Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Louise Brooks il diavolo a Hollywood

La Stampa, an Italian newspaper, ran an article about or mostly about Louise Brooks in today's paper. The article, by Osvalda Guerrieri, is titled "Louise Brooks il diavolo a Hollywood."


  1. It's an excerpt from a forthcoming book, Istantanee (Photos), by Osvaldo Guerrieri (Neri Pozza editor).

  2. Louise Brooks is lumped with the Europeans again -- but she's taking some lumps, too. What's with the cover photo being mirror image? The parting on the right is now parting on the left. Next we'll be seeing a righthanded Babe Ruth, for crissake.
    There's solace to be found when Brooks is linked with "la donna più [most] bella del mondo" -- soprano Lina Cavalieri (1874-1944). Three weeks after Mary Louise's 1906 debut in Cherryvale, Lina made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera House ... in "Fedora" (Umberto Giordano, 1898); with Caruso, in his third season at the Met, having survived an earthquake earlier that year in San Francisco, reprising his breakthrough rôle.
    "In the depth of her eyes is seen all the magnetism of a woman who, if she willed to use her power wrongly, could accomplish most any catastrophe," said a scribe, drawing a Pandoran portrait of Lina in 1906.
    Her debut as a concert artist, and her first stop on a North American tour (with advertisements proclaiming her as "the most beautiful woman in the world"), was at Rochester, N.Y., in 1913; "assisted by" tenor Lucien Muratore, her newest husband. "It was in the tempestuous part of 'Carmen,' a rose nodding in her hair and a black mantilla draped coquettishly about her shoulders, that Madame Lina Cavalieri won her audience at the Lyceum Theater last night," reported the Democrat and Chronicle. "There were seven curtain calls -- remarkable, inasmuch as the selection was the closing one." (The (German) director of a production of 'Lulu', currently underway in Madrid, calls Lulu "a somnambulistic Carmen".)
    "Miss Cavalieri has never exactly set opera houses on fire"[!] said the Brooklyn Eagle in 1922; by which time she had made several pictures in Roma and Astoria. In 1929, Brooks and Cavalieri appeared in ads for competing brands of soap (Lux and Palmolive).
    At one point, Lina had a brother-in-law known to family as "Loulou": Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler, a former lieutenant governor of New York (elected while W.R. Hearst wasn't). In September of 1927, Loulou's brother (Lina's first husband) Robert Winthrop Chanler was reported to have set a wedding date with Isadora Duncan; who knows how dance history might have differed if they'd just tied that knot.
    ANYWAY, at I asked for a translation of half of the publisher's 200-word online description of "Instantanee" ("Snapshots"), and received this from Blue:
    "Sometimes there are photos which, like true snapshots, capture the crucial moment of a life, the moment in which the mystery of a living being melts away. In this book, Osvaldo Guerrieri reflects on ten photographs of writers and artists for the very purpose of unveiling the secret of their existence. ... Louise Brooks, Hollywood's wet dream, striving to hate cinema, to renounce the glamour and transform herself into an ancient Chinese fount of an inscrutable wisdom. ... Ten photos, ten stories in which the misdeeds, absurdities, internal conflicts, perfectly hidden in the hearts of each subject, come to the fore."
    Publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (1926-1972) established his Milanese house in 1954 with the autobiography of Nehru -- the Indian independence leader, prime minister, and November 14 baby. Gianni DISCOVERED "Doctor Zhivago" and "The Leopard"; but, after felling trees for the likes of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Ho Chi Minh, he met a violent death. (Thanx: Wikipedia)
    The website is to be applauded for posting "Innocente e perversa, Lulù compie cento anni", a thousand words of biography by '70s Stanford postgraduate Irene Bignardi, which was published in La Repubblica in November, 2006.


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