Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Whole Equation


Chatted today with film critic David Thomson, whose fascinating new book, The Whole Equation, has just been published. This new book, a collection of essays on everyone from Chaplin and von Stroheim to Nicole Kidman and Harvey Weinstein, is subtitled "A History of Hollywood." Louise Brooks is referenced three times.
Thomson has written about or referenced Brooks many times in his various essays, reviews and books.*  This rather intertesting passage comes from Thomson's new book. " . . . Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box is the first presence I think I could have fallen for. And Brooks's Lulu is still very dangerous, capable of sweeping pages of description aside with a glance. . . ." Well put.
* David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, which has just been published in a revised and expanded softcover edition, is a must read for any film buff! Go get yourself a copy. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Louise Brooks and Lemony Snicket . . . . redux


On September 20th, I wrote . . .
"Came across these interesting references to Louise Brooks in the works of the popular writer known as "Lemony Snicket." . . . In the "A Night at the Theatre" section of Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, the author refers to the "Brooks-Gish Award for Best Actress." . . . And in The Carnivorous Carnival, which is part of the author's A Series of Unfortunate Events series and which contains other cinematic and literary references, there is a mention of Lulu. . . . What does it all mean? Is Lemony Snicket a fan of Louise Brooks?"
. . . Today, I had a chance to briefly chat with the mysterious Lemony Snicket, and yes, he is a fan of Louise Brooks!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Victor McLaglen and Star Cast in "A Girl in Every Port"


Yesterday, I received in the mail a remarkable item I had won on eBay. It was a vintage photograph - measuring 29" wide by 10" tall - of a group of United States Coast Guard standing outside of a theater where A Girl in Every Port was showing in 1928. The marquee above the uniformed members of the Coast Guard reads:
                            Victor McLaglen and Star Cast in "A Girl in Every Port"

                     "Semper Paratus" with U.S. Coast Guard and Fox Ensemble of 125

                       Prologue - Richard Singer & Concert Orchestra - Charles Althoff
The film is being shown at a Fox theater. I am not sure in which (likely) East Coast city this photograph was taken. Might anyone hazard a guess? Follow the link above to see scans of this oversized image.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Dark Star


Finished reading Dark Star, by Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. I enjoyed this book a great deal, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the silent film era. This excellent, 1985 biography tells the story of the rise and fall of the silent film star John Gilbert. (This dashing actor was the star of such classics as The Merry Widow,The Big Parade and Flesh and the Devil. He also appeared in He Who Gets SlappedLa Boheme, and A Woman of Affairs. All together, his is a remarkable list of credits!) The author is the daughter of John Gilbert and Leatrice Joy, an actress who replaced Gloria Swanson as Cecil B. DeMille's leading lady in the 1920's.
It's stated that John Gilbert and Louise Brooks knew each other ("Louise, a fond friend of Jack's"), and the actress is referenced twice in the book. Once, it is in relation to an article that Beggars of Life author Jim Tully wrote about Gilbert. The second time it is in support of the author's contention that MGM was out to sabotage Gilbert's career based on the quality of his voice. (Brooks claimed a similar fate at the hands of Paramount.)
Leatrice Gilbert Fountain tells a sympathetic story in a convincing manner. Film historian Kevin Brownlow described the book as "A tragic and compelling story, essential to an understanding of this extraordinary actor."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Daily gleanings

Late last night, while digging through an online newspaper database - not unlike the one which the NEH and LOC are proposing to create (see earlier entry) - I came across a few brief articles and advertisements from the 1920's in the Daily Gleaner, a newspaper based Kingston, Jamaica. This is the first Louise Brooks material I have gathered from that country, and the second from a Caribbean nation. (I already have a handful of vintage clippings from Cuba.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Weekly trip to the library


Weekly trip to the library to look at requested microfilm. A few roles of the Cincinnati Enquirer arrived, and I found a short article, review and advertisement for A Social Celebrity. Pinpointing this Cincinnati screening will aid me while I survey the other Cincinnati newspapers when I travel to Ohio next month.
Also arriving were two reels of the Daily City Gate and Constitution-Democrat, from Keokuk, Iowa. This newspaper contained numerous short articles, advertisements and a review of the two Denishawn dance company performances in that small town.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Bounty offered for photocopies of vintage film reviews


The Louise Brooks Society is engaged in a number of long term projects in its attempt to fully document the life and career of Louise Brooks. Your help is needed is acquiring articles and other hard-to-get-to printed material. The LBS will pay $1.00 each for photocopies of film reviews and articles about Louise Brooks from the 1920's or 1930's from newspapers in the following American cities. Photocopies should be legible and the reviews complete. Please note the name of the newspaper, title and author of review (if not included on the photocopy), and date of publication.
San Antonio, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Houston, TX
El Paso, TX
Austin, TX
Corpus Christi, TX

Tampa, FL
Jacksonville, FL

Peoria, IL
Rockford city, IL
Springfield, IL
Decatur, IL
Scranton, PA
Erie, PA
Scranton, PA
Allentown, PA
Harrisburg, PA
Reading, PA

Knoxville, TN
Chattanooga, TN
Baton Rouge, LA
Shreveport, LA
Patterson, NJ
Trenton, NJ 
South Bend, IN
Evansville, IN
Gary, IN

Utica, NY
Troy, NY
Schenectady, NY
Binghamton, NY

Hartford, CT
New Haven, CT

Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Cambridge, MA
Worcester, MA
Springfield, MA
Lowell, MA
New Bedford, MA

Savannah, GA
Little Rock, AR
Mobile, AL
Charlotte, NC
Boise, ID
Phoenix, AZ
Honolulu, HI
Juneau, AK
Fairbanks, AK
Please email the LBS with any questions you might have. Thank you very much.

Monday, November 22, 2004

30 million newspaper pages to go online


The National Endowment for the Arts, in conjunction with the Library of Congress - has announced that it is working to put millions of newspaper pages online in a digital / searchable format. The first of what's expected to be 30 million digitized pages from American newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 will be available beginning in 2006.
The chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities announced the project in a speech at the National Press Club on November 16th. "Anyone who's interested - teachers, students, historians, lawyers, politicians, even newspaper reporters - will be able to go to their computer at home or at work and at a click of a mouse get immediate, unfiltered access to the greatest source of our history."
The time span of the digitization project is limited because type faces used before 1836 are too difficult for optical scanners to read, while copyright restrictions prevent newspapers published after 1922 from being scanned and published without permission.
As Louise Brooks' film career didn't start till 1925, the amount of material on the actress which might come to light from this project is severly limited. Nevertheless, depending on which Kansas newspapers are scanned, perhaps some tidbit related to Brooks' early life might surface. There is also hope that some articles or reviews related to Brooks' first season with the Denishawn dance company - which started in 1922 - might also be found.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Google Scholar


The search engine Google has announced the launch of Google Scholar. According to the website, "Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web."
A search under "Louise Brooks" produces a few interesting results. There are citations for articles from scholarly journals (such as "Consuming Distractions in Prix de beauté," from Camera Obscura), references to the actress in scholarly books, and previously undocumented scholarly papers delivered at conferences from around the world. One I found, "The Overcoming of Desire: Prostitution and the Contract in Pandora’s Box (1929) ," was no longer online but could still found in the Google cache.
One curiousity which turned up was "The ‘arrayjob’package Management of arrays in (La) T E X" by Zhuhan Jiang, an Australian professor of Mathematics and Computing. In this paper, the author used Louise Brooks and the names of other actresses as examples in writing programming language.
Hopefully, more and more scholarly material will be indexed through Google Scholar, and hopefully, some of that material will be related to Louise Brooks.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Harold Lloyd's Hollywood Nudes in 3D


Last night at the Booksmith in San Francisco, I hosted an author event with Suzanne Lloyd, the granddaughter of silent film great Harold Lloyd. Suzanne - who was raised by her grandfather and lived with him for twenty years - spoke about Harold Lloyd's Hollywood Nudes in 3D!, a new book of photographs she edited by the comedic actor. The event was a lot of fun. Suzanne gave a brief talk, showed slides of images from the book, and took questions from the dozens of silent film and stereoscopic photography fans in the audience.
Suzanne told a story about how she came to realize Harold Lloyd was a movie star. One day in the early 1960's, she took a phone call from a man who identified himself as Cary Grant. Suzanne, who was then a young girl and unaware of her grandfather's fame, couldn't believe that the debonair actor- someone she had just seen on television - would call her home! In disbelieve, she hung up on Cary Grant. When Harold Lloyd asked who had called, Suzanne said it was someone whoclaimed to be the famous actor. It was then that Harold Lloyd explained that he too was an actor and was friendly with movie stars like Cary Grant!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Mary Pickford, Clairvoyant


What strange force led me to browse the newstand at The Booksmith in San Francisco? Was it mere coincedence, or something else? But there I found myself, drawn to something familiar, yet strange. . . 
Silent film star Mary Pickford adorns the cover of the October, 2004 issue of Fate magazine. Along with articles on strange occurances, combustible women, harmonic concordances, Russian precognition cases and the language of Sasquatches was an article entitled "Mary Pickford: Superstitious Superstar." Lina Accurso's four page piece on "America's Sweetheart" unconvincingly probes the super-rational leanings of the actress. "But what looked like a charmed life to her legions of fans had indeed been filled with sunshine, shadow, and more than a little of what she called 'superstition.' Today, this ability may be more accurately described as premonitions."
Seemingly, Mary Pickford did have an interest in the paranormal. I recently spotted a handful of books from the actress' library - each of which had some occultish theme - at Allan Milkerit books. A number of them were inscribed by the author to Mary Pickford.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thank you Bryan Goldberg

I just recieved, through the mail, a half-dozen photocopies of rare articles about Louise Brooks. Thank you Bryan Goldberg. This dedicated Louise Brooks fan took the time to visit the Kansas State Historical Society, where he went through the Louise Brooks clippings file. (Some of this material is on-line here.) Among the material Bryan sent were clippings from the 1930's and 1950's which I had never seen before. Thank you Bryan Goldberg.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Lulu's Back in Town


Spotted this article, "Louise Brooks Lulu's Back in Town," in the on-line edition of the New York Post. (It ran on Sunday, November 14th - Louise Brooks' birthday.) The article mentions that Pandora's Box will be shown tomorrow and Saturday in New York City.
"Pandora's Box will unreel Thursday and Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at Anthology Film Archives, part of a four-day showcase called "German Cinema: Silent Into Sound." Also in the series, running Thursday through next Sunday, are two by Fritz Lang, M (1931) and Metropolis (1926), plus Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari(1919) and Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel (1930). The Anthology is at Second Avenue and Second Street in the East Village; (212) 505-5181."

At the library this morning


Microfilm for three newspapers was waiting for me at the library this morning. Call me nerd, but I do enjoy researching. . . . Three months of the Cleveland Plain Dealer arrived, which enabled me to more-or-less complete my survey of that newspaper in preparation for my visit to the Ohio Historical Society. Tracking down dates for screenings of Brooks' films in the Plain Dealer will enable me get through microfilm of the three or four other Cleveland newspapers much more effeciantly.
Four reels of another Mid-west newspaper, the Milwaukee Herold, also arrived. The Herold was a rather impressive German-language newspaper, and in it, I found brief articles and substantial reviews of the two Denishawn performances in Milwaukee at the Pabst Theater. Though I don't read German, I was able to tell that Brooks was singled out (along with Martha Graham) in one of the reviews.
Two reels of the Asheville Times also arrived. In this North Carolina newspaper, I dug up articles, advertisements and a review of the 1923 Denishawn performance in that town. Brooks was mentioned in one item. The other reel - containing the last couple of months of 1927 - contained material on the local showing Now We're in the Air and The City Gone Wild. Citations for these newly uncovered articles and reviews will be added to the LBS bibliographies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The American Venus on TCM


A two minute trailer for The American Venus (1926) - a lost Louise Brooks film and her first credited film role - will be shown on the cable station, Turner Classic Movies, during the evening of Sunday, November 21st. Consult your local television listings for the time and channel.
This two minute film is part of program of trailers of lost films, and one of four such Paramount trailers which will be shown the evening of the 21st. For further information, see http://www.turnerclassicmovies.com/ThisMonth/Article/0,,84023,00.html

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Louise Brooks was born on this day


Future silent film star Louise Brooks was born on this day in 1906 in Cherryvale, Kansas. The Cherryvale Daily News ran a small item on the front page of newspaper. Happy Birthday, Louise.
If you haven't already seen them, you can still take a look at the remarkable batch of photographs which were recently auctioned off in New York. The photo's were part of the estate of the William Klein, a Rochester, New York film critic and longtime friend of the actress. (Klein can be seen in the 1998 documentary Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu.) There are some singular images here, including Louise Brooks at the age of three in her first public performance.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

In search of the Syracuse Herald


My inter-library loan request for the Syracuse Herald came back "negative." Curiously, no library has microfilm of this newspaper for the period I'm researching - the early and mid-1920's. And apparently, the only institutions which have bound volumes dating from the twenties are the Onondaga Historical Association and Onondaga Library System. Normally, bound volumes of newspaper are not loaned - they are just too big and fragile.
Would anyone who lives in Syracuse, New York or in Onondaga county be willing to track down a few reviews by visiting these Onondaga institutions? Denishawn performed in Syracuse in April, 1924. Having earlier gone through the Syracuse Post-Standard, I also have dates for a handful of screenings of Louise Brooks films.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Today is Armistice Day


Today is Veteran's Day, a holiday originally known as "Armistice Day." That holiday was originally created to mark the end of World War I - the so-called "war to end all wars." During the silent film era - especially during the 1920's - many films were made based on that tragedy. Perhaps the best of them was The Big Parade (1925), which starred John Gilbert and Renee Adoree.
Recently, I've been reading Dark Star, a highly recommmended biography of Gilbert by his daughter, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. Yesterday, I came across this remarkable paragraph. "Lois Wilson was working in New York at the time of the premiere there. Jack [ John Gilbert ] travelled East for the opening in the company of her fiance, Richard Dix. They shared a compartment on the train, carrying with them the three steel boxes containing the film. Lois met them at the station and went with them to deliver the film to the Astor Theater, where The Big Parade was to open."
I am sure this was the exception, but isn't it remarkable that an actor was responsible not only for transporting a film across country, but for delivering it to the theater where it was to be shown. "Hi, this is John Gilbert. I have a delivery. . . ." How times have changed.
Another film set during World War I was Now We're in the Air (1927), which starred Wallace Beery, Raymond Hatton, and Louise Brooks (in the role of twins). Yesterday, while doing research at the library, I came across this rather nifty newspaper advertisement for the film.
                           

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Even Digital Data Can Fade


There was a thought provoking article in today's New York Times by Katie Hafner, "Even Digital Memories Can Fade." The article begins . . . .
The nation's 115 million home computers are brimming over with personal treasures - millions of photographs, music of every genre, college papers, the great American novel and, of course, mountains of e-mail messages.
My computer is one of those 115 million, and I read Hafner's article in light of my research on Louise Brooks. Keep in mind that at least half of the "data" I have acquired on the actress (everything from rare portraits to bibliographical references, correspondence, webpages, and scans of newspaper and magazine articles) is in a digital format.
I do have a four drawer filing cabinet stuffed full of photocopies of vintage reviews, advertisements of Brooks' films, articles, films scripts, censorship files, and miscellaneous clippings from newspapers and magazines from around the world. I also have three or four boxes full of additional material - vintage magazines, programs, stills and other oversized items. Some of it is incredibly rare. I also have hundreds - if not a thousand - similar items in digital format - word docs, pdf files, html files, txt files, gifs and jpgs. I wonder how long all of this stuff will last. The article went on to state:
So dire and complex is the challenge of digital preservation in general that the Library of Congress has spent the last several years forming committees and issuing reports on the state of the nation's preparedness for digital preservation.
Hafner's article led me to the conclusion that I need to organize and back up everything I've collected and saved, not only in secondary digital files and formats - but to paper, when possible. I used to save things on a zip drive (a once popular storage medium) - until some of the zip discs wore out and I was unable to retrieve data. Now, everything resides on my Windows XP desktop computer.
Today's formats are likely to become obsolete and future software "probably will not recognize some aspects of that format," Mr. Thibodeau said. "It may still be a picture, but there might be things in it where, for instance, the colors are different."
The experts at the National Archives, like those at the Library of Congress, are working to develop uniformity among digital computer files to eliminate dependence on specific hardware or software.
How long will the material I've collected on Louise Brooks last? I don't know. How long will the Louise Brooks Society website - and all of its resulting information - last? I don't know. How long will this LiveJournal blog last? I don't know. Katie Hafner's article offers food for thought.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Notes on yesterday's trip to the library


Yesterday's trip to the library yielded some interesting results. I was able to dig up a few more reviews, articles and advertisements dating from Louise Brooks' time with the Denishawn dance company. This material - some of which mentioned Brooks - came from the Indianapolis Times and Sioux Falls Daily Press (from South Dakota). I also scavenged a few film reviews and advertisements (see earlier LiveJournal entry) from the New Orleans Item and the Manitoba Free Press (which comes from Winnipeg, Canada).

Three months of the Louisville Courier Journal also arrived. I was hoping to find something on Brooks' appearance as a night club dancer in Kentucky. In his biography of Brooks, Barry Paris mentions that she worked in that state in early 1935. I figured it must be in Louisville. I didn't find anything in the Courier Journal. So, I will next check the Lexington newspapers.

I also recieved a couple of months of the Miami Herald, where I was again looking for material on Brooks' appearances as a night club dancer. This time I hit the jackpot. There were numerous small articles, a few pictures, and lots of advertisements promoting "Louise Brooks and Dario." The featured performer at the Embassy Club where Brooks' was dancing was Marion Chase, a singer from New York City. I wasn't able to find out anything about her by searching Google. Is anyone familar with her?

One of the more interesting items was an advertisement for the Embassy Club which noted that boxer Max Baer, the world champion, would also be appearing on a particular evening. I wonder if Louise Brooks and Max Baer met?
                                                     

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Effects of the recent election


On a personal note, I must admit to being pretty dissapointed by the election. The United States economy - under president Bush - looks like it's in shambles. (It feels like a recession to me!) 
This economic downturn has had some small impact on the efforts of the Louise Brooks Society. In the four years I have been actively researching the actress, for example, I have seen cut backs and closures at libraries across the United States. This is especially true in the last two or three years. Some institutions have reduced hours and staff, some have put off upgrading equipment (such as microfilm readers), some have closed off parts of their collections. And worn microfilm, which should be replaced, is still in use. I don't think it untrue to say that libraries, archives and cultural institutions across the United States have suffered under Bush.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Louise Brooks bibliographies

One of the most valuable assets of the Louise Brooks Society are the many annotated bibliographies which help document the life and career of the actress. Most importantly, these bibliographies help organize the vast amount of written material about the actress, including vintage reviews of her films. The bibliographies contain not only numerous citations, but also links to select articles. Additionally, many of the citations are annotated with a brief quote or passage which in themselves make for interesting reading. These web pages - all of which are a work in progress - can be accessed at www.pandorasbox.com/louisebrooks/bibliographies.html
So far, material has been gathered from the places most important to the story of Louise Brooks - Cherryvale and Wichita, Kansas, New York City, Los Angeles, Berlin, Germany and Rochester, New York.

Articles and film reviews are also being gathered from newspapers in nearly two dozen of the largest American cities of the 1920's - as well as select metropolitan areas in the then less populated South, Southwest and Far West. Taken together, these many articles offer a perspective on the actress in the words of her contemporaries. Additionally, many fascinating and previously unknown articles and bits of information have been uncovered. Work on the bibliographies has been going on for nearly four years, with another twelve months of effort already mapped out.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Arrived in the mail . . .


A bunch of nifty stuff arrived in the mail during the last few days. . . . Amanda sent photocopies of a dozen clipping - some vintage and some contemporary - and some I had never seen before. Thank you very much, Amanda!
I also recieved a copy of London Magazine (more a literary journal than a traditional magazine) which I had purchased over the internet from an English book dealer. This issue from 1966 contains a rather interesting article, "Daisy and Lulu," which compares and contrasts the heroines of Inside Daisy Clover and Pandora's Box. Very interesting, and an early example of contemporary writing about Brooks. There really isn't much from the 1960's that I have found. (One of the other fascinating pieces in this issue is an essay on Bob Dylan by Angela Carter - very smart stuff indeed. The juxtaposition of the two articles lead me to wonder . . . if "Daisy and Lulu," which Carter might well have read having an article of her own in the same issue, might have served as a kind of introduction to Louise Brooks for the novelist. Or perhaps, Carter had seen one of the screenings of Pandora's Box in London in the mid-1960's, which this article references. Whatever the case, Angela Carter - one of the seminal British fiction writers of the post-war era, went on to idolize Louise Brooks and write about the actress in various works. Perhaps this article or those screenings were the genesis of Carter's interest.)
Also arriving in the mail was the newly released three DVD set of  Brooks' movies from Carlotta Films. Nice packaging, and lots of extras are included on the discs. I have to reprogram my DVD player (the discs are region 2), and will relay my impressions on this important new French release sometime soon.
After a long wait and considerable expense, I also acquired the screenplays to two early Brooks' films, The American Venus and Love 'Em and Leave 'Em. They arrived in the mail today after a wait of nearly two months! The screenplay for The American Venus is especially interesting, as this is a lost film. So far, by hook and by crook, I have acquired the screenplays, scripts, or continuity for six other Brooks films - mostly later efforts. Among them are The Canary Muder CaseWindy Riley Goes Hollywood and God's Gift to Women. I wonder how many still exist.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Billboard magazine


Weekly trip to the San Francisco Public Library: There was no inter-library loan material waiting for me, so I took the opportunity to look through Billboard (the SFPL has a long run this trade journal on microfilm). I had previously gone through Billboard for reviews of Brooks' appearances with the Ziegfeld Follies, as well as reviews of her films.
I spent time looking through the years 1934 and 1935 in hope of finding anything on Brooks' appearances as a night club dancer. I was hopeful because Billboardcovered nite clubs and the nite club scene in Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Miami - all cities in which Brooks danced. I spent about an hour and a half scrolling through months and months of microfilm. I didn't find anything, and was about to give up, until I came across a review of Brooks and Dario's April 12, 1935 performance at the Capitol Theater in New York. They were part of the stage show supporting the MGM film Vanessa, staring Helen Hayes and Robert Montgomery.
"Louise Brooks and Dario, doubling from the Central Park Casino, are a new combination around and impressed as a class team. The girl is a smart looking brunet, while her male partner is a smooth teammate. Do two numbers, a modern ballroom waltz and a lighter flirtation dance. Their work holds interest, altho it's not outstanding."

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Original Pandora's Box 1-sheet up for auction


A beautiful German 1-sheet poster, for Pandora's Box, is up for auction through eBay. This lithograph, which dates from 1928 and measures 55.9 x 37.4 inches, features artwork by Josef Bottlik (1897 - 1984). The poster printer is R. Spiegel of Berlin.
The auction, which begins November 6th, can be viewed here. Bidding starts at $15,000 and is estimated to sell for between $22,000 and $30,000.
                                             

Monday, November 1, 2004

Brooks mention in David Thomson article


David Thomson is an especially good film critic. He is also the author of the magnificent New Biographical Dictionary of Film (a book that belongs in every home), as well as many other worthwhile books and articles. Today's Independent newspaper from the U.K. carried an interesting article by Thomson which referenced Louise Brooks.
"But as the feeling dawned so pretty girls were named and hired and put on our screens week after week. In that process, the female soul was radically divided: there were the virgins, the very good girls - as typified by Lillian Gish, and to a rather cheekier degree by Mary Pickford. These women were models for human behaviour, even if they were already a little antiquated. For instance, D W Griffith was still honouring Gish's saintly woman as the First World War and its aftermath introduced the "jazz baby", the flapper, the "wild kid" - the kind of woman best celebrated by the fabulous Clara Bow and the young Gloria Swanson. And then there was the bad girl, the femme fatale, the temptress. That is a tradition that includes Theda Bara - the enchantress women in Cecil B De Mille films - and even Louise Brooks - though Brooks was too candid and carnal for American tastes and only found full expression in Germany, in G W Pabst's Pandora's Box."
Thanx to Christy, a regular reader of British newspapers, for pointing this out.
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