Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leonard Maltin comments on Diary of a Lost Girl

At the recently concluded San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I had a chance to speak with Leonard Maltin. He told me how much he appreciated The Diary of a Lost Girl, the 1929 Louise Brooks film which had been screened the day before.

Just recently, Maltin posted a long entry on his blog, "Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy,"  highlighting what were for him some the Festival's many highlights. About the Brooks film, Maltin commented, "It’s been many years since I saw G.W. Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) with Louise Brooks, but I don’t remember being affected by it the way I was this time around. I’m older, and perhaps that has something to do with my response, but I found it incredibly hypnotic, sad, and moving." These comments echoed what he had told me in person.

Read more - including comments on the various Festival films - at http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/archives/2010/07/27/silent_films_live_again

Monday, July 26, 2010

A fragile image

I just obtained a falling-to-pieces copy of Arts Monthly Pictorial. It dates from 1926, and contains this earlier and rather uncommon image of Louise Brooks by Edwin Bower Hesser. The magazine is on brittle paper. I wanted to share it with everyone before the paper falls apart. It is a fragile thing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Huffington Post: Loving Louise Brooks

Loving Louise Brooks is a short film and the work of now graduated French Lycee / high school students - which, as a student film has all charms and shortcomings of student work. Nevertheless, I like it. Some further thoughts at the Huffington Post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Louise Brooks stars at 2010 Silent Film Festival

Louise Brooks seemed to be just about everywhere at the just concluded 2010 San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Brooks’ image adorned the badges worn by staff, volunteers, the press, special guests, and festival pass holders. Her image was on the handbill for the event, and could be found in the display cases outside the Castro Theater in San Francisco, where the event was held.

Individuals could be seen sporting pin back buttons featuring a likeness of the actress. And if that weren’t enough, more than a few individuals could be spotted wearing Brooks’ t-shirts - either those issued by the Festival in 2006 when it showed Pandora’s Box, or the all-black “strand of pearls” shirts being sold by one of the vendors on the Castro mezzanine.

Brooks’ postcards were for sale on the mezzanine, along with a selection of books both by and about the actress. As was the limited edition silkscreen poster for Diary of a Lost Girl commissioned for this year’s event. It proved especially popular, and sold out. I managed to secure # 29, since that was the year the film was released.

Diary of a Lost Girl, the 1929 G.W. Pabst film which stars Brooks, was the Festival centerpiece. That's because it was the “Founder's Presentation” film. Before the film was shown to a nearly sold-out house of 1400 movie buffs, SFSFF founders Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons were honored for their efforts in having started the annual event which has, over the years, grown from a single co-presentation to a four day film lover's extravaganza and the largest silent film festival in North America. At this special presentation of Diary of a Lost Girl, the Colorado-based Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra performed their original score for the film. It was very well received. And I liked it a lot too.

After the screening, three authors signed copies of their books. Emmy nominated Hollywood screenwriter Samuel Bernstein (pictured left in a black shirt, with me) signed copies of his recently published Lulu: A Novel (Walford Press). The subject of this “non-fiction novel" is Brooks and the period in her life when she went to work with Pabst in Germany. It’s the latest in a shelf worth of works of fiction which have taken the silent film star as their muse.

Also signing was Ira Resnick. This longtime collector and founder of the Motion Picture Arts Gallery in New York City (the first gallery devoted exclusively to the art of the movies) was signing copies of his new book, Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood (Abbeville). It features hundreds of images including a number of posters and lobby cards from various Brooks’ films. Resnick’s new book also includes a small "love letter" to the actress as his own collecting muse.

I also signed books. I've just published the "Louise Brooks edition" of the book which was the basis for the film Diary of a Lost Girl. This new illustrated edition of the 1905 German novel brings this important book back into print in the United States after more than 100 years. It includes a long introduction detailing the book's remarkable history and relationship to the 1929 silent film of the same name.For those lucky attendees who lined up for a copy, I gave away a free pin back button (there were three styles to choose from) and also rubber stamped their copy using my Rick Geary drawn caricature of Louise Brooks. Fans seemed to like that.

Brooks’ part in Diary of a Lost Girl wasn’t her only appearance on the screen at the 2010 event. Her image was flashed on the screen during the in-between film slideshow. And, during the Sunday morning presentation, "Amazing Tales from the Archives," Mike Mashon of the Library of Congress presented a fascinating report on American silent film survival rates which referenced Brooks and her films.

During his presentation, Mashon focused on Paramount, and naturally - Brooks' name and films popped up at least 6 or 8 times. (Brooks was under contract to Paramount during large parts of her career.)

In particular, Mashon relayed the story of the 1928 Brooks’ film, Beggars of Life, and how it has come to survive till today. At one point, Mashon even showed a 1950 purchase order from James Card of the George Eastman House for a 16mm dupe of the film. All copies in circulation today, Mashon noted, come from this copy of the film made decades ago.

Mashon also showed another document which referenced a 1951 archive acquisition of another Brooks’ film, A Social Celebrity (1926). It has subsequently been lost.

As Brooks’ longtime friend Kevin Brownlow (pictured right with me - notice we are both wearing our Louise Brooks Festival badges, and I my Prix de Beaute t-shirt) pointed out during his remarks at the event, the motto of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is “True Art Transcends Time.” Twenty-five years after her death, the same might be said for Louise Brooks.

[More images from the event in the slideshow which follows the article at examiner.com.]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another new book about Louise Brooks?

In my previous blog, I wrote about a recently issued book called Ziegfeld Follies: Ziegfeld Girls, Barbara Stanwyck, Eve Arden, Lucia Pamela, Jeanne Eagels, Bessie Love, Paulette Goddard, Louise Brooks. It was published last month by Books LLC, has no given author, and can be found on amazon.com 

It seems as though that same "publisher" has issued another book with Louise Brooks' content. It's cleverly titled People From Montgomery County, Kansas: Louise Brooks, William Inge, Vivian Vance, Bill Kurtis, Gareth Porter, Johnny Rutherford. And like those other books, it has no given author. It's 118 pages.The publisher notes that there are chapter devoted to Louise Brooks, William Inge, Vivian Vance, Bill Kurtis, Gareth Porter, Johnny Rutherford, Mildred "Micky" Axton, Sheila C. Bair, William Wadsworth Hodkinson, Kenneth Mcfarland, Helen Foster, Claude Wendell Horton, Sr., Ron Kenoly, Harry Hines Woodring, Dave Baker, Eva Jessye, Sam Avey, James Grauerholz, Carrie Ingalls, Denver David Hargis, Scott Hastings, Maxwell Davis, Phil Ehart, Mary Howard de Liagre, Cynthia Sikes, Ron Warner, Omar Knedlik, and Wade Flemons.

Like those earlier books, this book seems to be drawn from online sources, such as Wikipedia. And like those earlier books, it is available on amazon.com The publisher web page for this book is http://booksllc.net/book.cfm?id=3490533 I don't recommend any of the books published by this company.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New book about Louise Brooks ?

Seemingly, there is a new book about Louise Brooks. Or at least it is about her in part. Or at least her name is in the title. And, it was printed recently.

The book is called Ziegfeld Follies: Ziegfeld Girls, Barbara Stanwyck, Eve Arden, Lucia Pamela, Jeanne Eagels, Bessie Love, Paulette Goddard, Louise Brooks. It was published last month, is 166 pages, and can be found on amazon.com No author is given. That's a bad sign.

I haven't seen a copy of the book as of yet - though I do plan on ordering one. (Somebody has got to.) The product description offered on amazon is kinda weird. It notes that there are chapters devoted to Ziegfeld Girls, Barbara Stanwyck, Eve Arden, Lucia Pamela, Jeanne Eagels, Bessie Love, Paulette Goddard, Louise Brooks, Marion Davies, Olive Thomas, Joan Blondell, Ann Pennington, Mae Murray, Florenz Ziegfeld, Nita Naldi, Susan Fleming, Iris Adrian, Anna Held, Bird Millman, Tamara Geva, Dorothy Mackaill, Billie Dove, Paulette Duval, Yvonne Hughes, Claire Dodd, Irene Hayes, Cecile Arnold, Jean Howard, Helen Gallagher. 

It then offers an excerpt, which seems to be lifted from Wikipedia. The informational url found in the product description takes you to the Wikipedia page for Louise Brooks. Hmmm.
If I were to hazard a guess, I would think this "data-mined" book is made up of little more than material gathered from various websites. Oh boy. But that is just a guess. One never knows until one has the thing in hand. The publisher is Books LLC. According to their website, they are based in Memphis, Tennessee. Their webpage for this book is http://booksllc.net/book.cfm?id=3459533

I do believe that this "publisher" is the same entity which also recently released a version of Margarete Bohme's The Diary of a Lost One on the world. I have a copy of that - and can state that it is a very poor thing indeed. The product description found on amazon.com and on their website begins "The book has no illustrations or index. It may have numerous typos or missing text...." Well, that's an understatement. Doesn't i"numerous typos or missing text" make you feel like you simply MUST have a copy?

For better or for worse, we are likely at the dawn of a new age of such books. 

When I prepared my own edition of Bohme's The Diary of a Lost Girl, I was very careful to make sure the text of my book was the best it could be. I spent nearly a month going over the manuscript again and and again fixing typos and making corrections. And, to give it added value, I also added a 35 page introduction and more than 3 dozen vintage illustrations. My edition of Bohme's book can be found at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-diary-of-a-lost-girl-(louise-brooks-edition)/11256621. Plus, what makes my edition so superior is that it looks a heck of a lot better than the above two books. And, it has Louise Brooks on the cover. What more could you ask for?


I am in the process of getting the book into various online "distribution channels" and even select brick-and-mortar bookstores. It should be available around the world on the various  amazon.com sites sometime soon, as well as Barnes & Noble, etc.... However, the best source for the book is direct from the printer at lulu.com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Article on director G.W. Pabst

Today, I published an article on the Huffington Post on director G.W. Pabst. His two films with Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, are legend. As mentioned earlier on this blog, on July 15th Bard College in New York state is hosting a G.W. Pabst festival. And screenings of his films are also taking place this month in San Francisco and Berlin. My new article poses the question "Are we in the middle of a Pabst's revival."

Please check out my article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-gladysz/gw-pabst-a-film-director_b_643588.html

Pictured below is Louise Brooks with G.W. Pabst and some of the actors who appeared in Pandora's Box. Pabst is standing next to the actress on her right. This photo was taken in late 1928.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Comic-book great HARVEY PEKAR dead at age 70

Comic-book great Harvey Pekar has died at the age of 70. Pekar was the author of American Splendor and other works classified as either graphic novels or comic book. American Splendor was also turned into a critically acclaimed film in 2003. If you haven't seen it, go out and get it today. It explains all.

Harvey Pekar had lived in Cleveland, Ohio.

Over the years, I had put on a couple of  events with him. He always drew a big crowd. Pekar loved old books and old movies (as well as orange pop and potato chips), and loved talking about them. Most recently, he wrote the forward to a new edition of Jim Tully's Circus Parade, which was published by Kent State University in 2009.That Ohio-based press is currently in the process of issuing a handful of Tully's out-of-print books, including Beggars of Life, which was the basis for the 1928 Louise Brooks film of the same name. Tully also hailed from Ohio.
(Also in the KSU press series is Shanty Irish, with a forward by director Jon Sayles.)

Below is a snapshot of Harvey Pekar and I taken a few years ago. It was an honor to know him.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lulu in Rochester: Louise Brooks and the cinema screen as a tabula rasa

A longnew article about Louise Brooks is included in the newest issue of Senses of Cinema (issue #55). The article, by Robert Farmer, is titled "Lulu in Rochester: Louise Brooks and the cinema screen as a tabula rasa."

In it, Farmer looks at the ever evolving nature of Louise Brooks’ reputation. As Farmer notes, Brooks' real fame arrived many years after she abandoned her acting career. He analyzes the life, the films and the screen persona of an actress who has been turned into an icon of modernity. In my opinion, its a thoughtful and well considered piece, though I disagree witha few of his lesser points.

Robert Farmer is a filmmaker and lecturer in film theory and practice living in Northampton, UK. Check out his article at http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2010/feature-articles/lulu-in-rochester-louise-brooks-and-the-cinema-screen-as-a-tabula-rasa-3/   

[ The Louise Brooks Society even gets a shout out in this article. Check out footnote #35 ! ]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

G.W. Pabst film festival

On July 15th, Bard College in New York state is hosting a G.W. Pabst film festival. Over the course of a month, they will be screening many of the director's best films including the two Pabst made with Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl.

Pandora's Box screens on July 22 at 7 pm with piano accompaniment by Ben Model. Diary of a Lost Girl screens on July 25 at 7 pm with piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

The complete line-up of films (including Secrets of a Soul and the Threepenny Opera) as well as ticket information can be found here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Show-Off screens in Los Angeles July 10

I recently learned that The Show-Off (1926) will be screened "under the stars" on July 10th (that's tomorrow) in Los Angeles, California. This screening is part of a double bill put on by the Heritage Square Museum which celebrates the talents of noted actresses who came to fame during the early years of Hollywood. Also on the bill is A Fool There Was (1915), starring the legendary vamp, Theda Bara.

When The Show-Off opened at the Metropolitan Theater in Los Angeles in August of 1926, it and Louise Brooks drew favorable reviews. The city’s newspapers ran reviews with headlines describing it as a “riot of fun” and a “cure for ailments.” More on this film and this rare screening can be found on examiner.com.

Admission to the Silent and Classic Movie Nights is free for museum members; a $10.00 donation for asked for the general public. These special screenings take place on the lawn near the Palms Depot. Guests are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to sit on, a small picnic to eat before the movies begin, and warm clothing. Beverages and snacks will be available for purchase. Gates open at 7:30 p.m., with the show starting after 8:00 p.m.
The Heritage Square Museum is located at 3800 Homer Street in Los Angeles. More info at http://www.heritagesquare.org./calendar_of_events.htm

From the picture below, you can see that a crowd is already gathering for what promises to be a swell time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Diary of a Lost Girl poster

Back in June, I wrote a blog giving six reasons to attend the upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Well, here's one more which I've just found out about.

San Francisco poster artist David O'Daniel has created a beautiful limited edition poster for the July 17th SFSFF screening of Diary of a Lost Girl. And of course, the poster features a likeness of Louise Brooks, who starred in the 1929 film.

These silkscreen posters, which measure 19 x 25 inches and were printed in an edition of 75, will be on display and for sale at the event. I plan on getting one. Here is a look. More info at http://aliencorset.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rolled Stockings screenwriter turns 110

The woman whose story was the basis for the 1927 Louise Brooks’ film, Rolled Stockings, has turned 110 years old. Frederica Sagor Maas (pictured right in 1925) is one of the last surviving personalities from the silent film era, and perhaps the last living individual associated with one of Brooks’ silent films. 

I first met Maas in June, 1999 when I had lunch with her at the historic Musso and Franks restaurant in downtown Hollywood. 

Just six weeks later, in July, I put on her first bookstore event in connection with her then just published memoir, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (University Press of Kentucky). In it, she recounts her life both in and out of Hollywood, where she worked as a screenwriter during the silent and early sound era. 

At the time, Maas was 99 years old and nearly blind, and instead of a traditional author reading - I interviewed Maas about her remarkable life. The assembled crowd seemed to hang on her every word. Afterwords, we went out for a late supper and talked of many things, including Louise Brooks, who impressed her as someone who seemed "smart" and well educated. 

It was a great pleasure to meet Frederica Sagor Maas. I hope she lives another 100 years. 

More on her remarkable career can be found on examiner.com  - and more on Maas and  Brooks can be found here. [Some of the newspaper advertisements which I have come across for Rolled Stockings, like the one pictured below, include her name - a nod, I think, to her standing in Hollywood at the time.]

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is July 17th international Diary of a Lost Girl day?

Is July 17th international Diary of a Lost Girl day? So it seems.

I've recently learned that the acclaimed 1929 G.W. Pabst-directed film starring Louise Brooks will be shown in Berlin, Germany on the 17th of July as part of the “Berlin Babylon - Silent Film Festival.” And on that same day, the film will be shown in San Francisco as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Simultaneity, synchonicity, a perfect storm - call it what you will. All I can say is "wow" - and, how's that for a world-wide happening?

Following the San Francisco screening, there will also be a book signing for my newly published “Louise Brooks edition” of Margarete Böhme’s The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press). This bestselling and once controversial book, first published in Germany in 1905, had been out-of-print in the United States for more than 100 years. My San Francisco book signing marks its debut event.

The Berlin Babylon - Silent Film Festival will also show Pandora’s Box on July 24th. I posted a short article with a little more information about the multi-day, multi-film Berlin event over on my column at examiner.com.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Louise Brooks and the sexual revolution in Italy

The Italian comix character, Valentina (who was inspired by Louise Brooks), is at the heart of this 2007 Italian television discussion about the sexual revolution of the 1960's and 1970's (as it took place in Italy). The book focuses on Giampiero Mughini and his book Sex Revolution. Also among the speakers on this program is Sara Faillaci of Vanity Fair. [Thanx to Gianluca Chiovelli for forwarding this link.]


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beggars of Life screens Aug 15 in SoCal

The 23rd annual Silents Under the Stars takes place Sunday July 18 and Sunday August 15 at the Paramount Ranch, 2813 Cornell Road, in Agoura, California.

The Lucky Devil, featuring Richard Dix and Esther Ralston, will be shown at 8 p.m. on July 18. This 1925 film “tells a rollicking story of romance and race cars with a crazy uncle thrown in for comic relief,” according to event organizers. This film is being presented on Richard Dix birthday.

Beggars of Life with Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen and Wallace Beery, will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on August 15. Organizers describe this 1928 film as the adventures of Louise Brooks on the run from an abusive father, riding the rails with the help of Richard Arlen. Beggars of Life was directed by William Wellman.

Musical accompaniment for both films will be provided by Michael Mortilla.


Attendees are invited to arrive early with a picnic dinner. Due to limited lighting, patrons are encouraged to bring flashlights. Tickets are $6 general admission; $5 for Hollywood Heritage members; $3 for children under 12. Silents Under the Stars is presented by the National Park Service, The Silent Society and Hollywood Heritage. For more information call (323) 874-4005 or e-mail silents@hollywoodheritage.org

Hollywood Heritage is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the historic environment in Hollywood and to education about the early film industry and the role its pioneers played in shaping Hollywood’s history.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

First blurb and first notice

Recently, I received my first blurb for my new edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl. It was from Lon Davis, a film historian and the author of Silent Lives and King of the Movies: Francis X. Bushman.

Lon Davis said, "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."

Today, the first newspaper notice of the book also appeared, in my (San Francisco) neighborhood paper, the Noe Valley Voice. Here it is.


Any San Francisco neighbors can find the book at Cover to Cover on 24th street in Noe Valley. Here is the San Francisco Chronicle link to my book signing event on July 17th at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. Onward and upward!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby Peggy

Considering all she has been through, Diana Serra Cary is a survivor. And a remarkable one at that. She is also, as Baby Peggy, one of the last surviving silent film film stars. Should you ever have a chance to see Captain January (perhaps her best surviving film), do so! It is wonderful.

And should you ever come across her recently reissued autobiography,What Ever Happened to Baby Peggy: The Autobiography of Hollywood's Pioneer Child Star, read it! It too is wonderful - a great read, a moving memoir. When I read a few years ago, and I think I fell a little bit in love with the author's indomitable spirit.

Today, I published a two pieces on this diminutive actress  - one was in the book section of the Huffington Post. My article is called "The Bookseller Who Became an Author and Who Once Had Been the Biggest Little Film Star in the World." It tells the story of Diana Serra Cary after she left Hollywood. The other was  a short article on examiner.com. (Today, Kenneth Turan also ran a piece on the actress in the Los Angeles Times.)

If you live in Los Angeles or San Francisco, you have a chance to meet Baby Peggy in person. Cary, aka "Baby Peggy," will give a short talk and introduce her 1924 film, Captain January, at the Cinefamily's Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles on July 7th. And, she will be signing copies of her books at the Castro Theater in San Francisco on July 16th as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Don't miss one of these opportunities to meet a real movie star - a living legend.

OK, so you may be wondering, what does all this have to do with Louise Brooks, as Baby Peggy's film career was largely over with by the time Brooks' had started. Nevertheless, the one-time child star did encounter a few individuals who also figure in Brooks' story.

For example, one of the Baby Peggy's major films was Helen's Babies (1924), which co-starred Brooks' contemporary, Clara Bow. And in her autobiography, Baby Peggy tells a story about The Captain Hates the Sea (1934), a film in which her mother had a bit part as a dress extra. That Lewis Milestone film starred John Gilbert, and also featured three actors with whom Brooks worked - Leon Errol ("Louie the 14th"), Victor McLaglen (A Girl in Every Port) and Akin Tamiroff (King of Gamblers).


And, as the picture above shows, the 13 year old Baby Peggy also met Louise Brooks' former husband, director Eddie Sutherland. She is pictured in the middle, between her parents on the right and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (with a monkey on his head) watched by a smiling Sutherland on the left. [Image courtesy of Diana Serra Cary.] Below is a short, three minute film in tribute to Baby Peggy and her appearance in Pordenone, Italy in 2005.

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