Friday, August 9, 2013

Lehigh University newspaper weighs in on The American Venus

I was stumbling around the Lehigh University website recently when I noticed that the school's newspaper, The Brown and White, had been scanned and put on line in a searchable format. I looked up "Louise Brooks" and found newspaper advertisements for a couple of her films in which the actress was noted as starring. Those films were Now We're in the Air (which showed at the same time as Metropolis - "words can't describe it") in November, 1927 and then again in February, 1928 as well as Beggars of Life in November, 1928.

I then did a search for film titles (where Brooks was not listed), and found advertisements for The Street of Forgotten Men screenings in October, 1925 and January, 1926. I also turned up an advertisement for a three day run for The American Venus in February, 1926. This showing of the film also received a humorous review of sorts which is well worth reading. (Click on the image to view a bigger copy.)

The review suggests that the Thursday afternoon matinee of The American Venus was very, very, very popular - so much so the writer wondered whether classes at Lehigh had been cancelled! The Miss Bay Port referenced in the piece is indeed Louise Brooks, while the Miss America critiqued for her acting was Fay Lanphier - who was Miss America in 1925.

Almost 60 years later, Louise Brooks' best known film, Pandora's Box, was shown at Lehigh. The campus silent cinema series screened what it described as the "one of the most subtly erotic films ever made," presented by Professor Michael Pressler. 

Lehigh University (located in in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) is one of a number of college newspapers I have searched - either over the web on on microfilm - looking for Louise Brooks-related material. They include the University of Michigan, Harvard, USC, UCLA, University of California, Berkeley and others.

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