Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Kenneth Tynan & Louise Brooks

There is an interesting article in today's Guardian UK about Kenneth Tynan, the British-born critic and writer whose 1978 New Yorker article about Louise Brooks, "The Girl in the Black Helmet," helped ignite a revival of interest in the actress.

Although best known as a theatre critic, Tynan also wrote widely on film and for the movies. Tynan wrote a number of screenplays including the Ealing Studios' "least Ealing film ever." Michael Billington's article, "Kenneth Tynan off stage: the theatre critic's life in film," looks at the critic's unrealized screenplays (including one for The Lord of the Flies) and collaboration with Roman Polanski.

Billington concludes his article this way:  "But, if Tynan's screen output was small, his writing on film is imperishable. Best of all is his famous New Yorker profile of Louise Brooks, in which he tracks the ageing, reclusive star down to her Rochester, NY hideaway and gets her to relive her memories of making Pandora's Box with Pabst. If Brooks was intrigued by Tynan, he was obviously hypnotised by her. And, in Tynan's scene-by-scene breakdown of Brooks's most famous movie and in his thralldom to this enchantress, you get a perfect marriage of his critical instinct and lifelong star-worship."

Which reminds me, I need to go and find the picture of Tynan dressed in drag as Louise Brooks . . . . complete with a black helmet.

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