Louise Brooks looked so relentlessly modern. Still does, in fact: Photos of the movie star in her prime show an androgynous beauty with coal-black hair cut into both forehead and sidewall bangs, along with features that diverge not a centimeter from classic lines. Her career was short (1925-38) but varied (she starred in G.W. Pabst's German silent "Pandora's Box" and an American talkie called "The Canary Murder Case"). More than anything else, she was a symbol of no-nonsense sex appeal laced with intelligence.
Peter Cowie, who knew Brooks at the end of her life (she died in 1985), has told her story and assembled hundreds of photos of her in Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever (Rizzoli, $55). "I had to run away from the world of celebrities," she explained regarding the implosion of her career. "For years it was a terrible life in limbo without friends or security or approval." But her luck turned when film historian James Card persuaded her to move to Rochester, N.Y. -- "this darling little town," she called it -- where he revived her movies and made much of her. She became a film historian herself, writing articles and memoirs and showing a facility for the well-turned phrase. Here is how she summed up Humphrey Bogart: "When a woman appealed to him, he waited for her the way the flame waits for the moth."
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Peter Cowie's book
Dennis Drabelle's short write-up of Peter Cowie's new book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, appears in tomorrow'sWashington Post.
Copyright thomas gladysz / Louise Brooks Society
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