Sunday, October 31, 2010

The spooky corners of Louise Brooks’ career

(adapted from my article on examiner.com)

Since it's Halloween, I thought I might shine a light on a few of the spooky corners and "dark shadows" of Louise Brooks' career.

Because she typically played flappers and femme fatales, Brooks is not thought of as an actress associated with horror films or monster movies. However, there are a few interesting intersections between the actress's career and the gothic genres.

Did you know, for example, that Louise Brooks was considered for the title role in The Bride of Frankenstein? Director James Whale thought to cast Brooks or Brigitte Helm (the robot from Metropolis), before finally settling on Elsa Lanchester. The monster demanded a mate - though I think Brooks would have been a bit too sexy and a bit too animated for this big lug.

Along with Frankenstein, their is also a connection with Dracula. One interesting intersection revolves around The Diary of a Lost Girl.This controversial 1905 German bestseller by Margarete Bohme, the basis for the 1929 Louise Brooks film of the same name, was translated into English and published in the UK in 1907.


At the time, its sensational story line was praised by some and attacked by others. Among those wishing to ban it - according to the New York Times of December 11, 1907 was Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Curiously though, the dedicatee of Dracula, a now forgotten though once wildly popular novelist named Hall Caine, praised the book. He described this saddest of modern books as the “poignant story of a great-hearted girl who kept her soul alive amidst all the mire that surrounded her poor body.”

I will end this morbid blog with two splendidly gothic images from my new Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl. The image on the left is the cover of the 1907 German edition of Bohme's book. And the image on the right is an illustration from a vintage Polish edition of the book.



Check out my article on examiner.com to learn about other connections - like that with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Know of others? Please post in the comments.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A rare Louise Brooks image

This fashion shot of Louise Brooks is quite uncommon, at least I haven't seen it before. It is currently for sale on eBay. Brooks seemed to do a at least a little modeling work in the late 1920s, as is evidenced by pictures like this and by her appearance in print advertisements for various products. I wonder if she received a fee for such work, and what it might have been.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bristol Silent’s Celebrating Louise Brooks

(adapted from my article on examiner.com)

Ten years ago, a local film group in the UK named Bristol Silent’s hosted its first ever event, a double bill featuring Louise Brooks. To mark the anniversary, the group (in conjunction with the Bristol Festival of Ideas and Arnolfini - a contemporary arts organization located in the English city) is putting on a special evening on October 29th celebrating the life and work of the actress. It’s an event no British fan of Brooks will want to miss.

Celebrating Louise Brooks” feature G.W. Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl (1929). It will be preceded by Arena: Louise Brooks (1986), a superb British television documentary featuring interviews with Brooks in which she talks of her days in Paris and Berlin and her experiences in Hollywood. Film historian William Everson as well as Lothar Wolf (Pabst's publicist on Pandora's Box) are among the individuals seen speaking in the film.

This 55-minute documentary aired shortly after Brooks’ death. It is credited to Richard Leacock as director and includes footage of the actress he shot in the 1970s (some of which can be seen in the documentaries Lulu in Berlin and Looking for Lulu), as well as extracts from Brooks’ films. Arena: Louise Brooks is very rarely shown and is not otherwise available on video or DVD. If you live anywhere near Bristol, it's not to be missed.


Above is a clip from Diary of a Lost Girl which reminds us of what the Academy Award winning British film historian Kevin Brownlow once said, that Diary confirmed Pabst as one of the great directors of the silent period and established Brooks as an “actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.”  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Louise Brooks: A pretty portrait

This image of Louise Brooks is currently for sale on eBay. It's a rather pretty portrait of the actress - and unusual in that her usual bob has been pulled back behind her ears. But yet, she is unsmiling.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Valentina postcards of Louise Brooks

A set of four postcards by the Italian comix artist Guido Crepax featuring Louise Brooks as Valentina are currently for sale on eBay. They were published in 1985.

The last card, orange tinted, has LB doing the Potempkin as von Stroheim looks on - curious and curiouser. The drawings are completely mystifying.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good news from the European front

Good news from the European front: the local Goethe-Institut here in San Francisco is helping promote the November 14th event for The Diary of a Lost Girl at the San Francisco Public Library. They have posted it on their website and will include it in their newsletter!

And, the Neue Galerie in New York City ordered lots of copies of the book - they are the first NYC museum or store to stock copies. For those not familiar, the Neue Galerie (at 1048 Fifth Avenue) is a museum devoted to German and Austrian art. They should have the book within a week.

Also, a major German news organization is likely going to do a story. I shouldn't say who until it is published - but they have requested a copy of the book and images. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

And, there is a good chance of an event in Paris sometime early next year - in January, 2011. A friend and fan of Louise Brooks is attempting to set up a screening of Diary of a Lost Girl in conjunction with a talk at one of Paris' film theaters. Again, let's keep our fingers crossed. Here are a few key links.

Background info on the book: http://www.pandorasbox.com/diary.html

Goethe-Institut: http://www.goethe.de/ins/us/saf/ver/en6693917v.htm

San Francisco Public Library: http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1002352301

If there are any book reviewers / film reviewers / bloggers out there in need of a review copy of my new edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl - please let me know. I have a few copies to spare for those interested in writing something.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beggars of Life screens in Los Angeles

(adapted from my article on examiner.com)

The acclaimed 1928 Louise Brooks film – directed by the Academy Award winner William Wellman – will be shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Saturday, October 23 at 7:30 pm. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Vince Morton.

This special screening marks the second time in the last few months that this once-obscure Brooks film has been shown in Los Angeles. (It was also shown in Seattle last week.)

The LACMA screening honors the institution, The Film Foundation, which helped fund the recent George Eastman House restoration of the film which in turn helped spur the current interest in Beggars of Life.

Harrison Carroll, writing in the Los Angeles Evening Herald when the film first showed in Los Angeles (at the Metropolitan theater) wrote in 1928, “Considered from a moral standpoint, Beggars of Life is questionable, for it throws the glamour of adventure over tramp life and is occupied with building sympathy for an escaping murderess. As entertainment, however, it has tenseness and rugged earthy humor. . . . It is a departure from the wishy-washy romance and the fervid triangle drama.”

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who attends this LACMA event. Please post a write-up in the comments section.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New play about Tilly Wedekind

(adapted from my article on examiner.com)

Frank Wedekind (1864-1918) is a German playwright best known to fans of Louise Brooks as the author of the Lulu plays, which served as the basis for the actress’s later 1929 silent film, Pandora’s Box.

Frank Wedekind was married to an actress named Tilly. She was a singular personality who appeared alongside her husband in some of his most famous works. Tilly even appeared as Lulu in Pandora’s Box back in 1905. (The black and white image below depicts Tilly as Lulu with Wedekind as Schon in an early staging of Lulu.)

A one woman stage play based on the life of Tilly Wedekind, the playwright’s wife and muse, has recently had its world premiere in Davis, California. This new play is called Tilly No-Body: Catastrophes of Love. It’s by Bella Merlin, and is based on many years research by the author. Merlin is a British-born actress and teacher now based at the University of California, Davis. Like Tilly, Merlin once played Lulu in a staging of Lulu (in London in the 1990s). That’s when Merlin got interested in the actress behind the character.

Tilly was devoted to her husband’s work, and during their marriage he wrote powerful plays fueled by their tempestuous relationship. Frank often insisted that Tilly play the female leads.

This 75 minute play follows Tilly's tumbling thoughts. Beginning with her attempted suicide and travelling backwards in time, it weaves together biography, letters, dramatic incidents, puppets, and original songs; Merlin traces the course of the Wedekinds’ passionate marriage, which ended in Tilly’s Frank’s premature death.

This new work is a production of the Sideshow Physical Theatre Company in collaboration with the University of California, Davis Department of Theatre & Dance. Tilly No-Body: Catastrophes of Love is directed by Miles Anderson, with music by David Roesner. (Sample the song, “Tilly Dances,” at http://www.colorblind-visuals.com/files/tillydances.mp3)

Performances of Tilly No-Body: Catastrophes of Love runs through October 24 at the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis (which is near Sacramento). For more info, check out Bella Merlin’s production blog at http://tillynobody-bellamerlin.blogspot.com/ An information page about the play can also be found at http://mondaviarts.org/events/event.cfm?event_id=933&season=2010


I won't have a chance to see this play. But, I would love to hear from anybody who might.


A postscript to this blog: Tilly Wedekind (1885-1970) lived a long time and even wrote a book, Lulu Die Rolle Meines Lebens, which was published in 1969. It has never been translated from the German. Tilly also appeared in four films, according to IMDb. There is also a book about her called Briefe an Tilly Wedekind, 1930-1955, by Gottfried Benn, which was published in 1986. I have a copy of Tilly's book, but have yet to track down a copy of the Benn book.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smore pics of LB at the SFPL

Here are a few more snapshots of the Louise Brooks / "Diary of a Lost Girl, from book to film" display at the San Francisco Public Library. This small display can be found on the fourth floor.

As was mentioned in yesterday's blog, I will be speaking about my new "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library on LB's birthday - Sunday, November 14th at 1 pm.

The event is co-sponsored by the Art, Music, and Recreation Center of the SFPL and the Louise Brooks Society. My thanx go out to Gretchen Good, Maureen Russell and the other SFPL librarians who have been so very helpful in setting up this event and these promotional displays.

I hope to see some of you there. If you haven't already gotten a copy of The Diary of a Lost Girl, its available through Lulu.com as well as other online retailers.Yesterday, I spent some time updating the informational pages on the book at www.pandorasbox.com/diary.html There, you can find information about other events as well places where it can be purchased.


Praise for the new edition of THE DIARY OF A LOST GIRL

"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." -- Leonard Maltin, Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy


"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

"Read today, it's a fascinating time-trip back to another age, and yet remains compelling. As a bonus, Gladysz richly illustrates the text with stills of Brooks from the famous film." -- Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

"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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Louise Brooks at the San Francisco Public Library

On November 14th, I will be speaking about my new "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl at the San Francisco Public Library. This sensational / controversial / bestselling 1905 book by Margarete Bohme has been out-of-print in the United States for more than 100 years. I brought it back into print and wrote a 20-plus page introduction detailing its remarkable history and relationship to the 1929 G.W. Pabst film starring Louise Brooks. This special event (on LB's birthday) will take place in the Koret auditorium.


Should all go according to plan, I will give a short 10-15 minute talk (with power point presentation) before a screening of the celebrated 1929 film. Copies of my new bookwill also be for sale in the lobby. A booksigning will follow the screening.

I am expecting a good crowd, as I've heard back from many friends & fans and notices have already appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle website, the BookForum website, and on Facebook, Craigslist, Yelp, MySpace and elsewhere. The Koret Auditorium holds 235 people.


The good folks at the SFPL have also been promoting the event. They put up a small exhibit on the fourth floor, and a larger than life portrait of Louise Brooks fill one of the light boxes on that same floor (as pictured above). It's hard to miss and looks lovely. Here are some pictures of the display, which is made up of mostly vintage material from my collection relating to the original book. Do check it out!


I can also report that the SFPL has four copies of The Diary of a Lost Girl in their collection, and each and every one of them are out on loan - and, two of those copies have holds placed on them. Someday, this little book might just prove popular. I have also heard that a local reading group which adopted the book as their November selection will be attending the November 14th event.

I hope to see some of you there. If you haven't already gotten a copy of The Diary of a Lost Girl, its available through Lulu.com as well as other online retailers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sight & Sound article on Pandora's Box

The current issue of Sight & Sound (the British film magazine) has a long, illustrated article about Pandora's Box (or at least their website does) focusing on Neil Brand's accompaniment of a restored print of the film the other day in London. Check it out at http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/newsandviews/festivals/blog/lff-2010-10-15-pandoras-box.php

Saturday, October 16, 2010

For the record

For the record, this is not an image of Louise Brooks - just a nice-looking contemporary look-alike. This model, namely Mischa Barton, is sometimes mistaken for the silent film star, and this image is being offered on eBay as an image of Louise Brooks. Not.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vanity Fair

Reports have it that there is a picture of Louise Brooks on page 106 of the November, 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. I haven't seen it yet. Has anyone ?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yours for only $7,966.00

A book once owned by Louise Brooks is for sale on eBay. The book, Film Star Portraits of the Fifties, is signed and inscribed by the actress. The book, edited by John Kobal, was published by Dover in 1980. Seemingly, a copy of the book was sent to Brooks by the author. She received it and inscribed it "From Dover and Kobal, 20 Sept 1980." Eight days later, she gave the book to Valerie, and inscribed it once again. The seller is asking $7,966.00.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yours for only $3,000

This exceptional art deco style insert poster for the 1927 Louise Brooks film, Evening Clothes, is for sale on eBay. I do admit, I haven't seen anything like it before. The seller is asking $3,000. These posters were originally available from Paramount for 25 cents. (Apparently, they could be leased for such a price - as indicated at the bottom of the poster.) This poster measures 14" x 36".

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Love Em and Leave Em tonight

Louise Brooks is the girl who vamps em and pets em.
Evelyn Brent is the girl who love’s em and leaves ‘em.
Lawrence Gray is the boy who can’t choose between ‘em.

Is it really the best policy to get, pet, love, leave and forget?

Find out tonight, when I'll be introducing a rare 16mm screening of Love Em and Leave Em in the Edison Theater at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California. Showtime is 7:30 pm

Before the film, I'll be signing copies of my new "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl in the Niles Essanay gift shop. And, I be giving away a free mini LB pinback button to everyone who purchases a book. Hope to see some of you there. 

More info at examiner.com and Artsopolis or at SFGate and Facebook.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Jack Garner discusses working with Louise Brooks

Jack Garner discusses working with Louise Brooks in a new article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle at http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20101008/LIVING0107/10080301/1052/ENT (see end of article).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Louise Brooks on the cover of the Police Gazette

Louise Brooks appeared on the cover of the Police Gazette, a large format tabloid, on April 4, 1925. This is in all likely-hood her first magazine cover appearance. A copy of this publication is currently for sale on eBay.


The text beneath Brooks' image reads, "A charming young dancer in a big Broadway musical show." The show the caption refers to is "Louie the Fourteenth," which was then playing at the Cosmopolitan Theater in New York City. The caption also predicts a bright future for the dancer.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Louise Brooks private journals to be unveiled

It's been a quarter of a century years since Louise Brooks passed away. Before her death, she bequeathed her private journals to the George Eastman House with instructions they remain sealed for 25 years.

Today, Variety reports that her journals have been unsealed and "Eastman staffers have been poring over the journals before making them available to the public." Read more at http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118024992.html?categoryid=13&cs=1

I wonder if Brooks diaries and letters will also made public? We can only hope, as we all know the actress was a gifted writer and something of a braniac. Stay tuned.

Chin up

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