Sunday, February 25, 2007

Pandora's Box in San Jose

Do you know the way . . . . Pandora's Box will be shown March 9th in San Jose, California. The screening is part of the Cinequest festival. From the festival website:
Pandora's Box (1929)

Directed by G.W. Pabst; Starring Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Gustav Diessl.
Friday, March 9th @ 7:00pm California Theatre • $10 Ticket includes organ accompaniment by Dennis James at the Mighty Wurlitzer.

The incandescent, iconic Louise Brooks plays Lulu, a flower girl turned cabaret dancer, who entices and destroys the lives of the men who love her. Upon it’s initial release, Pandora’s Box was considered a failure in both Germany and the United States, but the film is now recognized as a timeless classic (like Brooks herself).

"There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!"
– Henri Langlois, Founder of the Cinématheque Française.

While 2006 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Louise Brooks, it also served as a rebirth of sorts, as new audiences were introduced to the timeless beauty and appeal of “the girl in the black helmet”. Brooks was the ultimate Hollywood rebel, defiantly quitting her contract with Paramount in 1928 in order to go to Berlin to work with director G.W. Pabst. She made Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl for Pabst, (as well as a third film, Prix de Beaute, in France), before returning to the Hollywood. But having burnt her bridges with Paramount, she found herself blackballed by the studios. She landed a few small parts in low budget films and ended her career in a western B-movie, supporting John Wayne, in 1938. What “might have been” had been destroyed by her keen intelligence, capricious nature, and deep disdain for the industry and most of its denizens.

For years Brooks languished in anonymity, working various jobs from dance instructor to sales clerk at Saks Fifth Avenue. In the mid-fifties, she was “rediscovered” by film historians and critics. She was encouraged to write about her experiences, and the resulting published essays proved to be clever, insightful and devastatingly honest. Her book Lulu in Hollywood was published in 1982 and is still in print. Louise Brooks died in 1985 at the age of 78.

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