Monday, April 5, 2010

The Little Church Around the Corner

In the Spring of 1925, while still a member of the Ziegfeld Follies, Louise Brooks acted in her first film, The Street of Forgotten Men. Brooks only appears in one scene, near the end of the film, and is on screen for about five minutes. It was an auspicious debut.

The Street of Forgotten Men was set in New York's rough-and-tumble Bowery, though it was largely shot at Paramount's Astoria Studio. A few scenes were also shot on location on the streets of New York. One of those location shots took place at the "Little Church Around the Corner," an actual building in the heart of New York City. It still stands today, and has an historical connection to the city's theatrical community.

I call your attention to the Church because a couple of vintage images of this historic locale are currently for sale on eBay. Each image gives a sense of the "old-timey" atmosphere the film tried to affect. The first was taken around the turn-of-the-last century (circa 1900?). This image is close to what I remember of the building when I saw the film a few years back. Notice that there are no other buildings behind the Church - only sky!

The second image is from an obviously later date, through probably closer to the time the film was made. Notice that in this image there are buildings behind the Church. (Certainly, a NYC historian could fix a more accurate date based on the structures in the background.) When I saw The Street of Forgotten Men, I remember another shot looking across the street from the Church - I noticed a row of businesses including tellingly a vegetarian restaurant.

The scenes in The Street of Forgotten Men which featured the "Little Church Around the Corner" did not include Louise Brooks. Rather, the Church was featured in the scene where the characters played by Mary Brian and Neil Hamilton get married. Hamilton, who went on to play Commissioner Gordon in the Batman TV series, would go on to play an even more important role in Gotham City in later years.

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