If it weren't for two of its lead performances, this would be a simple period curiosity, one of Hollywood's first sympathetic portraits of life on the run from the police. A vagrant falls in with a young woman wanted for murder; the two of them seek refuge with a group of hoboes, but find their own kind as hostile as the rest of society. Wellman sketches the hobo mentality with a fine economy, but cannot deliver the pace and suspense that the plot demands. Hence the importance of the players. Beery, entering with a pilfered beer-barrel on his shoulder, offers an extravagantly randy, bullying and sentimental performance as Oklahoma Red, leader of the hoboes. Despite his excellence, though, all eyes are on the 22-year-old Louise Brooks, who was about to leave for Germany to star in Pandora's Box. As the movie opens, she has just shot her adoptive father, who tried to rape her. She flees in boy's clothes, tough and vulnerable in equal proportions. The camera loves her, and she rewards it with a performance that radiates inner life.
Cast and crew
|Director:||William A Wellman|