor Stepped In

A Good Samaritan took responsibility where a multimillion-dollar hospital system would not. As previously reported, the outside of Rivington House – future home of Mount Sinai’s future Behavioral Health facility – essentially devolved into decrepitude with the accumulation of trash at the doorstep. Untouched for days on end. But one Lower East Sider took matters […]

Chillhouse Shutters Original Essex Street Spa

The list of coronavirus-related business closures is getting longer by the week. Today brings word that an Essex Street newcomer has bitten the dust. Chillhouse, a millennials-style spa at 149 Essex Street, is the latest to fall. Ownership announced the permanent shutter in an e-mail to customers Tuesday afternoon. “As we all know too well […]

Hamilton Fish Park Pool to Reopen by August 1

In an about-face, the city announced yesterday that at least fifteen public pools will reopen across the Five Boroughs. Included in the lucky list is the Hamilton Fish Park pool, known to locals as the “Pitt Pool.” But the cooldown will have to wait another month. The reopenings are scheduled for August 1, and are […]