A blog about an actress, silent film, and the Jazz Age; and occasionally the Denishawn Dance Company, writer Frank Wedekind, his character Lulu, Weimar Germany, Hollywood, the state of Kansas, books, music, art, history and other things sometimes only tangentially related to the heart of the matter, written on a regular basis by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the LBS.
VANCOUVER — Canadian actress Neve Campbell, who recently finished three days of work on Reefer Madness, the musical version of the 1936 cult pot howler being shot here for Showtime, says she's not sure what's next.
"I don't really like anything I'm reading," says Campbell, whose younger brother Christian is in the Reefer cast along with Tony winner Alan Cumming and TV's Steven Weber (Wings, The D.A.). "I've optioned a script about Louise Brooks, a silent film actress in the '20s. I'm working on producing that."
Brooks, who like Campbell was a dancer and actress, made two dozen movies between 1924 and 1938. She was best known for her trademark Dutch bob hairstyle and as Lulu, the heroine in the erotically charged 1929 film Pandora's Box by German director G. W. Pabst.
After sinking into obscurity for decades, Brooks re-emerged as a respected writer in the 1950s.
Campbell says she's also producing A Private War, about Tourette Syndrome, an inherited neurological disorder that causes involuntary movements and verbal outbursts, which afflicts her brother Damien.
Campbell's When Will I Be Loved, done with writer-director James Toback, is due out in September.
Campbell is also awaiting the release of Churchill: The Hollywood Years, where she plays a young Princess Elizabeth in this broad satire starring Christian Slater as a Churchill substitute hired because Hollywood decides the original isn't photogenic enough to win the Second World War.
"It's absolutely silly English humour." says Campbell.
Reefer Madness, which wraps shooting in June, will air on Showtime next year.
Another trip to the periodicals room at the library of the University of California, Berkeley. Scrolled through microfilm of various newspapers, mostly from Mexico and Poland. Found a few advertisements. Also looked through a newspaper from Jerusalem dating from the 1920's. Found advertisements for films playing there, but none were Louise Brooks' films. Seemingly, Jerusalem had only a very few movie theaters, and the films shown were usualy the blockbusters from the United States or Europe.
Last trip (for the time being) to the combined libraries of the city of San Jose and San Jose State University, where I went through some more microfilm and even some bound periodicals. Found a few miscellaneous items. Also looked through the Los Gatos Mail News.
Recent additions to the various LBS bibliographies include citations from a bunch of American newspapers. I found Denishawn articles, reviews and advertisements in the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, Baltimore News, Peoria Journal, Savannah Morning Press and Lexington Leader. I also dug up some films reviews in the Buffalo Courier Express, Minneapolis Tribune, Hartford Courant, and San Antonio Express. The search goes on!
How I love Buster Keaton! I love his films. I love his never smiling face. I love his inventive brilliance. My wife and I own the recently released eleven disc boxed set of DVD's featuring many of Keaton's silent films. We have watched them all.
Two excellent books on the actor which I read in rapid succession are Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down, by Tom Dardis, and Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase, by Marion Meade. I liked each of them a great deal.
I read Dardis' book first. It is one of the earliest books on Keaton, and contains a number of quotations by Louise Brooks regarding the "great stone face." (Dardis had interviewed Brooks, and had also corresponded with the actress.) Dardis' book is anecdotal and sympathetic in its telling of Keaton's rise and fall and rediscovery as an actor and film genius. When I was done, I wanted more. That's when I turned to Meade's detailed and thoroughly researched biography. The two books compliment each other.
The search goes on for more articles about Louise Brooks. Among the publications I've recently been looking at are the Lexington Herald, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Wheeling Intelligencer, and Selma Times-Journal. I found vintage reviews and articles in each. I also dug up some rare material in the Palm Beach Daily Post on Brooks' appearance as a ballroom dancer in Florida in 1935. Perhaps the most remarkable item I found was a short review of Pandora's Box published in 1929 in Kurjer Polski, a Warsaw newspaper. I would love to find reviews of Pandora's Box from each of the major Eastern European capitals.