On The Bowery - The Films of Lionel Rogosin Volume 1 (1956-1964) 2 x Blu-ray
Artistic movements rarely travel in as straight a line as casual cultural historians like to imagine. Yes, American independent film flowered in the ’80s and ’90s in ways it hadn’t before, but there were non-Hollywood mavericks working in cinema long before then: in the avant-garde, in the underground, in regional pictures, in documentaries, in B-pictures, and occasionally in small-scale, personal versions of mainstream narrative films. One of the most influential was Lionel Rogosin, a committed social activist who took up filmmaking in the ’50s so he could tell the truth to the world about the evils of poverty, racism, and war. In 1955, Rogosin leapt into his new career by bringing his camera down to lower Manhattan, to try and capture both the desperation and the simple humanity of the impoverished alcoholics living on the streets and in flophouses. He quickly realized that mere reportage wouldn’t grab an audience, so in the spirit of documentary pioneer Robert Flaherty, Rogosin and his collaborators came up with a story, about a drifter named Ray (played by real-life skid-rower Ray Salyer) who loses everything while on a bender. The mix of scripted scenes, improvisation, melodrama, and portraiture offered a distinctly American take on neo-realism, proving to be a major inspiration to ’60s cinema verite and to the edgy psychodramas of John Cassavetes.

This two-disc set encompasses more than just Lionel Rogosin's 1956 masterwork On the Bowery, a harrowing yet humane account of friendship and betrayal set among society's downtrodden fringe-dwellers. The second disc includes Out, a 1957 documentary short about refugee camps produced in the wake of the Hungarian Revolution, and Good Times, Wonderful Times, a feature-length documentary from 1965 on nuclear disarmament and the afterlife of wartime atrocities. Inspired in equal measure by pioneering documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty's community-collaborative docudrama style and the improvisatory production methods of Italian neorealism, Rogosin's downbeat street poetry would in turn exert a sizable influence on the burgeoning American independent film community (John Cassavetes's directorial debut, Shadows, for one), as well as the British Free Cinema movement.

Disc 1

• On the Bowery. Directed by Lionel Rogosin, 1956 (65:00)
• Introduction by Martin Scorsese
• The Perfect Team: The Making of "On the Bowery". Directed by Michael Rogosin (46:30)
• A Walk Through the Bowery. Directed by Michael Rogosin (12:12)
• Bowery Men's Shelter. Directed by Rhody Streeter and Tony Ganz, 1972 (10:19)
• Street of Forgotten Men, 1933 (2:12)
• On the Bowery Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

Disc 2

• Good Times, Wonderful Times. Directed by Lionel Rogosin, 1964 (69.00)
• Out. Directed by Lionel Rogosin, 1957 (25:33)
• Man's Peril: The Making of "Good Times, Wonderful Times". Directed by Michael Rogosin. (24:15)

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