Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Louise Brooks, or at least a very good likeness of the actress, appears on the cover of a new book, peering over the shoulder of novelist Ernest Hemingway. The book, One True Sentence by Craig McDonald, was released just last week.
Set in Paris in 1924, One True Sentence is a historical and literary pastiche. The publisher describes it thus: "A Moveable Feast meets The Dante Club in this exquisite mystery that takes readers from the cafés of Montparnasse, through the historic graveyards of Paris, to the smoky backrooms of bookstores and salons."
The story centers on one "Hector Lassiter, crime novelist and best friend of Ernest Hemingway, [who] is crossing the Pont Neuf when he hears a body fall into the Seine, the first in a string of brutal murders that befall literary magazine editors on both banks of the City of Lights. Eager to solve the mystery, Gertrude Stein gathers the most prominent crime and mystery writers in the city, including Hector and the dark and intriguing mystery novelist Brinke Devlin. Soon, Hector and Brinke are tangled not only under the sheets but in a web of murders, each more grisly than the next, and Hemingway, Hector, and Brinke have to scramble to find the killer before they become the next victims."
I think the cover is attractive, and the book sounds like a fun read. The author, Craig McDonald, is a journalist, editor, and fiction writer. In 2008, his debut novel, Head Games, was nominated for an Edgar and was also a finalist for the Anthony, Gumshoe, and Crimespree awards for best first novel. His previous book is Print the Legend. I've emailed McDonald asking for comment.
And by the way, doesn't the woman to the right of the Eiffel Tower look like actess Lya De Putti ? I think so.
UPDATE 2/23/2011: I heard back from author Craig McDonald. He wrote, "The woman depicted on the cover of the book is an artist's conception of a character in the book who is a mystery writer named Brinke Devlin. Louise is not a character in the book (although I am an admitted fan of Ms. Brooks')."
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I haven't seen it yet, but I'm told there is a photo of Louise Brooks on page 211 of the March (Hollywood) issue of Vanity Fair, in a story about femmes fatales. It is the latest appearance in the magazine by the actress, who first graced its pages in the 1920's,
Monday, February 14, 2011
Here's one that gives pause.
Currently for sale on eBay is a candid photograph of the Austrian-born actor Francis Lederer. He, of course, co-starred in the G.W. Pabst-directed Pandora's Box (1929), with Louise Brooks. In the film, Lederer played Brooks' eventual lover, Alwa.
According to the seller, this candid image was taken in Hollywood in 1940 by a fan named Mary Louise (coincidentally Brooks' actual first and last name).
It's known that Louise Brooks was in Hollywood at the time. She left in 1940 and returned to Kansas.
I am not saying that this photo was taken by Louise Brooks. It wasn't. But the string of coincidences sure does give one pause. (Insert Twilight Zone theme here.)
I've done a fair amount of research on this period of Brooks' life - the time she was living and working in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. Lederer lived there, as did many of her co-stars from her American films. Ruth St. Denis also came to town for performances. However, I never came across any evidence or printed record which indicated that Brooks reached out or associated with individuals from her past. Aside from a small circle of new friends, she really seemed to be a loner.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Though no Louise Brooks films were shown at yesterday's San Francisco Silent Film Festival winter event, the actress, I'm happy to report, was well represented just about everywhere.
Yesterday, I did my last formal book signing for the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl. To promote the my booksigning and others, an image of the book (with Brooks on the cover) was shown on the big screen of the historic Castro Theater. And afterwords, more than a few fans, as well as old friends like Bob Wilkins (pictured below), lined up to get a copy of the book. I was also pleased as well to have sold one of the rare hardback limited edition copies of this recently published book (a copy can be spotted on the table in front of me).
Sitting next to me was Karie Bible (pictured left, above), co-author of Location Filming in Los Angeles (Arcadia). Though we've emailed and are Facebook friends, this was the first time Karie and I really met. She is also the official tour guide for Hollywood Forever Cemetery and the creator of FilmRadar.com, a website dedicated to Los Angeles repertory and revival films. Karie has also spoken about film at various venues including the RMS Queen Mary, and has appeared on Turner Classic Movies. Location Filming in Los Angeles is an outgrowth of her interest in film.
Also among those at the event was documentary filmmaker Hugh Neely, whose Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu, should be well known to all fans of Louise Brooks. If you haven't seen this stylish, Barry Paris-penned documentary - go out and find a copy NOW. It is splendid.
I first met Hugh (pictured above with yours truly) at the Cinecon film convention in Hollywood some years ago, before the Emmy-nominated Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu first aired on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in 1998. Hugh, like many of you, is a big fan of the actress. Thus, I was pleased to be able to present him with a copy of my book. I also told him about cartoonist Rick Geary, whose rubber stamp depiction of Louise Brooks I use while signing books. As the steward of TimeLine films, Hugh Neely has also made an number of other outstanding documentaries, including films on Clara Bow, Olive Thomas, Theda Bara, Mary Pickford, Cecil B. DeMille, Marion Davies and others. Each are exceptional.
The two vendors at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival winter event, Books Inc and the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, each carried a few Louise Brooks items, such as books, DVDs, postcards and art. I spotted a few festival patrons, some sporting Louise Brooks' bobs, purchasing some of each. All in all, it was a good day for silent film and Louise Brooks.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Writer & acclaimed comix artist Rick Geary draws a portrait of silent film actress Louise Brooks, to whom he is related. Geary is shown here in timelapse video.
I've been in touch with Geary in the past. Over on examiner.com, I had written about his graphic novel, Famous Players, the Mysterious Death of William Desmond Taylor (NBM Publishing). Geary is also the author of a graphic novel about the Bloody Benders of Kansas, whose crimes took place not so far in time and place from Cherryvale.
I first became aware of Geary (and his connection to Brooks) through Barry Paris. When I put on an event with Barry in San Francisco for the reissue of his biography of Louise Brooks, Barry signed books and then rubber stamped them using a rubber stamp design created by Geary. I carry on the tradition. At past events for The Diary of a Lost Girl, and at today's booksigning at the Castro Theater, I will be stamping copies of books with the Rick Geary design. It's similar, but not the same, as the image depicted in the video above.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
There has been a good deal in the press lately about Mlle. God, the Nicholas Kazan adaption of Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays. The Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA premiere of Mlle. God runs through March 6.
Earlier, referring to Louise Brooks' role as Lulu in the 1929 film, Pandora's Box, Kazan stated "I was inspired by Wedekind, by Pabst, and most of all by Louise Brooks’ luminous comic performance.” And today, in an interview with Los Angeles Times, the Oscar-nominated director was asked what inspired him to reconsider the Lulu plays and character? Kazan's answered, "Watching Louise Brooks in “Pandora’s Box,” G.W. Pabst’s 1929 film adaptation of Wedekind’s plays. Wedekind saw his story as a tragedy; Louise Brooks sees it as a triumph."
Check out the entire interview with Kazan at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/02/the-spotlight-nicholas-kazan-on-mlle-god-at-atwater-village-theatre.html
Monday, February 7, 2011
The LA Times Magazine has published a list of the 50 most beautiful women in film - and Louise Brooks is number six. Of her near contemporaries, only Greta Garbo (#16) and Hedy Lamarr (#27) made the list. The complete list can be found at
Sunday, February 6, 2011
The latest adaption of Frank Wedekind's Lulu’s is Mlle. God, a new play loosely adapted by Nicholas Kazan from the original Wedekind texts. Naturally, many of the reviews have mentioned Louise Brooks, who played Lulu in G.W. Pabst's 1929 film adaption.
Kazan is an Oscar-nominated writer and director and the son of acclaimed director Elia Kazan, as well as the father of Zoe Kazan (who played the role of Lulu in a production at Yale University.) The Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA premiere of Mlle. God runs through March 6. Read more at http://www.examiner.com/louise-brooks-in-national/lulu-character-featured-new-play-mlle-god#ixzz1DEKc9VYd
In Mlle. God, Kazan has re-invented Wedekind’s Lulu, creating a muscular and outrageous dark comedy that is a paean to sex, art, and living in the millisecond. “I was inspired by Wedekind, by Pabst, and most of all by Louise Brooks’ luminous comic performance,” says Kazan. “Sex is, in a way, so simple...the means by which we reproduce. But the experience itself can be so powerful that it overwhelms us...as Lulu does. This is why the character, with her playful joy, still feels so dangerous and shocking: she refuses to assign a moral weight to what is, after all, a biological necessity."
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I will be signing copies of The Diary of a Lost Girl (Louise Brooks edition) at the Castro Theater during the upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival winter event on February 12.
Though I will be hanging around throughout the day, the set time for me and others to sign books is after the conclusion of Charlie Chaplin shorts program, around 2:15 pm. [Also signing are Karie Bible, co-author of Location Filming in Los Angeles, and Julie Lindow, editor and co-author of Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres.] I and the other authors may also be signing for a brief time around 6:00 pm, after L'Argent. This book signing is likely the last event for the book.