Thursday, June 11, 2015

Was Louise Brooks first film appearance in 1923, not 1925?

I am trying to follow up on a lead.... there is a small chance that Louise Brooks may have had an uncredited bit part in Cause for Divorce. The film, an independent production produced and directed by Hugh Dierker, was released in late 1923 by Hugh Dierker Productions and distributed by the Selznick Distribution Corporation. The film was shown around the country in the first half of 1924. If true, Brooks appearance in this film would pre-date her uncredited role in the 1925 film, The Street of Forgotten Men.

Cause for Divorce was shot in 1923, while Brooks was still a member of the Denishawn Dance Company. I have run across a clipping from the time Brooks was on tour with Denishawn mentioning that the company took part in the making of a local film. The title was not given. What I need to find out is where Cause for Divorce was made. If it was shot in Hollywood, then Brooks does not appear in it. If Cause for Divorce was made in the South, then there is a chance she did. Does anyone know anything about Cause for Divorce or Hugh Dierker Productions? Does this film still exist? Here is the IMDb entry for the film.

And here is the AFI catalogue entry, which may provide a clue. I have tried tracing the career of the film lead, Fritzi Brunette, but she is pretty obscure. The only cast member I was familiar with was Junior Coughlan. Did he ever work in the South? Director Hugh Dierker is also obscure. He only produced three films. The first was When Dawn Came (1920), which featured Colleen Moore.

Here is a tantalizing clue, a clipping from 1924, which mentions that Ted Shawn and the female Denishawn dancers participated in some way in Cause for Divorce. If the film was shot in Hollywood, then the participants were likely members of the Los Angeles branch of Denishawn (which did not include Brooks). If the film was shot in the South, then the participants may have been members of Denishawn's touring company, which then included the future actress.

I realize this is all a bit speculative, but any help is greatly appreciated.

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