Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sleeping with Louise / Lulu / Valentina

As devotees of Louise Brooks may know, the Italian cartoonist / illustrator / graphic novelist Guido Crepax (1933 - 2003) had a thing for Louise Brooks. In fact, his most famous creation, Valentina, was inspired by the actress, with whom Crepax corresponded. Valentina first appeared in 1968, and there followed a long running series of comic strips and books.

Flash forward to the present. From the Crepax estate comes these new Valentina products, presented here for your consideration and amusement. The bed set comes in many variations, a few of which are shown here.










Saturday, January 20, 2018

Louise Brooks' film Beggars of Life screens in Tromsø, Norway TODAY!

Beggars of Life will be shown in Tromsø, Norway later today. This event, sponsored by the Tromsø International Film Festival, is part of the festival's "Special Screenings" series. More information about this event with LIVE music by the Dodge Brothers & Neil Brand can be found HERE.

Nancy (Louise Brooks) kills her abusive stepfather and tries to flee from the law and leave the country. Dressed as a man and accompanied by a vagabond named Jim (Richard Arlen), Nancy heads for Canada. Together they face the harsh reality and struggles of hobo life. Things get dangerous when they encounter a group of ragged and violent drifters led by Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery). In a high-speed runaway drama cutting through the American continent in freight trains and stolen cars, with romantic as well as threatening undertones, three of the great stars of the silent film era give some of their best performances.

BEGGARS OF LIFE is an intense and entertaining story about oppressed and desperate people on a dangerous journey through the dark underworld of pre-depression America. All aspects of his rollercoaster of a story are enhanced by the live soundtrack, composed and performed by skiffle/bluegrass combo The Dodge Brothers, together with silent film pianist Neil Brand.

THE DODGE BROTHERS W/NEIL BRAND
The Dodge Brothers are renowned for playing the hell out of classic Americana with their exuberant hybrid of country blues, rockabilly, jugband and skiffle. Firmly rooted in these traditions, The Dodge Brothers bring to them a freshness that has feet stomping and hands clapping wherever they go, now also Tromsø.

Neither brothers nor from Dodge City, the band consists of Mike Hammond (lead guitar, lead vocals, banjo), Mark Kermode (bass, harmonica, vocals), Aly Hirji (rhythm guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Alex Hammond (washboard, snare drum, percussion). Cinematic landscapes come to life when this potent musical brew joins forces with virtuous silent film pianist Neil Brand, AKA The Fifth Dodge Brother, a previous guest at Silent Film Days in Tromsø. These musicians and this film can only be described as a match made in heaven. More at Dodgebrothers.co.uk


Want to learn more about the film? Last Spring saw the release of my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film (which mentions the Dodge Brothers), and this past Summer saw the release of a new DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber. If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today?


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Now We're in the Air, starring Louise Brooks, to screen at NY Museum of Modern Art

Now We're in the Air, the once lost comedy starring Louise Brooks, is set to screen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on January 19 as part of "To Save and Project: The 15th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation."

Now We're in the Air (1927) will be shown along with The World and the Woman (1916), starring Jeanne Eagels. The two films will be introduced by screenwriter and film historian David Stenn, and will feature live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin. More information can be found HERE.


The MoMA page reads:


Now We’re in the Air (excerpt). 1927. USA. Directed by Frank R. Strayer. Screenplay by Thomas J. Geraghty. With Wallace Beery, Raymond Hatton, Louise Brooks. 35mm. 23 min.
Louise Brooks makes a brief but memorable appearance as a carnival performer in this newly discovered fragment of a World War I aviation comedy. Restored by The Library of Congress in collaboration with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.


The World and the Woman. 1916. USA. Directed by Eugene Moore. Screenplay by Philip Longeran, William C. de Mille. With Jeanne Eagels, Boyd Marshall, Thomas A. Curran. 35mm. 74 min.
Broadway legend Jeanne Eagels stars as a prostitute who discovers she has faith-healing gifts in a rare silent feature from the New York–based Thanhouser Film Corp. Restored by the George Eastman Museum.



A write-up of the series in Film Journal International stated "David Stenn introduces a fragment of Now We're in the Air (Jan. 19), a 1927 service comedy starring future superstar Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton as two sad sacks who end up in an aerial unit during World War I. Some 20 minutes of footage were recovered from a deteriorated nitrate print found in a Czech archive. It's mostly excruciatingly broad comedy of the Dumb and Dumber school, but it does offer a few minutes of young circus performer Louise Brooks in a black tutu."

Those who attend this special screening will be interested to know that I have just recently authored a book on the Brooks' film. I also helped with the preservation of this once-lost work, and wrote this illustrated book detailing the history of the movie and its discovery in Prague by film preservationist Robert Byrne; also considered in the book is the surprising impact this otherwise little known film has had on Brooks’ life and career.


And amazon.com review said this about the book: The absolute final word on the film from the world’s foremost expert on Louise Brooks. Thoroughly researched and expertly written, oh, and did I mention lavishly illustrated? If you love silent film and if you love Louise Brooks (and who doesn’t) you really should pick up a copy for your library.” 

The book is available at  amazon.com // Barnes & Noble // Indiebound // Powells



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A new autographed Louise Brooks related treasure

Recently, I added a new treasure to my collection of Louise Brooks related autographed books.

Over the years, I have collected all manner of items -- including vintage autographed copies of books which were turned into Brooks' films to autographed copies of books about the actress to a book which once belonged to Brooks and which is annotated in her hand.

Among the vintage titles I have are Colleen Moore's copy of Beggars of Life, bearing her decorative bookplate and inscribed to the bobbed actress by author Jim Tully. (I also have a copy of Beggars of Life which was owned by Ralph Bierce, the son of writer Ambrose Bierce.) I have an autographed hardback copy of The Show-Off  (the play) signed by Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist George Kelly and inscribed to one of the cast members of the acclaimed stage play. I have as well an autographed copy of J.P. McEvoy's Hollywood Girl, the sequel to Show Girl, which was inspired by Brooks.

I have autographed 1st edition copies of a number of more recent titles, the Barry Paris biography, Rolland Jaccard's Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, Peter Cowie's Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, Jan Wahl's Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks; Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By and a handful of other titles.

My most recent acquisition may not be as glamorous as some of the above mentioned books, but I treasure it none the less. The book is Movie Star Vamps and Scamps Paper Dolls by the late Tom Tierney, the noted American paper doll artist. This 2003 Dover book is signed by Tierny.

According to his Wikipedia page, "Tierney ... had a Paper Doll Shop for many years on Main Street in downtown Smithville after leaving New York. His shop was downstairs while Mr. Tierney, known as Tom about town, lived in his upstairs apartment. He autographed all of his many Paper Doll Books which he sold until his death. His relatives kept the store open in memory of him until his supply of Vintage style paper ornaments and books sold out." My copy must have come from his shop, as it is additionally stickered with his defunct web address.

There was a time when if you went into a bookstore you stood a good chance of coming across a selection of Tierney's paper doll books. According to his New York Times obit, "From the mid-1970s until his death, Mr. Tierney reigned as 'the undisputed king' of the international paper-doll world, as The New York Times wrote in 1999 — a milieu that comprises thousands of collectors in the United States alone. Over the years, he created more than 400 paper-dolls books, most issued by Dover Publications. His Dover titles have sold four million copies, according to the company."

As a former bookseller, I had long been aware of Tierney's books, and was likewise disappointed that he had never took on Louise Brooks as a subject. Tierney created Garbo, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake and Lana Turner dolls, but never Brooks! Prior to the publication of Movie Star Vamps and Scamps Paper Dolls, I emailed Tierney suggesting he consider Brooks, and asked that he consider doing an entire book of dolls devoted to the actress.  

Movie Star Vamps and Scamps Paper Dolls was released in 2003. And while it isn't devoted in its entirety to Brooks, she is featured on the cover. (Brooks is one of 12 femmes fatales from the silent era through the 1930s depicted in costumes from their most popular films -- also included is Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Mae West, Theda Bara, Mae Murray, Nita Naldi, Barbara LaMarr, Pola Negri, Clara Bow, and Myrna Loy.) I purchased a copy back then. And just recently, while perusing eBay, I came across an autographed copy and realized I had to have it. Here is a scan of the Brooks page (which is next to Clara Bow - not shown).



Friday, January 12, 2018

Weimar German culture seems to be trending.....

Weimar Germany seems to be trending..... I just came across a rather good article in Tablet magazine about the avant-garde performer Valeska Gert. "The Forgotten World of the Badass Valeska Gert," by Elyssa Goodman, looks at the influence of the "incomparable ‘dance performance artist’ who inspired entertainers from German Expressionism through to 1980s punk."


I've been fascinated by this strange artist ever since I saw her in the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl. Despite Brooks' presence, Gert dominates the few scenes she is in. As Goodman notes,
"Gert began performing all over Europe, at Brecht’s cabaret The Red Revue, in Paris, in London, and elsewhere. She also moved her parody into a new medium, performing in film alongside a very young Greta Garbo in the 1925 film Joyless Street; in G.W. Pabst’s 1929 film Diary of a Lost Girl also starring American cinema sensation Louise Brooks; in the first film version of Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera as Mrs. Peachum in 1931, and many others. Gert knew how to manipulate her face and her body to dominate a stage in her solo performances, and the same happens even when she’s on screen with multiple people, as in this scene from Diary of a Lost Girl: Her face twists, her eyes expand, her mouth bends and even if she’s not saying anything, you simply can’t look away."

I encourage everyone to check out Goodman's article HERE. It is a good read. Back in 2010, I also wrote a piece on Gert which you may also want to check out, "The Remarkable Life of Valeska Gert." It ran on Huffington Post.

And that's not all the news from Weimar Germany. The culture of this special period in history is being celebrated in a new book, Night Falls on Berlin in the Roaring Twenties by Boris Pofalla (Author) & Robert Nippoldt (Illustrator). It is due out in May from Taschen. The publisher description reads thus:


"It was the age of drag balls, Metropolis, and Josephine Baker. Of scientific breakthroughs, literary verve, and the political chaos of the Weimar Republic. After the best-selling Hollywood in the 30s and Jazz: New York in the Roaring Twenties, illustrator Robert Nippoldt teams up with author Boris Pofalla to evoke the fast-moving, freewheeling metropolis that was Berlin in the 1920s.

Like a cinematographic city tour through time, Berlin of the Roaring Twenties takes in the urban scale and the intricate details of this transformative decade, from sweeping street panoramas, bejeweled with new electric lights, to the foxtrot and tango steps tapped out on dance floors across the town. With characteristic graphic mastery of light, shadow, and expression, as well as a silver-printing sheen, Nippoldt intersperses portraits with cityscapes, revealing the changing scenery and dynamic hubs of this burgeoning and rapidly industrializing capital, as well as the extraordinary protagonists that made up its hotbed scene of art, science, and ideas.

With an eager eye on the eccentrics and outlaws that made up this heady age as much as the established “greats,” Nippoldt includes rich profiles not only of the likes of Lotte Reiniger, Christopher Isherwood, Albert Einstein, Kurt Weill, Marlene Dietrich, and George Grosz, but also for “the woman with ten brains” Thea Alba, “Einstein of Sex” Magnus Hirschfeld, and the city’s notorious criminal Adolf Leib. So, too, does the book contain special features for some of the most prominent cultural and political phenomena of the time, whether the most iconic film characters or the frenzied chaos of the Weimar cabinet.

Beyond the people and the places, the book captures above all the incomparable and ineffable spirit of time and place, of an epoch suspended between two world wars and a country caught between joie-de-vivre daring and the darkness of encroaching National Socialism. Before the night falls, Nippoldt shows it all to us: the bright lights and the backstage whispers, the looming factories and the theoretical physics, the roar of the sports hall and the hush of the theater, the songs of the Comedian Harmonists, the satire of George Grosz, and the gender-bending icon of Marlene Dietrich, lighting up a cigarette in top hat, tuxedo, and come-to-bed eyes."

Check out this video introduction to the book:


Or, check out this Taschen podcast about the new book:



But wait, there's more.... Just out on DVD from Kino Lorber is Rudiger Suchsland's documentary film From Caligari to Hitler. From Kino: "In the relevatory documentary From Caligari to Hitler filmmaker Rüdiger Suchsland explores the connections between the expressionist silent cinema of Germany and the subsequent rise of Nazism. The film illustrates Siegfried Kracauer's 1947 thesis that Nazism is anticipated in many themes found throughout Weimar cinema of the 1920s, whiles situating Kracauer in the philosophy and histories of the time. Looking at landmark films like Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Metropolis, The Golem, and many others, Suchsland brilliantly tracks the concept of the charmismatic villain bewitching the people." (Reminds me of someone today.) From Caligari to Hitler got a ★★★ review on Video Librarian: "In fact, one of the documentary's major virtues is that it not only covers noted filmmakers such as Lang, F.W. Murnau, and Ernst Lubitsch but also serves as an introduction to movies in many different genres by other directors who are virtually forgotten today."


Of course, Louise Brooks made two of her greatest films in the Weimar era, the G.W. Pabst directed Pandora's Box (1929) and The Diary of a Lost Girl (1929). The English film critic Pamela Hutchinson has written a newly released book, Pandora's Box, published by BFI Film Classics. I just got a copy last week, and read it promptly. It is really, really good - displaying graceful prose and lively thinking. If you haven't already done so, check it out.


And lastly, there is a new article about G.W. Pabst which ran in a Brazilian publication, Estadao Cultura. The piece is titled "Georg Wilhelm Pabst: A obra por trás do homem."

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A few Louise Brooks related announcements

Here are a few Louise Brooks related announcements:

Pandora's Box, the sensational 1929 film starring Louise Brooks, is set to screen in Chicago, Illinois on April 3, 2018. The movie will be accompanied by Jay Warren, Chicago's foremost pipe organ expert, on the classically restored 3/16 Marr Colton / Geneva Arcada organ.

The film will be shown at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St. in St. Charles, as part of its continuing  "Silent Film Night" series featuring silent film classics.

More information about the event can be found HERE.


===========================

Recently, I wrote a new page on the Louise Brooks Society website (www.pandorasbox.com) which I invite everyone to read and explore.

The page, under the "Dancer & Show Girl" menu, is sub-menued  "Denishawn" (and titled "Louise Brooks and Denishawn"); it pertains to the period in Brooks' life when she was a member of the Denishawn Dance Company.

There is some new information there, as well as some pictures which I think will please.


===========================

And here is some news we've been waiting for.....


Kino Lorber is bringing A. Edward Sutherland's It's the Old Army Game starring W.C. Fields, Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring, William Gaxton, and Mary Foy to Blu-ray on March 13. The disc will feature a new 2k master Supplements will include:


- Audio commentary by film historian James L. Neibaur, author of The W.C. Fields Films
- New score by Ben Model

Plot Synopsis: Elmer Prettywillie, the village druggist, is awakened by a woman who needs a 2-cent stamp in the middle of the night. Seeking again a state of somnolence, Prettywillie must contend with the clamorous collectors of garbage, and with those of his own castle who have caught forty winks and then some. The letter-carrying lady, in trying to post her missive, manages to summon the city's fire department to the pharmacy where, unable to find a fire, they sit and sip sodas while Prettywillie panders to their every want. When they leave, a bit of a blaze does erupt, but Prettywillie is forced to his own resources. Meanwhile, George Parker is smitten with Elmer's buxom assistant and uses the storefront to promote a bogus land deal. The Prettywillie fortune is thus inflated, enabling the purchase of a flivver, but Elmer ends up wrecking a Florida estate and finally the flivver, foiling the schemers and delighting the denizens of the town, whose jubilation Elmer takes for an acute case of distemper. He jails himself for safekeeping. Also starring Louise Brooks, Blanche Ring, William Gaxton, and Mary Foy.


Likewise, the label will also release Gregory La Cava's Running Wild starring W.C. Fields, Marie Shotwell, Mary Brian, Claude Buchanan, and Frederick Burton on March 13 as well. The disc will feature a new 2k master Supplements will include:

- Audio commentary by film historian James L. Neibaur, author of The W.C. Fields Films
- New score by Donald Sosin

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Louise Brooks' film Beggars of Life begins three day run in Austin, Texas

The Austin Film Society in Austin, Texas is screening the "newly restored" 1928 Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life on Friday January 5th, Saturday, January 6th, and Monday, January 8th. Here is the bit from the society website. More information can be found HERE.

Newly Restored
BEGGARS OF LIFE


Directed by William Wellman
USA, 1928, 1h 40min, DCP, Silent with musical score

In this silent film from director William Wellman, Louise Brooks plays a girl on the run who disguises herself as a boy, teams up with a young man (Richard Arlen) and tries to stay one step ahead of trouble.  — Tickets: austinfilm.org/screening/beggars-of-life/

Last year was a great year for Beggars of Life. This past Spring saw the release of my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and this past Summer saw the release of a new DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber. Each received great reviews! If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today?



LinkWithin