The set also features Out, a more traditional documentary Rogosin produced for the United Nations about Hungarian refugees fleeing to Austria after an unsuccessful uprising against the Soviets in 1956.
The Blu-ray Disc
On the Bowery is presented in 1080p high definition in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Working from a restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna, Milestone has produced an impeccable, jaw-dropping transfer. Fine detail is abundant, from clothing fibers to stray hairs to interior textures, and every frame looks like celluloid, with healthy, unadulterated film grain omnipresent. The silvery beauty of the film’s grayscale images is a wonder to behold, and it’s astonishing how clean the elements are. The film's mono audio is perfectly acceptable, with clear dialogue throughout.
The second disc of the set, featuring Good Times, Wonderful Times and Out is a DVD disc, which is too bad, as the also freshly restored Good Times would have also stunned in HD. Nevertheless, it's SD presentation here is quite good.
Disc one features the bulk of the extras, including an introduction by Martin Scorsese, who grew up near the Bowery, and an excellent 45-minute making-of directed by Rogosin’s son Michael that details the conception and execution of the film. Rogosin also helms a 10-minute look at the Bowery today. Giving us further perspectives on the social crisis the area represented are two brief docs, 1972’s Bowery Men’s Shelter and 1933’s Street of Forgotten Men. The disc also includes the trailer for On the Bowery’s 2010 Milestone theatrical re-release.
Disc two features a making-of of Good Times, Wonderful Times that includes interview footage with Rogosin from the same sessions included in the On the Bowery making-of.
The Bottom Line
Thanks to the good folks at Milestone, a vibrant, vital document of New York City in the 1950s gets an incredibly beautiful transfer. Bring on Volume II.