Friday, March 30, 2007

Lulu in Malaysia

Louise Brooks was mentioned today in The Star, a Malayasian newspaper. The article about jewelry - and pearls in particular - name-checks the actress. The article, entiled "Ageless Bijoux," begins
O E Jewellery’s founding in 1906 coincided with the the Art Nouveau movement. Icons like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin ruled the silent movie scene. In Germany, all artistic endeavours stopped during World War I from 1914 to 1918.
A weary world found solace in the Roaring Twenties. It was the Age of the Flapper. Music roared in as jazz took over. Machines became the new fascination. With their snazzy, short bob, women looked androgynous and shocked polite society. Pearls were worn by the yard and sleek elegant designs were the rage. Famous icons of the 1920s included silent stars like Louise Brooks and Marlene Dietrich. 
The 1930s saw a return to a more genteel ladylike appearance. Clothes were feminine and jewellery was beautifully ornate. Greta Garbo was one of the most popular icons of that era.
This is the first reference to Brooks which I have come across in a Malaysian publication.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who is Lulu?

"Who is Lulu?" asks an article in today's Hartford Courant. The article by Frank Rizzo, "Yale Rep's Searing Study In Eroticism Isn't For The Timid," begins:
The poster in front of the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven stops the passerby dead in his tracks, but it isn't the one that features feminine flesh and fruit - the image that caused a stir last week when newspapers refused to run ads featuring that photo.

This image simply asks in large, in-your-face typography: "Who Is Lulu?"

Who indeed?

Not that most people, save a German theater major or a silent movie buff, would have any idea.

"Lulu" is the central character created by turn-of-the-last-century German playwright Frank Wedekind, who is having a banner year after a century of neglect. The hip, rock Broadway musical "Spring Awakening," another of his plays, has its own provocative subject of adolescent sexual angst.

But "Lulu" makes ""Spring Awakening" seem like child's play.

"Lulu" is the collective title of the merging of two of Wedekind's plays, "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora's Box," written over 10 years. The works center on a charismatic female character, the object of all men's affections - not to mention lust, perversion, sadism and savagery.

His expressionistic plays - and "Lulu" is a prime example - expose bourgeois morality for all its absurdity and hypocrisy. "Lulu" focuses on the 18-year-old who destroys a series of males "through her uninhibited but essentially innocent enjoyment of sex," according to theater scholar Trevor R. Griffiths.

There have been many artists who sought to tame Wedekind's wild "Lulu." The play was banned (it was only produced once in Wedekind's lifetime, at a private showing in 1905), emerging in 1928, when it became a now-celebrated German silent film, "Pandora's Box," directed by G.W. Pabst. The film starred American actress Louise Brooks, who gave an extraordinarily fresh and vivid performance. (A new Criterion Collection DVD with extras is out.)

An Alban Berg opera version was produced in the '30s. Other rare stage productions include one presented by Lee Brauer at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., in 1980; another in 1999 with an adaptation by English playwright Peter Barnes; and another in London in 2001, starring Anna Friel.
I wish I could be there. If you live in the Hartford area, GO SEE THIS PLAY! And if you do, please post a report.

To learn more about "Lulu" and to see pictures from the Yale Rep production, go to www.yalerep.org. "Lulu" runs Friday through April 21 at the Yale Repertory Theater, York and Chapel streets, New Haven. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. There is an 8 p.m. performance this Sunday. Matinees at 2 will be held on April 7, 11, 14 and 21. Tickets are $35 to $55. Tickets and information 203-432-1234 orwww.yalerep.org.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Magic & Romance of Art Dolls

A book I've never seen before, Magic & Romance of Art Dolls, is for sale on eBay. According to the item description,

Some of the real and fictional characters which were fashioned into dolls and illustrated in the book are Ziegfield Follies girl Marilyn Miller, Josephine Baker, Louise Brooks, Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolf Valentino, Shirley Temple, Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Madame Butterfly, Mimi, Carmen, Pierrot and Madame Pompadour.
Unfortunately, the seller doesn't picture the Louise Brooks doll, as far as I can figure. Here is the book, with Valentino on the cover.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Christina Aguilera does Louise Brooks

According to an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail, pop star Christina Aguilera impersonated Louise Brooks at a recent concert. The newspaper's reporter noted:
Visually, the show felt like a Broadway fantasia on themes from the thirties, with references to the steamy vigour of the Savoy Ballroom, to the white-clad elegance of the Cotton Club, and to the risqué pantomime of Clara Bow and Louise Brooks (both impersonated by Ms. Aguilera in videos made to look like silent films). A montage of tabloid front pages rolling off an old printing press projected Ms. Aguilera (the subject of every headline) into the period's media machinery, while she sang about how women need to defeat double standards.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Libby Holman's word game

This item appeared in a Walter Winchell column back in the early 1930's. Louise Brooks makes an appearance . . . . Brooks Atkinson was a famous critic of the time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Anna May Wong article

There is an interesting article about Anna May Wong reproduced onto the alt.movies.silent newsgroup. Check it out here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Inspiration

According to the item description on eBay, the image of Louise Brooks shown below inspired the color study for the cover of Leanta Books edition of Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars, also shown below. THe artist is named Burton. Check it out for yourself here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Care to subscribe?

This recent subscription card for the New York Review of Books features a caricature of Louise Brooks by David Levine. Thanx to Dwight Cocke for passing this along.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Newspapers reject Lulu ad

According to a report in today's Hartford Courant, two newspapers have rejected a newspaper advertisement for an upcoming production of "Lulu." The Courant article stated "An advertisement promoting the upcoming play "Lulu" at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven was rejected last week by The New York Times and the New Haven Register as not meeting advertising standards." This LiveJournal had blogged about the production a few days ago. Here is a copy of the offending advertisement.



The article went on to note, "Frank Wedekind's 'Lulu' plays were banned when they published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries," says Jacques Lemarre, associate marketing director for Yale Rep. "As a result, we knew that the image created for our upcoming production needed to be provocative. Director Mark Lamos has said that his production will contain nudity and sexual situations, and Yale Rep's advertisements reflect that content. While we are disappointed that some newspapers are rejecting our ads, we believe they are tasteful, yet indicative of the mature content of the Yale Rep production. . . ."

The Courant article also added, "Lulu" centers on a charismatic yet innocent temptress who seduces men, causing their doom. Wedekind's two plays -- titled "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora's Box" -- collectively make up "Lulu" and were made into a celebrated German silent film calledPandora's Box starring Louise Brooks. It was also the basis of an Alban Berg opera of the same name."

I think the ad is tasteful. And I wish I lived nearby and could attend the production. I hope all Lulu / Louise Brooks fans in the New Haven area turn out to show their support. More about the production can be found at  www.yalerep.org/lulu.html

Monday, March 19, 2007

Web pages about Louise

Here is an informational page about Louise Brooks in French. The page is part of a larger site - Encinematheque - about early movie stars. And if you haven't already come across this illustrated blog entry about Louise, be sure and check it out. It is part of the Greenbriar Pictures Show, "a site dedicated to the great days of movie exhibition."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Amy Crehore

Amy Crehore is a remarkable artist working in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited in various galleries, and reporduced in various magazines. For me, she paints in a style which brings the singular work of Mark Ryden to mind. (Check out her art and website here.) This past week, Crehore blogged about Louise Brooks. . . . "Why is Louise Brooks so much more amazing than ANY woman in cinema today?" I emailed the artist, and asked if she had ever painted Brooks' portrait. She hadn't, but thinks "she is a wonderful subject."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema


I have blogged recently about the exhibit "Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema," which is currently on display at the International Center for Photography in New York City (through April 29th). In today's Boston Globe, there is a small write-upabout the exhibit by Mark Feeney.
A few years before Cartier-Bresson picked up a camera, and while Munkacsi was still in Berlin, German film witnessed a collision (or should that be interlocking?) of female sexuality and assertion such as the screen has not seen since. Louise Brooks , with that crown of black hair befitting a monarch of the Eternal Feminine , exploded forth in "Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl ." Marlene Dietrich became a star in "The Blue Angel. " "Madchen in Uniform " portrayed lesbianism with an unprecedented sympathy. "Metropolis " took the virgin-whore dialectic far into the future and well over the top with the saintly Maria and her lewd robot impersonator.
"Louise Brooks and the the 'New Woman' in Weimar Cinema" (it, too, runs through April 29) includes stills from each of those films, two dozen in all. A small show, it seems all the smaller after the expansiveness of the Munkacsi and Cartier-Bresson exhibitions. But one look into the eyes of Louise Brooks is reminder enough that small need not mean insubstantial.
Apparently, there is also a nice looking brochure which goes along with the show. One of them recently has shown up on eBay.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Wedekind revival ?

Might there be a Frank Wedekind revival brewing? There is an article which speculates as much on Broadwayworld.com The article, "Mark Lamos Directs Wedekind's LULU at Yale Rep," notes the forthcoming production in New Haven. Not Surprisingly, the article mentions Louise Brooks, the most famous Lulu (and the most famous Wedekind character) of them all.

According to Lamos, “When James Bundy suggested Wedekind's Lulu as a possibility for my return to Yale Rep, I hadn’t read it for many years. What struck me most was how different the play was from G.W. Pabst’s silkily sensual silent film starring the legendary Louise Brooks. It also bore only passing resemblance to Alban Berg’s operatic incarnation. Wedekind worked from a tradition of cabaret, vaudeville, and the political club scene of his time. The original Lulu is much more absurdist, more knockabout than the famous film and the lushly atonal operatic masterpiece. His work inspired artists in all mediums, including Bert Brecht, whose experimental mixing of styles and tones became a staple of the 20th century avant-garde.”

The article then goes on to note, "With the recent Criterion DVD release of Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929) and the hit Broadway musical adaptation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening, now is the time to rediscover this highly influential playwright." [ And not to forget the Silent Theater production of Lulu which played in Chicago, NYC and San Francisco.]

p.s. I wonder why the producers chose 
Carl R. Mueller translation of Wedekind's play, and not one of the many others by Stephen Spender, Eric Bently, Samuel Eliot, etc....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Would you whisper ?

A reproduction of this nifty magazine cover is for sale on eBay. It is the a tabloid of the time, the Police Gazette - dating from  December 13, 1924. The photo on the cover is by Alfred Cheney Johnston. The title below the picture (as best I can tell) reads "If you met her on a farm would you whisper, 'chick, chick.'"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Blog on Blog

Larry Doe, who recently was involved with the transcription of vintage Denishawn instruction piano rolls, has blogged about the the LBS. Check out Larry's earlier blog entries. Imagine being able to hear music recorded for Denishawn way back in the 1920's.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Silent Film Still Archive

Bruce Calvert has moved his Silent Film Still Archive to a new URL. Check it out at www.silentfilmstillarchive.com  

Also worth checking out is an online article on Christianity and the origins of the film industry. It makes for somewhat interesting reading. Check it out at www.spcm.org/Journal/spip.php?article7228  

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Inter-library loans: Intrigue and Comedy Abound

Some of the inter-library loan material I have looked at lately includes microfilm of the Salina Evening Journal (from Kansas) andPottsville Republican (from Pennsylvannia), from which I gathered material on Louise Brooks' 1922 Denishawn performances in each of those locales. I found a few articles and advertisements, as well as a review. I also looked at a number of months of theOregon Statesman (from Salem, Oregon) and Tacoma Daily Ledger (from Washington), but only found a couple of film related articles.

One of the curious items I ran across were a couple of incorrectly captioned photographs. This one - pictured below - confuses Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore and their respective co-stars. As it happened, films starring each actress were playing at the same time in Tacoma, Washington.

This is not the first time I have come across a Louise Brooks-Colleen Moore mix-up: I think, because the two actresses wore their hair in a similar fashion (and perhaps resembled one another slightly), and because at times they played the same sorts of roles, newspapers editors and the public sometimes mistook one actress for the other. Or was it that they thought of them in similar terms?


Here are the adjoining advertisements for the Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore films which appeared in the Tacoma paper (on the same page as the previously mentioned miscaptioned photographs).

 

Friday, March 9, 2007

At home



Another nice image of Louise Brooks for sale on eBay.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Viewpoint: Modern Drama

A rather interesting article on the work of Frank Wedekind is in the March, 2007 issue of Opera News. F. Paul Driscoll 's piece begins
The characters and situations created by German-born playwright Frank Wedekind (1864–1918) have lost none of their power to shock and disturb audiences. The feral, heartless temptress at the heart of Wedekind's Lulu plays is familiar to opera aficionados as the femme fatale of Alban Berg's Lulu; for film buffs, the personification of Wedekind's cunning mantrap is Louise Brooks, in G. W. Pabst's classic silent film Pandora's Box. Brooks's keen intelligence and highly individual "look" — sharp, shining eyes, immaculately trim legs and a glossy helmet of bobbed black hair — conspired to create one of cinema's enduring erotic icons. But what makes Pandora's Box, first released in 1929, still feel freshly-minted is the character of Lulu, the amoral, unapologetic adventuress that Wedekind put on paper more than a decade before Brooks was born. Alban Berg'sLulu is still thought of as a "modern" opera, although the composer has been dead for more than seventy years; it will always seem so, because its leading character refuses to age. Lulu's fascination lies in her ability to simulate freshness; she attracts men because her possibilities seem endless. Her life, for as long as it lasts, is lived in the future tense. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

China nixes LBS at LJ

According to a post on BoingBoing (which references a news item on Wired News), "China has added the whole of LiveJournal to its list of banned websites."

Sadly, thus, the billions of people of China won't be able to keep up with what's new in the world of Louise Brooks. . . . what new picture of the actress has popped up on eBay, where one of her films is screening around the world, what new articles or reviews have been uncovered, or even what news songs have been added to RadioLulu. What is the world coming to?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Ford Sterling

There is a new book out on Ford Sterling, the one time Keystone Kop and comedic actor who appeared in two Louise Brooks films, The American Venus and The Show-Off (both 1926). Wendy Warwick White's Ford Sterling: The Life and Films is the first ever book on this talented and fascinating personality. "The main focus of the work is Sterling's career, from 1911 to 1937, which is unfortunately largely forgotten today. With an emphasis on correcting inaccuracies and restoring Sterling's legacy, this volume examines his on-screen work, his production ventures, his reputation as a world renowned photographer and his final debilitating illness. A detailed filmography provides all known production, cast and crew information as well as a synopsis for each film when available."

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Silent film revivalism


There is an article on the Wired website about a revival of interest in silent film which has been getting alot of attention lately. The article, "Filmmakers Seek Future in Past," can be found at www.wired.com/news/culture/0,72766-0.html?tw=wn_index_16 [ This is not the first time Wired News has written about renewed interest in silent film. Back in 1998, journalist Steve Silberman wrote a piece about Louise Brooks and the Louise Brooks Society. ]

post about the article on the popular website BoingBoing notes: "The piece explores modern scoring of silent films and the future of silent films on the ubiquitous video displays of major cities (as well as all silent, black and white plays based on Louise Brooks films... )" Among other things, the article discusses the recent Silent Theatre Company of Chicago production of Lulu, which was written up on this blog last year. Additionally, the author of the article, John Brownlee, has posted his extensive interview with Tonika Todorova, director of the Silent Theatre company. The interview is presented in three parts):

        Part 1: http://blog.wired.com/tableofmalcontents/2007/02/interview_lulu_.html
        Part 2: http://blog.wired.com/tableofmalcontents/2007/02/interview_lulu__1.html
        Part 3: http://blog.wired.com/tableofmalcontents/2007/03/interview_lulu_.html

Friday, March 2, 2007

Another uncommon image

Another uncommon image of Louise Brooks is for sale on eBay.

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