Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poll: Pick your favorite contemporary song "about" Louise Brooks

By now, I hope some of you might have had the chance to listen to RadioLulu. This Louise Brooks themed radio station features music of the Twenties through today - and includes contemporary pop and rock songs about the silent film star. What's your favorite contemporary song "about" Louise Brooks?

Poll #701462 Favorite Contemporary Louise Brooks Song
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 12
Pick your favorite contemporary song "about" Louise Brooks
View Answers
OMD - Pandora's Box (It's a Long, Long Way) (1991)
 6 (50.0%)
Timelock - Louise Brooks (1992)
 0 (0.0%)
Jen Anderson - Lulu the Song (1993)
 1 (8.3%)
John SaFranko - The Final Years of Louise Brooks (1993)
 0 (0.0%)
Ron Hawkins - Lulu (1995)
 0 (0.0%)
Soul Coughing - St. Louise Is Listening (1998)
 2 (16.7%)
Lady Godiva - Louise Brooks (1999)
 0 (0.0%)
Les Primitifs Du Future - Chanson pour Louise Brooks (1999)
 2 (16.7%)
Marillion - Interior Lulu (1999)
 0 (0.0%)
Sarah Azzara - Like Louise Brooks (2000)
 1 (8.3%)
Paul Hayes - Louise Brooks (2003)
 0 (0.0%)
Nouvelle Culture - Actress (Louise Brooks Theme) (2005)
 0 (0.0%)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Guerrilla Girls


The cover story of the current issue of Go Triad - an arts & entertainment magazine from Greensboro, North Carolina - is devoted to the Guerrilla Girls, the longstanding feminist theater troupe. The Guerrilla Girls were formed in 1985, and have appeared around the United States and the world "working collectively and anonymously, producing posters, billboards, public actions, books and other projects to make feminism funny and fashionable." (For more about their activities, check outwww.guerrillagirls.com). The article notes "Members of the Guerrilla Girls keep their identities anonymous by assuming the names of prominent women in history. The group includes, among others, Julia Child, Coco Chanel, Anna May Wong, Louise Brooks and Aphra Behn, a playwright of the late 17th century known for her bawdy humor."

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sarah Caldwell (1924 - 2006)

Sarah Caldwell, one of America's most adventurous conductors and opera directors, has died. (Her New York Times obit can be found here.)

Recently, I had the chance to see documentary filmmmaker Richard Leecock screen Lulu in Berlin. At that screening, Leecock paired his Louise Brooks documentary with an unreleased work-in-progress about Sarah Caldwell, and her efforts to stage an opera in Russia. During the question and answer session following the films, Leecock recounted how he had worked with Caldwell on a staging of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu, in Chicago. (This took place in 1968.) Leecock shot a short cinematic passage, as called for in Berg's notes for the opera, with Edie Sedgwick playing Lulu!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Donald Sosin

Today, I received an email from composer and accompaniest Donald Sosin. He wrote to tell me that he will be accompaning Prix de Beaute when it is screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in little more than a month. (See an earlier LJ entry for details.) Donald's music can be heard on a number of DVDs, including NosferatuThe Cabinet of Dr. CaligariThe Forgotten Films of Fatty Arbuckle, etc....  He has also accompanied earlier screenings of Pandora's Box (at the Brooklyn Academy of Music),Diary of a Lost Girl, and A Girl in Every Port. More about Donald and his work can be found at www.silent-film-music.com/  Check it out!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Returned from Sacramento


Returned from Sacramento, where I had spent Friday afternoon at the California State Library. I was able to finish off some research odds and ends. I completed my scan of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook and the Bakersfield Californian, and found about a half-dozen articles and reviews in each. Some good material . . . . I also took a quick look (again) at the Hollywood Citizen News and Los Angeles Examiner - I had to double check some things, as well as the Fullerton Daily Tribune. The Fullerton paper may yield some material, but I just didn't have time to go through it properly. Should I return to the library some time, I may scout that newspaper.

And lastly, I took a look at phone books (on microfilm) from Los Angeles from 1928 and 1940. I wasn't able to find a white pages listing for Louise Brooks in the 1928 white pages, but I was able to find a listing for Eddie Sutherland! The 1940 yellow pages yielded a listing for the Brooks-O'Shea dance studio. If anybody has the inclination to do so, it might be good idea to check the New York City phone books for the various periods that Louise Brooks lived there. It would be neat to find out exactly where she lived.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Zelda, Clara and Other Women Gone Wild

Yesterday, Janet Maslin of the New York Times reviewed Flapper, by Joshua Zeitz. Maslin mentioned Louise Brooks . . . "well-known sources like Lulu in Hollywood, Louise Brooks's classic memoir." The review can be found at www.nytimes.com/2006/03/24/books/24book.html

Thursday, March 23, 2006

For the nuministic type

Thanx to LBS member Barbara (LJ blogger babylonzn) of Portugal who bought a year's subscription to LiveJournal for the LBS. It will be put to good use! And thanx to Constance of Fall River, Massachusetts who made a donation (via an Amazon Honor System Payment) to the LBS to support its ongoing efforts. Thank you Barbara and Constance.

Speaking of money, here is something for all of you coin and token collectors.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

LB's clothing for sale on eBay

This garment is for sale on eBay. The auction description reads "Louise Brooks personal bed-jacket, worn in the documentary of her life Lulu in Berlin. While residing in Rochester, New York, Louise Brooks agreed to make a personal appearance at a local department store, being at the time the only Rochester-area "celebrity". As a gesture of gratitude, she was offered her choice of virtually anything in the store, and being by nature a thrifty and practical woman, she chose only a simple, mint green synthetic quilted bed-jacket, as this was the only thing that she truly "needed" at the moment. She wore this jacket most of the remaining years of her life in Rochester, and can be seen wearing it throughout the short documentary, Lulu in Berlin; as such, it is the only known surviving garment worn by Brooks in any of her films! The jacket is accompanied with a notarized letter of provenance from the collector who acquired it at the Brooks estate sale in Rochester in 1985. $1,200 - $1,500"


I believe that one of Brooks' dresses - perhaps one by Patou that she wore in a film - is held in a film museum in Paris, or Berlin. I saw that in a book once and can't recall the exact place. Anyways . . . .

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Rare silent version of Prix de Beauté screening in NYC

The Tribeca Film Festival in New York City has announced that it will be screening the rare silent version of Prix de Beauté, which according to the festival, "is somewhat different from the sound version that is usually shown." The 2006 Festival will take place from April 25 - May 7, 2006.

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002. It screens a variety of films, including a section devoted to restored and rediscovered films. According to it's website, "Renewing the Festival's commitment to highlighting remarkable treasures from the history of cinema, this section, co-curated by Martin Scorsese and Peter Scarlet, includes newly restored or preserved copies from some of the world's leading film archives."
Prix de Beauté directed by Augusto Genina, written by René Clair and G.W. Pabst (France).  As her final starring role, the legendary Louise Brooks plays a typist who wins a beauty contest in this French-shot feature. We are screening the rare silent version, which is somewhat different from the sound version that is usually shown. Preceded by Giovani Pastrone's one-reeler, The Fall of Troy (1911). Both films with live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin and live translation of French and Italian intertitles.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Last Thursday's research

I spent about three hours at the library this past Thursday, where I went through four inter-library loans. I scoured the Binghamton Press (from Binghamton, New York), as well as the Indianapolis Times and Denver Times - and retrieved Denishawn material from each. I had also requested the Charleston Record (from Charleston, South Carolina) in search of Denishawn material, but the date requested came back as "lacking." Which means there is no microfilm available for that period. I as usually do, I had also requested some later reels of microfilm from the Charleston Record, and those turned up reviews of The Street of Forgotten Men (a late showing) and The American Venus. Good finds. The other three newspaper also had some articles and reviews on Louise Brooks' early films.

More of the same, but one can never get enough.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

RadioLulu

I've recently finished a long-planned overhaul of RadioLulu, the online radio station of the Louise Brooks Society. For those who haven't already tuned-in, RadioLulu is a Louise Brooks-themed station broadcasting music of the 20's, 30's and today. This internet-only station, launched in 2002, can be found at www.live365.com/stations/298896 

Most significantly, I've lowered the playlist format from 56 kbps/22 kHz/st mp3 to 32 kbps/32 kHz/st mp3PRO. While this lessens the sound quality a bit, the switch now allows 56k modem users to listen to the station. Previously, only those with DSL or cable could tune in. Welcome modem users! The lower bit rate also means smaller mp3 file sizes, and a savings on disc space. Thus, I was able to add more songs. A lot more songs. (Broadcasters are limited to 100 megs of storage.) RadioLulu has now doubled in size. The current playlist now includes 120 tracks and more than 6 and 1/2 hours of programming! 

A number of songs featured on RadioLulu bear some relation to Louise Brooks, such as the rarely heard theme song to Beggars of Life (sung by the Troubadors), and Brooks' favorite Gershwin tune, "Somebody Loves Me." FYI: Brooks and Gershwin were acquainted. And Gershwin wrote "Somebody Loves Me" for the George White Scandals of 1924, in which Brooks appeared. Interestingly, the version heard on RadioLulu is by Tom Patricola - who also appeared in the 1924 Scandals.

RadioLulu features music from five of the actresses' films, as well as Maurice Chevalier's much loved 1929 recording "Louise." Right now, there are three versions of "Je N'ai Qu'un Amour C'est Toi," the theme song to Prix de Beaute. Two are vintage recordings, one by Hélène Caron and one by Marthe Coiffier. (I have yet to find an mp3 of Berthe Sylva's recording of this haunting melody. Can anyone send me one?) The other version of "Je N'ai Qu'un Amour C'est Toi" is by Les Primitifs Du Future, a contemporary French group featuring the comix artist Robert Crumb. Other tracks include recordings by Brooks' co-stars and friends, such as the actors Adolphe Menjou and Noah Berry, the torch singer Libby Holman, and the actress Tallulah Bankhead. Also featured on RadioLulu are later day tributes like OMD's "Pandora's Box (It's a long, long way)" and Soul Coughing's "St. Louise Is Listening" as well as Brooks-themed songs by contemporary performers Ron Hawkins (formerly with Lowest of the Low), Sarah Azzarra, Jen Anderson, Paul Hayes, John SaFranko, and Marillion.

The vast majority of music heard on RadioLulu dates from the 1920's and 1930's, and rare recordings of singing silent film stars are one of the station's many highlights. RadioLulu plays tracks by the likes of Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino, Joan Crawford, Ramon Novarro, Dolores Del Rio, Lupe Velez, and Bebe Daniels. Some of the other film and recording artists heard on RadioLulu include Marlene Dietrich, Josephine Baker, Lillian Harvey, Camilla Horn, Dorothy Lamour, Rudy Vallee, Jean Harlow and Grace Moore (Brooks appeared in a Grace Moore-Cary Grant film). There is even a rare, vintage recording of a German song about Greta Garbo. And a couple of tracks by the great 1930's Warsaw cabaret artist Hanka Ordonowna.

On RadioLulu, you'll also hear Jazz Age crooners, torch singers, dance bands, standards, showtunes, and some real hot jazz!  And what's more, you're unlikely to find a station that plays more tracks with "Lulu" in the title than the always eclectic and always entertaining RadioLulu! Hey, where else are you going to hear "Lulu" from the hard-to-find 1972 album Twiggy and Girlfriends? (Yes, that Twiggy! And there's even a pre-Tiny Tim version of "Tip Toe Thro' the Tulips" recorded in Germany in 1930.) Do give a listen. You're bound to hear some things you haven't heard before.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kenneth Tynan article

There is a long, illustrated article about Kenneth Tynan in the April, 2006 issue of Vanity Fair. A section of the article dwells on Tynan's relationship with Louise Brooks, and there is a rather outrageous picture of Tynan dressed as Brooks.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

An interesting usage

There is an article in today's New York Times about trends, notably fashion trends. And half-way through the article there is a discussion of the once and future  craze for extensions, for long hair. And in an almost poetic evocation of the long hair / short dialetic, the author of the article states. "The new look for fall grew out of new technology. A company called Great Lengths has marketed a gizmo that can make Rapunzel out of Louise Brooks in a matter of minutes." What an interesting usage of Brooks' name! She has now become a symbol for a woman who has short hair.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Neat magazine for sale on eBay

A copy of Liberator (dating from May, 1923) is for sale on eBayLiberator was a "radical" political magazine - the successor to the better known publication The Masses. This issue features a striking Louise Brooks-like flapper figure in profile on the cover. The image is NOT Louise Brooks - only a feminine type. (Brooks career as an actress would not start for another two years.) Nevertheless, the use of the flapper figure is interesting. Perhaps identifies the flapper - the modern woman, with progressive politics and modernism? See my earlier entry on LJ.

Among the contributors to this issue was the poet Carl Rakosi. I knew him! Before his death a couple of years ago, I used to see him around San Francisco. He was in his 90's then. I saw him read his work on a couple of occassions. And he used to come to the bookstore where I worked once in a  while. ( I remember he came to the Paul Auster event I hosted.) Rakoski was considered one of the Objectivist poets, and I recall him as a gentle, witty man.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A convincing argument for modernism

On this day in 1927: The Cedar Rapids Republican noted ''Louise Brooks, who is said to be Clara Bow's only rival as cinema's most ravishing flapper, is a convincing argument in favor of modernism.''  We agree.

Monday, March 13, 2006

OMD video of "Pandora's Box "

Wow, I was just poking around YouTube when I discovered the OMD video of Pandora's Box (It's been a long long way). Check it out at youtube.com/watch?v=HNJ8VS_wh5A I love this song! I love this video. Louise looks lovely - whoever edited this clip way back when did a great job. BTW: its a hard to find video - so this is a rare opportunity . . . . Here is a link to another version of the same video, at youtube.com/watch?v=8P1-ujUmNts

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Louise Brooks event on April 20

Here is the press release for an upcoming event . . . .

FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROCHESTER: THE LIFE OF LOUISE BROOKS

Sponsored in collaboration with the Little Theater
Thursday, April 20th, 6:15 pm - 9:00 pm

The Little Theater, 240 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14604
$15 for RHS members, $18 for non-members

This November 14th will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of film icon Louise Brooks. Conventional wisdom holds that Brooks — a cult figure in American and European pop culture, and one of the most recognizable symbols of the Jazz Age — ended her career in the late 1930s, only to spend the remainder of her life in seclusion. Here in Rochester, we know that this is only partly true, and certainly misleading. In 1956 at the urging of George Eastman House film curator James Card, Brooks set up home at 7 North Goodman Street and began a second, if less visible, career as a respected film scholar and critic. Never one to pass quietly, this one-time femme fatale left many a biting critique.

Join us at the Little Theater for a special showing of Brooks’s legendary film Pandora’s Box, along with a talk by Rochester Democrat and Chronicle film critic and Brooks acquaintance Jack Garner.

For reservations, call Karen McCally at (585)271-2705 or email at kmccally@rochesterhistory.org

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Movie star pics

Doctor Macro's is a nifty web site with lots of high quality scans of movie stars - including Louise Brooks! There are also wallpapers and pics of Ziegfeld girls. Check it out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Louise Brooks character included in Seattle stage production

According to an article in the current issue of The Stranger, Seattle's alternative weekly, a stage production there features a character based on Louise Brooks. The piece, The Invisible, by Jessica Jobaris and Luke Allen, is being staged at the Chamber Theater (915 E Pine St). This theater piece is described as "part silent film, part Hollywood satire, part surreal comic drama." This from The Stranger review
I thought The Invisible was a wry, if sometimes messy, satire of the movies until I talked to choreographer/director Jessica Jobaris. She said it was actually about the frustration of being an artist in the modern world. "But," she added generously, "there's room for interpretation."
The Invisible is a varied piece of dance theater with five characters from film history—Eadweard Muybridge, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Shirley Temple, and Erast Garin—who clown, roll, and pose on the stage in themed scenelets. They dance-fight in a lampoon of action sequences, chase and reject each other like a hacky romantic comedy. In voiceover asides, Garin (a Soviet-era actor) keeps reminding the audience that he's "very intense." Deanna Mustard (as proto-sexpot Brooks) spreads her legs, wiggles her tail, and slams herself viciously on the floor, over and over and over again. (It's painful just to look at her deep yellow bruises.) The Invisible uses dancers for actors, actors for dancers, and a soundtrack ranging from the Kinks to slamming doors in a confusing (usually delightfully so) performance hash.
Then there's the film bit, with its voiceover asking heavy questions about meaning and aspiration while the characters skate around an ice rink. The audience laughed—parts of it were very funny—which surprised Jobaris. "I think that part is really sad," she said. "Maybe I haven't, you know, learned—" I cut her off, saying any jerk can be lugubrious, but it's the rare artist who can translate depth into light, accessible performance—think of sad-but-funny clowns like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Superficiality can be an asset.
For those interested, here is another review.

Thursday, March 9, 2006

The search goes on

After a week away, I returned to the library, where three inter-library loans were waiting for me. In short, I excavated some articles, reviews and advertisements regarding Louise Brooks / Denishawn performances in the Stamford Advocate (from Stamford, Connecticut), the Fond du Lac Daily Reporter (from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin), and the Oklahoma City Times (from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma). Louise Brooks was mentioned in a couple of the reviews, and was singled out in one of the reviews. All together, a nice haul. The search goes on.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Prix de beauté review

A review of the new KINO release of Prix de beauté has turned up on-line at dvdtalk.com. "The script by Pabst and Rene Clair repeats the tale of beauty entrapped by possessive men, a pattern almost identical to the Dorothy Stratten tragedy told in Bob Fosse's Star 80." More from the review by Glenn Erickson can be found here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Bruz Fletcher

Recently, while working on new programing for RadioLulu, I came across the name of Bruz Fletcher, a now little known musician and nightclub singer. Fletcher led an interesting life, and was something of a fixture on the Hollywood social scene in the late 1930's. His name frequently shows up in articles and in gossip columns of the time. I would recommend everyone check out Tyler Alpern's informative web pages devoted to this unique talent.

My interest was peaked because, according to newspaper reports, Louise Brooks attend performances by Fletcher on at least five different occasions in 1937 and 1938. (Well known costume designer Travis Banton, who was gay, was her companion on two of those reported outings.) Fletcher was also gay. And, he developed a somewhat campy though coded routine which he showcased at Club Bali, a nightclub he "owned" in Hollywood. That's where Brooks, and many other celebrities, saw him perform.

Tyler Alpern's webpages are a treasure trove of information. I emailed Alpern, as I was curious to know what Fletcher's act was like, and he generously provided me with a few rare recordings. One of those songs he sent me, "Drunk with Love," can now be heard on RadioLulu. Thank you Tyler Alpern!

Monday, March 6, 2006

Leatherock undergoes huge renovation

The Parsons Sun newspaper (from Parsons, Kansas), reports that the Leatherlock Hotel in Cherryvale is to undergo a huge renovation. Built in 1912, the two-story brick hotel is across the street from the former Frisco and Santa Fe railroad depots in Cherryvale.
Hallowell began work on the project several years ago. The bed and breakfast now has three rooms available for rent and an apartment.
One small room, Bertha's Room, is named for Bertha Leatherock, the wife of Fred Leatherock who was influential in the hotel being built to serve as a place for railroad workers and passengers to get a bite to eat or spend the night. The room is decorated in early 1900s motif. Other rooms will honor Cherryvale residents and actresses Louise Brooks, a very famous silent screen artist, and Vivian Vance, who played Ethel on "I Love Lucy."
Hallowell said the bed and breakfast's hallway will someday be a museum, with Cherryvale history on one side and U.S. and world history on the opposite wall. "It's a little bit of a different concept for a museum," Hallowell said.
For more on this hotel, check out www.leatherockhotel.com The hotel website even has a page on Louise Brooks and other local celebrities.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Early review for "Flapper"

An early, if not entirely praiseworthy, review of Flapper, by Joshua Zeitz, has shown up on-line. Despite the mixed review, I am looking forward to this book. I had exchanged a few emails with the author a while back, and helped with a fact or two. This new book includes a chapter on Louise Brooks and some of the other film personalities of the time. "In California, where orange groves gave way to studio lots and fairytale mansions, three of America’s first celebrities - Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, and Louise Brooks, Hollywood’s great flapper triumvirate - fired the imaginations of millions of filmgoers." Another review describes the book as ". . . an entertaining, well-researched and charmingly illustrated dissection of the 1920s flapper, who flouted conventions and epitomized the naughtiness of the Jazz Age as she 'bobbed her hair, smoked cigarettes, drank gin, sported short skirts, and passed her evenings in steamy jazz clubs'." More on this title, which will be released on March 14th, can be found here.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Richard Leacock



Just returned from a San Francisco screening of Richard Leacock's wonderful Lulu in Berlin. Shot in 1974 - though not released until the early 1980's, Lulu in Berlin is one of only three filmed interviews with Louise Brooks. If you haven't seen it, you should! Leacock himself was present, and he spoke about his experience filming the actress. I asked him before the film if there was any unseen material. Leacock told me that pretty much everything he shot in Brooks' Rochester apartment some thirty years ago is included in his documentary, as his filmed interview with the actress only lasted some 20 minutes. Lulu in Berlin lasts 50 minutes, with clips from Brooks' films interspersed among her comments.

During the question and answer session after the film, Leacock recounted the circumstances behind the making of this interview film, how much "fun" it was, and how much he adored Louise Brooks. After there filming was complete, the actress made an omlet, and ordered Leacock to go to the liquer store and buy a quart of gin! According to the filmmaker, Lulu in Berlin was shown on the BBC in England (in the 1980's?), though with added dramatic parts depicting Brooks life. Leacock had nothing to do with the added bits, and was dismayed that the BBC altered his film. Has anyone ever seen this "other" version? Leacock also mentioned some earlier footage he shot for a staging of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu. This late 1960's stage production, under conductor Sarah Caldwell, included Edie Sedgwick as Lulu! Just imagine . . . .

During the question and answer session, Leacock also mentioned that he had completed a 400 page autobiography, which is so far unpublished. Presumably, something about his making of Lulu in Berlin would be contained in that book. It was a memorable evening. Were any of the readers of this blog present? For more about Richard Leacock, check out his website at www.richardleacock.com/

Another new Louise Brooks book!

I've been informed that the Filmarchiv Austria plans to publish a new book about Louise Brooks. It is planned as a collection of essays on various topics - including a special focus on the Pabst films. Though still in the works, the book may be released around November 14, 2006 - what would have been Brooks 100th birthday. Additional information will be posted as it becomes known.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Ye Olde Laser Lisc

Remember laser discs? They were LP-sized discs, much like DVDs, which contained a movie. Along with video tapes, they were the dominant form of commercially released movies in the early 1990's. A laser disc of The Show-Off is currently for sale oneBay. I know that Diary of a Lost Girl was also released on laser disc. Seeing this disc gets me to wondering. Does anyone have any commercially released Louise Brooks' films on Beta?
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