Sunday, March 20, 2005

Adventures in Sacramento

On Friday, I ventured to Sacramento (a two hour drive) and the home of the California State Library. This is my 15th trip to the State Library, which is located around the corner from the State Capitol and the offices of California's increasingly unpopular Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Over the last few years, I have been surveying California newspapers, of which the State Library has an extensive collection on microfilm. So far, I have looked through various Los Angeles area papers - including those from Hollywood, Pasadena and Santa Monica. Earlier, I had also gone through microfilm for papers from other California cities and towns, such as Santa Barbara, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, etc....

This time, I continued my search through the Hollywood Citizen News. This "small town" newspaper has proven rich in material relating to Louise Brooks. (Hollywood is a company town, and it's local paper, naturally, devoted considerable coverage to movies and the movie industry.) So far, I've found movie reviews, brief news items, miscellaneous articles, advertisements, and mentions in the "local" society and gossip columns. I've also found recipes ascribed to Brooks on the food pages, and a special bridal section once featured the actress modelling wedding gowns for a local store! Brooks' name started showing up in the paper with regularity once the actress moved to Los Angeles in 1927. And on earlier trips, I had gone through every day of the paper for that year. It is tedious work - but occassionally, some exceptional material turns up! This time, I went through the last six months of 1926, and found a few minor items. On my next trip to Sacramento, I plan to tackle 1928.

Like Hollywood, nearby Glendale was also something of a company town. Though I don't think any studios were located there, the local Glendale Daily Pressdevoted near daily coverage to the movies. I found that film companies - such as Paramount and MGM - held regular sneek previews of new films in Glendale. These sneek previews were intended to guage public reaction, and the studios would sometimes reshoot or recut a film based on audience response. (I had recently read about this practice in Gavin Lambert's biography of Norma Shearer.) In a couple of instances, I came across screenings of Brooks' films which were paired with sneek previews. From what I found, the preview film was never announced and only rarely reviewed. Thus, I wasn't able to determine which film was shown along with the Brooks film. Nevertheless, my quick search through nearly three years of the Glendale Daily Press proved fruitful. I found a slew of articles about Brooks' films. I plan to add citations to the LBS bibliographies later today.

With my remaining time at the library, I decided to take a peak at the Daily Bruin, the student newspaper from UCLA. I didn't expect to find much of anything, as most of the college newspapers that I have looked at in the past yielded little. I was surprised! I came across original articles reporting on lectures and talks at UCLA by movie directors and producers, interviews with the stars, and reviews of new films by student reporters. Daily Bruin coverage of the movies, including reviews of films opening in Los Angeles, really picked up starting in late 1926. With what time I had, I was able to uncover  reviews of Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (1926) and Evening Clothes (1927). On my next trip to the State Library, I plan to finish going through this notable student newspaper.

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