Monday, October 30, 2006

The Blue Church

I live in a part of San Francisco called Noe Valley. It's a mostly working class neighborhood. Just down the block from me is a blue building which was once home to a movie theater. It is one of the oldest movie theaters in San Francisco, though it has for some time been home to a church.   According to an article about the building in the current issue of the Noe Valley Voice (the local neighborhood newspaper):
Demolition of the church would drop the final curtain on a building that started life as a one-screen temple to Hollywood. The theater opened in 1916 as the Searchlight, according to Cinema Treasures, a web site devoted to movie preservation. The theater, which showed German and Russian films in the 1930s and later on American movies, was also known as the Empress, the Lux, the De Lux, the Isis, the Princess, the Church, and the Rita. The Rita moniker eventually gave way to the Del Mar - until 1965 when the Holiness Temple in Christ purchased the building.
I thought it interesting that this small neighborhood theater showed "foreign films" in the 1930's. And I wondered if they ever might have shownPandora's Box ? According to Jack Tillmany's book, Theaters of San Francisco, there is no known photograph of the building as a movie theater. Thus, I offer this image which I took just minutes ago using my digital camera.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The LOUISE BROOKS event not to miss!


"Celebrating Louise Brooks: An Evening of Rare Films"
with PETER COWIE
a talk, film screening & book signing for "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever"
Sunday, November 12 at 7:30 pm
at the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa Street) in San Francisco

On Sunday November 12th, world renown film critic and biographer Peter Cowie, author of the just published "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever," will give a talk as part of "Celebrating Louise Brooks: An Evening of Rare Films" at the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa Street) in San Francisco. Rare Louise Brooks films, special guests, door prizes, Louise Brooks give-aways and more will round out the program, which starts at 7:30. A book signing will follow.

With her distinctive haircut and classically drawn features, Louise Brooks is, without question, one of the great icons of world cinema. Her role as Lulu in "Pandora's Box" has gained her film immortality. This month, the world celebrates her centennial with the publication of Peter Cowie's much-anticipated new book, "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever," an insightful and lavishly illustrated portrait of the actress and the legend.

Peter Cowie is a world famous film historian and the author of some thirty books including "The Cinema of Orson Welles," "John Ford and the American West," and "Revolution!: The Explosion Of World Cinema In The Sixties," as well as acclaimed biographies of Ingmar Bergman and Francis Ford Coppola. Cowie will be joining us from his home in Switzerland.

This special event, co-sponsored by The Booksmith ( www.booksmith.com) and the Louise Brooks Society ( www.pandorasbox.com), will take place at the historic Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa) in San Francisco. Tickets are $8.50 and can be purchased in advance onwww.BrownPaperTickets.com  

 BUY YOUR TICKETS SOON, AS THIS SPECIAL EVENT IS EXPECTED TO SELL OUT.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Interview article

There is a full page article about Louise Brooks (and her bob) in the current issue of Interview magazine.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever

Today, I received my copy of Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever by Peter Cowie. (Copies are not due in stores for about a week.) It is absolutely gorgeous! It is a book every Brooks fan will want to own . . . .  I had written my review for Publisher's Weeklybased on page proofs (an early version of the book which was sent to me by the publisher). This finished copy is so much more appealing. The images look really stunning. Wow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

G-Swing

A recently released French compact disc with Louise Brooks on the cover, Swing for Modern Clubbing, has been called to my attention. (Thank you Pascal.) Is anyone familiar with this CD or the music? More info here. (Brooks also appears on an interior illustration.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Philippe Boussemart

A French artist by the name of Philippe Boussemart has painted a handful of works featuring Louise Brooks - and Charlie Chaplin. I am not sure what it all means - but you can check out his website at http://philippe.boussemart.com/peinture/creations/

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Monday, October 23, 2006

This being detail

Another swell image of Louise Brooks - this being detail from a film still from Love Em and Leave Em (1926), which is for sale on eBay. The seller is located in Portugal, where the film was shown under the title Amá-las e deixá-las.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Modish coiffure

Here is a nifty advertisement I came across while looking through microfilm at the library this week. It dates from 1925.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another Lulu review

"Thankfully, Chicago-based Silent Theatre Company understands the appeal of classic celluloid, which they ape to sublime ends in their piece "Lulu", an adaptation of German playwright Frank Wedekind’s 1894 Lulu cycle, comprising "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora’s Box", but bearing more of a resemblance to G.W. Pabst’s 1928 film revision starring über-vamp Louise Brooks. "      Another review of the stage play of Lulu can be found at www.sfstation.com/lulu-at-victoria-theater-a2239

Friday, October 20, 2006

Research jottings


Back at the library, I continue my search for even more Louise Brooks clippings. I went through the Columbus Ledger (from Columbus, Georgia), Ripon Weekly Press (from Ripon, Wisconsin),  and Arkansas City Daily Traveler (from Arkansas City, Kansas) - and in each found articles and advertisements relating to Brooks' two seasons with Denishawn. The company performed in each of thee towns. I also went through a few other newspapers looking for material relating to Brooks' films. I went through the Arkansas Gazette (from Little Rock, Arkansas), Deseret News (from Salt Lake City, Utah), and Hartford Times(from Hartford, Connecticut). And I found a few reviews and ads. The most interesting item was a Little Rock ad for the Capitol Theater promoting the screening of Love Em and Leave Em during the first half of the week, and Just Another Blonde during the second half. That's unusual, especially considering that the two films were made by different studios.

I also went through the North China Daily News, an English-language newspaper from Shanghai. I looked through the first four months of 1929, and found material - including one review - for three of Brooks' 1927 films! Wow - what a cosmpolitan city and what a worthwhile newspaper! There were numerous movie theaters in Shanghai at this time, and all of the major American films seemed to have been shown. And the theaters ran big advertisements in the newspaper. The review I found marks my first Chinese citation! Eventually, I plan to look through every month of theNorth China Daily News from the late 1920's and early 1930's that I can get my hands on.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pandora's Box screening 10-23


The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida will screen a "digitally restored" version of Pandora's Box (1929) on October 23rd. This screening will feature a new score for the film composed by Prof. Tony Steve of Jacksonville University, which will be performed live by the JU Percussion Ensemble. This one-time only show will take place at 7 pm.

A reminder

Don't miss this . . . . "Lulu" - a silent (wordless) stage play at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco
Frank Wedekind's scandalous turn of the century drama performed as a silent film a la Louise Brooks in "Pandora's Box."

"Lulu" was the hit of the 2006 NYC Fringe Festival, and has received rave reviews in the New York TimesChicago Tribuneand San Francisco Chronicle.  It's lot's of fun. And Kyla Louise as Lulu is the sexiest femme fatale since Brooks herself played the role.

“…dreamlike…luscious…a bona-fide knockout.” - CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

Performances run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm.
(Remaining shows October 19-20-21-22, 26-27-28-29).
More info and tickets at www.victoriatheatre.org

More about the play, the actors and the theater company (including video clips) at www.silenttheatre.com or www.myspace.com/silenttheatre

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two local stage productions

This review of two local stage productions appeared in today's San Francisco Bay Guardian. Check it out at www.sfbayguardian.com/printable_entry.php?entry_id=1891
Mother Courage
By Robert Avila

The sideshow denizens who scramble out onstage at the Victoria to mime the evening's prologue constitute an impressive assortment of freaks and wild beasts, stooping giants and bearded ladies strutting and marauding in the nostalgic glow of a flickering projection lamp. But they take second billing to what a supertitle introduces as "the most untamed beast of them all." That would be unbridled sexuality, in the person of our heroine, Lulu.

It's now more than a century since Frank Wedekind, the forefather of German expressionism, gave creative birth to Lulu, a charmingly insatiable and just too desirable young woman and singer from several good homes, thereby throwing sexual hypocrisy back in the faces of his bourgeois audience. Today sexuality is hardly less controversial to the bourgeois even if, say, a film like Shortbus simultaneously suggests we've come a short way. Shortbus gets a happy ending, after all, while the result of pitting anarchic human sexuality against a repressed and repressive patriarchal society in Lulu's day had to spell tragedy. Still, though the results are grim, untamed sex emerges glorious if not victorious in Lulu: A Black and White Silent Play, Chicago-based Silent Theatre Company's lightly and cheerfully lewd and cheekily clever production.

Both form and content marked out Wedekind's two antinaturalistic Lulu plays — Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora's Box (1902) — as exceedingly modern and risqué for their day. Silent Theatre's silent-movie-style staging builds shrewdly on permutations of form and nostalgia by translating back to the stage G.W. Pabst's famous 1929 silent screen adaptation (which starred Louise Brooks and her distinctive bob) in a single one-hour-and-fifteen-minute act. The results benefit from a game cast (including a pert Kyla Louise Webb as Lulu), as well as shrewd and playful staging, filled with the vivacious gestures and grotesque exaggerations of the silent screen and spiritedly choreographed to the infectious accompaniment of pianist-composer Isaiah Robinson and his spiraling movie-house score.

Although principally an expressionist, Wedekind also pointed in the direction Bertolt Brecht was to take a generation or so later in an already post-expressionist mode. But then, Wedekind and Brecht had much in common, including a penchant for cabaret songs and reimagining the traditions of the carnival and the circus in assailing in boldly experimental form the ferociousness and folly of the social order. That circus-cabaret theme is certainly evident in the Berkeley Rep and La Jolla Playhouse coproduction of Brecht'sMother Courage, not least in the utterly fresh yet evocative new score by composer Gina Leishman (among other things founder of Mr. Wau-Wa, a quintet devoted to Brechtian songs). Director Lisa Peterson's sharp cast and vigorous, inspired staging take full advantage of playwright David Hare's earthy and immediate translation to bring Brecht's antiwar play resonantly alive.

Mother Courage, the wily peddler who with her three children follows the battling armies of 17th-century Europe's Thirty Years War to hock her wares and make her living, remains one of the most famous antiheroes of a decidedly antiheroic, antiromantic playwright. But that doesn't seem to stop audiences from identifying her (unironically) with that intentionally ironic name of hers. Indeed, rendered with a fine Weimar-esque soulfulness and grit by Ivonne Coll, she's a charismatic figure despite her outstanding flaw: her parasitic reliance on war at the inevitable, albeit unintended, expense of her offspring.

Brecht's play, in addressing itself to the class enemy lurking behind the delusional divisions of religion and territory, systematically undercuts any legitimacy claimed by the warmongering values of courage and valor. The Chaplain (a deftly comic turn by Patrick Kerr), for instance, easily exchanges his cassock for some street clothes when the need arises, just as surely as the Catholic flag comes down and the Protestant one goes up when the winds of battle change direction. And by showing how Mother Courage, having tied her cart to the scam of war, must hang on to it at all costs — even that of her children's lives — the play doubly negates her name in the circumstances it exposes. But maybe it’s Brecht’s ambivalence even more than his excoriating attack on the hideous cheat of war that seems utterly contemporary: the strangely productive and seductive balancing act taking place between his dismal view of human nature — alternately vicious and comic in its outline — and his overweening determination to awaken his audience to the truth and thereby to change the world. 

LULU: A BLACK AND WHITE SILENT PLAY
Through Oct. 29
Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.
Victoria Theatre
2961 16th St., SF
$20
(415) 863-7576
www.victoriatheatre.org

MOTHER COURAGE
Through Oct. 22
Tues. and Fri., 8 p.m.; Wed., 7 p.m.; Thurs. and Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
2015 Addison, Roda Theatre, Berk.
$33–$61
(510) 647-2949
www.berkeleyrep.org

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jazz Age Beauties

Today, I got a copy of Jazz Age Beauties: The Lost Collection of Ziegfeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston by Robert Hudovernik. It's a very nifty book - and you'll want to check it out. There are five full page images of Louise Brooks, a few other future silent film stars (nudes of Norma Shearer, portraits of Billie Dove, Mae Murray, etc....), along with a bunch of other lovely portraits of Ziegfeld Follies girls. There is also an image - something I had not ever seen before - of the front of the New Amsterdam Theater (the home of the Follies) in 1925. That's when Brooks was performing there. Wow! That makes me wonder what other sort of unknown images might be out there. There was also a gracious mention of myself and the Louise Brooks Society in the acknowledgements. Thank you Robert, glad to be of help.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pandora's Box in Pittsburgh, PA with Barry Paris

Just announced: On November 5th the Three Rivers Film Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will screen Pandora's Box at the Regent Square Theater. Pianist Philip Carli will provide live piano accompaniment, and Louise Brooks biographer Barry Paris will introduce the film. Tickets are $10.00

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pandora's Box on TV

Pandora's Box will be shown on the Independent Film Channel on Tuesday, October 17th. The film starts at 9 pm eastern time. The film will be repeated at Wednesday, October 18th at 2:10 am (EDT) and 11:15 am (EDT). Here is what the IFC webpagehas to say.
1929 | 110 min. | Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
German filmmaker G.W . Pabst's late-silent classic Pandora's Box (Die Busch de Pandora) stars the hauntingly beautiful Louise Brooks as libertine dancer Lulu. Ever out for the Main Chance, Lulu tries to persuade her wealthy lover Dr. Schon (Fritz Kortner) to marry her. When he refuses, she shoots him. Escaping to London with the doctor's moonstruck son Alwa (Francis Lederer), Lulu takes up residence with her bisexual "adopted" father (Carl Gotz). Soon Lulu's selfish behavior alienates everyone, and she is reduced to walking the streets, with tragic consequences. Based on two works by the controversial German novelist. Even after seven decades, Pandora's Box exudes smoky sensuality in every frame. Regarded now as a masterpiece, the film received surprisingly scathing reviews, with most of the critical broadsides aimed at Louise Brooks (this was long before Brooks graduated from just another pretty Hollywood starlet to Cult Goddess).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Art House Films


This article appeared in today's Chicago Sun-Times. Louise Brooks has certainly getting her fair share of press coverage lately. I especially appreciate the last line of the article.
Art house films
BY BILL STAMETS

Here's a look at some of the arthouse films opening today:

"Pandora's Box" ("Die Buchse der Pandora") 3 stars

Revived in a new black-and-white print, this classic from the end of cinema's silent era pairs German director G.W. Pabst with American actress Louise Brooks. Ladislaus Vajda's screenplay blended two plays by Frank Wedekind to track the amoral career of dancing gold-digger Lulu (Brooks).

When a newspaper executive (Fritz Kortner) ends his affair with Lulu, he tells his son Alwa (Francis Lederer): "Men don't marry such women. It would be suicide." One gunshot later, a prosecutor likens Lulu to Pandora, "well-versed in the infatuating arts of flattery."

Falling for his late father's mistress, Alwa serves as her character witness. She escapes a manslaughter sentence and hides on a gambling ship. Next she escapes a fate of white slavery in a Cairo brothel and lands in a wintry London garret. Christmas Eve finds her under the mistletoe with Jack the Ripper (Gustav Diessl). Only a psychopath would not succumb to her charms.

The Pabst touch is seen in his kinetic crowd scenes: backstage at Lulu's theater before the curtain rises, and the courtroom she flees after a false fire alarm triggers pandemonium. Pabst also excels at canted expressionist close-ups of faces. Brooks overwhelms the lens with her magnetic eyes. Her signature coiffure looks like a black patent-leather bathing cap.

After shooting a second Pabst film in Berlin, Brooks' star fell. The February and March 1934 headlines that she made in Chicago evoke a Lulu in exile: "Scion of Old Family Makes Debut With Wife at Chez Paree Club."

(No MPAA rating. Running time: 110 minutes. Screens at Music Box tonight with live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott and Sunday with Jay Warren at the keyboard.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Movie review: 'Pandora's Box'


Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune gave Pandora's Box four stars in his review of the film in today's paper. Interestingly, the article also noted the film's "implied perversion."
Few movie goddesses can break your heart like saucy, black-banged Louise Brooks, whose centennial comes this year and whose best film and performance, as Lulu in G.W. Pabst's "Pandora's Box," plays this weekend at the Music Box Theatre, in a new print.

If you've never seen Brooks--or "Pandora's Box"--you've missed one of the most extraordinary personalities and films of the silent movie era. Brooks' life story is remarkable in itself. She was an American actress and dancer from Kansas who had starred for directors Howard Hawks and William Wellman by the time she was 22, then became famous and scandalous in Germany for her two films with Pabst ("Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl"), only to see her Hollywood star career collapse at the dawn of the sound era. A few decades later, when her career was over and the films were revived, she achieved and then held her present legendary status. She died in 1985.

How did Brooks survive the buffets of fate and fame? She was no careerist obviously. But she was a stunner--one of those personalities who can explode off the screen, with a piquant energy and dazzling smile that, in the end, broke down all defenses. As Lulu, the girlish, wanton temptress of Pabst's 1929 picture--a playful German seductress who casually enslaves and destroys good men while arousing and provoking bad ones--Brooks radiates a sexuality and flawed humanity so potent that one never questions why the males around her so easily fall apart.

One look at Brooks' curving helmet-like bangs, soft dark eyes and hyperactive dancer's body, and you know why the well-respected editor Peter Schoen (Fritz Kortner) sacrifices himself to pursue her, and why his son, Alwa (Franz Lederer, who became "Francis Lederer" when he emigrated to Hollywood), throws away his life to flee with Lulu when she's convicted of manslaughter in his father's death. You know also why she enslaves women like the chic lesbian Countess Anna Geschwitz (Alice Roberts), and why even London's Jack the Ripper (Gustav Diessl) falls for her.

"Pandora's Box," showing Friday and Sunday, was regarded in its day as shocking and immoral. But it's actually one of the most socially acute, sophisticated films of its era, a prime example of the urbane, knowing German-Austrian film tradition that also produced Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. With his brilliant staging and visual mastery of the rich, shadowy blacks and whites that would later mark American film noir, Pabst re-creates the rigid, mercenary society around Lulu. Then he shows how her impish beauty throws open its doors.

In life, beauty is ephemeral. But in the movies, it can become seemingly immortal. Brooks lost a career--due, it's said to sound, to American dismissal of her foreign stardom and to her refusal of some key Hollywood mogul advances. But she won a legend afterward comparable to that of '30s superstars Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich (Pabst's second choice for Lulu)--and Henri Langlois, master film collector of the French Cinematheque, ranked her above the latter two, insisting: "There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!" Watching "Pandora's Box" now, one can see why bad-girl Lulu remains in our eyes and hearts, why Louise Brooks still lives.

Pandora's Box

Directed by G.W. Pabst; written by Ladislaus Vajda, based on Franz Wedekind's plays "Erdgeist" and "Pandora's Box"; photographed by Gunther Krampf; edited by Joseph Fliesler; art direction by Andrei Andreiev; produced by George S. Horsetzky. A Kino International release; opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre. Running time: 1:50. "Pandora's Box" will be accompanied on the theater organ by Dennis Scott at 8:30 p.m. Friday and by Jay Warren at 2 and 5 p.m, Sunday. No MPAA rating (parents cautioned for implied sexuality and perversion, drug use and violence).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gay LA

Tonight, I  hosted an event with Lillian Faderman. She is the author of numerous books, including most recently Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians. Its a fascinating history of gay & lesbian life in Los Angeles.
Drawing upon untouched archives of documents and photographs and over 200 new interviews, Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons chart L.A.'s unique gay history, from the first missionary encounters with Native American cross-gendered "two spirits" to cross-dressing frontier women in search of their fortunes; from the bohemian freedom of early Hollywood to the explosion of gay life during World War II to the underground radicalism sparked by the 1950s blacklist; from the 1960s gay liberation movement to the creation of gay marketing in the 1990s. Faderman and Timmons show how geography, economic opportunity, and a constant influx of new people created a city that was more compatible to gay life than any other in America. Combining broad historical scope with deftly wrought stories of real people, from the Hollywood sound stage to the barrio, Gay L.A.is American social history at its best. 
Naturally, the film world and Hollywood figure in this account. (The section called "The Silent Era" contains a chapter titled "Going Hollywood.) During her fascinating talk, Faderman mentioned that she had researched parts of her book at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She also discussed Marlene Dietrich & Tallulah Bankhead, and mentioned Greta Garbo. All of whom figure in the book. Louise Brooks is referenced in Gay LA, as is Bruz Fletcher, the gay singer whose night club Brooks frequented.

If you are at all interested, check out Gay L. A.: A History of Sexual Outlaws, Power Politics, And Lipstick Lesbians. It looks like a great work of social history. (And Dietrich appears on the cover.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Lulu Forever

Here is a picture of the stunning poster for Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever mounted in the film section at The Booksmith in San Francisco. That store (my place of employ) will be hosting author Peter Cowie at the Balboa Theater on Sunday, November 12th. It will be an event not to be missed!



Anyone who might want to purchase an autographed first edition hardback copy of Cowie's new book should contact the Booksmith to place an order.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Pordenone

There was an error in yesterday's "News of Lulu" - the email newsletter of the Louise Brooks Society. I had stated that Pandora's Box was to be shown at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (aka Pordenone) in Italy. I was mistaken. The world famous silent film festival was to have shown that film, but seemingly changed their minds. Instead, the silent version of Prix de Beaute will be shown instead (along with the documentary Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu) as part of a special "Louise Brooks 100" celebration. Happily, you an read or download the extensive festival catalog - including introductory remarks on Louise Brooks by Kevin Brownlow - by visiting www.cinetecadelfriuli.org/gcm/edizione2006/edizione2006_frameset.html

Once there, click on the link on the right that opens or downloads the pdf file of the festival's program. Then, go to pages 33-36 to see the introduction by Kevin Brownlow and a full description (all listings first in Italian, followed by English translation) of Prix de Beaute and Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu. Thanx Lee!

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Fascinatin' Rhythm

If you like music of the twenties, thirties and forties - you'll want to check out a weekly one hour radio show called "Fascinatin' Rhythm," which airs on National Public Radio. (The show can also be heard on NPR stations over the internet.)  I have been a fan of this program for some time. And everytime I hear it I learn to love some new music or singer. The last program I heard, for example, reminded me how much I like Annette Hanshaw - a wonderful singer from the 1930's.

More about "Fascinatin' Rhythm" can be found on this webpage. The upcoming October 26th episode - featuring "songs about underwear, pajamas, and the onset of nudity.  An hour of precaution and of throwing caution to the wind" sounds like its gonna be fun. Check your local NPR listings to see if "Fascinatin' Rhythm" is broadcast in your area.
Fascinatin' Rhythm explores the history and themes of American popular music from Stephen Foster to Stephen Sondheim. These weekly "radio essays," illustrated by recordings, won the 1994 George Foster Peabody Award for letting "our treasury of popular tunes speak (and sing) for itself with sparkling commentary tracing the contributions of the composers and performers to American society." The Peabody citation called Fascinatin' Rhythm "a celebration of American culture." The program originates from WXXI-Classical 91.5. and is nationally syndicated.

Each program features a theme - a particular kind of stage or movie musical, a single composer or lyricist, a distinctive performer, or defining image or idea. Fascinatin' Rhythm blends education and entertainment, as it also shows how songs from the Golden Age of American popular music (1920-1960) anticipate today's popular music. Heard nationally from Orlando to San Francisco and Honolulu, Fascinatin' Rhythm reveals America to America through popular songs.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

A neat pic

This uncommon production still from Just Another Blonde (1926) is for sale on eBay. The film was shown as The Girl from Coney Islandaround New York City (to exploit local interest), and as The Charleston Kid in Cuba.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Thelma Barlow

Thelma Barlow, a popular British actress who played the older Louise Brooks in the stage play Smoking with Lulu, has been cast in an upcoming episode of Dr. Who - the popular British sci-fi series. I, for one, am a fan of the latest incarnation of the series - though we shall see how things play out in this third season. A rose is a rose is a rose no longer.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Lulu benefit

The cast of Lulu is having a benefit party on October 16th at the Balazo 18 Gallery, located at 2863 Mission Street in San Francisco. (That's near the Victoria Theater - where Lulu is showing through the end of the month.)  Here's your chance to meet the cast of  Lulu, have a drink, and hear some good music by the likes of The Vaticans and The Crazy B's. Photographs of the cast and production will also be on display. The benefit kicks off around 7 pm - and finishes around 11 pm. Additional details to come.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

I met Lulu

Today, quite by chance, I met some of the cast members of Lulu, which is currently being staged here in San Francisco. I was at work at the Booksmith on Haight Street when I noticed a nice looking young women with a sporty black bob browsing the magazine section. I thought, "she looks familiar." Could it be Lulu? And so, I did what I rarely do, I approached someone I did not know and asked, "Aren't you . . . .?"

"Yes," was her answer. Lulu was in fact Kyla (her real name), and she and a few other members of the cast were out shopping. (Kyla had just found a second-hand, hardback copy of the Barry Paris biography of Louise Brooks - which she showed me.) We chatted about the play, their recent reviews, my plans to see it again, etc.... They were cool people. I enjoyed meeting them and look forward to see them again when my wife and I return to see the play, perhaps at the end of the month. If you live in the Bay Area and haven't seen this superb production, please go see it !

Monday, October 2, 2006

London After Midnight

Watched the still restoration of London After Midnight on TCM. It was ok. I liked Lon Chaney's vampire make-up, and the bat-girl was interesting. I wish my old friend Emil Petaja had still been alive to see this. He would have enjoyed it. London After Midnight was one of his favorite films.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Library sale

Did anyone go to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library annual book sale? I went today, when everything was a dollar of less. My wife and I and our friend Allan Milkerit, an esteemed San Francisco book dealer, were about the tenth people in line.

Things seemed to have been picked over pretty well, though there were a few worthwile books still to be found. I headed directly to the film section. My best find was a hardback, first edtion copy of David Yallop's 1976 book on the "Fatty" Arbuckle scandal,The Day the Laughter Stopped. I also found a hardback copy of Robert Henderson's 1972 book, D.W. Griffith: His Life and Work, and an Australian book on the history of early Australian film. (And yes, it does picture and discuss The Sentimental Bloke - see earlier LJ entry). Other books I found include older hardback biographies of William Randolf Hearst, William Wyler, Mary Pickford, Gary Cooper, and Groucho Marx. As well as a few general works on film history. It wasn't the fabulous haul I had last year. Nor did I find any swell books on the 1920's - as I usually do.

One film reference book I purchased was Who's Who in Hollywood 1900 - 1976, by David Ragan. It's a bulky 860 page encyclopedia style work with zillions of entries on just about everyone. As a reference work, its nice to have around - though it has probably been superceded by the interenet and other contemporary reference works. The entry on Louise Brooks (written while she was still alive) is especially curious - it is respectful, but riddled with errors.

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