The Bums

An afternoon with some panhandlers recorded August, 1976, in San Francisco.

00:35Copy video clip URL A bell tower rings in the distance. The opening shot is taken from below a concrete embankment. As the camera pans upward, it finds a well-dressed man walking across the sidewalk above. The man looks down and continues out of frame. The camera moves downward to reveal a small dwelling of panhandlers in a recess beneath the sidewalk. The words “love” and “piece” are written in graffiti above. A bottle is passed among those gathered.

01:23Copy video clip URL A man lying on a mattress named “Arthur” begins to speak about hardship. Another man speaks about the camaraderie often found between other panhandlers.

02:43Copy video clip URL Arthur reveals part of his backstory.

03:45Copy video clip URL One of the videomakers asks Arthur about his approach to panhandling. Arthur considers the apparent moral quandary of people who are emotionally moved give money out of compassion to lessen the suffering of animals before that of the panhandler.

04:54Copy video clip URL One of Arthur’s friends tells an amusing story about food.

06:12Copy video clip URL Arthur and his friend discuss the merits of considering panhandling as a form of work.

06:20Copy video clip URL Scene cuts. More men have gathered and attempt to help Arthur up from his mattress. He then departs with his dog. As the camera follows Arthur up a hill from the panhandlers dwelling, a bell begins to toll. Without jumping takes, the camera finds what appears to be the same man from the opening shot, walking again across the sidewalk above.

07:36Copy video clip URL Fade to black.

08:15Copy video clip URL Voices of the panhandlers’ earlier conversation is heard overlaying the black screen.

09:13Copy video clip URL Audio ends.

 

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