Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New novel with Louise Brooks cover - The Killing of Emma Gross

Speaking of Weimar Berlin. . . .  there is a new novel coming out in softcover in the UK which features Louise Brooks on the cover. The book, The Killing of Emma Gross, by Damien Seaman, will be published in the UK as a paperback by Five Leaves Publications and as an ebook by Blasted Heath in June 2013. The book will also be available as an ebook in the United States. 

I have an interest in all things Weimar Berlin, and am interested in reading this new novel, which is based on the true story of notorious serial killer Peter Kürten and the unsolved murder of Düsseldorf prostitute Emma Gross. And anyways, I have to try and acquire a copy for my ever growing collection of Louise Brooks book covers.

The Killing of Emma Gross is a historical thriller, a police procedural set in Weimar Republic-era Germany. Here is the publisher supplied description: 

"Dusseldorf prostitute Emma Gross has been murdered and the police have charged Peter Kurten, the 'Vampire of Dusseldorf', the first man ever to be called a serial killer. Murderer, yes, but did he commit this particular crime? The arresting officer, Thomas Klein, thinks not, even though Kurten has confessed. These are the dying days of Weimar Germany, the police force is increasingly divided between right and left. It is a dangerous time. Klein thinks that the real killer is somewhat closer to home. Yet the only people who can help him include a Communist journalist, Gross's friends, and others in the underworld who hate the police. This is a novel of obsession set in the wild days of Weimar, doomed to end with the Nazi takeover."

In an interview, UK author Julie Morrigan asked about motivation, and Seaman answered this way: "I lived in Berlin for several years and fell in love with the place. Having done a history degree that ended up dampening a lot of my enthusiasm for the subject, living in Berlin awoke my passion for the past and made me want to write about what happened there. I was also reading a lot of noir and hardboiled crime at the time, and I wanted to marry the sensibilities of American hardboiled literature with the expressionist movies and art of early 20th century Germany. When I decided to look for a real life murder case to base my story on, the most compelling one was that of Peter Kürten – the so-called Vampire of Düsseldorf – so I ended up pouring all of my inspiration about Berlin into a novel about Düsseldorf instead."

The Killing of Emma Gross is Damien Seaman's debut novel. Check it out.


Monday, April 29, 2013

1920s Berlin cabaret uncovered

I wonder if Louise Brooks ever visited the Berlin cabaret mentioned in this December 2012 BBC story and video? Check it out at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20656929 (Thank to Bryan McCarthy for pointing out this news story.)

And for fun, here is a video tour around Berlin in 1929, the same year she was there making Pandora's Box and The Diary of a Lost Girl for G.W. Pabst.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Louise Brooks Society on Twitter

The Louise Brooks Society is on Twitter @LB_Society. The LBS is followed by more than 1,500 fans. Why not be one of them? Be sure and visit the LBS Twitter profile, and check out
the more than 1,900 LBS tweets so far!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Louise Brooks inspired electro swing speakeasy

Speaking of Louise Brooks ever growing popularity in England . . . . in London, there is a popular  electro swing speakeasy called White Mink which has more than a little Louise Brooks about it. Witness their Louise Brooks pearls-portrait look-alike logo.


And too, this promotional image for White Mink's larger venue in Brighton, which uses an early Louise Brooks nude.


What's it all about? Here is what the website itself says. "WHITE MINK is the zeitgeist-capturing speakeasy where the sounds and styles of the 1920s and 30s are turned on their head and smuggled into the 21st century.

What started out as a launch party for our compilation CD series; White Mink : Black Cotton (Electro Swing vs Speakeasy Jazz), became the accidental hub of a clubbing scene and subsequently a hot festival circuit attraction. White Mink also runs the regularly sold out Electro Swing nights at London’s Book Club, our own pop-up nights and has hosted stages at dozens of major UK festivals since 2009.

The production company is run by a stylish triumvirate of Nick Hollywood, Chris Tofu and Dan O’Neill. Under the White Mink name they bring together the finest DJs, VJs, live bands, dancers, cabaret and burlesque performers for an unforgettable and unrivaled speakeasy experience."

For more about White Mink, check out their website. It is full of stylish video, audio, images, events  and more.

On a not unrelated note, the Louise Brooks Society has also noticed a Youtube video of a retro-styled "chap-off" which took place at a White Mink event. The screen grab shown here includes the famous pearls portrait of Louise Brooks displayed on stage.


The video embedded below, "Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer Vs Professor Elemental," was shot in Sussex, England in 2011. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dodge Brothers & Neil Brand accompany Beggars of Life in UK

The Dodge Brothers & Neil Brand will accompany Beggars of Life at the Aldeburgh Cinema in Suffolk, England. The May 5th screening, which takes place at 8:00 pm, is part of SOUNDS & SILENTS: A Festival of Silent Film & Live Music.


Directed by William Wellman, Beggars of Life (1928) tells the story of a girl who attempts to escape the country with a young vagabond after killing her abusive step-father. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police and reach Canada. The film stars Wallace Beery as rail-riding hobo Oklahoma Red and Louise Brooks as Nancy, the girl on the run. Many consider Beggars of Life Brooks' best American film.

The Dodge Brothers are composed of Aly ‘Dodge’ Hirji (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Mike ‘Dodge’ Hammond (lead guitar, lead vocals, banjo, dobro), Mark ‘Dodge’ Kermode (double bass, harmonica, ukulele, accordion, vocals), Alex ‘Dodge’ Hammond (washboard, snare drum,  percussion), and Neil ‘Dodge’ Brand (piano). More on the band can be found at http://www.dodgebrothers.co.uk/

"BEGGARS OF LIFE and the Dodge Brothers - deep dish Americana, rail-riding hoboes and Louise Brooks - they were made for each other." -- Bryony Dixon, Curator of silent film, BFI National Archive

"Wistful, sometimes mournful, sometimes dangerous, sometimes galloping blue-grass  … my advice to anyone is buy your ticket early!" -- Richard O'Brien (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Another new Lulu comic, Louise et les loups, by Marion Mousse

Lulu, by John Linton Roberson, is not the only new Lulu-inspired comic. . . . Only recently, I was made aware of Louise Brooks tome 1 - Louise et les loups, by Marion Mousse. This 160-page French release, whose subtitle translates as Louise and Wolves, dates from late 2012.

The description from Amazon France, translated on Google Chrome, reads "What remains of Louise Brooks today? Everyone knows that face the evil and unforgettable beauty, but what do we know of the silent film star who is a few years past the ephemeral actress status to icon? Louise Brooks, wife of 20 years, is still the epitome of fatal beauty. A free agent, who wanted to enjoy his life, beyond a sexist and hypocritical morality which reduced its simple role as a woman. In the vein of Seth and Daniel Clowes, Marion Moss gives us a biography in the form of testimony by which we discover the battle of the actress. A strong and humorous graphic style to elegant narrative."

The author biography, from the same page, reads "Marion Moss was born in 1974 in Chabeuil (26) and now lives in Marseille. His first comic book published in 2001: Phineas, album black and white pseudo-philosophical but humorous published by TreizeÉtrange. It then adjusts Moonfleet, a novel published in 1896 Falkner, also made into a film by Fritz Lang in 1954, Moonfleet. He then launches into a loose adaptation of the novel by Théophile Gautier: Sunder will be published in three volumes between May 2004 and May 2005. In From Outer Space, released in late 2006 at Six feet underground, Marion Moss to offer a parody of science fiction through his hero Everett Scool, traveling interstellar trade and representative combs ... In brown head, he wrote in a thriller Las Vegas 60s around the controversial figure of Frank Sinatra. Amateur film of the year 50/60, but also a great reader of science fiction novels, he confesses his admiration for Jarry Queneau. And BD, De Crecy, Blutch, Sempe and Mignola .. More recently, he adapted Scum days of Boris Vian Delcourt (collection mirages)."

Despite the rough translation, one can gleam enough to more or less understand what it's about. (Here is a French language review.) I haven't yet seen a copy, but hope to get one soon - if I can find one. Has anyone seen this new comic?


Friday, April 19, 2013

LULU, a comic, by John Linton Roberson


Lulu is a newly published comic, or graphic novel, by John Linton Roberson. It is based on the Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind. Those same plays, of course, were the basis for the G.W. Pabst film, Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks. They also were the basis for Alban Berg's opera, Lulu, as well as the Lulu Reed & Metallica recording, Lulu, and much else. 

These incarnations of Lulu inspired Roberson, who offers an original and up-to-date take on Lulu and her archetypal story. According to Martin Pasko, who wrote the introduction, "LULU translates into graphic storytelling terms Wedekind’s meditation on sexual repression and its role in facilitating exploitative seduction with all its disturbing ferocity intact." This ain't for the faint of heart, nor the underage. Roberson's work has been described by critics as "fairly obsessed with sex & death." He disagrees with "fairly."

Roberson's latest is book one of Lulu. More volumes are in the works. In an extensive interview with Robb Orr on the Comics Forge website, Roberson was asked, "Which elements of Wedekind’s LULU inspired you to adapt it into a comic format?" 


Partly its history–it’s been adapted a number of times before to different media, most famously as Alban Berg’s opera and, even more famously, Pabst’s silent film with Louise Brooks PANDORA’S BOX (which is basically just the second play, and which most readers if interested can see on TCM quite often). Brooks in fact became so identified with Lulu that the name is almost a synonym for her, but i avoided my Lulu looking like her. Mine is based on an Italian actress some might know from 1900 and SUSPIRIA, Stefania Casini. But it was also adapted as a film in 1923 with Asta Nielsen and in 1980 by Walerian Borowczyk for French TV. That particular version is interesting–though it’s not the best–because it deals with the erotic content of the plays more openly than other versions, though Berg’s opera does so too; besides that it’s one of the few modernist operas that appears regularly, it’s also one of the only ones to regularly feature nudity and sexual content. That caught my interest because most people seem to think the classics are “clean” and I like to point out that they’re not, that’s just how we’re taught they are. The work takes a remarkably modern view of sexuality and women–both with Lulu and Geschwitz–and challenges a lot of our set ideas of how women were viewed at the time. It’s also never been adapted for comics, as far as I know, except one scene used in Moore & O’Neill’s LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: CENTURY 1910, mashed up with–and killed by–Macheath from THREEPENNY OPERA. And then there’s that it’s a chance to do something in comics very different than a lot of the sci-fi, horror and superhero stuff that presently predominates, and of which I’m kinda sick.


John Linton Roberson is the creator of VITRIOL, VLADRUSHKA, ROSA & ANNALISA, MARTHA, the play SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF, and numerous other works in comics, script and prose. For more about the artist and his new work, check out his website. Lulu is available on Amazon.com and on Createspace.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wrong, wrong, and wrong again

For sale on eBay are a pair of vintage product cards, each of which were likely packaged along with candy, chocolates, cigarettes, or some other small item. The card on the left is without a doubt Louise Brooks. We know that image. However, the card on the right is identified as depicting Maurice Chevalier and Louise Brooks, but is wrong. The woman next to Chevalier is not Brooks, despite the card's identification.


First, we know that Brooks and Chevalier never appeared in a film together; they could have posed with one another for publicity purposes, though were not known to have. Ultimately, it comes down to this: the woman on the card is only an attractive look alike, and not a match. Having looked at countless image sof the actress, I am 100% certain this vintage card is incorrect.

Since the card is French, I would guess it was issued sometime around 1929 or 1930, and perhaps around the time Brooks' only French film was released, the popular Prix de Beaute (1930). The Clovis Chocolate company guesses it was Brooks, then popular in Paris, as was Chevalier, but got it wrong. Here is an image of the back of the cards.


To confuse matters a little more, here is a YouTube video of Maurice Chavelier singing the popular hit "Louise," from 1929. That song, from the soundtrack of the Paramount film Innocents of Paris, is not known to have had anything to do with Louise Brooks, though it had become associated with the actress in later years. Can anyone identify the women in the card standing next to Chevalier?


And while we are on the topic of misidentified Louise Brooks pictures, let me note here that the following two images do not depict Louise Brooks. Each is currently for sale on eBay, and each is identified as being Louise Brooks. The first is just an attractive look-alike, a repro of a vintage image of a showgirl or model. The second is bad photoshop job of an Alfred Cheney Johnston portrait.


Brooks, as readers of the Barry Paris biography know, was photographed in the nude in 1925. She sued to have the photographs suppressed. I have seen those pictures. And this ain't them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Louise Brooks

Louise Brooks was not known as someone who smiled very often when photographed. Here is an early portrait, circa 1925. It depicts Louise Brooks at her pouty best.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Louise Brooks' childhood friend, Vivian Vance


If you wondering who the sultry women in the above picture might be, wonder no longer. . . . It's Vivian Vance, the television and theater actress best known for her role as Ethel Mertz, sidekick to Lucille Ball, on the American television sitcom I Love Lucy.

Before she got into television comedy, Vance (born Vivian Jones in 1909) was an accomplished stage actress who also had something of a career as torch singer in the 1930s, as the clipping below suggests. Vance is mentioned here because she, like Louise Brooks, was born in Cherryvale, Kansas. The two were childhood friends. Both of their families would relocate to Independence, Kansas (with Brooks' family then moving to Wichita). I wonder if Brooks was aware of Vance's early stage and music career? Does anyone know if there are recordings from Vance's time as singer?


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Louise Brooks: Byline as Mae Tinee

Today, the Chicago Tribune ran a fun and interesting article called "10 things you might not know about film critics." Among others, it discusses the reviews of Pulitzer Prize winners Carl Sandburg (the early 20th century poet and Lincoln biographer) and Rogert Ebert (the late film critic), each of whom wrote about Louise Brooks. And coming in at number 5 was this bit:
For decades, Tribune movie reviewers wrote under a fake byline as Mae Tinee (Get it? "Matinee"). Among the writers using the byline were Frances Peck Kerner, Anna Nangle and Maurine Dallas Watkins, who wrote the play that was adapted into the award-winning musical "Chicago."
What's interesting to note for fans of Louise Brooks is that "Mae Tinee" reviewed a number of films starring or featuring the actress. As is evident, Tinee had an appreciation for Brooks. Here is a chronological list.

Tinee, Mae. "Bathing Beauties or Trick Dog - Your Choice Offered." Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1926.
--- "The story isn't a world heater, but it's an interesting little yarn so well directed and beautifully boxed that it will sell anywhere. . . . The film doesn't drag a minute."

Tinee, Mae. "Adolphe Menjou Proves He's No One Role Actor." Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1926. 
 --- "Louise Brooks, who plays the small town sweetheart who want to make a peacock out of her razorbill, is a delightful young person with a lovely, direct gaze, an engaging seriousness, and a sudden, flashing smile that is disarming and winsome. A slim and lissome child, with personality and talent."

Tinee, Mae. "Ford Sterling Almost a Perfect Bumptious, Bombastic Show Off." Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1926. 
 --- " . . . splendidly cast and acted." 

Tinee, Mae. "Great Little Picture with Fancy Trimmings on View at Chicago." Chicago Tribune, November 30, 1926. 
 --- "Louise Brooks is ideal in the role of hard-boiled, lying man-eating Janie." 

Tinee, Mae "Sousa Makes Picture Seem Mere Piffle." Chicago Tribune, May 4, 1927.
 --- "Miss Valli has often done better and looked better. Also, the same of Louise Brooks, who looses all distinctiveness with the coiffure she has adopted, and becomes just like a million other girls."

Tinee, Mae "Title Flaunts Suggestion but Means Nothing." Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1927.
--- "Two brothers go to the same college and fall for the same girl. [Louise Brooks, can you blame them ?]."

Tinee, Mae. "Wallace and Raymond Take a Little Flyer in Aviation." Chicago Tribune, December 6, 1927.
--- "Louise Brooks as twins, is - are - a beautiful foil for the stars and if you think she doesn't marry both of them before the picture ends, why, cogitate again, my darlings."

Tinee, Mae. "Meighan Comes Back with Old-Time Wallop." Chicago Tribune, December 11, 1927.
--- review of City Gone Wild

Tinee, Mae "Mr. M'Laglen This Time Is a Battling Tar." Chicago Tribune, March 1, 1928.
--- "Various damsels rage through the action, but to Louise Brooks falls, as should, the plum feminine characterization. She pulls it off in her customary deft fashion - and the enchanting bob in which she first appeared before the movie camera."

Tinee, Mae. "Movie Reveals Gay Cat's Life, Far from Gay." Chicago Tribune, October 18, 1928
--- review of Beggars of Life

Tinee, Mae. "'It,' Man Movie Is Nonsense, but It Entertains." Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1931
--- review of God's Gift to Women

Tinee, Mae. "Slot Machine Racket Bared in This Movie." Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1937. 
 --- capsule review of King of Gamblers

 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Louise Brooks by Preston Duncan

A rather appealing portrait of Louise Brooks by Preston Duncan, circa 1931.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Artist William Kentridge to produce Lulu opera in 2015


Though it's not news, I was pleased to learn just recently that famed South-African artist, filmmaker and designer of opera and theater William Kentridge will direct a new production of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu, for the Met in 2015. According to the Chicago Sun-Times,
Kentridge was celebrated with a major retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2010, mounted in conjunction with The Nose, the Shostakovich opera he designed for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. He is now gearing up for his next big project — a return to the Met in the fall of 2015 with a production of Alban Berg’s sensational opera, Lulu.
Berg's opera, Lulu, was based on the Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind, which also served as basis for the G.W. Pabst film, Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks. Berg, as his widow has stated, had seen the Pabst film, and interestingly, he included a filmic element in his opera. How Kentridge stages this 20th century opera should prove fascinating. (Please note: the illustration provided here are not by Kentridge or associated with the forthcoming production of Lulu, and are displayed for decorative purposes only.)


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Remembering Roger Ebert (a fan of Louise Brooks)

I'll never forget the first time I met Roger Ebert, which was some years ago, as this snapshot testifies. 

At the time, I introduced myself as the director of Louise Brooks Society. Roger and I had the chance to chat for a bit, and he told me how much he liked visiting my Louise Brooks Society website, and how, on a few occasions, he had used the site while looking things up about the actress and her best known film, Pandora's Box. I was pleased. Roger was encouraging, and he also told me of his own affection for and interest in Louise Brooks. 

I encountered Ebert a few more times over the years, and continued to read his articles and columns. Ebert wrote about Louise Brooks a few times, while praising both Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl as great films. If you haven't already read his glowing reviews on those two films, then search them out. They have, in the past, been found on his website (which is unavailable as I write this - though here are links to Pandora's Box to Diary of a Lost Girl), as well as in his series of books, Great Movies and Great Movies II.

Ebert has also tweeted about Louise Brooks and her two famous films.

And a little more than a year ago, Ebert tweeted three times about the actress and Diary of a Lost Girl.
@ebertchicago:My Streamer of the Day. "Diary of a Lost Girl," a silent masterpiece with the immortal Louise Brooks. on.fb.me/GH64U0
@ebertchicago: New in my Great Movies Collection: Louise Brooks in Pabst's "Diary of a Lost Girl." Remorseless. On Netflix Instant. bit.ly/GHbzQK
@ebertchicago: The latest review in my Great Movies Collection: Louise Brooks in the unforgettable "Diary of a Lost Girl." bit.ly/GHbzQK
Ebert has also written about another Brooks' film, The Show-Off, in his "Ebert Club Newsletter." In 2010, Ebert wrote "Notice that whenever Louise Brooks is on screen, you simply can't focus on anyone else..."

I was also honored when Ebert tweeted about some of my own writings about Louise Brooks, mentioning and linking to stories I had written for the Huffington Post on Beggars of Life and on the Brooks' journals for examiner.com. Today, the world lost a great champion of the movies. And a big fan of Louise Brooks.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Valentina come Louise Brooks

Speaking of Valentina, and speaking of Louise Brooks . . . there is a recently published book which is terrific, and which every serious Brooks fan will want to own. The book was published in Italy in 2012 by Fandango Libri. It's Valentina come Louise Brooks - Il Libro Nascosto (Valentina as Louise Brooks - The Hidden Book), by Vincenzo Mollica and Antonio Crepax.


The book looks at the life and work of the late Italian cartoonist and illustrator Guido Crepax. And in particular, it looks at the creation of Crepax's most celebrated comix creation, Valentina, which was inspired by the silent film star Louise Brooks. Valentina come Louise Brooks - Il Libro Nascosto includes a handful of photographic images of Brooks, including one image of a portrait of Brooks on Crepax's desk, as well as numerous drawings of Brooks / Valentina by Crepax. The book also includes a few handwritten letters from Brooks to Crepax. 

All in all, it's a beautifully illustrated hardback book and a must read or must look for every Louise Brooks fan. If you don't read Italian, don't worry. Here, the pictures tell the story. Below is a snapshot of the front endpapers.


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