Friday, January 29, 2010
Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, will be shown on January 30, 2010 at the Butterfield Library in Cold Spring, New York. The program will start at 7 pm and will be accompanied by the performance of a live, original musical score by Cary Brown.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
J.D. Salinger, the novelist and short story writer and the author of Catcher in the Rye, has died at the age of 91. Today, the New York Times ran a long obit about this equally renown and reclusive author.
I am sure that Salinger never met Louise Brooks (though I can imagine them somehow encountering one another in NYC in the late 1940s or early 1950s), nor is it known if the author was especially aware of the actress. However, they did have something in common.They both had the same editor, William Shawn.
A good deal of Salinger's short fiction appeared in the New Yorker* magazine, where Shawn was its legendary editor. Salinger considered Shawn a good friend, and even went so far as to dedicate one of his works to Shawn. Shawn also edited and wrote the introduction to the first edition of Louise Brooks' own book, Lulu in Hollywood.
Besides a common friend, Salinger and Brooks also shared something deeper - a psychological impulse which shaped their lives. In 2008, Forbes.com ran interview with Kevin Bazzana, author of Lost Genius, a biography of the eccentric Hungarian pianist Ervin Nyiregyház. A child prodigy, Nyiregyház was acclaimed on two continents and championed by the likes of Bela Lugosi and Arnold Schoenberg before giving up performing in public.
In the interview, Bazzana is asked "Are there historical figures in music, or in the other arts, who, by virtue of their combination of talent and lack of success, might be compared to Nyiregyházi?" The biographer answered with something I thought quite interesting.
"In the conclusion of the book, I wrote: 'The spectacularly gifted but psychologically cursed artist who seems reluctant to practice his art is a type uncommon but not unknown.'
When I wrote this, I was thinking of artists like the writer J. D. Salinger, the conductor Carlos Kleiber, the pianist Glenn Gould, the actors Louise Brooks and Marlon Brando, the chess master Bobby Fischer. These are artists of incredible talent and individuality, yet the price of their particular gift was the kind of psychology that seemed not to permit them to enjoy an ordinary career and the high productivity that their fans would have liked.
Salinger simply couldn't stand being famous, and so refused to be a public figure any longer, even to the point of refusing to publish anything. Kleiber is widely considered the greatest conductor of our time, yet his perfectionism made it scarcely possible for him to conduct; his output was tiny, highly selective--yet of unrivaled quality. Gould had so many personal and musical hang-ups about live performance that he quit the concert scene entirely and retreated to the recording studio. Brooks and Brando simply couldn't stomach what was required to have a Hollywood career; you are left with the irony of someone of Brando's talent and individuality being so convinced of the triviality of what he does that he's scarcely willing to do it anymore! And Fischer, well …
Some of these figures had huge success; some had limited success; some had success and then failure. But what they all had in common was a particular kind of gift that was incompatible with the normal professional exercise of that gift.
It's a tragedy, really, because those artists with that particular kind of career-sabotaging psychology are often the greatest and most individual of all. We can only sigh heavily, and accept them as they are and be grateful for what little of them we have."
* The New Yorker also published Kenneth Tynan's celebrated essay about Louise Brooks, "The Girl in the Black Helmet."
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Because she passed away 25 years ago, and hadn't appeared in a film in more than 70 years, its a bit curious that Louise Brooks continues to fascinate. And, she continues to adorn the covers of new books.
Just out from Berghahn Books is The Concise Cinegraph, edited by Hans-Michael Bock & Tim Bergfelder. Its an expensive, information packed, dense, 575 page, nearly 3 pound encyclopedia of German cinema now in English translation. It's also an outstanding resource. In his forward, film historian Kevin Brownlow laments the fact that this book hadn't been translated and published earlier at the time he was working on his outstanding documentary, Cinema Europe.
The American-born Louise Brooks is depicted on the cover, as is the Austrian-born director G.W. Pabst. One might ask, "what are they doing on the cover of a German film encyclopedia?" The short answer, of course, is that Brooks and Pabst made two films together in Germany, Pandora's Box and The Diary of a Lost Girl. Both were released in 1929. Each also receives an entry in the book, with Pabst's being more substantial. Pabst is a far more significant figure, and is widely considered one of the great directors (along with Murnau and Lang) working in Germany during the interwar period.
The long answer lies in the scope of the series to which this book belongs. The Concise Cinegraph is volume 1 in Film Europa: German Cinema in an International Context. It's description reads, "German cinema is normally seen as a distinct form, but this new series emphasizes connections, influences, and exchanges of German cinema across national borders, as well as its links with other media and art forms. Individual titles present traditional historical research (archival work, industry studies) as well as new critical approaches in film and media studies (theories of the transnational), with a special emphasis on the continuities associated with popular traditions and local perspectives."
Together, the work of Brooks and Pabst certainly does represent "connections, influences, and exchanges of German cinema across national borders." And is thus a fitting cover.
In her entry, the Kansas-born Brooks is described as"one of Weimar cinema's most recognisable icons." I agree. However, I have a tiny quibble with a few details in the entry.
The entry states, "First performing in public alongside her mother at fairgrounds in Kansas, Brooks was by 1922 a member of the Denishawn Dancers, supporting Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn throughout their East Coast appearances."
If by "alongside her mother" the editors mean to imply that they danced together, that's not true. According to the biography by Barry Paris, Brooks' mother only accompanied her child on piano at dance recitals and performances around the state. As well, Brooks later tour with the Denishawn Dance Company rambled not only up and down the East Coast (as the entry states), but the American South, Midwest, and Far West. Their tours went as far west as Texas and Colorado, and even ventured into Canada. Otherwise, the entry is right on and a worthwhile summation of Brooks life and career.
The Concise Cinegraph is an exceptional resource which covers German cinema from its beginnings through today. It's also a work anyone serious interested in the subject will want to own. The Concise Cinegraph is available on amazon.com.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Cara Black, the acclaimed crime fiction writer with a penchant for penning Parisian police procedurals, gave a shout-out this past weekend to RadioLulu on her Twitter account. Cara tweeted, "a la Louise Brooks 20's music on Radio Lulu http://www.live365.com/stations/298896"
As many readers know, Cara Black is the author of the bestselling and award nominated Aimée Leduc Investigation series - each of which is set in a different district in Paris. The series has has been translated into five languages. Her most recent book is last year's Murder in the Latin Quarter. Forthcoming in March from Soho Press is the tenth book in the series, Murder in the Palais Royal.
It's something of an understaement to say Cara Black is a Francophile. This San Francisco-based author really knows her stuff, and visits the City of Lights at least once a year to gather material. That's why her books are so good, and so popular.
The author may have come across RadioLulu (which plays its fair share of 1920s / 1930s French music) after having responded to a recent LBS blog about French novels which mention Louise Brooks. The author offered to help! Thank you Cara Black.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Just yesterday, I received an email from Gianluca Chiovelli, the leading Louise Brooks scholar in Italy. Gianluca maintains an outstanding website at http://xoomer.virgilio.it/louisebrooks/ which is well worth checking out. Gianluca, who is multi-lingual, is always finding new things about about the actress in Europe.
Gianluca wrote to tell me about a somewhat recently published book, Denis Marion: Pleins feux sur un homme de l'ombre (Bruxelles, Le Cri, collection "CIEL", 2008). The book, which is a collection of essays, contains a chapter (pages 113-130) which explores the relationship & exchange of letters between Louise Brooks and Denis Marion.
From what I have been able to find out (via the French-language version of Wikipedia), Denis Marion was a Belgian-born intellectual and a Belgian Francophone writer who worked as a scholar, journalist, film critic and University professor. He started publishing works of literary criticism in the early 1940's, and at one point authored an undated book, Filmographie et bibliographie de Erich von Stroheim, which is listed in the collection of the National Library of Australia.
I hadn't known Brooks had corresponded with Marion. Thus, I intend to try and track down this book, and find out more about the epistolary relationship between the actress and the intellectual.
In early 2009, Denis Marion: Pleins feux sur un homme de l'ombre was reviewed in Le Soir, a Belgian publication.The author of the review, Jacques De Decker, mentioned Brooks in writing about the book. That review can be found on the Le Soir website, or here as a PDF document.
If any Belgian fans of Louise Brooks have access to this book and could send me a pdf or scan of the chapter noted above I would be most grateful.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Speaking of books . . . The Louise Brooks Society has a small presence on LibraryThing, a website devoted to books. The LBS profile can be found at http://www.librarything.com/profile/LouiseBrooksSociety
The LBS at LibraryThing is a catalog of essential books (112 and counting) both by and about the actress - her life, her career, and her films. This collection serves as a reference to those interested in finding out more about the actress and her best known role, that of Lulu in Pandora's Box (1929). Also included are related works of literature, biography, and film history, as well as photoplay editions and books which feature the actress on their cover.
Check it out.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I often spend an afternoon or evening exploring on-line databases looking for Louise Brooks related material. Why? Because I enjoy it, and, you never know what you'll find and where. The other day, I spent a good number of hours picking through Gallica, the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Gallica is a massive, searchable collection containing nearly one million digitized French documents including 150,000 monographs and books, 675,000 pages from more than 4,000 periodicals (including both newspapers and film journals), 115,000 images, 1,000 sound recordings, 5,500 manuscripts, 2,300 music scores, etc. . . . In other words, all kinds of stuff. Content comes both from the Bibliothèque nationale de France and other partner libraries around the country.
Gallica is an oustanding resource - and one worth visiting for if you have a serious interest in researching Louise Brooks, silent film, or just about any other topic. I don't speak or read French, but was able to make my way through Gallica and find a good deal of interesting material related to the actress and her films.
For example, I uncovered a review of Prix de Beaute published in 1930 in a French-language Algerian newspaper! (That the first article I've found from Algeria, though not the first from Africa.) Of course, Prix de Beaute was made in France, though nearly all of Brooks' American and German films showed there - and were the subject of articles and reviews. All in all, I found a lot of good material - most of it little known.
Among the other items I came across was a collection of short stories, Jacques Arnaut, published by Gallimard in 1933. The book's author is by Leon Bopp, a novelist, literary critic, and philosopher born in 1897. According to my keyword search, Louise Brooks is mentioned in passing in one of the stories. From the snippet offered with the search results, it's mentioned that someone "loves Louise Brooks." However, I can't access the text of the book nor determine the context of the reference beyond this bit of information.
Nor, have I been able to find much information on the internet about Leon Bopp. (What I have been able to gleam is that Bopp may have been a friend or acquaintance of Jean-Paul Sartre, who incidentally, took Simone de Beauvoir to see A Girl in Every Port (1928) on one of their first dates!)
Any reference to Louise Brooks in a work of literary fiction is interesting. Bopp's short story may be among the earliest such literary references on record. (Prior to Bopp's story, there had been a few novelizations of Brooks' films published in France. Each of these books were pulp softcovers, and each featured the actress on the cover. The most notable among them is the post film novelization of Prix de Beaute published in 1932. It's author, Boisyvon, would later make a name for himself as a film critic.)
I need help in locating a copy of the Leon Bopp story. Only one single solitary lonely copy of the 1933 edition of this book is known to be held in an American library - and I have already requested it via an interlibrary loan. (I have a strong feeling, however, it won't come.) I also need anyone's help in finding out more about Bopp and this early work.
Louise Brooks is much admired in France - perhaps more so than in the United States, a la Jerry Lewis. She is so popular there that she has also inspired a handful of contemporary novels published in France, such as Le Manuscrit Louise B by Matthieu Baumier and Louise Brooks est Morte (with its Hans Bellmar-like cover) by Patrick Mosconi .
While scouring the Gallica databases I also came across two more contemporary works of fiction which mention the actress. Each is by a still living though now elderly literary writer named Michel Mohrt. The two novels, each published by Gallimard, are La Guerre civile (1986) and Un Soir, à Londres (1991). I have requests in for each of these books as well.
If anyone, especially fans within France, can help me find out more about Leon Bopp and Jacques Arnaut I would sure appreciate it.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
A follow-up to the previous blog . . . . Late last year, Bear Family Records released a massive and rather expensive 11 disc set called John Wayne's West: In Music and Poster Art. Though Bear Family (who are known for issuing large retrospective collections) is an European company, the set is available in the United States. The amazon.com listing for the set can be found here. (There's also one currently for sale on eBay.)
This impressive set includes the soundtrack music to John Wayne's numerous westerns (he made a lot of them), including all the title songs by the original artists as well as songs inspired by the movies. Also included is a 464-page LP-sized book with a biography by historian Richard W. Bann, and reproductions of hundreds of western movie posters as well as stills and lobby cards. A bonus DVD contains trailers and exclusive 'behind-the-scenes' footage.
I don't count myself a John Wayne fan. But what caught my eye, or rather my ear, about this set is the inclusion of a single track among the 10 audio discs. Track 51 on disc 8 is the orchestral sequence from Overland Stage Raiders, the 1938 B-western John Wayne made with Louise Brooks. That film was Brooks' last.
The Louise Brooks Society would be interested in finding out to what degree Overland Stage Raiders is represented in the book included in this set. And, if any Louise Brooks / John Wayne fans want to spring for a copy of John Wayne's West: In Music and Poster Art for the LBS archives . . . . well then, step right up partner.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
McFarland & Company, one of the world's leading publishers of film books, has just released Western Film Series of the Sound Era. This 475 page hardcover book, by Michael R. Pitts, is an impressive reference work.
Pitts is the author of 30 earlier books, including Poverty Row Studios, 1929-1940: An Illustrated History of 55 Independent Film Companies (McFarland), and the two volume Famous Movie Detectives (Scarecrow Press). Those notable works, like Western Film Series of the Sound Era, touch on the career of Louise Brooks.
The western was hugely popular genre in the 1930s, and it packed cinemas during the early sound era. This volume covers 30 western film series produced from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s. Included are such long-running series as Hopalong Cassidy, The Durango Kid, and The Three Mesquiteers, as well as those that had moderate or brief runs like The Singing Cowgirl and The Texas Rangers. There are also chapters on The Cisco Kid and The Lone Ranger. Major stars like John Wayne, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, and Johnny Mack Brown headlined such popular fare.
Western Film Series of the Sound Era contains a plot synopsis and analysis of each series, it's place in cinema history, photographs, illustrations, a bibliography and a detailed filmography. Western Film Series of the Sound Era does not contain material on Empty Saddles (1936), the western Brooks made near the end of her film career. That film starred Buck Jones and was a stand alone - and thus is not included in this new book devoted to series films.
However, Western Film Series of the Sound Era does contain a substantial chapter on the many films made under The Three Mesquiteers banner. One of them, Overland Stage Raiders (1938), was the last in which Louise Brooks had a role. It starred a youthful John Wayne, who would soon find film immortality as the Ringo Kid in John Ford's Stage Coach (1939). Brooks wrote about Wayne in an uncollected essay, "Duke by Divine Right."
Pitts' book has interesting background material on The Three Mesquiteers series (it's history and changing actors), as well as on the making of Overland Stage Raiders. For example, I hadn't known that the silent film star Raymond Hatton, who appeared along side Brooks in Now We're in the Air (1928), later appeared in the The Three Mesquiteers series. Brooks herself is mentioned on page 352, and the author notes that the actress "was paid $300 for her work in the Republic feature." Pitts also encapsulates the film's admittedly "rather complicated plot."
Western Film Series of the Sound Era is available on-line and at better bookstores. Check it out.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Remember the Passions' 1981 hit, "I'm in love with a German film star"? It's a swell bit of early new wave synth pop. And, it's included on RadioLulu - the on-line radio station of the Louise Brooks Society.
Admittedly, the song is not about Louise Brooks (or even Marlene Dietrich). I've exchanged email with the band's singer, Barbara Gogan (whose website is called , curiously, lulumusic.com). And, while she is aware of Louise Brooks, the singer told me the song was not written about the actress.
Grogan wrote, "It's a funny thing about that song, or maybe it's the way with all love songs, but we all sort of put the face of our own beloved into the picture. At the time I wrote it, I was going out with the Sex Pistols' roadie, known then as Roadent. And for me the song is about him. Though I don't think Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (who recently did a version of the song) would have had him in mind when he was singing it!"
Nevertheless, it's a great song and we like it and that's why it's included it on RadioLulu. It works for us. A short history of "I'm in love with a German film star" can be found here.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This piece of contemporary Louise Brooks ephemera is currently for sale on eBay. This particular item shows up occasionally. I have one which I purchased a few years back.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The big news of late in Lulu-land is that acclaimed singer / songwriter Rufus Wainwright has recorded a new album - his sixth studio work (due in March) called All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu. That's according to an article on the Orange County Register website.
The article by Ben Wener notes, "Songs for Lulu, as a concept, was inspired by, as he put it, 'any kind of reckless woman in your life, in your imagination … or in yourself.' For Rufus, that figure is the great silent-film actress Louise Brooks, as seen in G.W. Pabst’s 1929 film Pandora’s Box. In his mind, she’s wandering the streets of Berlin singing his songs, while Fred Astaire dances nearby. It’s a compelling setting –- I look forward to sinking into it when the record arrives."
Not much else is known about this tantalizing project.
However, there's already a Wikipedia page devoted to the forthcoming album, though it doesn't reveal much. The Wikipedia page states "The first part of the title, "All Days Are Nights", comes from the final couplet of William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 43" ("All days are nights to see till I see thee..."). When asked about the reference to "Lulu", which appears in the second part of the album's title, Wainwright stated in a November 2009 interview that Lulu is a "dark, brooding, dangerous woman that lives within all of us", similar to the Dark Lady character in Shakespeare's sonnets. Wainwright claimed that his Lulu was Louise Brooks in the 1929 movie Pandora's Box."
The interview the Wikipedia entry refers to is one that took place with the musician last November on radio station KUT in Austin, Texas. That interview can be heard on this page. I've listened to it and during the interview Wainwright briefly mentions Brooks and the album. Like Andy McCluskey of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing (among other rock/pop musicians), Wainwright has turned his passion for Louise Brooks into music.
The Wikipedia entry also notes that in order to promote the album, Wainwright will begin a tour in April, 2010 with a series of 10 concerts throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. There are no indication as yet if Wainwright will tour the United States.
However, the singer's website at http://www.rufuswainwright.com/ reveals that on February 12 of this year he will be performing at the Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, New York.
That is the same historic venue where on January 15, 1923 Louise Brooks herself performed as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company. Still a teenager, Brooks danced alongside company members Martha Graham, Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis. And in the audience on that special occasion was a lovely young Poughkeepsie teenage girl, Lee Miller - the future Surrealist photographer.
Wainwright's February 12th concert in Poughkeepsie will bring things full circle - as artist meets muse on the stage of history and inspiration. [The Louse Brooks Society blog will bring its readers additional details as this story develops.]
Monday, January 11, 2010
Along with collecting material for my project about Louise Brooks and the San Francisco Bay Area (see previous blog), I have also been collecting material about The Street of Forgotten Men (1925) and the places where it was filmed in New York City.
The Street of Forgotten Men was Brooks' first movie. It is is an underworld romance set among professional beggars in the city's Bowery. Brooks has a brief, uncredited role as a moll (the girlfriend of a gangster, or criminal). She is on screen in one scene which lasts less then five minutes. I had a rare opportunity to see the film a few years back while visiting Washington D.C., where I screened a 16mm print for myself in a small cubicle at the Library of Congress.
The film was adapted from a Liberty magazine story by George Kibbe Turner and directed by Herbert Brenon. I've also had the opportunity to examine a copy of the original script, which resides at Lincoln Center in New York City.
The film was in production during May, 1925. A few reporters from the various New York City newspapers of the time visited the set, or wrote articles on its production. The film was officially released on August 24th of 1925 - though it premiered in at the Rivoli Theater in New York City more than a month earlier. Over the last few years, I have managed to collected a number of articles both on the making of the film as well as reviews from when it was shown. These articles were collected through inter-library loan of microfilm and by visiting various libraries in NYC.
At the time of it's release, The Street of Forgotten Men received excellent notices. One newspaper critic, Mildred Spain of the New York Daily News, even commented, "The Street of Forgotten Men dips into the dark pools of life. It shows you the beggars of life - apologies to Jim Tully - and in showing them it shows them up."
The film was shot in the Astoria studios on Long Island, as well as on location in New York City. One memorable scene – when characters Charles and Fancy (played by Percy Marmont and Mary Brian) come across the colorfully named Bridgeport White-Eye (played by John Harrinton) – was shot on Fifth Avenue. Another, when Fancy marries Philip (played by Neil Hamilton, the future Commissioner Gordon on Batman), took place at one of the city's local landmarks, the Little Church Around the Corner on East 29th.
It is this still standing local landmark that caught my eye. I've managed to collected a handful of pictures, postcards, booklets and books detailing the church's color history. A couple of them are included here. Anyone also interested in collecting material on this one-time Louise Brooks film locale would do well to start here.
The Bowery, and the catch-phrase used to describe it as "The Street of Forgotten Men," seemingly came into circulation because of Turner's story and Brenon's film. (Though I may be wrong about this.) The film in which Brooks appeared was a look back at the Bowery of old. Here is a short 1930's film titled Street of Forgotten Men which gives a sense of the place during the Depression. Things hadn't changed all that much.
It's a little known fact, but Rolled Stockings, the now lost 1927 Paramount film which starred the Paramount Junior Stars (James Hall, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Nancy Philips and El Brendel) was partly made in and around Berkeley, California.
The film was adapted from an original story by Frederica Sagor (whom I met when she was 99 years old!) and directed by Richard Rosson. The film was in production between April 4th and May 5th of 1927. It was officially released on June 18th of the same year.
Why Berkeley? Because in the mid-1920's, it was a famous college town with an equally well known athletic program. In essence, Rolled Stockings is a college-set romantic comedy with racy roadhouse adventures (i.e., youthful high jinx) which lead up to a climatic rowing-team race. Some of the race footage included in the film depicts an actual rowing competition (the University of California vs. the University of Washington) filmed on San Francisco Bay.
As the film is lost, we will never really know what it was like. All that's really left of it is advertising art, stills, publicity material and the remaining, fragmentary record of its exhibition. Part of that record is what critics and reviewers thought of it, and where it played.
So, where did Rolled Stockings show in the San Francisco Bay Area when it played locally? The answer is just about everywhere - Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Sausalito, San Jose, Palo Alto and many points in-between.
Here is a record of some of the theaters where the film was shown around the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The name of the theater is given followed by the city and the known dates of exhibition.
American in San Jose (June 15-17, 1927); California in Santa Rosa (July 2, 1927); Hub in Mill Valley (July 5-6, 1927); New Stanford in Palo Alto (July 10, 1927 with Whispering Stage); Princess in Sausalito (July 10-11, 1927); Strand in Los Gatos (July 14-15, 1927); California in Pittsburg (Aug. 2-3, 1927); Grand Lake in Oakland (Aug. 6-12, 1927); Casino in Antioch (Aug 7, 1927); Mystic in Petaluma (Aug. 8, 1927); Granada in San Francisco (Aug. 13-19, 1927); Playhouse in Calistoga (Aug. 23-24, 1927); Boyes Hot Springs Theatre in Boyes Hot Springs (Aug. 26, 1927); California in Berkeley (Aug. 28-30, 1927); Peninsula in Burlingame (Sept. 4, 1927); Manzanita in Carmel (Sept. 4, 1927); Golden State in Monterey (Aug. 7, 1927); Columbia & Loring in Crockett (Sept. 6, 1937); Sequoia in Redwood City (Sept. 9, 1927); Hippodrome in Napa (Sept. 11, 1927); New San Mateo Theatre in San Mateo (Sept. 11, 1927); Orpheus in San Rafael (Sept. 11, 1927); Lorin in Berkeley (Sept. 16, 1927); Starland in Sebastopol (Sept. 17, 1927); Chimes in Oakland (Sept. 18, 1927); Opal in Hollister (Oct. 12, 1927 with On Ze Boulevard); Hayward Theatre in Hayward (Oct. 14, 1927); Mountain View Theatre in Mountain View (Nov. 16, 1927); Rivoli in Berkeley (Nov. 26, 1927); Tamalpias in San Anselmo (Nov. 30, 1927); Broadway in Oakland (Dec. 9-10, 1927); New Fillmore in San Francisco (Dec. 19-21, 1927); New Mission in San Francisco (Dec. 19-21, 1927); California in Livermore (Dec. 23, 1927); Fern in Oakland (Feb. 8-9, 1928).
I don't think anyone ever kept a record of what showed where - thus I compiled my own regional record by scouring dozens of local newspapers for movie advertisements and listings. To do so, I traveled to libraries all around Northern California. It was time consuming and sometimes fatiguing work, but I loved doing it. I got to know all the varied newspapers published locally. And, I also got to know this wonderful region where I live a little bit better.
Of course, this record is not complete, and can probably never be made complete. Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is that a number of local newspapers are no longer extant, or can't be gotten at for one reason or another. The record of our history has been lost to the ravages of time.
When it comes to history and cultural matters, I find local perspectives quite interesting. And even at times fascinating. The compilation of a local exhibition record for Rolled Stockings and each of Louise Brooks' 23 other films is one of my recent projects. I have just a half dozen or so other local papers to look at, and then I am through! To date, I have put together a near 20 page document.
If you are ever looking for something to do, why not try compiling your own local record of where and when each of Brooks' films were shown. It may prove to be a compelling exercise, as it was for me.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Some time during this still very young year, the Louise Brooks Society posted its 1400th blog! The LBS starting blogging back in 2002 at LiveJournal, and moved here to Blogger in June of last year. Between the old blog at http://louisebrooks.livejournal.com/ and this new blog at http://louisebrookssociety.blogspot.com/ there have now been more than 1400 entries. Wow! That's a lot.*
Admittedly, some of these blogs have been brief. Others, though, have been somewhat extensive. And a few have revealed previously unknown things about the actress. Nevertheless, that's a lot of blogging. Had you ever asked me to put together 1400 things to say about this very special silent film star - I would have said "impossible."
In 2010, the Louise Brooks Society will celebrate its 15th anniversary online. (The LBS was a pioneer among silent film websites.) I think 2010 will be a good year for all things Lulu. There will be much to look forward to. I guess we had better get back to work and start writing the next 1400 blogs.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Rugged silent screen star Richard Dix - who appeared in a number of Paramount films in the 1920's (including one almost with Louise Brooks) - will be celebrated at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California on Saturday, January 9th.
Tomorrow's events including an author appearance & booksigning with the actor's son, Robert Dix, and a screening of Richard Dix's best known silent film, The Vanishing American (1926). More on the day's activities and the Hollywood careers' of "Dix & Son" can be found at my column on examiner.com.
Throughout his long career, Richard Dix appeared in a number of Westerns. And in some of those, like The Vanishing American, he played a Native American. That's true as well for his 1929 Paramount film, Redskin.
What's little known is that Louise Brooks almost appeared in Redskin. The film was in production in 1928. And Brooks was cast in the film as "Corn Blossom," a Native American girl. Pictures of the actress, in costume wearing Indian type dress, were taken.
However, it was not to be. Brooks was withdrawn from the film and was instead placed in the role of "The Canary" in the early sound film, The Canary Murder Case (1929). Gladys Belmont ended up playing the role of Corn Blossom.
How Paramount executives could have imagined Brooks - an actress known for her roles as a pert and sassy flapper - in a Western I just don't know! Nevertheless, they did.
Brooks, of course, finished her career in two Westerns with contemporary settings - Empty Saddles with Buck Jones in 1936, and Overland Stage Raiders with John Wayne in 1938. More about Redskin can be found at http://www.richarddix.org/redskin.htm
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Yes, it true. The Louise Brooks Society tweets.
It's an easy and fun way to keep up with bits of news, mentions in the press, blogs, and other related happenings in the world of silent film. The upper left hand corner of this blog displays the LBS twitter feed.
If you would like to follow the Louise Brooks Society on Twitter, please visit its homepage there at http://twitter.com/LB_Society
As of today, the LBS has 143 followers on Twitter. Are you one of them?
Monday, January 4, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
Tomorrow, on January 2, 2010 the Bank of America Cinema in Chicago, Illinois will screen a 35mm print of Pandora's Box. The screening will feature live electronic theater organ accompaniment by Jay Warren.
The film starts at 8:00 pm at Bank of America Cinema, which is located at 4901 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, IL 60641. Entrance is in the back. Admission is $5 or $3 if you're over 55 or under 10. Popcorn is a one dollar, parking is free.
The schedule of films for the first half of the year for the Bank of America Cinema can be found on its blog.
This event received a write-up by Michael Philips in today's Chicago Tribune. The author described Louise Brooks, who stars as Lulu in Pandora's Box, as "her own island of allure." The author also quoted Henri Langlois, director of the Cinematheque Francaise, who years earlier said this of the actress.
"Those who have seen her can never forget her. She is the modern actress par excellence....As soon as she takes the screen, fiction disappears along with art, and one has the impression of being present at a documentary. The camera seems to have caught her by surprise, without her knowledge."
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