Friday, May 29, 2009

A vintage Russian Lulu - at last

Following up on my May 9th posting, I put in a request for microfilm issues of the Moscow Daily News from 1932. My interlibrary loan request arrived, and today I spent the afternoon scrolling through three months of that English-language paper published in the fledgling Soviet Union. 

Fortunately, I found a number of advertisement for the showing of Lulu (aka Pandora's Box) at the Hermitage Garden Movie Theatre in June of 1932. Here is the sort of thing I uncovered. 

Unfortunately, I didn't find much else. The film ran for two weeks. I wasn't able to find any editorial comments about Lulu - beyond a listing under "Cinema Program." After it closed, Lulu was replaced by Aelita: Queen of Mars. A quick Google search of the venue - the Hermitage Garden Movie Theatre (at Karetni Ryad 3) - reveals that Anton Chekov mentioned a similarly named place in one of his earlier stories. As did the 20th century Russian writer Konstantin Paustovsky. (The venue may still be in use today, as an opera house?)

Interestingly, the advertisements - which ran every day during the film's two week run - mention neither Pandora's Box nor G.W. Pabst - only that it was a "German Art Film" "Featuring Louise Brooks." Each ad featured the same drawing of the actress, along with the notice that there was a "Continual showing from 12 noon. Last performance at 11:45. All tickets for last show at 1 ruble." 

Can anyone tell me anything more about this showing of Lulu ? Or the venue? Do any Russians read this blog?

Next, now that I have a date, I plan to put in some requests for Russian language newspapers from Moscow from the time. (This 1932 screening of Pandora's Box was not the first Louise Brooks film to be shown in the Soviet Union. The writer Ayn Rand reported having seen the 1926 film American Venus in the Soviet capital before she left the country.)

[Other interesting tidbits I came across in by scroll through the Moscow Daily News included an article on Richard Barthelmess, advertisements for a couple of Harold Lloyd films, one for Buster Keaton's The General, lots for various Soviet films unknown to me, and a report on a visit to Moscow by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, who criticized a German film then playing in the Soviet city, Kuhle Vampe.)

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