Monday, March 30, 2015

Matchbox from Cuba features Louise Brooks

This vintage matchbox from Cuba features Louise Brooks (on the front), as well as Greta Garbo and Antonio Moreno in a scene from what I believe is The Temptress (1926). The matchbox recently sold on eBay, and measures 2 11/16 by 1 3/4 by 1/2 inch. It promotes cigarettes.

front view




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Louise Brooks Returns to Detroit in Pandora's Box

On March 28th, the Redford Theatre in Detroit is set to screen Pandora's Box, the sensational 1929 silent film starring screen legend Louise Brooks. For Metro Detroiters, it's a special opportunity to see one of the great films of the silent era on the big screen of a restored 1928 theater.



Saturday's chance to see Pandora's Box is all the more special because Brooks and Detroit have something of a history.

Before she entered films, Brooks was a dancer. For two years, Brooks toured with Denishawn, the leading American dance company of the teens and twenties. Led by greats Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, the company's members were a who's who of those who helped shape modern dance. During her two seasons with Denishawn, the teenage Brooks danced alongside such legendary figures as Martha Graham, Charles Weideman and Doris Humphrey.

Dance played an important role throughout Brooks' career. In the opening scene in Pandora's Box, the actress performs a short dance -- a riff off something Brooks had recalled from an earlier Denishawn routine. Later in life, Brooks would remark, "I learned to act by watching Martha Graham dance, and I learned to dance by watching Charlie Chaplin act."

Denishawn visited Detroit on two occasions -- first in March 1923, and then again in March 1924, where they performed at Orchestra Hall. According to newspaper accounts, the company enjoyed large crowds and received favorable reviews. Ultimately, it was as an actress that Brooks made an impression on the Motor City -- especially its film critics.

In the 1920's, Detroit was a three-paper town. There was the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, as well as the now defunct Detroit Times. Also covering local arts and entertainment was a weekly called Detroit Saturday Night. Each of these publications reviewed films, and each went out of its way on more than one occasion to single-out Brooks. Their praise was more than just the era's usual ballyhoo.


Charles J. Richardson of the Detroit Times, for example, reviewed The American Venus -- a 1926 romantic comedy which first brought Brooks her first reviews. Richardson wrote, "Louise Brooks, the former Follies chorine, makes her film debut in the production and does well in a small role. This Miss Brooks just now is the patron saint of all chorus girls seeking admittance into the sacred ranks of screen players." Harold Hefferman, writing in the Detroit News, also noticed the young actress. He wrote, "Louise Brooks, a black-haired boyish-bobbed entry ... cuts quite a figure."

Hefferman would go on to lavish praise on the actress throughout the 1920s. The Detroit News critic nearly gushed while reviewing Brooks' next film, A Social Celebrity. "Louise Brooks, possessing one of the most striking and expressive faces ever to come to the screen, plays the heroine in a saucily successful manner." Meanwhile, Richardson at the Detroit Times continued to express similar sentiments in his many reviews. Writing about the 1927 film, Rolled Stockings, Richardson proclaimed "Louise Brooks, as usual, is delightful to gaze upon." Back then, some critics wore their hearts on their sleeves.

The actress' admirers were not limited to the city's male critics. Ella H. McCormick of the Detroit Free Press also singled out the actress. "Louise Brooks is the nifty stepper," she wrote in May 1926. A month later, reviewing It's the Old Army Game, McCormick observed, "W.C. Fields scored a splendid triumph in this picture. A great part of the success of the offering, however, is due to Louise Brooks, who takes the lead feminine part." In her review of Just Another Blonde later that year, McCormick pronounced, "Miss Brooks is one of the best brunette contradictions to the lighter hypothesis that can be found on the silver screen."


In the mid-1930s, as her film career started to fade, Brooks returned to dance -- and once again returned to Detroit. With a partner, Brooks found work as a ballroom dancer in nightclubs, theaters, and other Midwest hotspots.

In August 1934, Brooks performed at the Blossom Heath Inn in what is now St. Clair Shores. Today, that venue -- located on Jefferson Avenue between 9- and 10-mile road -- hosts weddings and other events, but back then the Blossom Heath Inn was a popular road-house just outside Detroit city limits.

At the time of her month-long engagement, both the Free Press and News ran the following notice in their respective nightclub column. "Edward Fritz, proprietor of the Blossom Heath Inn, announces the engagement of the season's greatest floor show, headed by Louise Brooks, motion picture star, and Dario, creator of the Bolero from the motion picture Bolero. Several other new acts are included." It was a dénouement to a remarkable career.

Within a few years, Brooks would appear in her last film (a B-Western with John Wayne), leave Hollywood, and sink into decades of obscurity. In the 1950's and 1960's, Brooks and her three great European films -- Pandora's Box, Diary of a Lost Girl, and Prix de Beauté -- were rediscovered. Today, this once forgotten actress is legendary as Lulu in G.W. Pabst's 1929 masterpiece.

In a thoughtful article in the Metro Times in 2006, Michael Hastings wrote, "Has there ever been a more perfect, more tragic, more mythic fusion of actor and character than Louise Brooks' Lulu in Pandora's Box? The girl with the "black helmet" hairdo may not have been German, and she certainly didn't go on a date with Jack the Ripper, but just about everything else in Brooks' life leading up to and following her signature 1929 role became, in some weird, extrasensory way, the blueprint for director G.W. Pabst's masterpiece of sexual suggestion."

Detroiter's will have a chance to see for themselves on Saturday, March 28th when the Redford Theatre (17360 Lasher Road) screens a 35mm print of Pandora's Box. John Lauter will accompany the film on the theatre's original 3 manual, 10 rank Barton Theatre Pipe Organ. Pandora's Box will be introduced by film historian and Detroit Free Press writer John Monaghan. A post-film discussion "about Brooks' lasting impact on film and fashion" will follow.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Redford Theater proclaims Pandora's Box this Saturday



The Redford Theatre in Detroit will screen Pandora's Box (1929) on Saturday, March 28th at 8 p.m. (see previous post for further information). The Redford Theatre, with its original 3 manual, 10 rank Barton Theatre Pipe Organ, has served as a Metro Detroit entertainment center since it opened on January 27, 1928. It is a fine example of a "neighborhood theatre."

The historic Redford Theatre is located at 17360 Lahser Road in Detroit, Michigan. The theatre is owned and operated by the non-profit Motor City Theatre Organ Society. The theatre is operated by an all-volunteer staff, with proceeds from programs presented at the Redford used to restore and maintain the theatre building.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks plays in Detroit, MI on March 28

The Redford Theatre in Detroit will screen Pandora's Box (1929) on Saturday, March 28th at 8 p.m. The Redford Theatre, with its original 3 manual, 10 rank Barton Theatre Pipe Organ, has served as a Metro Detroit entertainment center since it opened on January 27, 1928 -- just a year before the legendary Louise Brooks' film opened in Berlin.

The historic Redford Theatre is located at 17360 Lahser Road in Detroit, Michigan. The theatre is owned and operated by the non-profit Motor City Theatre Organ Society. The Redford Theatre is operated by an all-volunteer staff. Proceeds from programs presented at the Redford are used to restore and maintain the theatre building (depicted below).

On it's Facebook page, The Redford Theater, posted this: "VINTAGE FILM FANS PLEASE SHARE THIS: Rare screening of PANDORA'S BOX, 1929 silent starring LOUISE BROOKS, the movie's first and most beautiful femme fatale - the movie the American actress went to Germany to make with G.W. Pabst. The 8 pm Saturday, March 28 event includes a rare, uninterrupted 35mm print of the film, organ accompaniment by the amazing John Lauter, intro by writer and film historian John Monaghan, and a post-film discussion where you get to talk about Brooks's lasting impact on film and fashion. Downton Abbey's Lady Mary even adopted her iconic hair style!!!! SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR OLDER MOVIES AT THE REDFORD BY ATTENDING THIS FILM!!!!! Share, share, share."


Thanks to Mark G. Sun for word about this event.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

About Rochester NY where Louise Brooks had lived

Here is a New York Times story about Rochester, New York - the city where Louise Brooks lived for the last part of her live. Check it out.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Louise Brooks as decorative art in real estate photograph

Louise Brooks is depicted in an artwork above a bed in this real estate listing. Louise Brooks is the second image from the left. I can't quite identify the the others, maybe that's Pola Negri to the right of Louise.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rogue'z Theatre Company play about Louise Brooks, The Winter Gift

The Rogue'z Theatre Company play about Louise Brooks, The Winter Gift, is being performed for three nights next month, in the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, South Wales. Details at 
http://www.chapter.org/roguez-theatre-present-winter-gift


Rogue'z Theatre present: The Winter Gift
NERO-Film Studios, Berlin, 1928 – a fun-loving young American actress and a strait­laced German director make a film destined to become a classic of the silent screen.

Slum tenement flat, New York, 1955 – an alcoholic, penniless, washed-up star of the silent screen hears a knock on the door. Someone has found Louise Brooks...

The Winter Gift, premiered to great acclaim last year in the Wales Millenium Centre, tells the story of Pandora's Box and the men and women who made it – and what happened afterwards...

£11/9
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