Sunday, August 29, 2004

USC and UCLA


Short vacation to Los Angeles. Spent one day each in the special collections departments of the libraries at USC and UCLA, where I uncovered a bunch of new material - including previously undocumented articles and reviews from a smattering of American, British, German, French, and Spanish publications.
I was able to look through about four years worth of bound volumes of Picturegoer, the British fan magazine. Also examined vintage copies of two very rare trade journals, The Film Mercury and Hollywood Filmograph. Each was based in Los Angeles, and each offered a somewhat different perspective on the film world than East Coast trade journals like Variety and Film Daily. Also looked at individual issues of other American fan publications, such as Movie Monthly. One very cool find was an illustrated fictionalization (in short story form) of The American Venus.
The most significant item I looked at was a book about the films of G.W. Pabst published in Moscow in 1933. (That's just four years after Pabst made his two films with Louise Brooks!) I have known of the existence of this book for some time - but have been unable to examine it. USC is, seemingly, the only library in the United States which owns a copy of this very rare item - and its rarity and fragility prevents them from loaning it.
And so, as I sat in "the cage" - the special collections viewing room - I was nearly trembling with excitement. Finally, resting on the desk before me was a copy of this elusive book. I paged through it ever so slowly, and though I don't read Russian, I found an entire chapter devoted to the two Brooks films. (There was also an image of the actress.) Certainly, this is the earliest chapter in any book ever devoted to Louise Brooks.
My thanks to the special collections staff at UCLA and USC for their help. I especially want to thank Ned Comstock of USC, who more than went out of his way to help me with my research. Thank you Ned!

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