Tuesday, August 31, 2010
On this day in 1925, Louise Brooks received her first review as movie actress.* Though not listed in the credits, the Los Angeles Times took note of her brief appearance in the The Street of Forgotten Men when its anonymous critic wrote, "And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the 'blind' man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed."
The paper was referring to Brooks, whose less than 5 minutes of screen time in the Herbert Brenon-directed film went uncredited. It was her first part in a film. She played the role of a gangster's moll.
* Brooks had been mentioned earlier on in various newspapers and magazines for her appearances as a dancer and showgirl. The above named review was her first in connection with a film.
Monday, August 30, 2010
The 1926 Louise Brooks film, Love Em and Leave Em, will be shown in Fremont, California at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum on October 9, 2010. The listing for this rare screening was just announced on the Niles website at http://www.nilesfilmmuseum.org/sept-oct2010.pdf
This Frank Tuttle-directed film is quite good. It is one of Brooks' best American silents. The last time Love Em and Leave Em was publicly screened in the Bay Area was on November 21, 2006 in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library. That screening was held in conjunction with the SFPL exhibit, "Homage to Lulu," which celebrated the Brooks' centenary.
Prior to that, the film has enjoyed numerous screenings in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The film's local exhibition record, as best I could figure it, is thus:
California in Pittsburg (Dec. 14, 1926); California in Richmond (Dec. 26, 1926); National in San Jose (Dec. 29, 1926 – Jan. 1, 1927); American in Oakland (Dec. 31, 1926 special midnight matinee showing); Hub in Mill Valley (Jan. 1, 1927); Princess in Sausalito (Jan. 2-3, 1927); New Stanford in Palo Alto (Jan. 6-7, 1927); Granada in San Francisco (Jan. 8-14, 1927); Majestic in Benicia (Jan. 9, 1927); Virginia in Vallejo (Jan. 9, 1927); Novelty in San Bruno (Jan. 12, 1927); Strand in Los Gatos (Jan. 20-21, 1927); Sequoia in Redwood City (Jan. 21, 1927); Casino in Antioch (Jan. 23, 1927); Peninsula in Burlingame (Jan. 29, 1927); California in Livermore (Jan. 30, 1927); American in Oakland (Feb. 5-11, 1927); Regent in San Mateo (Feb. 11-12, 1927); Mountain View Theatre in Mountain View (Feb. 12, 1927); New Fillmore in San Francisco (Mar. 12-13, 1927); New Mission in San Francisco (Mar. 12-13, 1927); Richmond in Richmond (Mar. 13, 1927); California in Berkeley (Mar. 20-22, 1927 with While London Sleeps); Chimes in Oakland (Mar. 29-30, 1927 with A Regular Scout); Lorin in Berkeley (Apr. 2, 1927 with The Night Patrol); Alhambra in San Francisco (Apr. 2-3, 1927); Castro in San Francisco (Apr. 7-8, 1927); Coliseum in San Francisco (Apr. 9, 1927); West Portal in San Francisco (Apr. 16, 1927); Balboa in San Francisco (Apr. 23, 1927); Strand in Berkeley (Apr. 23, 1927); Irving in San Francisco (Apr. 24, 1927); Alexandria in San Francisco (Apr. 28-29, 1927); Washington in San Francisco (May 1, 1927); Plaza in Oakland (May 1, 1927 with The Western Whirlwind); Metropolitan in San Francisco (May 12-14, 1927 with The Timid Terror); Roosevelt in San Francisco (May 15, 1927); Fairfax in Oakland (May 31, 1927 with White Black Sheep); Excelsior in San Francisco (June 6-7, 1927); New State in San Francisco (June 6-7, 1927 with The Gorilla Hunt); Rivoli in Berkeley (June 8, 1927 with Flesh and the Blood); New Balboa in San Francisco (June 12, 1927); Metropolitan in San Francisco (June 18, 1927); and Pompeii in San Francisco (July 31 – Aug. 1, 1927); Century in Oakland (Nov. 1-2, 1927).
And then, in more recent years, the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Sept. 30, 1979); and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Mar. 15, 1981 as part of the series “The American Films of Louise Brooks”). This latest screening is another addition to the record.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Pandora’s Box will be shown on Thursday, September 2 at 6:30pm at the Tivoli Cinema in Kansas City, Missouri. The screening is part of a “Silent Film Series” sponsored by the Tivoli Cinemas and the University of Missouri – Kansas City Department of Communication Studies. All seats are $4.00 / free for UMKC Students / Staff with ID. Tickets are available day of show only at the Tivoli box office. Details at http://www.tivolikc.com/silentfilmseries.html
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I've just posted a new article on the Huffington Post discussing why I self-(re)published my Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl. . . .
What originally drew me to the book was the fact that it was the basis for the 1929 German film of the same name. That silent film stars Louise Brooks. She's an obsession of mine, as anyone who knows me is all too well aware. I'm always going on about her ... And I'm always looking into some facet of her life and career. I was curious about what seemed to me an otherwise obscure book. Why did the great German director G.W. Pabst make it into a film? What would he have seen in it?The article can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-gladysz/a-lost-girl-a-fake-diary-_b_694263.html
Then and now: Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1907 edition) and The Diary of a Lost Girl (2010 edition).
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Louise Brooks Society was mentioned in TimeOut Chicago. The magazine ran a story titled "Silent films get a new life online, but not everybody’s celebrating," by Christina Crouch. The article discusses Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box, and the internet. Read more at http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/film/88270/silent-films-gain-new-life-on-the-internet#ixzz0xgHg0eVs
Monday, August 23, 2010
A commemorative bronze medal depicting Louise Brooks is currently for sale on eBay. These burnished bronze medals, of European origin (?), don't show up all that often. I don't know much else about them. Does anyone?
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Apparently, a German radio station broadcast a program on Louise Brooks earlier this month, marking the 25th anniversary of her passing. The program, "Immortal Anti-Star," by Claudia Lenssen, was broadcast on August 5, 2010 on the RBB Kulturradio. Here is the description of the program in German:
Eine Hommage zum 25. Todestag von Louise Brooks
Von Claudia Lenssen
Sie war Tänzerin, Showgirl, leidenschaftliches Jazz-Baby und Trinkerin. Als "Mädchen mit dem schwarzen Helm" wurde die außergewöhnliche Schönheit Louise Brooks zu einer Ikone, die Bubikopf- Frisur ihr Markenzeichen als neuer unschuldig-sinnlicher Frauentyp. Zwei Stummfilme mit dem Regisseur G.W. Pabst, Lulu und Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, sichern ihr einen herausragenden Platz in der Filmgeschichte. Von Hollywood enttäuscht, entdeckte sie später ihr Schreibtalent und hinterließ der Nachwelt brillante Porträts des frühen Kinos.
This classical music / arts station broadcasts in Germany and also streams over the internet. Might anyone have a recording of the program?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Roger Ebert likes Louise Brooks. He's told me so, and he's also written about the actress and her films on more than a few occasions. Apparently, he also just wrote about the actress in the most recent issue of the "Ebert Club Newsletter."
Ebert wrote, "The Sounds of Silents: Science finds that silent movies trigger mental soundtracks in our minds. Oddly enough, this may explain why they create a reverie state in me. I usually listen to them with a musical sound track, but after reading this I tried a little of "The Show Off" on Netflix streaming, and I see what they mean. . . . So try a little of "The Show Off" yourself. Turn off the sound. Here's the complete movie via Google; though Netflix quality is better. Notice that whenever Louise Brooks is on screen, you simply can't focus on anyone else..."
The newsletter includes a link to a Google video of the 1926 Brooks film (as above), and then a paragraph on Louise Brooks "Looking for Lulu" (1998), the outstanding documentary on the actress by Hugh Munro Neely. Ebert goes on the mention The Cat and the Canary (1927) and highlight some of the other kinds of silent and other early films available over the internet. It's an interesting post. And well worth reading. I always enjoy Ebert's writing - he is one of our best critics.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Film critic & film historian Leonard Maltin wrote up my new Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl on his syndicated column, Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy.
Maltin's article, "Silent Stars Still Mesmerize," is a round up of three self-published books, including the new illustrated edition of Margarete Bohme's book (which served as the basis for the 1929 Louise Brooks film). Maltin says, in part, "Gladysz provides an authoritative series of essays that tell us about the author, the notoriety of her work (which was first published in 1905), and its translation to the screen. Production stills, advertisements, and other ephemera illustrate these introductory chapters. In today’s parlance this would be called a “movie tie-in edition,” but that seems a rather glib way to describe yet another privately published work that reveals an enormous amount of research — and passion."
The other two books covered by Maltin, Donna Hill's Rudolph Valentino, The Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs and Linda Wada's The Sea Gull: The Chaplin Studio’s Lost Film Starring Edna Purviance, are also highly recommended. (I've got copies of each.) Check out Leonard Maltin's article here.
The new Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl can be purchased through Lulu.com
Monday, August 9, 2010
I've updated my "publisher pages" on THE DIARY OF A LOST GIRL. There's more info, and more links to be found.
Click thru to Lulu.com to buy direct and use coupon code BEACHREAD305 at checkout and receive 15% off the retail price! This special Lulu.com offer ends on August 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm.
THE DIARY OF A LOST GIRL. is available at Book Soup (Los Angeles), as well as at Bird & Beckett (San Francisco), Books Inc. (San Francisco, Market Street), Browser Books (San Francisco), and Cover to Cover (San Francisco), as well as Pegasus & Pendragon (Berkeley), Moe's Books (Berkeley), and the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum (Fremont). Other retail locations coming soon.
"Long relegated to the shadows, Margarete Bohme's 1905 novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl has at last made a triumphant return. In reissuing the rare 1907 English translation of Bohme's German text, Thomas Gladysz makes an important contribution to film history, literature, and, in as much as Bohme told her tale with much detail and background contemporary to the day, sociology and history. He gives us the original novel, his informative introduction, and many beautiful and rare illustrations. This reissue is long overdue, and in all ways it is a volume of uncommon merit." - Richard Buller, author of A Beautiful Fairy Tale: The Life of Actress Lois Moran
Below are a few sample pages from my this 336 page book, which contains three dozen mostly vintage illustrations.
"Thomas Gladysz is the leading authority on all matters pertaining to the legendary Louise Brooks. We owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing the groundbreaking novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl - the basis of Miss Brooks's classic 1929 film - back from obscurity. It remains a fascinating work." – Lon Davis, author of Silent Lives
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Yesterday, I posted an article to the Huffington Post website about Rufus Wainwright and his quite understandable interest in Louise Brooks. I recently had the chance the interview Rufus about the actress and his new CD, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu. He is on tour in support of the new record.
I plan on posting another article / interview sometime next week which will be more of a general interest piece. The current article, headlined " 'I am the victim of such a lascivious beauty': Rufus Wainwright on Louise Brooks" includes Wainwright's comments on the silent film star. Check it out at www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-gladysz/i-am-the-victim-of-such-a_b_672089.html
[Photo above courtesy of Kevin Westenberg / www.rufuswainwright.com ]
Thursday, August 5, 2010
For those interested in European film history, in silent film, and in Louise Brooks - Marek Haltof’s Polish National Cinema (Berghahn Books) offers a little something for everyone. Haltof’s 300-page survey is the first comprehensive English-language study of Polish filmmaking and film culture from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st century. It’s also a groundbreaking work well worth checking out - whatever your interst.
The book's first two chapters, “Polish Cinema before the Introduction of Sound” and “The Sound Period of the 1930s,” are each fascinating and detailed accounts of the origins and development of the Polish cinema.
Buffeted as it was between Germany and Russia and by the more dominant film industry’s found in each of those countries, Polish cinema was, naturally, influenced by its neighbors. German and Russian as well as French and American films all showed in Poland – and each left their mark. It’s known, for example, that at least a few of Louise Brooks’ American silent films as well as her German-made movies were shown in Warsaw – the capitol of both Poland and the Polish film industry.
For example, Pandora’s Box, retitled Lulu, opened at the Casino Theater in Warsaw at the end of May, 1929. It ran for a few weeks, and was well received. In my research, I have been able to track down the Polish newspaper reviews and advertisements for that historic screening.
One striking example given by Haltof of the German influence on Polish cinema is noted in the book’s second chapter, on the films of the 1930s.
Haltof writes, “The treatment of women in Polish melodramas oscillates between presenting them as femme fatales in the tradition of Pola Negri’s silent features made for the Sfinks company, and as vulnerable figures at the mercy of the environment. The former representation, which is not very popular in Polish cinema, can be seen in Zabawka (The Toy, 1933), directed by Michal Waszynski. The title refers to the female protagonist Lulu (Alma Kar), a Warsaw cabaret star, who is invited to a country manor by a wealthy landowner. The landowner’s son and local Don Juan both fall in love with Lulu and pay for it. The name of the protagonist and the theme of the film suggest G.W. Pabst’s influence (Louise Brooks as Lulu in Pandora’s Box, 1929), and this inspiration has been emphasized by one of the scriptwriters of the film.” Pictured here is Alma Kar as Lulu in Zabawka.
Haltof, a Polish-born scholar, is now resident in the United States where he teaches Film in the English Department at Northern Michigan University. Via email, he confirmed the influence of one film on the other. He also supplied a photocopy of a page from a hard-to-find Polish work, Historia filmu polskiego (1988), which he cites in his own book. It quotes coscriptwriter Andrzej Tomakowski on the influence of Pandora’s Box on Zabawka.
A viewing of Zabawka itself confirms the influence (see video clip below - the entire film resides, in parts, on YouTube). The character, played by the charming Alma Kar, is named Lulu and is like Pabst’s version of Lulu a showgirl desired by many (including a Father and his son) with disastrous results. In one early scene, this Polish Lulu is surrounded by a line of chorus girls each wearing a sharp bob haircut just like that worn by Brooks in Pandora’s Box – except each of these Polish chorines are blonde!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Starts Thursday! is a new blog devoted to the art and history of coming attraction slides - the kind shown in movie theaters during the silent and sound era to promote forthcoming films. The blog is run by Robert Byrne, a San Francisco Bay Area film preservationist and a big fan of Louise Brooks.
Today, I guest blogged for Starts Thursday! I wrote about a glass slide for The American Venus, Louise Brooks' second film and the first in which she had a starring role. My blog also discussed Fay Lanphier, one of the other stars of that film and the actress whose image appears on the slide. Check out my guest blog here.
Monday, August 2, 2010
In the past, I've blogged about some of the various newspapers around the country which are selling off their photographic archives. Among them is the Chicago Tribune - one of the country's great newspapers. I once spent a few days in Chicago pouring over past issues.
Some of these photos are being sold on eBay, where just recently three Tribune images have shown up. One of them, seemingly colorized, is rather unusual.
According to a scan of the reverse of the photo provided by the seller, the photo is dated (or at least stamped) October 4, 1928. This photo likely dates from around the time when Louise Brooks left for Germany to begin filming Pandora's Box.
Without examining the photo itself, it's hard to say if the pattern on Brooks' jacket is actual, an enhancement, or just a creative embellishment. Whatever the case, I like it.