Saturday, August 18, 2007

Louise Brooks mentioned on BBC website

Clive James - a well known British author, critic and commentator - mentioned Louise Brooks in an article posted yesterday on the BBC website. Brooks was also pictured in the piece, along with Garbo and Marlon Brando. You can read the piece, or hear the author read it aloud on the radio.

James' article - entitled "Just a Pretty Face" - is prefaced thus. "There are not as many movie icons out there as we think. What makes one? Well it's not talent - they can just look pretty and our imagination does the rest." James goes on to write, "Since Garbo, every female film star has wanted the same for herself. Louise Brooks achieved iconic status without making many films that a mass audience ever saw, and nowadays almost nobody has seen any film she made, yet she is instantly recognizable by her hairstyle, which in itself gets described as iconic."

Louise Brooks is more than a haircut. And more than just a pretty face. I agree with James when he says that Brooks has not achieved a mass audience. However, I would qualify his statement and add that more people today have seen a Brooks film than he suspects. Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl are shown pretty regularly these days - both in revivals and even on television. Also, I would add that Brooks has now achieved a level of mass recognition that her more celebrated contemporaries enjoyed. A few years ago, Movie Star News - a company that reprints movie star images - reported that Louise Brooks was the second most popular star in their expansive catalog. Brooks trailed only Marilyn Monroe.

I am not sure how I feel about James' piece overall.

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