Sunday, January 30, 2005

Some research notes

Weekly visit to the SFPL to look at my inter-library loans. I looked through three months of the San Antonio Express in hopes of finding some film reviews, but found nothing in Texas. Sometimes there just ain't nothin' there. . . . I am sure I will have better at the library luck next week.

Also, I spent a day in the microfilm room at the University of California, Berkeley. I have been there three or four dozen times over the last few years, and have come away with quite a lot of material. They have a huge collection of newspapers and magazines on microfilm, including a number of German, French and South American publications. I was prompted to return to this library because the microfilm room will be closed later this year for earthquake retrofitting. I figured I had better make a few trips before then.

On this visit, I continued my survey of La Prensa, one of the leading newspapers from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I managed to look through two years of La Prensa, where I found a review of Now We're in the Air (1927), or Tiburones en el aire as it was referred to in Spanish speaking South America. I also uncovered four portraits of Louise Brooks, a small mention of Just Another Blonde (1926) - which La Prensa referred to as The Charleston Kid, and a captioned scene still from The City Gone Wild (1927), or La ciudad del mal. All together, not a bad haul. Now, I just need look through a few months from 1929 and my survey of La Prensa should be complete. (It was at this library, while searching through La Prensa on an earlier visit, that I uncovered a review ofPandora's Box from the time it first screened in Buenos Aires in November of 1929. And I wondered if Brooks'  admirer Adolpho Bioy Casares, or his friend Jorge Luis Borges, saw the film during the week it played in the Argentine capital. . . .)

Though I took two years of Spanish in high school, I don't speak the language. I barely remember numbers, days of the week, and a few phrases. "Hablo usted un muy poco Espanol?" Nevertheless, I was able to navigate La Prensa by figuring out how the newspaper "worked." Most every Sunday, in the features section, the paper had a full page devoted to the cinema. I would skip ahead from Domingo to Domingo in search of the cinema page, and then scan it for pictures or mentions of  Louise Brooks or her co-stars. A large, comic portrait of Wallace Beery in avaitor goggles (just like the publicity pictures in American newspapers) tipped me off to a showing of Now We're in the Air. Two days later, the newspaper ran a review under "Notas Cinematograficas."

This survey method serves well enough, though I am sure I miss material. Looking through non-English newspapers (especially when I don't find that much stuff) can be very tedious. I fidget. And start to loose concentration. Thus, once I finished off La Prensa for 1928, I decided to change course and look through a small town California newspaper. The UC Berkeley microfilm collection, naturally, has lots of Northern California papers.

I chose the Selma Irrigator (what a wonderful name for a newspaper!), though I had never heard of this small agricultural community located in Fresno county. I zipped through three or four months, and only came up with an advertisement for a single day screening of A Social Celebrity(1926). Selma, seemingly, only had one movie theater in the mid-1920's - and no room for any kind of editorial comment about the movies in the local paper. And so, I switched to the Chico Daily Enterprise. (Chico is a college town located to the north of San Francisco.) I managed to get through one year - 1926 - of this small town paper. I came up with brief articles (supplied by the Publicity Bureau of the National Theaters Syndicate) regarding four of Brooks' films. As time was running out, I decided to stop there. I will finish my survey of this paper on my next visit.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Recent references in the Mexican press


A follow-up to yesterday clippings from the British press. Here are some recent references to the actress from the Mexican press.
From "Contrastes de temporada"” by Fernando Toledo - Palabra  1/13/2005
--- "A traves de la historia, hay mujeres que han dado al color negro otro significado al transferirle diversas cargas de sensualidad, sobriedad y estilo. A continuacion, algunas de estas bellezas. . . . Louise Brooks. Diva del cine mudo que hizo de sus amplios vestidos negros su imagen. Los acompañaba con largos collares, guantes y una melena tambien muy negra." [ This article goes on to discuss Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and Sophia Loren. ] 
From "Sugieren autoanalisis 'Mitos transgenicos'" by Karol Garcia - Reforma  6/17/2004
--- "Del cine, tomo a David Silva en su personaje de Kid Terranova; a Natacha Rambova, esposa del prototipo de latin lover Rodolfo Valentino, famoso por su homosexualidad, y a Louise Brooks, actriz que se revelo ante Hollywood después de rodar La Caja de Pandora."
From "Cine en su Casa / Seres de otro mundo" by Roberto Villarreal - El Norte  5/28/2004
--- these are, seemingly, television listings for "Cable de la decadencia moral"
"La Caja de Pandora (Die Büchse der Pandora) 1929. Alemania. Dir.: G.W. Pabst. Con Louise Brooks y Fritz Kortner. Basada en varios relatos de Franz Wedekind, tenemos la historia de una frivola muchacha que tiene amantes, trabaja como bailarina, desprecia a quienes la aman y finalmente, cuando decide prostituirse a cambio de dinero, cae en brazos del famoso Jack el destripador... Pabst nos ofrece imágenes de una bella presencia llamada Louise Brooks, a quien dirigio en dos cintas silentes, ya clasicas (ver adelante). // Canal 41 (IPN)"
"Diario de Una Muchacha Perdida  (Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen) 1929. Alemania. Dir.: G.W. Pabst. Con Louise Brooks y Andre Roanne. Una muchacha trabaja en la farmacia de su padre donde es acosada por un asistente quien la viola y deja embarazada. Para salvaguardar su honor, luego de dar a luz es enviada a un internado donde sufre otro tipo de desgracias que la llevaran a escapar para trabajar en un burdel... Segunda cinta del maestro Pabst con la norteamericana Brooks donde vuelve a interpretar a una joven victima de las ironias del destino... // Canal 41 (IPN)"

Recent references in the Mexican press


A follow-up to yesterday clippings from the British press. Here are some recent references to the actress from the Mexican press.
From "Contrastes de temporada"” by Fernando Toledo - Palabra  1/13/2005
--- "A traves de la historia, hay mujeres que han dado al color negro otro significado al transferirle diversas cargas de sensualidad, sobriedad y estilo. A continuacion, algunas de estas bellezas. . . . Louise Brooks. Diva del cine mudo que hizo de sus amplios vestidos negros su imagen. Los acompañaba con largos collares, guantes y una melena tambien muy negra." [ This article goes on to discuss Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, and Sophia Loren. ] 
From "Sugieren autoanalisis 'Mitos transgenicos'" by Karol Garcia - Reforma  6/17/2004
--- "Del cine, tomo a David Silva en su personaje de Kid Terranova; a Natacha Rambova, esposa del prototipo de latin lover Rodolfo Valentino, famoso por su homosexualidad, y a Louise Brooks, actriz que se revelo ante Hollywood después de rodar La Caja de Pandora."
From "Cine en su Casa / Seres de otro mundo" by Roberto Villarreal - El Norte  5/28/2004
--- these are, seemingly, television listings for "Cable de la decadencia moral"
"La Caja de Pandora (Die Büchse der Pandora) 1929. Alemania. Dir.: G.W. Pabst. Con Louise Brooks y Fritz Kortner. Basada en varios relatos de Franz Wedekind, tenemos la historia de una frivola muchacha que tiene amantes, trabaja como bailarina, desprecia a quienes la aman y finalmente, cuando decide prostituirse a cambio de dinero, cae en brazos del famoso Jack el destripador... Pabst nos ofrece imágenes de una bella presencia llamada Louise Brooks, a quien dirigio en dos cintas silentes, ya clasicas (ver adelante). // Canal 41 (IPN)"
"Diario de Una Muchacha Perdida  (Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen) 1929. Alemania. Dir.: G.W. Pabst. Con Louise Brooks y Andre Roanne. Una muchacha trabaja en la farmacia de su padre donde es acosada por un asistente quien la viola y deja embarazada. Para salvaguardar su honor, luego de dar a luz es enviada a un internado donde sufre otro tipo de desgracias que la llevaran a escapar para trabajar en un burdel... Segunda cinta del maestro Pabst con la norteamericana Brooks donde vuelve a interpretar a una joven victima de las ironias del destino... // Canal 41 (IPN)"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Recent references in the British press

It’s been nearly 70 years since her last film, and nearly 20 years since her death - but Louise Brooks - silent film star and 20th century icon - continues to show up in the news. In addition to the January 23rd article in The Sunday Telegraph (mentioned in yesterday's blog), here are some other recent references to the actress from the British press.

From "Books of the Year; Our critics and favourite authors decide" - The Independent  12/26/2004
--- British writer Toby Litt said "The New York Review's reissues series has been impeccable. I'd never heard of Adolfo Bioy-Casares' The Invention of Morel(New York Review of Books pounds 7.99). Initially attracted to it by the beautiful cover photo of silent film actress Louise Brooks, I found it to be an equally beautiful novel of unrequited love and parallel worlds." [ Pandora's Box makes Toby Litt's list of the top ten films of all-time ]

From "Cultural Life: Rebecca Hall, Actress" interview by Charlotte Cripps - The Independent  12/17/2004
--- "Books I have just read Louise Brooks: A Biography by Barry Paris about the silent-film star of Pandora's Box (1929), who had a fascinating life. . . ."

From "Retail Therapy" by Lisa Piddington -  Birmingham Post   11/24/2004
--- "Want to shine and stand out from the crowd? Then Helena Rubinstein's Glitterati selection will help you do just that. Inspired by the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Louise Brooks, from the colours to the shade names and packaging, everything sparkles in this range fit for a budding starlet."

From "My Secret Life: Anthony Bourdain, chef" - The Independent  11/13/2004
--- "If I wasn't me I'd like to be ... Bootsy Collins playing bass for Parliament / Funkadelic, Larry Graham playing bass for James Brown and anyone who shagged Ava Gardner, Carole Lombard or Louise Brooks." [ blogger's note: This is not the first time Bourdain, the famed chef and bestselling writer, has  mentioned the actress in the course of an interview. ]

From "Film: It's a gal thing..."  by David Thomson - The Independent  10/31/2004
--- "In the first decades of cinema history, the businessmen and even the artists were a little slow to see just how far the mechanics of film had made ordinary human beauty not just iconic but erotic. In other words, I don't think anyone understood immediately just how sexy the movies were. . . .  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."

From "OH,GOOD GODDESS; Keira is world's sexiest film star" -  Daily Record   9/30/2004
--- More than 15,000 people voted for the sexiest film stars of all-time in this poll conducted by this Glasgow, Scotland newspaper. Keira Knightly placed first. Louise Brooks placed 85th, just ahead of Sarah Michelle Geller.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Louise Brooks film in the works

 January 23rd article in the English newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, states that a film centering on the relationship between critic and playwright Kenneth Tynan and silent film star Louise Brooks is in the works. According to the article, "Matthew [ Tynan ], a screenwriter and producer, is at last seeing through to production his mother's screenplay about his father's (seriously reciprocated) obsession with the silent-film actress Louise Brooks. Shirley MacLaine, one of Tynan's greatest Hollywood friends, will play the old diva; Jeremy Irons is slated as the hedonistic critic."

The article, by Michael Coveney, focusses on a new stage play about Tynan in which Corin Redgrave will play the famed critic. The article goes on to say, "Tynan will be then thrice-embodied, for Redgrave's performance follows that of Peter Eyre who four years ago played a more epicene Tynan in a play by Janet Munsil, Smoking with Lulu, that reworked the real-life encounter between Tynan and Brooks as a magnetic fantasy, poised between an older Louise and her younger, sexually mysterious self."

Tynan - a one man show based on the diaries of Kenneth Tynan - opens at the Royal Shakespeare Company Arts Theatre in London on February 21st. The production runs through March 26th. If anyone attends, please pick up an extra flier or program for the LBS.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dance on tape

Over the course of the last week, I watched three Denishawn tapes I borrowed from the library. Normally, I am not very keen on modern dance, or ballet. That's why I was surprised at how much I liked these videos.

Denishawn: The Birth of Modern Dance (1988) and Denishawn Dances On (2002) were largely composed of short documentary passages (narration over photographs along with brief film clips) interspersed with contemporary recreations of Denishawn dance routines. Louise Brooks, I believe, could be spotted in group photographs in each film.

Apparently, there is very little vintage film of Denishawn - or at least none available to those who put together these two titles. Most interesting for me, then, among the contemporary recreations, were those dances performed by Denishawn while Brooks was a member of the company. I have a hard time visualizing dance (especially when it is described in a book), that's why it was good to see a couple of the Brooks-era dances recreated. I also really, really, really enjoyed a Ted Shawn dance, "Gnosienne," done to music by Erik Satie. Wow, that was amazing!

The third tape I watched, The Men Who Danced: The Story of Ted Shawn's Male Dancers, 1933 - 1940  (1986), though it had nothing to do with Denishawn, was also quite interesting and enjoyable. It featured interviews with some of Shawn's original dancers. And once again, I believe, Brooks could be seen in a group photograph in the film.

[ Note to the world: someone needs to put together an PBS-style "American Masters" program on Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. It would be revelatory.]

Monday, January 24, 2005

Camille

Just finished watching Camille (1921) on TCM. The film stars Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino. Each were quite good. I especially enjoyed watching Nazimova, who I have seen very little of on screen. I love the way she held her body, the way she moved her hands. Also quite extraordinary were the art deco costumes and sets by Natasha Rambova. All together, it is a worthwhile film - should you have a chance to see it.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Some Philippine advice

Yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ran an article entitled, "STARS' WISE WORDS OF ADVICE FOR SHOW BIZ HOPEFULS." The article quotes Louise Brooks: "Every actor has a natural animosity toward every other actor, present or absent, living or dead!"

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Copyright Office Asking for Comments on Orphan Works

The Copyright Office is asking for comments about orphan works, which it defines as "copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate."

From their announcement: "The Office is seeking comments on whether there are compelling concerns raised by orphan works that merit a legislative, regulatory or other solution, and what type of solution could effectively address these concerns without conflicting with the legitimate interests of authors and right holders." The announcement and instructions on providing feedback are at http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2005/70fr3739.html

Friday, January 21, 2005

New Rudolph Valentino book

There is an interesting new book by Allan R. Ellenberger called The Valentino Mystique (McFarland). Ellenberger, who I have had the pleasure to meet some five years ago, is the author of an earlier book on Ramon Novarro, as well as a guide to the gravesites of celebrities in Los Angeless area cemeteries.

The Valentino Mystique looks at the death and afterlife of the silent film idol. According to the publisher, "The first part examines every moment of the last days of Rudolph Valentino, his illness and operation, the reactions of such intimates as Pola Negri, and all controversy such as riots, suicides, and fights over his funeral and estate. Part two gives tours of Valentino-related sites in New York, Hollywood and West Hollywood, downtown and suburban Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills, explaining each site's part in Valentino's history, giving quotes from the star and his associates about the place, and describing its present state. Part three consists of eleven appendices giving such information as the infamous "Pink Powder Puff" editorial and Valentino's responses, the medical diagnosis, operation on and treatment of the idol, tributes and eulogies, the list of mourners attending his funerals, his last will and testament, the summation of his estate, quotes about his death, references from newspapers, and a complete filmography."

Louise Brooks only appearance in this new book is in the list of mourners attending his New York City funeral. According to an article about the funeral mass in the August 31, 1926 issue of the New York Morning Telegraph, "Louise Brooks cried unashamed."

In 
The Valentino Mystique, Ellenberger has done a good job in bringing together all kinds of information surrounding the death of Valentino, one of the great stars of the silent film era.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Weekly report

No inter-library loans arrived today, so I took the opportunity to browse the stacks at the SFPL. I borrowed a couple of books, including Ted Shawn's 1960 autobiography, One Thousand and One Night Stands. Shawn references Louise Brooks in this look back at his career as a dancer. I also borrowed Jane Sherman's 1983 study Denishawn: The Enduring Influence. Sherman, a one-time Denishawn dancer, exchanged letters with Brooks regarding her time with the pioneering dance company. One of those letters is quoted in this book.

I also borrowed three videos, a documentary entitled Denishawn: The Birth of Modern Dance (1988), a video of dance recreations entitled Denishawn Dances On (2002), and another documentary, The Men Who Danced: The Story of Ted Shawn's Male Dancers, 1933 - 1940  (1986). I plan to watch all three within the week, as they are due back in seven days.

There were no inter-library loans on-hand because I requested only a few in December. (Once they are processed, loans take about four or five weeks to arrive.) My week long research trip to the Midwest, as well as the holidays, reduced the number of requests I placed last month. As well, a few of my requests came back "negative."

I had requested Narodni Osvobozeni, a newspaper from Prague. I was planning to scan the summer months of 1929 in hopes of stumbling across something / anything on Pandora's Box in this Czech newspaper. But no luck. I also requested Critica and Argentinisches Tageblatt, both from Buenos Aires. Pandora's Box showed there in November of 1929, and again, I was hoping to come across an article or review, especially in the later German-language paper. (I have articles and reviews from other Buenos Aires newspapers of the period.) Also put in requests for two American newspapers, the Selma Times-Journal (from Alabama) and Macon Daily Telegraph (from Georgia). In each of them, I was hoping to gather material on Denishawn performances in those Southern towns. My requests for each of these publications came back unfilled. Apparently, there is no library or archive in the United States which has these publications on microfilm for the period I requested - and which is willing to loan it.

On a related note: I found out yesterday that I will be travelling (for work) to New York City in early June. I will be returning to "the Big Apple" to attend the booksellers convention. (For those that don't know, I work in a bookstore in San Francisco.) While there, I plan to stay an extra three days. I figure on spending one whole day (from open to close!) at the New York Public Library, where I will continue my survey of New York City newspapers. I was in NYC a few years ago under similar circumstances, and at that time, I went through a bunch of micofilm at the NYPL. I also want to spend two full days at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. This library / archive is a goldmine for researchers - and the stuff they have there is often unique! Between now and June, I will draw-up a list of things I hope to find by looking through each library's online catalogs.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Roaring '20s Fashions

There is a recently released book out called Roaring '20s Fashions: Deco, by Susan Langley. Published by Schiffer, its a heavily illustrated survey and collectors' guide to clothing and accessories of the Jazz Age. And not surprisingly, the book includes a handful of references to Louise Brooks, as well as a couple of  pictures!

Victor McLaglen mentioned on PBS

One-time boxer and future actor Victor McLaglen was pictured and briefly discussed in Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, the new Ken Burns film on PBS. McLaglen, who would go on to star in the 1928 Louise Brooks film, A Girl in Every Port, was a boxer before he entered the movies. And at one point he fought Jack Johnson, who would go on to become the world heavyweight champion!

Post script: There is a sports bar on Geary Street in San Francisco called Pat O'Sheas. (I used to frequent the joint for the occassional college football game.) And on the walls - typical of such establishments - hang all kinds of sports memorabilia, including jerseys, pennants, photos, etc.... Among the items is a very old photo of a group of boxers - and among them is a youthful Victor McLaglen.

Monday, January 17, 2005

New Frank Tuttle book

Today, I received a copy in the mail of They Started Talking, by Frank Tuttle. As Brooks' fans know, Tuttle (1892 – 1963) directed three films in which Louise Brooks appeared, The American Venus (1926), Love Em and Leave Em (1926) and in part, The Canary Murder Case (1929). This new book, the director's memoirs, has not been published before.

Description of the book reads in part: "From Frank Tuttle, the director of Kid BootsThe Studio Murder MysteryTrue to the NavyRoman Scandals,College Holiday, and This Gun for Hire, comes a candid and lively backstage tour of the film industry from the 1920s through the 1950s. With a cast of characters that includes Jean Arthur, Mary Astor, Joan Blondell, Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent, Louise Brooks, Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby, Bebe Daniels, Alan Ladd, Angela Lansbury, Veronica Lake, Charlie McCarthy, Fredric March, Thomas Meighan, Adolphe Menjou, Osgood Perkins, William Powell, Robert Preston, Edward G. Robinson, Charlie Ruggles, Simone Signoret, Phil Silvers, Gloria Swanson, and Monty Wooley, They Started Talking is an affectionate Who's Who of the leading supporting players of Hollywood's golden age."

I've only skimmed the book, but from what I've read, Tuttle has some interesting things to say about Louise Brooks. The director discusses the actress in relation to the three films on which they both worked. (A lobby card for The Canary Murder Case is also reproduced.)  I am looking forward to reading They Started Talking by Frank Tuttle.  (The book is edited, and comes with an introduction, by John Franceschina. It is published by BearManor Media.) I will try and write more about the book at a later date.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A Louise Brooks haircut

This webpage on the stereolab-videos.com site has a nifty three minute real media video on how to achive a perfect bob or "Louise Brooks haircut." Not sure how this website relates to Stereolab (the band), but there does seem to be some overlap.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

From the blogsphere


Some blogs from around the world that discuss or reference Louise Brooks. You may need to scroll down to find the mention:
From Brazil: http://raih.blog.uol.com.br/  

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Little things excite me


Little things excite me. (I know its a quirk - I know I am a geek - but I can't help it.) Today, at the library, I looked at two publications I hadn't seen before. A roll of microfilm of the now defunct Pittsburgh Leader arrived, from which I gathered some material on the October, 1922 Denishawn performance in that Pennsylvania city. However, by the time Brooks and Denishawn returned to Pittsburgh in December of 1923, this newspaper had folded. These newly uncovered articles and advertisements will mark the only appearance of the Pittsburgh Leader in the bibliographies of the LBS.
I also looked at some rolls of the London Free Press, from London, Ontario. I hadn't looked at any issues of this paper before, let alone any newspapers from a smaller Canadian city. From the rolls that arrived, I was able to gather some material on the two November, 1922 and four April, 1924 Denishawn performances.
The London Free Press interlibrary loan came from the National Library of Canada, which is located in Ottawa. I am very, very grateful they loan material across the border. Thanx to the National Library, I have been able to survey the various papers from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg. My survey - which is a hunt for Denishawn material as well as film reviews - is on-going. Sometime this year or next, I hope to borrow other newspapers from smaller Canadian towns which Denishawn visited, such as Hamilton, Peterbarough, Galt, and Kingston. Anyone live near Ottawa ?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Google Print


I have been hearing about Google Print for some time. Last month, it was announced that Google would be teaming up to scan and put online the contents of a few major American libraries. That's millions of books - all, in theory, searchable by keyword. One article on this story read:
"As part of the years-long project, Google will scan the entire holdings of Stanford University, which has nearly 8 million books. The company will do the same at the University of Michigan, which has 7 million books. Harvard University and the New York Public Library have also agreed to participate, though only as part of a test project. They will make only a fraction of their expansive holdings available before deciding whether to expand the program. Oxford University, in England, has also signed on with Google's digitization project, offering only books published before 1900."
I am drooling in anticipation. The impact this development might have on research should be considerable. I would think that new Louise Brooks material might even turn up - such as references to the actress in old histories of film, memoirs,  biographies, academic treatises, etc.... Keyword searching sure beats browsing the stacks.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Mark Tansey painting

On December 12th of last year, the New York Times ran a half-page spread on the highly regarded contemporary painter Mark Tansey and a recent work of his entitled "West Face." (Click here to read the article and see an image of the painting.) According to the article, "West Face appears to be a suavely rendered picture of a band of hikers trudging up a snowy mountainside. But look closely, and you'll find a landscape treacherous with puzzles, paradoxes, hidden images and allusions." Among the hidden images, reportedly, are portraits of various philosophers and Louise Brooks. I see the portraits (including the one that is supposedly of Brooks), but I don't recognize the actress. What do you think?

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Louise Brooks on "Jeopardy!"


Apparently, Louise Brooks was mentioned yesterday on the popular game show Jeopardy! (I believe this is at least the second time within ten years that the actress has been a clue.)
I received an email from netochka, who forwarded a LiveJournal post by aksarah, who had noticed the mention. Her post read, in part . . . "Then, in the catagory of 'Yesterday's Hotties', they showed 8x10s of old actresses and asked who they were. Then, they showed this pic of a woman with black hair and the clue was something about how popular her hairdo was." None of the contestants, however, recognized Louise Brooks.
Did anyone else see this episode of the game show? Does anyone have a tape of it?

Friday, January 7, 2005

This day in history

I have been thinking about putting a "This day in history" feature on the LBS homepage. But have not been able to find a script, or piece of PHP/SQL/HTML code, with which to do so. In theory, there will be 365 variables - such as "Louise Brooks was born on this day in 1906" or "Pandora's Box opened in New York City on this day in 1929" - which will reveal themselves on the appropriate day. Does anyone have any suggestions, know of any links, or have any readymade programming which I could implement?

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Bestselling books of the 1920s and 1930s


Some historical data, from Publisher's Weekly
Bestselling books (fiction and non-fiction), covering the years 1920 - 1929:  http://www.caderbooks.com/best20.html
Bestselling books (fiction and non-fiction), covering the years 1930 - 1939:    http://www.caderbooks.com/best30.html

Ain't 'IT' a Shame

long article about Clara Bow ran on today's PopMatters website. In her debut column, the site's classic film columnist argues for the It Girls's place in the pantheon of legendary leading ladies. Within this consideration of Clara Bow,  there is this paragraph. "You can still buy postcards of her acting contemporary, Louise Brooks, at a local 'lifestyle store', but most people, even movie buffs, wouldn't be able to recognize Bow, let alone name one of her films. (I'll help you out; she was the leading lady in Wings (1927), winner of the first Oscar for Best Picture.) Why is Brooks a still-immortalized cult figure and Bow not? Maybe there's something about Brooks' persona as cool, amoral, gender-ambiguous jazz baby with a keen intelligence shining behind her dark eyes that's got more staying power than Bow, the little Brooklyn spitfire full of terrier enthusiasm and effortless charm."

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Weekly call for help


No inter-library loans had arrived at the SFPL, thus nothing to report. . . . The times they are a changing: the San Francisco Public Library is switching its ILL requests from paper forms (which I had dutifully filled out every week) to web-based forms. The new library system is called Millenium. However, the system does not have a specific web-form for microfilm requests. There are only forms for books and articles. What to do ?
Does anyone live near Findlay, Ohio or Bowling Green University? There are Denishawn articles I would like to get ahold of which appeared in the Findlay Morning Republican and Findlay Daily Courier. The Findlay public library likely has these publications on microfilm, and I know that Bowling Green does. If you live nearby and can spare an afternoon in the cause of Louise Brooks scholarship, please contact the Louise Brooks Society.
The LBS would also like to acquire a copy of a paper presented at the 1996 German Studies Association conference in Seattle, Washington. The paper, by Richard W. McCormick, was entitled "New Women in Crisis: Commodification and Downward Mobility in G.W. Pabst's Büchse der Pandora and Irmgard Kenn's Das kunstseidene Mädchen."
The LBS is also interested in obtaining a recording and / or transcript of a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio program called Tuesday Night,which aired on November 30, 1971. The program, which was prepared by George Pratley, featured a documentary on Charlie Chaplin which supposedly contains an interview with, or comments by, Louise Brooks. If so, this would be the only known "radio interview" with Brooks.

A few more Denishawn articles and film reviews

Today's trip to my local library - my first in a few weeks - was productive. Three inter-library loans were waiting for me. I went through the New Haven Union(from New Haven, Connecticut), where I uncovered some articles on the Denishawn performance there in April, 1923. I also found a few later articles and some nifty advertisements relating to the local screenings of The American Venus and A Social Celebrtity.
As well, I went through the Evening Reporter (from Lebanon, Pennsylvania), and found some articles on the Denishawn performance there in November, 1923. As with a number of their performances during Louise Brooks two years with the company, this Denishawn performance was a benefit. Their recital at the Academy of Music benefitted the local V.F.W. - and was writen-up in the local paper.

I also went through the Independence Daily Reporter (from Independence, Kansas). Louise Brooks and her family lived in Independence for about three or four months in 1919, after having left Cherryvale and before relocating to Wichita. The Denishawn tour stop there in January, 1924 - and received a front page review! Louise Brooks participation in the company received a full paragraph of praise, and her connection to Independence was noted.

Today, I also received a splendid email from Mario Gladu, who lives in Quebec. A French speaker, Mario wrote (in graceful English) to say that he found a few articles about the Denishawn performance in Montreal, Canada in March, 1923. Responding to my call for help, Mario took it upon himself to check for material in a French language newspaper based in Montreal, La  Patrie. As it turns out, Brooks was mentioned in one article - program notes reproduced in advance of the performance. There was also a picture of the Denishawn dancers - but it is hard to tell if Louise is among them. Mario has promised to check the other French-language papers in Montreal and Quebec for similar material. Thank you Mario! A citation - the first one from a French-language Canadian newspaper - was added to the bibliography. [Interestingly, Mario wrote that the theatre where the Denishawn company performed in Montreal, the historic St Denis, still stands. It is there that the well known "Just for Laughs" festival and many other events are held every year.  Here is a picture as it looks today.]

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Currently reading . . .


A few days I ago I watched, once more, Tim Burton's wonderful film Ed Wood. I enjoyed it quite a bit, not having seen it since it first came out . . . . And being in between books, Burton's film inspired me to pick up Arthur Lennig's 2003 biography, The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi. I have been meaning to read this book for a long time, for I had enjoyed Lennig's earlier film bio, Stroheim. I am only 25 pages into The Immortal Count, but am enjoying this book a great deal. It appears very well researched, very detailed, and gracefully written. Just the way I like 'em. I will report back one I have finished this 548 page "monster."
[ Some trivia: Prior to his role in Dracula, Lugosi appeared in a number of silent films in his native Hungary, as well as in Germany and the United States. He also had an affair with Clara Bow, and at one time possessed a painting of a nude Bow which he hung in his home in Los Angeles. Where is that painting now? A busy actor, Lugosi later worked with many of Louise Brooks' one-time co-stars and directors, including W.C. Fields, Richard Arlen, William Collier, Jr., Margaret Livingstone, Claire McDowell, William Gaxton, and El Brendel, as well as directors Eddie Sutherland and Michael Curtiz. Small world, wasn't it? ]
Recently, thanx to the good people at the University of Kentucky Press, I got a copy of The Bennetts: An Acting Family, by Brian Kellow. Another juicy read . . . . which I haven't yet delved into. Anyone who has read Barry Paris' biography of Louise Brooks is aware that the actress was friendly with Barbara Bennett. Kellow's new book details Louise and Barbara's friendship, as well as Brooks' observations on Barbara's more famous sisters, Constance and Joan. Brooks' name appears six times in the index, and pages 84 through 87 details the young women's budding friendship at Denishawn summer camp. Has anyone had a chance to read this new book?

Sunday, January 2, 2005

100 Largest Urban Places in the 1920s and 1930s


Some historical data, based on U.S. Census Bureau information:
Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places:  1920
http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0027/tab15.txt
Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places:  1930
http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0027/tab16.txt

Saturday, January 1, 2005

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