Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pandora's Box anniversary

It was 81 years ago tomorrow that the first reviews of Pandora's Box began to appear in Berlin newspapers. The G.W. Pabst-directed film, starring Louise Brooks as Lulu, premiered at the Gloria–Palast theatre in Berlin on February 9, 1929. On the 11th of the month, articles appeared in Berliner Tageblatt, Berliner Morgenpost, Die Welt, Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Neue Berliner Zeitung / Das 12 Uhr Blatt and numerous other publications. (Boy oh boy did they have a lot of newspapers back then.) More articles appeared on the 12th. 

Over the years, I have collected a thick portfolio of vintage German articles, reviews and other clippings documenting the making of the film and its subsequent release in Germany. I have also compiled a multi-page bibliography of material about the film. All of this material will end up in a book someday, I promise.

And as well, I've also collected photocopies of vintage German newspaper advertisements from around the time of its debut. In honor of the anniversary of its premiere, I have included a scan of one of these glorious advertisements.

In the years since its release, Pandora's Box has been shown not just in Germany but all around the world. One of my ongoing projects has been to track the exhibition of the film over the course of time and in different countries. To me, its interesting to find out what others from around the world (and in past decades) have said about this classic work.

One of my more unusual finds was a 1929 advertisement for the film in a Jewish newspaper published in Warsaw, Poland. (See below). It's interesting to note that the actress' name in the ad is given as "Luiza Brooks." 

Advertisements can tell us a lot. What I learned from another Polish newspaper advertisement is that the film opened at the Casino Theatre, and that Adam Furmanskiego led an orchestra at the Polish premier. [Unless I am mistaken, this is the same Adam Furmanski (1883-1943) who founded and led a Jewish Orchestra in the Warsaw Ghetto around 1940. Furmanski died there.]

The film has been advertised or written about under various titles, and even sometimes under two different names in the same country. So far, I have documented the film having been shown as جعبه‌ی پاندور (Arabic countries); La caja de Pandora (Argentina); Lulu (Argentina); Le boîte de Pandore (Belgium); Loulou (Belgium); A caixa de Pandora (Brazil); La caja de Pandora (Chile); Lulu (Chile); Pandorina skrínka (Czechoslovakia); Umrít Büchse der Pandoru (Czechoslovakia); Pandoras æske (Denmark); Pandora laegas (Estonia); Pandoran lipas (Finland); Loulou (France); Le boîte de Pandore (France); Λούλου (Greece); Lulu- το κουτί της Πανδώρας (Greece); Pandóra szelencéje (Hungary); תיבת פנדורה (Israel); Lulu (Italy); Il vaso di Pandora (Italy); Jack lo Sventratore (Italy); Pandoras lade (Latvia); Pandoros skrynia (Lithuania); La caja de Pandora (Mexico); De doos van Pandora (Netherlands); Pandoras eske (Norway); Puszka Pandory (Poland); A bocéta de Pandora (Portugal); A caixa de Pandora (Portugal); Cutia Pandorei (Romania); Pandorina skrinjica (Slovenia); La caja de Pandora (Spain); Pandoras ask (Sweden); Pandora’nýn Kutusuö (Turkey); Pandora's Box (United States); La caja de Pandora (Uruguay); Lulu (Uruguay); Lulu (U.S.S.R.), Ящик Пандорьі (U.S.S.R.); Лулу (U.S.S.R.); and La caja de Pandora (Venezula).

Certainly, there are other listings to be found. I should probably stop blabbering and look for more. (If you, dear reader, live in a country not noted here and know of a contemporary or historic screening of the film, please send me an email telling all . . . . )


  1. How interesting these ads are. I'm curious to know if Pandora's Box was released in the United States upon initial release. If so, I wonder what theater(s)/city(ies).

  2. The film ran for about two weeks in New York City in December, 1929 at the 55th Street Playhouse. It is what we would consider an "art-house." That's pretty much it until 1931, when it showed briefly in Newark at another little theater with "synchronized sound effects and English titles."

    There are no other known screenings till the mid-1950's. Or at least there are none that I am aware of or have uncovered. The film fell into obscurity.

    For a little more about the film's history and another rare advert, check out this article at

  3. And for even more about the film, check out these 1956 articles from "Image" magazine. They can be read online. Volume 5, issue 7 of "Image" contains both "Out of Pandora's Box: New light on G. W. Pabst from his lost star, Louise Brooks" by James Card, as well as "Mr. Pabst" by Louise Brooks, the actress' own account of her relationship with the director and the making of their classic film. The articles are in pdf at

  4. Worth a visit:

    Merriam-Webster dates the term "art house" from 1951, and "art theater" ("a theater that specializes in the presentation of art films") from 1923. The Little Theater movement was gaining steam in '23.

    "The Little Theatre Movement: The Institutionalization of the European Art Film in America", a Ph.D. study by Fairbanks Center librarian Tony Guzman, is (now) online at:

    Augusto Genina's "Cyrano de Bergerac", the picture shown at Rochester's Little Theatre when it opened in 1929, will be presented at the Dryden Theatre on Tuesday, with Philip C. Carli accompanying.

  5. I have seen Augusto Genina's "Cyrano de Bergerac" a few years back and enjoyed it a great deal.

    I forget who, but one of the actors in the film had been the understudy or something in the original stage production in the 1800s. Wow!

  6. Yes, reviewing my notes on the Little Theatre movement, I see that "Cyrano" was presented at the 2000 SFIFF, and its restorers were given the Novikoff.

    Last August I posted this news on the Discussion Board: "...Rochester was visited by a cloudburst Sunday afternoon, about 1 o'clock, and a ton of bricks (literally) was stripped from the uppermost part of the façade of the building that once housed Wichman Liquor Store. It crashed smack dab in front of the doorway to what's now a vacant, dry store...."

    It happened on the anniversary, plus a day, of Brooks's expiration. Had Scrubbie's Ghost returned to the presumed site of the woman's first package store purchase in Rochester?

    Yesterday afternoon, in the same hour, on the anniversary, plus a day, of the first negative reviews of Brooks's performance in Die Büchse der Pandora, an 18-wheeler struck an SUV at the intersection of East & Pitkin, seriously injuring three people. The SUV wound up on the southwest corner. There's a bank there these days, in a different building; but Brooks knew it as the location of her "curiosity shop" (Stinkpot 90), the Curio Trading Co. It's just 200 yards from Wichman as the crow ... or ... ???

    ♫You may say there is no Ghost of Scrubbie
    But as for me and Wichman, we believe. ♫

    P.S. A few doors down from Pitkin, on East Avenue, is the Little Theatre.

  7. I like good old films very much. There are a lot of them at And this films are my favorites. I am really happy to read more about them.


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