Monday, February 8, 2010

Follow up: Jacques Arnaut

I have finally finished "visually skimming" all 607 pages of Jacques Arnaut, a 1933 French novel by Leon Bopp. (See this blog as well as this earlier blog for the story so far.) I failed to find the brief reference to Louise Brooks which I know exists in this book. As I don't read French, visually skimming is the best I could manage.

My inter-library loan copy of this rare book is coming due. Thus, my search to contextualize the reference will have to wait. Perhaps, one day, should I ever obtain a keyword searchable copy of the text, I may yet uncover the passage which refers to the actress. (If anyone could help with this matter, it would certainly be appreciated.)

On to other things . . . . Speaking of early 20th century French literature, did you know that the acclaimed French writer Paul Claudel saw the 1927 Brooks' film, Evening Clothes?

Claudel, a poet, dramatist, and diplomat as well as the younger brother of the sculptor Camille Claudel (who was muse to Rodin) attended a special screening of Evening Clothes in Los Angeles on March 7, 1927. The event was held at the Metropolitan Theatre, the largest movie theater in Los Angeles at the time.

The film's story concerned a French gentleman farmer who goes to Paris to win back the affections of his bride. The premiere, and the presence of the French writer, generated a considerable amount of press as Claudel was, at the time, the French ambassador to the United States. A few weeks later, on March 21st, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.

As a celebrated writer and as an ambassador, Claudel was something of a celebrity. Newspaper coverage of the event noted his attendance as well as that of the film's star, Adolphe Menjou. Each were introduced from the stage. If there are any Paul Claudel scholars out there who are aware of the author having written about this event - I would love to hear from you. There was no mention of Brooks herself being in attendance, though its possible, as she was living in Southern California at the time. 

[A couple of days earlier, Evening Clothes had its world premiere at the Metropolitan. Menjou was in attendance at that event as well, and according to newspaper articles at the time, he made his way through the crowds unnoticed wearing a beard.]

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