Sunday, January 21, 2007

December Trip (part one)

Last month, my wife and I took a trip to Detroit, Michigan. I spent time with my family (I grew up on the east side of the city). I also had the opportunity to introduce Pandora's Box when it was shown at the Detroit Film Theater, which is part of the Detroit Institute of the Arts. (The DIA is the fifth largest fine arts museum in the United States. It has a great collection of paintings, sculpture and other works. Check it out if you're ever in the Motor City.)

I had intended to introduce the film three times, as it was being shown as many times over the course of the second weekend in December. A traffic jam on I-75, however, prevented me from making it to the Friday night screening. (I got there 15 minutes late - but the show must go on, and the film started without my introduction.) Nevertheless, I did make it to the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon screenings. There was an article about the film in a couple of the local papers. More than 500 people were in attendance for each showing. Wow!

Here is a picture of me sitting in the DIA theater before the film was shown on Saturday night. As you can see, it is a splendid theater which dates from the 1920's. (The theater will soon be closed for renovation.) I was told by one of the curators of film that this venue was the first museum theater in the United States to show films as "art." Screenings took place here before similar historic screenings at NY Museum of Modern Art.

And here is a pictue of me introducing the film. My rambling six minute introduction spoke a little bit Louise Brooks, about the LBS, about various centenary happenings, about Brooks' connections to Detroit, and about the film we all were about to see, Pandora's Box. I hope people liked what I had to say.

While in the Detroit-area, I took the opportunity to do a bit of research. I visited the Mount Clemens Public Library hoping to dig up something about Louise Brooks' 1935 dance engagement at the Blossom Heath Inn. (I spoke about this event in my introduction.) This one-time roadhouse is located in what is now St. Clair Shores, a suburb on the east side of Detroit. In the past, I acquired a few newspaper notices and advertisements in the major Detroit newspapers. Now, I thought I might look for additional material. As best I can figure, the only suburban newspapers covering this part of metro Detroit in the 1930's where those based in neighboring Mount Clemens. I looked through the Mount Clemens Daily Leader (daily) and Mount Clemens Monitor (weekly), but found nothing. Happily though, the librarians in the local history room gave me a few suggestions, including a contact at the St. Clair Shores library. So, maybe something futher will turn up. The hunt goes on.

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