UC Berkeley Library

Homelessness in Film

A Dog's Life (1918)

Directed by Charlie Chaplin. Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Tom Wilson, Sidney Chaplin, Albert Austin . "Poor Charlie lives in a vacant lot. He tries to get a job but when he gets to the head of the employment line the jobs are gone. Back "home" he rescues Scraps, a bitch being attacked by other strays. Together they manage to steal some sausages from a lunch wagon. They enter a dance hall where Edna is a singer and unwilling companion to the clientele. He is thrown out when he can't pay. Back "home" Scraps digs up a money-filled wallet buried by crooks.

A Nous la liberte (France, 1931)

Directed by Rene Clair. Cast: Henri Marchand, Raymond Cordy, Rolla France, Paul Olivier, Andre Michand, Germaine Aussey, Jacques Shelly, Leon Lorin, William Burke, Vincent Hyspa. A landmark film in early sound production this is a left-wing satirical comedy about two ex-convicts, one of whom works his way up from salesman to factory owner. He oversees a highly mechanised operation where the workers are reduced to mere automatons. Blackmailed over his past, he joins up with his old cellmate, and the pair take to the road as tramps.

Ali Zaoua, prince de la rue (Morocco / Tunisia / France / Belgium, 2000)

Directed by Nabil Ayouch. Cast: Mounim Kbab, Mustapha Hansali, Hicham Moussoune, Abdelhak Zhayra, Said Taghmaoui, Amal Ayouch, Mohamed Majd, Hicham Ibrahimi, Khalil Essaadi, Abdessamad Tourab Seddam. Ali, Kwita, Omar, and Boubker are a group of street urchins living in the hard streets of Casablanca. In order to survive they create a bond of friendship and family between them. The bond is cut short when Ali is senselessly killed; his life taken by a single act of a rival gang. Ali's friends decide not to report his death to the police, who would have the boy buried in a potter's field.

An Orphan on the Street (Wan jia deng huo) (China, 1949)

Directed by Fu Shen. Cast: Longji Wang, Lin Zhen, Guan Hongda, Du Lei. The misadventures of a street urchin based on a popular comic character named Three Hairs, because of the three thin stalks of hair sticking straight up. After a night on the streets, Three Hairs looks for work wherever he can get it; he polishes shoes, picks garbage and sells newspapers, but finally decides to give up. He puts a "for sale" sign on his back and goes looking for a buyer. 110 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Attitude

Cast: Michael Disend, Robert Viharo, Edwin Johnson, Selena Allen, Johnny Tidwell. Spoddy (Michael Disend) is the arrogant owner of an automotive "chop shop" and a small time auto thief who discovers he is HIV positive. Rejected by those he's used, he finds sanctuary with the people he has always despised, the homeless. 109 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database Directed by Rob Nilsson.

Beggars In Ermine (1934)

Directed by Phil Rosen. Cast: Lionel Atwill, Betty Furness, Henry B. Walthall, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Jameson Thomas, James Bush, Astrid Allwyn. John Dawson loses control of his factory when he is crippled in an accident caused by a rival. Destitute and reduced to panhandling, he travels the country organizing the homeless to help him regain control of his steel mill. Based on the novel by Esther Lynd Day. 70 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Beggars of Life (1928)

Directed by William A. Wellman. Cast: Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Blue Washington. After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl tries to escape the country with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police, and reach Canada. 104 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Biao (The Watch) (China, 1949)

Directed by Zuo Lin. Cast: Zhao Qiansun, Han Mingde. Tells the story of a homeless orphan and the valuable watch he stole and how the watch affects those who come in contact with it. 98 min.

Boudu sauve des eaux (Boudu Saved From Drowning) (France, 1932)

Directed by Jean Renoir. Cast: Michel Simon, Marcelle Hainia, Severine Lerczynsha, Jean Gehret, Max Dalban, Jean Baste, Charles Granval. A well-off bookseller rescues a tramp from a suicidal plunge into the Seine and his family dedicates itself to reforming him. He shows his gratitude by shaking the household to its foundations, challenging the hidebound principles of his hosts.

Bound for Glory (1999)

Directed by Hal Ashby. Cast: David Carradine, Ronny Cox, Melinda Dillon, Gail Strickland, Randy Quaid. Set against the grim backdrop of depression America, this film joyously celebrates the life of Woody Guthrie, America's great folk balladeer and poet. As he traveled across America his buoyant spirit and soul-rousing music surrounded him with a quiet strength enabling him to do battle with the social injustice which surrounded him. 149 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
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