George Eastman House is celebrating the centennial of famed silent-film star Louise Brooks (1906-1985) - the magnetic and mysterious performer who lived out the last act of her life in Rochester. The anniversary is being highlighted with a film series as well as a photography exhibition, Hollywood Lost: The Power of Louise Brooks, on view Nov. 11, 2006 through Feb. 18, 2007.
The exhibition of more than 40 vintage images will span Brooks' childhood to the end of her life, featuring personal portraits, publicity stills, photographs from the star's private collection, and personal momentos. The exhibition also will feature a media presentation and audio installation featuring Rochester native Donald McNamara's 1979 interview with Brooks.Louise Brooks Film Series: The Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House will screen Louise Brooks films every Tuesday in November, marking the day of her 100th birthday with a lecture, booksigning, and screening of her most famous film on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Brooks had a close relationship with George Eastman House, coming to Rochester in the 1950s to be near the museum and its collections, spending her final days as a painter and author. At Eastman House she spent many hours conducting research for her own articles on cinema and her biography. In 1982, she was granted the prestigious George Eastman Award for her work in motion pictures.
Brooks, who was born and raised in Kansas, started her career as a dancer with the Denishawn Dance Company in 1922, performed with theZiegfeld Follies on Broadway in 1925 and went on to act in 24 films in Hollywood and Europe. She signed with Paramount Pictures in 1925, appearing at first in bit parts and eventually moving up to supporting roles in box-office hits. Due to her distaste for Hollywood filmmaking, she terminated her contract with Paramount and accepted an offer from legendary German director G. W. Pabst to make films in Germany. There Brooks emerged as a screen icon who outraged censors with her frank behavior.
Her rediscovery and reevaluation began in 1955 with the Cinémathèque Francaise’s retrospective film series covering 60 years of cinema. The Cinémathèque’s founding director Henri Langois vaulted Brooks into the realm of the iconic with the declaration: “There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!”
"Brooks' films were a revelation to many - ritics were unanimous in their praise for her no-holds-barred performances, and audiences were enraptured with her talent, style, and beauty, said Caroline Yeager, co-curator of the Eastman House exhibition and the Museum’s assistant curator of motion pictures. “Sporting her signature straight-cut bangs and bobbed hair, Brooks hardly seems to be acting; her performances are more about ‘being’ than anything else, as if she were effortlessly living the parts she played. Her work combines a natural ease before the camera with a raw, exuberant energy that is both startling and exhilarating.”
Tuesday, Nov. 14th event at 6:30 pm
Peter Cowie and Jack Garner present “The Art of Louise Brooks”. On the occasion of her 100th birthday, George Eastman House will pay special tribute to the legendary Louise Brooks. Noted author and film critic Peter Cowie will discuss the alluring mystery and fascinating career of the great movie star who spent the last third of her life here in Rochester. The presentation will conclude with a question-and-answer session with Cowie and Gannett Syndicated Film Critic Jack Garner. After the event, Cowie will sign copies of his new book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, which features a foreword by Garner. Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 members and students. Advance tickets are available starting October 14, 2006, at the Dryden Box Office, the Museum’s admissions desk or by credit card online at www.eastmanhouse.org or by calling (585) 271-3361 ext. 218. (Ticket includes admission to screening of Pandora’s Box.)