Thursday, April 7, 2005

Notes on a marathon session

Yesterday's visit to the San Francisco Public Library resulted in a marathon session. After a long drought, a whole bunch of inter-library loans had arrived! And so, I spent about five hours pouring over microfilm of newspapers from the United States and Canada. What fun . . . . 

Based on the dates of film reviews I had found earlier in the Toronto Sun, I was now able to uncover a few more reviews in the Toronto Globe and Mail. Among the films I found articles and reviews for was Rolled Stockings (1927), which the Globe and Mail  advertisements amusingly described as "The Romance of a Collegian and His Girl Friend" and "A Fast Stepping Romance of the Varsity Schockers." I also went through a couple of months of the Duluth News Tribune (from Duluth, Minnesota), where I found a couple of film reviews. As well, I scanned theCharlotte News from February, 1923 and found an article, a couple of advertisements, and a review for the Denishawn performance in that North Carolina university town. The Denishawn Dance company, which the paper had described as "home brew dance," drew a "good crowd" according to the review.

The Hartford Daily Times (from Hartford, Connecticut) and Illinois State Register (from Springfield, Illinois) both yielded a bunch of interesting Denishawn material and film reviews. . . . The sold out Springfield performance took place on New Years day at the state arsenal, and many of the articles about the performance published prior to the event were placed on the newspaper's society pages. A December 31st article entitled "One of the Largest Audiences Ever Assembled in Arsenal is Expected for Denishawn Dance Monday Night," stated "Coming on the opening day of the year, the Denishawn local engagement will assume many of the atributes of a holiday social function, the Illini Country Club, the Sangamo club and several other prominent organizations having arranged their New Year's night programs so that they will follow the arsenal performance." Some of the articles were focussed on those who were lucky enough to be chosen as an usher for the performance, while others detailed after-event parties and dances which were planned. I am not sure if Louise Brooks and the Denishawn dancers attended any of these parties, though they may have. (Articles found in other small town newspapers indicate that the Denishawn dancers did attend local society gatherings and parties given in their honor.) The Springfield performance was well reviewed. Brooks was referenced in the review, which claimed that the dancers "captivated the city with their art."

I also went through eight reels of the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph, one of the lesser papers from this large industrial city from the time when most major urban areas had three or more newspapers. (And of course, Pittsburgh is also the future home to Brooks' biographer Barry Paris). I found a review of the December, 1923 Denishawn performance entitled "Pantomine Artists Give Pleasing Performance," as well as reviews for six of Brooks' films.

All together, it was a good haul. Despite my bleary eyes and stiff back,  I ended up with some 75 copies. I plan to add citations for much of this material to the LBS bibliographies within the next few days. (I have recently revamped this page, and retitled it "Bibliographies and Documentation.")

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