This is a really special event for Bridport and The Electric Palace.
We are showing a classic silent film ‘Beggars Of Life’ (1928), starring Louise Brooks, with live musical accompaniment from The Dodge Brothers.
Following the film, there will be a Q&A with Mark Kermode (The Observer chief Film Critic, BBC TV Presenter), Neil Brand (writer & presenter BBC 4 series ‘Sounds of Cinema : The Music That Made The Movies’) and Dr Mike Hammond (Associate Professor, Film Department, University of Southampton).
Beggars Of Life (1928)
Following his Best Picture win at the inaugural Academy Awards, William A. Wellman made Beggars of Life, an adaptation of Jim Tully’s best-selling classic of hobo literature. This gripping drama casts cinema icon Louise Brooks as a girl on the lam after killing her lecherous adoptive father.
Dressed in boy’s clothes, she navigates through the dangerous tramp underworld with the help of a handsome and devoted drifter (Richard Arlen) and encounters the dangerous, but warm-hearted hobo legend Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery).
Loaded with stunning visuals and empathetic performances, this dark, realistic drama is Brooks’ best American film and a masterpiece of late-silent era feature films.
The Dodge Brothers & Silent Cinema
Silent cinema was never silent. Trust me I’m a Doctor.
Before sound arrived in Hollywood in 1928 the movies always had some noise associated with them and the Dodge Brothers are steeped in that tradition; making rackets to stories to raise an eyebrow, infect your feet with rhythm, and prompt maybe a laugh or a tear.
With our fifth Dodge Brother Neil Brand, expert silent pianist and composer, we fly the flag for silent cinema.
We have played to silent films at the finest venues in the land, The Barbican, The National Film Theatre, BFI, The National Media Museum and anywhere that the high art of playing live to silent film is appreciated. In 2014 The Dodge Brothers were the first band to accompany a silent film at Glastonbury Festival.
Our approach is simple: we derive our music from what might have been played in the cinemas in towns such as Clarksdale Mississippi, or Troy Alabama.
We bring the jug band/skiffle style to westerns and hobo films. With Louise Brooks and Wallace Beery in Beggars of Life (William Wellman,1928) we take as our inspiration the music of Bukka White (Po’ Boy), Charlie Poole (Goodbye Booze) and Furry Lewis (Kassee Jones).
We also include some of our own songs (written in 1928 of course) and look to the protest songs of Woody Guthrie for inspiration for the Soviet gem The Ghost Who Never Returns (Abram Room, 1928). We draw on the eternal ‘Fair and Tender Ladies’ and gambling songs for the noble William S. Hart western White Oak (Lambert Hillyer, 1921).
Our latest addition to the repertoire is the incomparable Hell’s Hinges (Charles Swickard, 1916) another W.S. Hart western. Hart plays Blaze Tracey a bad guy turned good by the love of a true and spiritual woman.
The finale rivals High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven as Blaze wreaks vengeance on the sin-ridden town they call Hell’s Hinges. Our own western motifs (copied years later by Ennio Morriconi), are accompanied by the raunchy vamps of Jelly Roll Morton and the powerful Charlie Patton hymn ‘Oh Death’.
Each and every performance is unique. This time we are barnstorming The Bridport Electric Palace (built in 1926), with washboards, banjos and a whole lotta heart. You heard it here first!
“The hot ticket will be The Dodge Brothers, a skiffle band, accompanying a silent film”
“Never has a film and a band been more perfectly matched than 'Beggars of Life' and the Dodge Brothers - deep dish Americana, rail-riding hoboes and Louise Brooks - they were made for each other.”
Bryony Dixon - curator of silent film, British Film Institute.