Monday, February 11, 2013

Louise Brooks influence on contemporary (ac)tresses

Just last week, an article ran on the AfterElton website about the making of Cabaret, the 1972 film based on Christopher Isherwood's The Berlin Stories. The piece included interviews with some of the principals involved in the hit movie. Liza Minelli said this:
Well I was sitting with my dad, who was the quietest man, and he helped me so much with the look of Sally. I had thought that Sally should look like Marlene Dietrich. I thought, that's what the '30s was! But my dad said "No, no" and he showed me pictures of Louise Brooks, Louise Glaum, Theda Bara - so I got interested in it. And I designed the makeup before I went over there.
The influence of Louise Brooks on the look of Sally Bowles (as played by Liza Minelli) has been mentioned before. It is also one of a number of instances where Brooks' look - especially her hair - has affected the appearance and behavior of a movie character. Other widely acknowledged examples include Cyd Charisse in Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Melanie Griffith in Something Wild (1986).

Another instance of Brooks' influence just recently came to my attention. Molly Ringwald hairstyle in Pretty in Pink (1986), apparently, was also based on Brooks' bobbed hair. In her 2010 book, Getting the Pretty Back, Ringwald writes: "I decided that I was not going to be one of those "long hair" girls. . . .  I was better off creating my own look and embracing it. I looked to the past for inspiration. Louise Brooks for the bob in Pretty in Pink. . . . " Later in her book, Brooks is evoked again.


  1. The Brooks bob also influenced the hair style of Anna Karina in one or two Godard films in the 60s - I'm pretty sure it was a definite hommage. Supposedly a photo of Brooks hung in the front of Henry Langlois' Cinematheque (along w/Dietrich); the French definitely loved her.

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