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"Lionel Rogosin’s 1957 "On the Bowery" is an outright masterpiece of urban ethnography and observant compassion."
—RAY PRIDE, NEW CITY FILM
"Inspired by The Bicycle Thief, New York filmmaker Lionel Rogosin set out to make a neo-realist drama on the city's skid row, and his 1957 film is a priceless time capsule, though its images of addiction and despair have barely aged."
—J.R. JONES, CHICAGO READER
"Lionel Rogosin’s 1957 semi-documentary paints a haunting picture of homelessness... Scenes of mission life and the homeless sleeping in doorways are as iconic as anything in the best street photography."
—BEN KENIGSBERG, TIME OUT CHICAGO
"Of course, all this talk of long faces, indigence, and drunkenness disserves the movie’s sense of life. It crackles with screwball energy. There are enough big, loud, antic moments (drunks being tossed out of the bar, say) to suggest that certain comedies of the era — and films well before it — should be reconsidered works of realism."
—WESLEY MORRIS, THE BOSTON GLOBE
"Lionel Rogosin's "On the Bowery" startled audiences when it came out in 1957. It still startles. His remarkable portrait of skid row, well researched and intimate, is still visceral."
—RON MENKEN, CINEMA WITHOUT BORDERS
"On the Bowery is... a vivid, electrifying time capsule that preserves the lives, faces, voices, emotions, habits and milieus of New York’s most hardscrabble street -- the Bowery, Manhattan’s Skid Row, festering in broad daylight beneath the Third Avenue El, the subway line which loomed indifferently over the misery below.... An extraordinary reminder of how powerful a tool the cinema is for recording and preserving human life at all levels of comfort and security. Do not miss it."
—SHAWN LEVY, THE OREGONIAN
"On the Bowery may be more than half a century old, but it is no relic. This landmark documentary disturbs and compels as much today in a new 35mm restoration as it did when it opened in 1956 to both criticism and acclaim."
—KENNETH TURAN, LOS ANGELES TIMES
""There's both surprising redemption and a stone-cold reality check at the end of this woozy-view slice of gutter life."
—DENNIS HARVEY, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN
"[The National Society of Film Critics announced the 2010'] Film Heritage Awards:... Milestone Films for the release of the 1956 documentary On the Bowery"
— LOS ANGELES TIMES
"Half a Century After Its Creation, Lionel Rogosin's 'On the Bowery' Remains a Quintessential Document of Old New York..."
—NIC RAPOLD, WALL STREET JOURNAL
"When Lionel Rogosin’s “ON THE BOWERY” (1956) played at Anthology Film Archives a few years back, Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called it “a classic of its kind and a must-see for anyone who cherishes the old soul of New York.” If you missed the film — a combination of documentary and improvised morality tale shot on location in New York bars, missions, flophouses and streets long before the advent of luxury condominiums and Keith McNally restaurants — Film Forum is offering another chance with a one-week run beginning Friday. If you saw it and were intrigued, you might want to come back for “The Perfect Team,” a 45-minute making-of film directed by Rogosin’s son Michael."
—MIKE HALE, NEW YORK TIMES
"One of the most famous of all American independent films, Lionel Rogosin’s “On the Bowery,” which is being revived in a restored print, still stands up after all these years."
—PETER RAINER, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
"In a very real sense the ultimate New York movie, Lionel Rogosin's On the Bowery (1957) is cinema-as-bog-body, living history captured with such fortune and care that there's no sign of decay after 50-plus years."
—MICHAEL ATKINSON, VILLAGE VOICE
"FIVE STARS! Lionel Rogosin’s devastating survey of the legendary ’hood returns for a welcome encore."
—DAVID FEAR, TIME OUT NEW YORK
"Approval Matrix: BRILLIANT and HIGHBROW!"
—NEW YORK MAGAZINE
"Lionel Rogosin's 1956 On the Bowery is the most important movie playing in New York: a window to the past, a dark glass on the present...The two leads...were plucked off the sidewalk, and the muscatel they swill was real. Rogosin can't help these and other ravaged men, but he films them with a compassion that gives the lie to the idea that cinema is essentially "medium cool."
—DAVID EDELSTEIN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE
"It exploded on the screen — and won prizes (Venice Film Festival, Academy Award nomination, etc.) and generated arguments and harsh criticism as well. In a moment of recovery from World War II and the Korean War, when there was a tendency to want to stress only the "Father Knows Best"-style, suburban, front-lawn America, there were plenty of people who were put off by a film that tried to pull back the curtain on certain less appealing aspects of American life. But "On The Bowery" was a revelation to many others, John Cassavetes among them: He called Rogosin "probably the greatest documentary filmmaker of all time," and took inspiration from the work."
—SARA FISHKO, WNYC - THE FISHKO FILES
"If other films shot on location with nonprofessional actors meet the standard of soulful nonfiction, few have approached On the Bowery's achievement: empathy without sentimentality, craft without contrivance, and an unflinching eye that sees individuals striving for dignity to neutralize everyday pain. Beyond mere grit, it catches the joys and camaraderie of a skid-row drinking life as well as the daily bitterness, betrayals, and humiliations. Little wonder that it stoked young John Cassavetes's desire to put raw, messy life on the movie screen (and Rogosin succeeded more completely in this, his first film, than that pioneering actor-auteur did in much of his work)."
—BILL WEBER, SLANT.COM
"An up-close-and-personal study of society's darkest corners and a pivotal work of American realism (pioneers John Cassavetes, Shirley Clarke, Robert Frank, and Kent MacKenzie each owed something to it)."
—MICHAEL JOSHUA ROWIN, L MAGAZINE
"Lionel Rogosin's On the Bowery (1957) inhabits two netherworlds: Manhattan’s storied skid row and the nascent independent American cinema. Filmed mostly in the shadows of the old Third Avenue elevated train, Rogosin’s frank depiction of proletarian down-and-outers was deplored by establishment critics of its era as dispiriting and inept, even anti-American. To watch it now, as with walking today’s Bowery, is to see it in more flattering light—in the film’s case, as a daring trip into the wrong part of town that paved the way for John Cassavetes (who singled out On the Bowery as a major influence) and countless others."
—DARRELL HARTMAN, ARTFORUM
THE PRIME DESTINATIONS
"Lionel Rogosin’s lean, restored 1957 masterwork is exactly what it sounds like: A semi-documentary glimpse of life on one of New York’s most downtrodden strips of real estate. From the shadows of the extinct Third Avenue El and the smoky half-light of bars where pocket change would send patrons reeling into days, weeks, lifetimes of oblivion, Rogosin delivers a piece as visually captivating as it is anthropologicially essential. Remember these fellas next time you head down to the Bowery for your $12 martini: They were there first."
—S.T. VANAIRSDALE, MOVIELINE
The old days don't look terribly good in Lionel Rogosin's narrative documentary ''ON THE BOWERY'' (1956), but they do look astonishing. A slice of down-and-out life, this black-and-white (and newly restored) portrait of lost New York tracks the arrival and rapid downward spiral of a young man (Ray Sayler), who lands on the Bowery with a suitcase and a deceitful thirst.
—MANOHLA DARGIS, NEW YORK TIMES
The astonishing 1957 film "On the Bowery,"... brings this piece of history and human existence to immediate, vivid life — from flophouses and bottles of "sneaky-pete" to Bowery Mission sermons and hand-to-mouth day-laboring. It's a landmark of urban realism and independent filmmaking, and one of the essential New York movies.
—NICOLAS RAPOLD, NEW YORK SUN
Lionel Rogosin's 1957 skid-row quasi-doc is a quintessential chunk of New York history.
—J. HOBERMAN, VILLAGE VOICE
Scripted but ragged on the edges with hidden camera and boozy rambling, tripod-stabilized but extraordinarily raw, peopled almost entirely with real-life alkies, OTB (that the film shares an acronym with Off-Track Betting is just perfect) occupies a precarious borderland between "classical" narrative cinema and modern documentary; that idiosyncrasy, to this viewer, is much of its appeal.
—NICK PINKERTON, REVERSE SHOT