Photoplayers were invented in the early nineteen-hundreds as a way to add music and effects to silent films, but technology progressed and, in the late 1920's, audio was added to the film strips. Warner Brothers' 1927's The Jazz Singer became the first successful experiment in sound films. The other studios began to follow suit, and Beggars of Life became Paramount's debut talkie. Beggars of Life was directed by William Wellman and released in 1928. It tells the story of Oklahoma Red - a hobo played by Wallace Beery whose life is spent traveling the railroads and trying to survive in a harsh and relentless day-to-day existence. Louise Brooks, meanwhile, is hardly better off. After she kills her abusive stepfather in self defense, she runs away, dresses up as a boy, then hits the rails herself. She meets Oklahoma Red and, together with a gang of rowdy hobos, lives off the land and works her way to Canada, always in fear of capture by the police. In its day, the film was considered a grim depiction of life on the streets for which few could empathize. Soon enough though, within one year, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 sparked the worst depression the United States and the world would experience. Then, countless Americans would embark on their own journeys for survival and see themselves in the story of Oklahoma Red and his hobo friends.