Friday, February 28, 2014

Louise Brooks to shine in Orinda, California (home of Fay Lanphier)

On March 1st at 1 pm, author Robert Murillo will read from his new Louise Brooks inspired novel, The Vanity, at Orinda Books in Orinda, California. Robert and his novel will be introduced by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. If you can't make this event and would like a signed copy of Robert's new book (and / or the Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl, edited by Thomas Gladysz), please contact the store by phone or email to place an order. The event has been getting a good deal of media attention, including this article in the nearby Contra Costa Times.

March 1, 2014 - 1 pm
Orinda Books
276 Village Square
Orinda, Ca 94563
925-254-7606

Believe it or not, but the Northern California community of Orinda has an unusual connection with one of Brooks' films. Orinda was home of Fay Lanphier, who starred in The American Venus (1926), Brooks' second film and the first film for which she received a film credit. (One of the other actors in The American Venus, Lawrence Gray, was born and raised in San Francisco.)

Lanphier was Miss America in 1925, the first Californian to win the honor. (She was also the 1925 Rose Bowl Queen.) As a renowned beauty, she was offered a film contract, and was starred in a major Paramount release, The American Venus, the storyline of which centers on a beauty contest.

According to an Oakland Tribune obituary, Lanphier "won the Miss California crown twice before being judged the most beautiful girl in the nation in Atlantic City, N.J. She was a 19-year-old secretary here when she was judged Miss America. The blond, hazel-eyed girl started her career as Miss Alameda, although she made her home in Oakland. She first won the Miss California title in 1924 and placed third in the national contest at Atlantic City that year. The next year she was chosen Miss California again and won the national contest in a walk-away."

After her controversial win as Miss America, Lanphier became an overnight celebrity, traveling to New York in President Coolidge's special railway car. Motorcycle officers escorted her through Manhattan. She was also toasted at a round of parties by such celebrities as Rudolph Valentino, Mae Murray, and Will Rogers. Lanphier estimated she earned $50,000 on a 16-week personal appearance tour during the year she wore the crown of Miss America. Despite her charms, Lanphier's film career never really took off. She appeared in only one other film, a Laurel and Hardy short called Flying Elephants (1928). She died at the age of 53 in 1959.

Lanphier was married to Sidney M. Spiegel, son of a wealthy Chicago store owner. That marriage ended in divorce after six months. In 1930, she married her former high school sweetheart Winfield J. Daniels, a Berkeley and San Jose book store operator, and settled down to life as a housewife in Orinda.

Both Lanphier and Brooks can be seen in the film clip below.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

When You're in Love - a round-up of reviews

When You're in Love was released on February 27th, 1937. The Robert Riskin directed and written film stars Grace Moore, Cary Grant, and Thomas Mitchell. Louise Brooks has an uncredited bit part as a dancer. (I've seen the film a few times, and have never been able to spot the actress.) Grace Moore, then a well-known opera singer, is delightful. She plays opposite Cary Grant, who was then just coming into his own as an actor and star. When You're in Love is a charming and entertaining film deserving of greater recognition.


The film was quite popular in its day. Here is a round up of reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

Soanes, Wood. "Curtain Calls." Oakland Tribune, December 31, 1936.
--- "Louise Brooks is certainly starting her come-back from the lowest rung of the ladder. She is one of a hundred dancers in the ballet chorus of Grace Moore's When You're in Love emerging from Columbia. In 1929 she was featured in The Canary Murder Case."

anonymous. "Moore's You're in Love Swell; Star at Her Best." Hollywood Reporter, February 13, 1937.
--- "With a more substantial story than the last two Grace Moore vehicles, When You’re in Love is a signal triumph for the foremost diva of the screen, for Cary Grant who should soar to stardom as result of his performance in this, and for Robert Riskin, here notably handling his first directorial assignment."

Maloney, Russell. New York World-Telegram, February 19, 1937.
--- "A glib and amusing discussion of things romantic and musical, it is one of the best films Miss Moore has had - a literate, tonic, diverting entertainment that may be attended by all in search of witty comedy and lilting melody."

Cinemaid. "Grace Moore Humor, Songs Enliven New Musical." San Francisco Call-Bulletin, February 26, 1937.
--- "Robert Riskin has equipped Miss Moore and Mr. Grant with a very amusing screen play and he has directed it to make the most of the humorous aspects of a marriage of convenience."

anonymous. "Torch-Song Diva." Literary Digest, February 27, 1937.
--- "Riskin, recalling shrewdly that scenarios were at their level best when minor characters were shuffled around in such a way as to sharpen the importance of majors in the cast, brings the same formula into his direction, and with like triumphant results for the cinema."

Schallert, Edwin. "Grace Moore Film Clever Offering." Los Angeles Times, March 4, 1937.
--- "However, the qualities of the film are quite Riskinish. There's no mistaking that."

Harris, Mary. "A Grace Moore Hit is on View at the Earle." Washington Post, March 6, 1937.
--- "Grace Moore gallantly sets out to prove she can suit every musical taste in her latest picture."

Wagner, Rob. Rob Wagner's Script, March 6, 1937.
--- "Here is the perfect combination - the director who writes his own script and delivers perfectly. . . Yes, I’m raving, not only because I’m 'a little boy who likes motion pictures,' as Fulton Oursler says, but because I’m a priest of beauty; and this picture thrilled me."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Today's three articles on Robert Murillo's The Vanity

On March 1st at 1 pm, author Robert Murillo will read from his new Louise Brooks inspired novel, The Vanity, at Orinda Books in Orinda, California. The event has received a good deal of  local publicity, including these three articles today.

The first, "An Orinda Author's Obsession: New novel melds fact and fiction, shines light on silent film star," appeared in the Lamorinda Weekly.

The second, "Louise Brooks to shine in Orinda," appeared on examiner.com.

And the third, "Orinda author turns fascination into novel," appeared in the San Jose Mercury News.

There was also an earlier article, "Orinda Resident Swaps Suits and Ties for Literary World," in the Orinda News in January.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Louise Brooks Encyclopedia: Fritz Kortner

Welcome to a new feature of the Louise Brooks Society blog - a monthly entry from Louise Brooks Encyclopedia. This second entry is devoted to actor Fritz Kortner.  The Austrian-born stage and film actor and later theater director played Dr. Ludwig Schön in G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1929).

Fritz Kortner with Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box (1929).

Born into a Jewish family in Vienna, Kortner studied at the city's Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Kortner took part in Vienna's rich cultural life, and around this time met the critic and satirist Karl Kraus, who helped shape the hopeful actor's thinking on the theater as well as his Jewish identity. (Earlier, in 1904, Kraus was instrumental in helping Wedekind stage his Lulu plays in Vienna.) After graduation, Kortner moved to Berlin to make his name. He joined Max Reinhardt's theater company in 1911, performing in King Oedipus, Faust, and Frank Wedekind's Erdgeist, where he likely met Tilly Wedekind. After five years with Reinhardt, Kortner joined Leopold Jessner's company. Kortner's breakthrough came in 1919 with his performance in Ernst Toller's Transfiguration; soon afterward, Kortner became one of Germany's best-known actors and the nation's foremost performer of Expressionist works. He went on to appear in many classical and modernist plays, including works by Arthur Schnitzler and Bertolt Brecht. 

Fritz Kortner (far right) as Schigolch in a 1919 production of Wedekind's Die Büchse der Pandora.Mirjam Horwitz (middle) played Lulu.

Kortner played Schigolch in a 1919 production of Die Büchse der Pandora at the Hamburger Kammerspiele. And in a 1926, in production at the Schauspielhaus Berlin, he was both Dr. Schön and Jack the Ripper. (The role of Lulu in the latter production was played by Gerda Müller, an actress with whom he had performed in Macbeth. Her circle included Brecht and the noted conductor Hermann Scherchen, to whom she was briefly married.)

Fritz Kortner (far right) as Jack the Ripper in a 1926 production of Wedekind's Die Büchse der Pandora.
Gerda Müller
(left) played Lulu, and Lucie Hoflich played the Countess Geschwitz (middle).
On stage, Kortner was known for his powerful voice and explosive energy; in the 1920's, however, his work began to incorporate greater realism as he developed a more controlled delivery and greater use of gesture. His considerable fame during the years of the Weimar Republic was linked to his playing Shakespeare's most problematic characters, Othello, Richard III, Hamlet, and especially Shylock. His presentation of the latter made him a target of the right, with Nazi pundits depicting the actor as a lecherous Jew. In March of 1929, not long after the debut of Pandora's Box, Kortner was falsely accused of raping a gentile woman.

Kortner appeared in over ninety films. His specialty was complex, sinister characters. His films include starring roles in Warning Shadows (1923, with Fritz Rasp),  The Hands of Orlac (1924), Beethoven (1927), The Woman One Longs For (1929), The Ship of Lost Men (1929, with Marlene Dietrich), Atlantic (1929, with Francis Lederer), Dreyfus (1930, with Fritz Rasp), and Chu Chin Chow (1934, with Anna May Wong), as well as later supporting roles in The Razor's Edge (1946) and Berlin Express (1948). In Pabst's Pandora's Box, Kortner reprised the role of Dr. Schön, a respected, middle-aged newspaper publisher entangled in a love affair with Lulu.

Like Pabst, Kortner was artistically and politically aligned against the Nazis. With Hitler's rise to power, the Jewish actor left Germany, emigrating in 1933 to Vienna, then to London, and then New York–where he renewed his friendship and was an advisor to the influential American journalist and broadcaster Dorothy Thompson. Eventually, Kortner ended up in Hollywood, where he found work as a character actor and theater director. His stay in Los Angeles brought him into contact with new acquaintances like Charlie Chaplin, and old friends and fellow exiles like Brecht, Salka Viertal, and Heinrich Mann. Following the war, Kortner along with Brecht and others committed themselves to rebuilding the German stage. The actor returned to his shattered homeland in 1949. In the decades that followed, he was noted for his innovative and sometimes controversial staging of classics by Molière, Schiller, and Shakespeare; in the latter's Richard  III (1964), the King crawls over piles of corpses at the play's end. Kortner penned his memoirs and died in Munich in 1970, at the age of 78.

Below are some scenes from Warning Shadows featuring Kortner.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Event for Robert Murillo's Louise Brooks-inspired novel "The Vanity"

On Saturday March 1st at 1 pm, author Robert Murillo will read from his new Louise Brooks inspired novel, The Vanity, at Orinda Books in Orinda, California. Robert and his novel will be introduced by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. Here is the description from the Orinda Books' Facebook event page:

"Local author Robert Murillo makes his first appearance at our bookstore! He debuts his new time-travel mystery starring jazz age screen icon Louise Brooks. Thomas Gladysz, the founding Director of the Louise Brooks Society, opens the event. He discusses the silent film actress who has fascinated many with her beauty and naturalistic performances. Courtesy of Robert, we have memorabilia on hand featuring Brooks and her signature bob. A signing and refreshments follow."


March 1, 2014 - 1 pm
Orinda Books
276 Village Square
Orinda, Ca 94563
925-254-7606

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks

Wow, what a lovely image of Louise Brooks

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Another Recently published novel features Louise Brooks

Just recently, I came across another new novel which features Louise brooks as a character. The actress and silent film star appears in Take Her For a Ride, which was published by Crucson Publishing earlier this month in February, 2013. Its author is Steven M. Painter.

I plan on reading this novel sometime soon. Here is the description of the book from the publisher. "It's 1930. The stock market crashed. The Great Depression is beginning. Hollywood is starting to rot underneath its glamour and lights. Nobody knows this better than producer Paul Russell. He has to save a movie studio from financial ruin. All he has at his disposal are a stack of horror scripts, some old sets, and unknown actors. The Hollywood pecking order applies to people as much as studios. Actress Lillian Nelson learned this lesson shortly after arriving in Los Angeles. Although she is dating Paul, she refuses to let him give her parts at his studio. She wants to make it on her own. Her attempt to overcome obstacles in order to insert herself into the public's heart is the stuff dreams and nightmares are made of in Hollywood. James Cagney, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Louise Brooks, and Jack Warner act as your guides while Take Her for a Ride peels back the skin of Hollywood's most glamorous age to reveal a core of talented businessmen, competent directors, and radiant stars."

About the author: "Steven M. Painter holds a master's degree in film studies from the University of Arizona. The majority of his research focuses on the films and culture of the 1930s. His master's thesis examined shifting gender roles in early-sound comedies. He has presented papers at conferences on topics ranging from Alfred Hitchcock to The Best Years of Our Lives. He majored in journalism at the University of New Mexico. Prior to studying film, he worked as a reporter for the Woodward News in Woodward, Oklahoma. When he isn't watching movies or writing, Painter enjoys sports, especially basketball.​"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Recently published novel features Louise Brooks

Just recently, I came across a new novel which features Louise brooks as a character. The actress and silent film star also appears on the cover of Virtually Forever, which was published by Eames Media in November of last year. Its author is Anthony Eames.

I haven't yet read the book, and do not know much about it. Here is the description of the book from the publisher.

"Virtually Forever is a love story with an unusual twist. Michael Stanton has an obsessive interest in the long-dead, hauntingly beautiful silent screen actor, Louise Brooks. Involved in an military program to replicate world leaders in a virtual reality domain, he clandestinely uses this technology to recreate the Jazz Age world of Louise Brooks. Entering it, he appears as a wealthy and mysterious stranger and, soon after meeting Louise, a love affair follows against the backdrop of Hollywood parties and studio politics. Back in the real world, Michael’s colleagues have discovered that there is an unknown intruder in their top-secret computer system. The plot weaves between Michael's tempestuous love affair with Louise and his desperate struggle to safeguard her and her world from annihilation — at any cost."

About the author: "A former newspaper journalist and television producer-scriptwriter, Anthony Eames’ varied career also includes roles as a book publishing editor, advertising copywriter and creative director and public relations consultant. A graduate of the BBC Television & Film School, he worked on documentaries, current affairs and magazine programs for several broadcasting organizations in the UK. In Australia, he jointly operated a successful TV production company for many years and has seven international film and video awards to his credit. An Anglo-Irishman living in Sydney, Australia, he is currently trying to reduce the demands of his communications consultancy so he can invest more time in writing projects. His interests include Roman history, philosophy, science and foreign languages. He relishes good food, stimulating company and unrestrained laughter. Anthony has traveled widely and worked in several countries. He is particularly interested in Asian cultures. Anthony is married to a Japanese molecular biologist"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hilton Als at San Francisco Public Library

Tomorrow, on Tuesday, February 18th, writer, critic, and White Girls (McSweeney's) author Hilton Als will be speaking at the San Francisco Public Library. I hope to attend.

The event description reads "Hilton Als, The New Yorker’s boldest cultural critic, deftly weaves together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of “white girls,” as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Malcolm X and Flannery O’Connor. Hear Hilton discuss his book at the San Francisco Main Library."

The event runs from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m in the Koret Auditorium, Main Library, at 100 Larkin St. in San Francisco.  More info at http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1016187601

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Canary Murder Case - a round-up of reviews

The Canary Murder Case was officially released on February 16th, 1929. Based on the bestselling and once critically acclaimed detective novel by S.S Van Dine, the Malcolm St. Clair-directed film stars William Powell as detective Philo Vance and Louise Brooks as Margaret O'Dell ('The Canary"); also in the cast are Jean Arthur, James Hall , Eugene Pallette, Gustav von Seyffertitz, and Louis John Bartels.


The film, which opened around the country before its official release date, was generally well received and also widely written about. Today, however, it is considered one of the weakest of Brooks' American films of the 1920s. Shot as a silent, the film was not so successfully adapted as a talkie. At the time, critics were confused by the use of a voice double for Brooks. What follows is a round-up of reviews drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

anonymous. "The Canary Murder Case." Motion Picture, February, 1929.
--- picked as one of the best of the month

Parsons, Louella O. " 'Canary Murder Case' Pulsating Mystery Picture." Los Angeles Examiner, February 8, 1929.
--- "He [the director] was handicapped by no less a person than Louise Brooks, who plays the Canary. You are conscious that the words spoken do not actually emanate from the mouth of Miss Brooks and you feel that as much of her part as possible has been cut. She is unbelievably bad in a role that should have been well suited to her. Only long shots are permitted of her and even these are far from convincing when she speaks."

Taylor, Ken. "Now Put Philo Vance on Cock Robin Mystery." Los Angeles Evening Express, February 8, 1929.
--- "Louise Brooks plays the brief role of the Canary, the musical-comedy star whose personality is such that she is given deafening applause for merely swinging over an audience's head on a trapeze."

Warren, George C. "Talkie Tone Mastered By St. Clair." San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 1929.
--- "Louise Brooks is the hard-boiled 'Canary,' and Louise can be excessively evil when she tries - on the screen. She disappears early from the scene because of the little matter of murdering her, but while she is there she shows quite a considerable advance in finesse, and she uses her voice nicely."

W., D. "Mystery Tale Well Staged As Oakland All-Talkie." Oakland Post-Enquirer, March 2, 1929.
--- "It is generally known by this time that Margaret Livingston doubled for Louise Brooks in the dialogue sequences. Hence the not quite perfect synchronization in close-ups and the variety of back views and dimly photographed profiles of the Canary.

H., P. L. "The New Shows Reviewed." Knoxville Journal, March 5, 1929.
--- "In fact all of them do passably well, except Miss Brooks. Not once is she shown actually speaking. This defect is the most glaring in the picture."

Cannon, Regina. "Canary Murder Case Thriller." New York American, March 11, 1929.
--- "Louise Brooks, an 'It' gal with intelligence aplenty, plays the Canary. She's a bird in a gilded cage, to be sure, but wotta bird and wotta cage!"

Hall, Mordaunt. "Who Strangled the Dancer?" New York Times, March 11, 1929.
--- "The speech in this picture is well reproduced, but judging by the manner in which Louise Brooks is posed it is reasonable to assume that the voice one hears from the screen is not hers. It is not an especially pleasing voice and the lines given to this Margaret Odell, the Canary in the case, are hardly what one would imagine to be the manner of talking of a stage performer who had coaxed jewels from such men as are presented in this film."

Johaneson, Bland. "Thrills in Plenty on Broadway's Screens." Daily Mirror, March 11, 1929.
--- "Louise Brooks' magnificent legs ornament the screen for half the picture before she [is] murdered. But Louise is such a wicked little blackmailer, even the legs don't get your sympathy."

Polly. "At Loew's." Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 12, 1929.
--- "Louise Brooks is a lovely victim and as hard-boiled as she is lovely."

anonymous. "Photoplay Reviews." Cinncinnati Enquirer, March 25, 1929.
--- "The role of the murdered girl is played by Louise Brooks, who is much more satisfying optically than auditorilly."

P., J. E. "The Canary Murder Case." Billboard, March 16, 1929.
--- "Louise Brooks is mediocre as the Canary, but this does not detract from the production, as she appears in but a few scenes."

Coyne, Margaret L. "New Picture Plays." Syracuse Post-Standard, April 1, 1929.
--- "The only flaw is the substitution of another voice for that of Louise Brooks - the Canary - making necessary a number of subterfuges to disguise the fact."

Somers, Lee. "Van Dine Story Metropolitan's Film Offering." Washington Herald, April 15, 1929.
--- "Powell is good but not distinctive as the detective, but Louise Brooks is the hardest-boiled baby the screen has yet produced, in the role of the Canary."

Lusk, Norbert. "The Screen in Review: Who Killed The Canary?" Picture-Play, June, 1929.
-- "Louise Brooks, as the hardboiled Margaret Odell, is first seen smiling down to her lovers as she swings out over the audience from an elaborate stage setting. Later, when she frightens the gentlemen with a phone call, Margaret Livingston does some businesslike dialogue for her."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Louise Brooks Society on Twitter

The Louise Brooks Society is on Twitter @LB_Society. As of now, the LBS is followed by more than 2,320 individuals. Are you one of them? Why not join the conversation? Be sure and visit the LBS
Twitter profile, and check out the more than 3,010 LBS tweets so far!
Louise Brooks is trending in 2014!
The LBS twitter stream can also be found in the right hand column.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Louise Brooks & Frankie Trumbauer - Bye Bye Blues, 1930

Happy Valentines Day! Please enjoy these images of Louise Brooks set to the music of Frankie Trumbauer's "Bye Bye Blues" (1930), with vocal by Scrappy Lambert (who a couple of years earlier had recorded Beggars of Life).


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Louise Brooks - Her historic appearance in Japan

Lately, I've been reading Making Personas: Transnational Film Stardom in Modern Japan, by Hideaki Fujiki (Harvard University Asia Center). It is a fascinating scholarly work that looks at the way movie stars were "made" in Japan in the Teens, Twenties, and Thirties.

By "made" is meant the way their personas were presented and copied by those both in and outside the film world. This book covers Japanese stars of the time, as well as American stars and how they helped shape Japanese youth culture. It girl Clara Bow figures prominently as leading type of "modern girl" (the Japanese term for a flapper). Louise Brooks also figures in this a recommended book.

In Japan, Bow and Brooks was considered Moga (short for modan gāru, or "modern girl"). The term first appeared in 1923, and wasn't connected with any particular star. Soon enough, however, critics began to associate the "modern girl" type with certain American stars such as Brooks, Colleen Moore, and especially Bow. (Conversely, Mary Pickford, Janet Gaynor, and Lilian Gish were seen as an "old type.")

Eigagaku nyūmon (1928)
The fame these American actresses enjoyed in Japan was such that young women were reported to have modeled themselves after both Bow and Brooks. Critics in the late 1920s even remarked that Japanese youth knew about the two actresses than they did about classic literary figures or contemporary politicians. The two actresses were also compared and contrasted.

Picking through the footnotes and bibliography of Making Personas led me to Kimio Uchida's Eigagaku nyūmon, whose title translates as Introduction to Film Study. The book, pictured right, was published in Toyko in 1928. Remarkably, it's frontis image (I am not sure I can call it a frontis piece, as it does not face a title page) depicts Louise Brooks!

I obtained this scan by borrowing one of the very few vintage copies of  this book in the United States.

As such, this inclusion marks the actress's first appearance in a book of film criticism. It beats by a few years both Cedric Osmond Bermingham's Stars of the Screen 1931 and C.A. Lejeune's Cinema, each of which were published in England in 1931.


Here is the frontis image, a still from Love Em and Leave Em (1926). Can anyone translate the Japanese text below Brooks' portrait?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

National Film Registry NEEDS Louise Brooks nominated films

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington is seeking nominations for the National Film Registry. Public nominations play a key role when the Librarian of Congress and Film Board are considering their final selections. To be eligible for the Registry, a film must be at least 10 years old and be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Congress first established the National Film Registry in the 1988 National Film Preservation Act, and most recently extended the Registry with passage of the Library of Congress Sound Recording and Film Preservation Programs Reauthorization Act of 2008 (PL110-336). Along with mandating continuing implementation of a plan to save the American film heritage, this law authorizes the Librarian of Congress (after reviewing public suggestions and consulting extensively with film experts and the 44 members and alternates of the National Film Preservation Board) to select up to 25 films each year for inclusion in the Registry. New selections are usually announced at the end of December.

The 625 films chosen to date illustrate the vibrant diversity of American film-making, and range from well-known Hollywood classics (Casablanca, Forrest Gump, Mary Poppins, The Magnificent Seven, Pulp Fiction, The Quiet Man, and Silence of the Lambs) to landmark independent, documentary and avant-garde masterpieces (Bless Their Little Hearts, Decasia, The Lunch Date and The Times of Harvey Milk).

For consideration, please forward recommendations (limit 50 titles per year) via email to: dross@loc.gov

The  Louise Brooks Society suggests that you recommend these Louise Brooks films (and others):

The Street of Forgotten Men (1925)

The Show Off (1926)

Love Em and Leave Em (1926)

Beggars of Life (1928)


Looking for ideas on possible films to nominate? Check here for hundreds of titles not yet selected to the National Film Registry. Please include the date of the film nominated, and number your recommendations, please. And if you would, please tell how you learned of the Registry.

Email is preferred; to submit via regular mail, send your nominations to:

National Film Registry
Library of Congress
Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation
19053 Mt. Pony Road
Culpeper, VA 22701
Attn: Donna Ross

Classic Hollywood - Louise Brooks

A nifty video "Classic Hollywood - Louise Brooks," from YouTube.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Paramount biography of Louise Brooks, circa 1927

I recently had the chance to see a scarce document, Biographies of the stars, featured players and directors who are appearing in Paramount pictures, by the Famous Players-Lasky Corp. Department of Foreign Publicity and Advertising. The document is dated 1927.


As is shown, Brooks was classified as a "Featured Player." This typescript-like document also contained biographical sketches of a number of other individuals associated with Brooks' time at Paramount, such as W.C. Fields (Star), Mary Brian (Featured Player), Lawrence Gray (Featured Player), Neil Hamilton (Featured Player), Percy Marmont (Featured Player), Adolphe Menjou (Featured Player), Esther Ralston (Star), Ford Sterling (Featured Player), and Lois Wilson (Featured Player). Each of their entries mention a film in which Louise Brooks appeared, as do the entries on directors Malcolm St. Clair and Frank Tuttle.

There are also entries on a few individuals who were yet to work with Brooks, including Richard Arlen (Featured Player), James Hall (Featured Player), and Thomas Meighan (Star).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

L'épitaphe de Louise Brooks.... by Roland Jaccard

A couple of days ago, the French writer Roland Jaccard posted the following video on YouTube. As fans of Louise Brooks know, Jaccard contributed to and edited the first book about the actress, Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, back in 1977.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Classic Movie Blog Association

The Louise Brooks Society blog has been voted a member of the Classic Movie Blog Association. The CMBA is a group of blogs dedicated to the celebration of classic cinema. More information about the group can be found on its website or Facebook page.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Louise Brooks included among The 100 coolest Americans

A major photography exhibition opening at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington asks the question, "what and who is cool?"

From Elvis Presley and James Dean to Johnny Depp, "American Cool" namechecks 100 actors, actresses, artists, musicians and writers in the United States whose creativity and style have shaped the concept of cool. The exhibit includes Louise Brooks.

The show was put together by jazz professor Joel Dinerstein and photography scholar Frank Goodyear. The two spent five years going through 500 names of charismatic Americans who might be regarded as cool. To make their selection, Dinerstein and Goodyear came up with four defining factors: 1) originality of artistic vision and especially of a signature style 2) cultural rebellion, or transgression in a given historical moment 3) iconicity, or a certain level of high-profile recognition 4) recognised cultural legacy lasting more than a decade. 

Another deciding factor was that there had to be a classic picture of the person; among the photographers featured in the show are Carl Van Vechten,  Philippe Halsman, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Edward Steichen.

Early film stars illuminate the "roots of cool" section - screen legends like Greta Garbo, Buster Keaton and Mae West. The complete list:

Fred Astaire
Bix Beiderbecke
Louise Brooks
James Cagney
Frederick Douglass
Greta Garbo
Ernest Hemingway
Zora Neale Hurston
Jack Johnson
Duke Kahanamoku
Buster Keaton
HL Mencken
Georgia O’Keeffe
Dorothy Parker
Bessie Smith
Willie “The Lion” Smith
Mae West
Walt Whitman
Bert Williams


"American Cool" runs through September 7. The National Portrait Gallery's website is located at www.npg.si.edu.  "American Cool" is accompanied by a fully illustrated 192-page catalogue.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seattle art exhibit with Louise Brooks inspired art

A Seattle art gallery is hosting an exhibit of work by Jack Chevalier which features a handful of works inspired by Louise Brooks, as well as some 20 smaller works related to other contemporary film actresses. The show is a mixed selection of Chevalier's work over the last 6 or 7 years - with war, politics, and celebrity being thematic.

The show, at the Linda Hodges Gallery, opens February 6th with a reception from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. It runs through March 1.

According to the gallery website, "Jack Chevalier has exhibited at Linda Hodges Gallery for over three decades. In his most recent solo exhibition, his 16th, Chevalier expanded upon his lexicon of social and political content to include historical references and the personalities that define them, in a format that assumes a condensed postmodern linear narrative. Utilizing a mixed-media approach, Chevalier creates a narrative through a juxtaposition of visual cues unlimited by a stylistic time frame, materiality, or morphology of depiction."

Born in Columbus, Ohio and educated at the Cleveland Art Institute and the University of Illinois, Chevalier arrived in Seattle in the late 1970s and lives and works on Vashon Island. Chevalier has exhibited widely in the Northwest, as well as in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.
 
Here are a couple of works in the show. The first, pictured above, is titled "Empty Promise" from 2012. The second is titled "Warrior Princess" from 2013. More work can be found on the gallery exhibit link.

The Linda Hodges Gallery is located at 316 First Ave S in Seattle, Washington, 98104. For further information, or to purchase a piece, call  (206) 624-3034. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 am to 5 pm. Check it out.

The artist has provided the Louise Brooks Society blog with a statement. It follows:

"I first laid eyes on Louise Brooks several years ago, when personally  researching the political and social history of 1920's America. A time that seems to live on, or (as some would say) rhymes, so well with our present human dynamic. With this in mind, I was at first  struck by how contemporary she looked in pictures, as if she could have walked off the movie set in 1925 and onto a set today and no one would notice the missing 90 years. But it soon became apparent that this was just the first layer of an amazing life of transparently clear intent lashed, as it were, with the often self defeating consequences of social mores  that would  favor power over natural inclination and expression. The fascinating thing about Louise Brooks (to me) is how she negotiated this contradiction, or rather, lived the contradiction.

On the one hand, she, seemed to hate Hollywood and its attendant careerism's but  rather relied on her own natural experiences and instincts and talents in movement  over convention, and went a long  way toward redefining the craft of acting. She loved modern art but never watched any of the movies she made (until late in life).  She meteorically rose to the top of all her endeavors; modern dance, showgirl follies, film actress, but was always eventually shot down for not playing whatever the inside game was. She entertained the social ladder without  embracing it ( probably out of curiosity). She was notably an unabashed sexual entity, but never used sex to further her career. She was married twice to millionaires and twice divorced without taking a penny. She would rather rendezvous with a lover than please her employer.When it all finally crashed around her she didn't become bitter or blame anyone but herself. Then she re-invented herself and was instrumental in own resurrection as a writer and critic of film history. For a person never empowered by  celebrity, or  outwardly political, or a champion of social causes, or even as a  cultural iconoclast, Louise Brooks continues to inspire in all these realms simply for having been herself.

One of my favorite quotes is:

'For two extraordinary years I have been working on it - learning to write - but mostly learning how to tell the truth. At first it is quite impossible. You make yourself better than anybody, then worse than anybody, and when you finally come to see you are “like” everybody - that is the bitterest blow of all to the ego. But in the end it is only the truth, no matter how ugly or shameful, that is right, that fits together, that makes real people, and strangely enough - beauty…'"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pandora's Box screens tonight in UK at historic Aldeburgh Cinema

Pandora's Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks, screens tonight in the UK. Pianist Neil Brand will accompany the film at the Aldeburgh Cinema as part of their "Classic Silent Film& Live Music" series.

The Aldeburgh Cinema is located at 51 High Street in Aldeburgh, IP15 5AU. Telephone 01728 454884.

Neil Brand has worked around the globe with film and music for more than two decades. His mesmerizing series ‘Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies’ was broadcast to huge acclaim in on BBC in autumn 2013. In partnership with the Britten Pears Foundation, an educational programme of workshops and masterclasses has been devised and arranged and will be delivered by Neil Brand on the day of the evening shows.

The Aldeburgh Cinema has a fascinating history, and it has been screening films continuously since 1919 when the auditorium was built onto the back of a 19th century High Street store. For many years the cinema was privately run until in the mid-1960s, when there was the threat of closure. A group of local people, led by Lettie Gifford and including composer Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears, banded together to purchase the cinema and run it on behalf of the local community. More information and images here.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pandora's Box (1929) tonight in Luxembourg

Today, Pandora's Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Luxembourg.

Here is the write-up from the venue, Philharmonie, place de l’Europe, Luxembourg-Kirchberg.

The Louise Brooks Society would love to hear from anyone who attends this event. Pandora's Box will be screened at the Philharmonie with live music from the Ensemble Kontraste, conducted by Frank Strobel and playing a score especially composed for the film by Peer Raben.

We would like to know your impressions. Please post in the comments. 


Here is a January, 1930 newspaper advertisement for Pandora's Box, from the time the film was first shown in Luxembourg. There, the film was shown under the titles Lou lou, and La Boite de Pandore.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New exhibit includes Louise Brooks character

A new exhibit which includes Louise Brooks is set to open February 5th at Dixon Place in New York City. Here is more information from the artist:


THE CHORUS GIRL SHOW by Carolyn Raship

Come to Dixon Place to celebrate the opening of my show! I've been creating a series of large works on paper depicting the interesting and scandal filled lives of women who began their professional lives in the chorus - then wound up as movie stars, writers or infamous.

To celebrate the opening, please join us for drinks and performances at the Dixon Place Lounge! Performers include:

Anna Copa Cabanna
Charming Disaster
Killy Mockstar Dwyer
Sarah Engelke and Jamie Zillittto

And more!

During the first half of the 20th century becoming a chorus girl was both the most typical entree to show business and a constant punchline. The Chorus Girl was a cliche and a type: tough talking, avaricious, gold digging, dumb. As with most things, the real women often transcended the cliche. Show business and crime, dreams lost, lives lived into little old lady-hood -- and lives cut short. Glamour and art and intelligence. These works are drenched in blood and feathers and gilt trim, and -- like the early movies many real life chorus girl appeared in -- have no formula.


Intricate pen and ink and watercolor fantasias depict moments out of the lives of Princess White Deer (Native American performer who headlined on three continents, played the Palace, and starred in the Follies), Evelyn Nesbit (the teenage chorus girl who played a central role in The Crime of the Century, the murder of Stanford White by Harry K. Thaw), Olive Thomas (legendary Ziegfeld star and whose death was the first Hollywood scandal) and Louise Brooks (serious dancer, legendary chorus girl, movie star, artist and writer). As in the lives of these complicated and fascinating women, nothing in these works is just what it seems.

CAROLYN RASHIP is an artist, illustrator and sometime writer and director of theater. You can find her work online under the guise of Caviglia's Cabinet of Curiosities. She wrote and directed the plays "Die Like A Lady; or What Barbara Got" and "Antarctica" (which was published in NY Theatre Experience's anthology "Plays & Playwrights 2008") along with numerous other works for the theatre. As a visual artist she specializes in meticulous pen and ink and watercolor portraits. Her obsessions include chorus girls, birds, sea creatures and crime.

The show itself will be up from February 5 to February 23. More at
http://cavigliascabinet.tumblr.com/

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New play inspired by Louise Brooks, "The Winter Gift" by Tim Davies

A new play about Louise Brooks titled The Winter Gift is set to open in the UK. From the venue website: "A new play by award winning writer Tim Davies, charting the tumultuous life of legendary silent screen icon Louise Brooks, contrasting her time as a Beautiful, brilliant, and uncompromising young actress, too wild to be contained by the Hollywood studio system or the accepted societal and sexual mores of the time and whose mixture of innocence and intense eroticism were perfectly captured in her celebrated work with German director G.W. Pabst, with the middle aged alcoholic Brooks, living alone, destitute and all but forgotten, until a chance encounter with a devoted fan..."

ROGUE'Z THEATRE COMPANY... Presents THE WINTER GIFT a new play written by Tim Davies, directed by Nerys Rees February 19-22 at the Urdd Theatre, Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Wales, UK. More information and ticket availability at http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/51037


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Event for author Robert Murillo for his Louise Brooks inspired novel, The Vanity

One month from today, on March 1st at 1 pm, author Robert Murillo will read from his new Louise Brooks inspired novel, The Vanity, at Orinda Books in Orinda, California. I will be there to introduce Robert and his novel. Here is an article that appeared in the local Orinda News.




March 1st 2014 - 1 PM
Orinda Books
276 Village Square
Orinda, Ca 94563
925-254-7606
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