Sunday, February 6, 2005

All Hail Gianluca !!!

Gianluca Chiovelli, a longtime correspondent, a devoted Louise Brooks researcher, and the author/editor of a superb Italian website devoted to the actress, has done a great thing! Gianluca sent me photocopies of what are among the scarcest Louise Brooks-related item I have ever come across.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, Gianluca managed to convince an European library to make photocopies of two books - novelizations of the Louise Brooks films, La Vie d'une Fille perdue (Trois Pages d'un Journal), and Prix de Beaute. The first book, based on the Pabst film The Diary of a Lost Girl, was written by Rene Wild and published in France in 1930. The second book, based on the French film of the same name, was written by Boisyvon and published in 1932. [ I haven't been able to find out anything about Rene Wild, except that he may have contributed the scenario to a 1932 French film, Le Triangle de feu. Boisyvon, I believe, went on to write a number of books on film in later decades.]

Up until now, I knew very little about these ephemeral items. But from what I can deduce, each of these titles were inexpensive, softcover books (hence their ephemeral nature), and each were part of a series of novelizations published by Editions Jules Tallandier. (The series featured mostly French titles, though it did include a few German and American releases.) Each book features Louise Brooks on their pictorial cover, and each contains numerous scene stills scattered throughout the book. (In this regard, they remind me of the the early American photoplay editions.) Each also contains an advertisement in the back of the book listing other titles in the series.

Gianluca and I have long sought after Prix de Beaute. He and I searched the catalogs and records of libraries and bookdealers worldwide. I listed it on the LBS Help Wanted page, and sent queries to knowledgeable individuals. Nothing happened. We both thought we might be chasing a phantom reference. Until one day, I received an anonymous email stating that a certain library held this rare book. Gianluca, an Italian devotee of Brooks, wrote to the library and asked for a loan or copy. The library declined. Some time passed, and he wrote again. This time, the library said yes.

Gianluca received the prize, and emailed me with the good news. However, when scanning the advertisement of earlier books in the series printed in the back, he realized that another novelization of a Louise Brooks' film also existed! Gianluca wrote to the library, and acquired a photocopy of La Vie d'une Fille perdue.  And now, generously, he has provided photocopies of these items to the LBS. Thank you Gianluca Chiovelli.

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