Saturday, October 31, 2015

Diary of a Lost Girl screens in NYC on Jan 31

The new restoration of Diary of a Lost Girl (as seen on the new KINO DVD & Blu-ray) will be shown in New York City at the Schimmel Center at Pace University (home to "Inside the Actor's Studio") on January 31, 2016. Ben Model will provide musical accompaniment. More information about this special event can be found HERE.


Here is what film series description of the film. "After playing supporting roles in a string of light comedies at Paramount, Louise Brooks went to Germany and made two iconic and darkly dramatic films directed by G.W. Pabst. Her bobbed hair, charm and smoldering screen presence in the midst of the dark stories of PANDORA'S BOX and DIARY OF A LOST GIRL have made Brooks an icon of '20s culture. Her character in DIARY goes from one situation to another attempting to better her life, finding adversity, love, and tragedy."

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BTW: the Neue Gallery in NYC just purchased a couple dozen copies of the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl by Margarete Bohme (edited by Thomas Gladysz) for their museum giftshop. If you are looking to check out the book that was the basis for the film, copies can be found there. Their current exhibit, "Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933" features a work by Rudolph Schlichter, the husband of Speedy Schlichter, who appears in The Diary of a Lost Girl.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays, including Halloween

There is a swell new book out from Schiffer, Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory. Fans of silent film, of early Hollywood, and the studio era will all want to get a copy. At nearly 200 pages, this pictorial is chock-full of images you'll delight in looking at again and again. That's not a cliche, it's just the plain and simple truth.

The book description: "Marvelously illustrated with more than 200 rare images from the silent era through the 1970s, this joyous treasure trove features film and television’s most famous actors and actresses celebrating the holidays, big and small, in lavishly produced photographs. Join the stars for festive fun in celebrating a variety of holidays, from New Year’s to Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas and everything in between. Legends such as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Audrey Hepburn spread holiday cheer throughout the calendar year in iconic, ironic, and illustrious style. These images, taken by legendary stills photographers, hearken back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when motion picture studios devised elaborate publicity campaigns to promote their stars and to keep their names and faces in front of the movie-going public all year round."

Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 includes Louise Brooks in a Christmas themed pic. The book also includes many of Brooks' contemporaries and co-stars, including Esther Ralston and Clara Bow, shown below on pages featuring Halloween themed pics. The LBS recommends this new book.






































About the Authors: Film historian and photo archivist Mary Mallory is the author of Hollywoodland and the eBook Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found. She writes on Los Angeles and film history for the blog The Daily Mirror and serves on the board of Hollywood Heritage. Karie Bible is the official tour guide at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and co-author of Location Filming in Los Angeles. She has lectured at numerous venues, including the RMS Queen Mary and the Homestead Museum, and has appeared on Turner Classic Movies.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Its the Old Army Game screens in NYC on November 29

One month from today, Its the Old Army Game (1926), starring W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks, screens in NYC at the Museum of Moving Image on Sunday, November 29th. The screening is part of the W.C. Fields in Astoria series. More information about this special event can be found HERE.



With live music by Donald Sosin Directed by A. Edward Sutherland. 1926. 70 min., 35mm print from the Library of Congress. With W.C. Fields, Louise Brooks. Fields plays a misanthropic, small-town pharmacist whose lovely shop assistant (Louise Brooks) gets him involved in a phony real estate scheme. The film is regarded as a high point of Fields’s silent filmography. The story was later revised and revamped in the talkies The Pharmacist (1933) and It’s a Gift (1934).

For more information about the film, check out the Louise Brooks Society filmography page. The film, especially interiors, were shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens) and in Manhattan. Location shooting, including exteriors, was done in Ocala and Palm Beach, Florida in February, 1926. The outdoor scenes in Palm Beach were shot at El Mirasol, the estate of multi-millionaire investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury. In 1912, after having been a widower for thirty-some years, Stotesbury remarried and became the stepfather of three children including Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brooks (known simply as Louise Brooks), an American socialite and the first wife of General Douglas MacArthur. In her heyday, she was “considered one of Washington’s most beautiful and attractive young women”. Because of their names, the two women were sometimes confused in the press. (Read more about the Palm Beach location on silentlocations.com.)

Tickets: $12 ($9 for senior citizens and students / free for members at the Film Lover level and above). Order tickets online. (Members may contact members@movingimage.us with any questions regarding online reservations.)
 
All tickets include same-day admission to the Museum (see gallery hours). View the Museum’s ticketing policy here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

You Must Remember This podcast - check it out

Recently, I have been checking out the "You Must Remember This" podcast hosted by Karina Longworth, a Los Angeles based film critic. It was recommended to me by longtime Louise Brooks Society member Amanda Howard. It's excellent and entertaining, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in classic and contemporary Hollywood, or at least "The secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century" as the show bills itself.



What caught Amanda's ear were the couple of references to Louise Brooks in the episode on John Gilbert and Greta Garbo, which was part of a seven part podcast on MGM. Give a listen here.



I recommend checking out the entire MGM series, which contains episodes on Jean Harlow, William Haines, Buster Keaton, Marion Davies and others. Earlier podcasts include episodes on John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin, Carole Lombard, Orson Welles, Kay Francis, Audrey Hepburn, Theda Bara, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and other stars of interest to those interested in Louise Brooks and early Hollywood. There are also episodes on Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra and even a multi-part program on "Charles Manson's Hollywood."

Karina Longworth is the creator / host of You Must Remember This, a podcast about the secret / forgotten history of Hollywood's first century. She is the author of books about George Lucas, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, and has contributed to LA Weekly, the Guardian, NPR, Vulture, and other publications. Her most recent book is Hollywood Frame by Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Koko’s Queen (1926) echoes the mid-1920's beauty contest craze

Six American silent-era films that were recently protected at EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam and preserved through a collaborative project organized by the San Francisco–based National Film Preservation Foundation can now be viewed online.

Among the newly viewable films are the Fleischer Brothers cartoon Koko’s Queen (1926), a delightful work which echoes the mid-1920's craze for feminine beauty and beauty contests. To watch Koko’s Queen (1926), visit this LINK.


Koko’s Queen was released in October of 1926, some nine months after the release of The American Venus, starring Esther Ralston, Lawrence Gray, Ford Sterling, and Fay Lanphier, the actual 1925 Miss America. The American Venus is a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a beauty pageant, namely the actual 1925 Miss America contest in Atlantic City. The film is the second in which Louise Brooks appeared, and the first for which she received screen credit. Learn more about this lost film by visiting the Louise Brooks Society filmography page.

According to the National Film Preservation Foundation website: "The ending of Koko’s Queen is decayed in the Dutch copy—the only 35mm print thought to exist—but the story shines through. Koko and his dog Fitz emerge from the pen. When the pair learn that Fleischer’s girlfriend is a beauty contest competitor, they demand female companions too. The animator draws one for each but these fall short of expectations. Koko tries with beauty contraptions to remake his girl until—giving up—turns her head around backwards and substitutes a mask for her face. Fitz follows suit with similar results but, with shocking dream logic, grinds his mate into sausages. Losing patience, Koko draws his ideal—a beauty so perfect that she becomes human—and accosts her. The animator drinks “Shrinko” to save the damsel, battling the clown mano a mano. Only returning Koko to the bottle can clean the mess up."

What's interesting is that much of the promotional material around The American Venus reflected the era's obsession with determining and quantifying and even manufacturing beauty -- a conceit carried through to Koko's Queen.


Speaking of Fay Lanphier, the Louise Brooks Society archive recently acquired this uncommon vintage Italian postcard depicting Miss America and her role in the Paramount film, Trionfo di Venere (The American Venus).



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Diary of a Lost Girl screens in Berlin, Germany today

American intersex-born, genderqueer performing artist, painter, independent curator, composer, and writer Vaginal Davis will presents Diary of a Lost Girl / Tagebuch Einer Verlorenen at Arsendal in Berlin, Germany today -- Sunday, October 26th at 8:00 pm. More information may be found HERE.


"Vaginal Davis As Bricktop" by dirty filthy socks from Los Angeles, USA - Vaginal Davis As Bricktop(s). Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vaginal_Davis_As_Bricktop.jpg#/media/File:Vaginal_Davis_As_Bricktop.jpg

Here is the event description: "Since 2008, film expert Vaginal Davis has been inviting audiences to her monthly film evenings. Her anniversaries are dedicated to actress Louise Brooks, this time round in TAGEBUCH EINER VERLORENEN (G.W. Pabst, Germay 1929). Thymian exudes a special attraction to men and falls pregnant. Cast out by her father, robbed of her child, and tortured at the facility where she lives, she ends up in a brothel. "And Louise Brooks", as the Berliner Tageblatt put it, "wanders in silent beauty through the film, scared, defiant, waiting, astonished, much like the girl to whom everything happens." (stss) (25.10.)"

More information about this 1929 film may be found on the Louise Brooks Society filmography page


"Louise Brooks As Vaginal Davis" by clean lieder hosen from San Francisco, USA - Louise Brooks As Vaginal Davis. Licensed under CC BY YOU

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Nominate Beggars of Life with Louise Brooks to National Film Registry

It's that time, once more. The Library of Congress is now soliciting nominees for their 2016 National Film Registry list. Please take a moment to nominate one or both of these two American silent films, The Show-Off (1926) and Beggars of Life (1928). Each is a fine film, very American, and each star Louise Brooks.

You can nominate as many films as you like, so why not add a fave Colleen Moore or Clara Bow film as well. It is easy to do. Just send a simple email with your nominees (reasons optional) to filmregistry@loc.gov

Here is my short list:

The Show-Off (1926)
Beggars of Life (1928)
Love Em and Leave Em (1926)
What Price Hollywood? (1932)

More information HERE: Your voice is important! Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington invites you to submit your recommendations for movies to be included on the National Film Registry. Public nominations play a key role when the Librarian 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.”

The National Film Registry historically has included only those films that were produced or co-produced by an American film company, typically for theatrical release or recognized as a film through film festivals or film awards. If in doubt, check the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for country of origin. Registry criteria does not specifically prohibit television programs, commercials, music videos or foreign productions, however, the original intent of the legislation that established the Registry was to safeguard U.S. films. Consequently the National Film Preservation Board and the Librarian of Congress give first consideration to American motion pictures.

Looking for ideas on possible films to nominate? Check here for hundreds of titles not yet selected to the National Film Registry. This link will take you to the complete list of films currently on the Registry.

For consideration, please forward your recommendations (limit 50 titles per year) via email to: filmregistry@loc.gov. Please include the date of the film nominated, and number your recommendations. Listing your nominations in alphabetical order is very much appreciated, too. There’s no need to include descriptions or justifications for your nominations unless they’re films that have not been distributed widely or otherwise made available to the public. For example, if a film is listed in the Internet Movie Database or the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, no further information beyond title and date of release is necessary. Lastly, please tell us how you learned of the Registry.
Email is preferred; however, 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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Early reviews: Louise Brooks' Diary of a Lost Girl on DVD & Blu-ray

The early reviews are in - and so far, so good!

On October 20th, Kino Lorber released the 1929 Louise Brooks' film Diary of a Lost Girl on DVD and Blu-ray. This new release, featuring the recent reconstruction and restoration of the film, marks its first ever Blu-ray release in North America. These first reviewers have been positive in their assessment of the quality of the film (the way it looks) as well as the bonus material, especially the audio commentary by Louise Brooks Society director Thomas Gladysz. Here is a round-up of reviews in case you need to be convinced to get a copy.

"Diary of a Lost Girl"
by Glenn Erickson, October 5, 2015 (trailersfromhell.com)
-- "G.W. Pabst’s silent German classic is intact, restored and looking great.... Thomas Gladysz’s commentary is thorough and informative."

"Unboxing the Silents: Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) on Blu ray"
Fritzi Kramer, October 10, 2015 (Movies Silently)
-- "... the film looks fantastic overall. This edition offers no alternate scores but it does come with a commentary track from Thomas Gladysz from the Louise Brooks Society."

"DVD Review: Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)"
by James L. Neibaur, October 13, 2015 (examiner.com)
-- "The Kino blu ray is a beautiful high def transfer.... The insightful audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz offers a wealth of fascinating information about the movie and about Ms. Brooks."

"Diary of a Lost Girl (Blu-ray)"
by Matt Hinrichs, October 13, 2015 (DVDtalk)
-- "Diary of a Lost Girl was another torrid, atmospheric collaboration between American actress Louise Brooks and German director G. W. Pabst. The Kino Classics Blu-ray presents the film in a meticulous digital restoration to savor. Recommended.... The disc includes a feature-length Audio Commentary from scholar Thomas Gladysz, director of the long-standing website The Louise Brooks Society. This was a good, informative track revealing lots of interesting tidbits about the production, the lives of the other actors seen on screen, and Brooks' own recollections on the making of the film."

"Diary of a Lost Girl Blu-ray"
Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 16, 2015 (blu-ray.com)
-- "Thomas Gladysz, director of the Louise Brooks Society, discusses the ambiguous nature of Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl, the film's visual style and its impressionistic aura, the relationships between the main characters, interesting details from the lives and careers of some of the principal actors, etc."

"Garner: Louise Brooks' DVD release"
by Jack Garner, October 17, 2015 (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
-- "This DVD is the best possible restored version, and is beautiful in its imagery, and in Brooks' performance. This new release also benefits from a well-researched and often-fascinating commentary track by Thomas Gladysz, director of the Louise Brooks Society."



"Diary of a Lost Girl (Kino Lorber, NR)"
by Sarah Boslaugh, October 19 2015 (playback:stl)
-- "Above all, the beauty and skill of Brooks shines through.... The film has been remastered in HD from archival 35mm segments, and comes with three extras: an informative audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, director of the Louise Brooks Society."

"Kino Classics 2015 Blu-ray Disc edition"
by Carl Bennett, October 20, 2015, (silentera.com)
-- "The results are often excellent, with increased image detail that surpasses our hopes for this edition.... The supplementary material includes a new audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, director of the Louise Brooks Society."

"October 20: This Week on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD"
by Silas Lesnick, October 20, 2015 (comingsoon.net)
-- "October 20 also sees the release of Kino Lorber‘s new HD take on Georg Wilhelm Pabst then-controversial 1929 film Diary of a Lost Girl, starring silent film icon Louise Brooks."

"This Week In Home Video: 'The Wolfpack,' 'Z For Zachariah,' and More"
by Vikram Murthi, October 20, 2015 (Criticwire)
-- "Kino Lorber has G.W. Pabst's 1929 "Diary of a Lost Girl" starring Louise Brooks as the daughter of a middle class pharmacist who is sent to a repressive home for wayward girls."

"New DVD and Blu-ray releases for October 20, 2015"
by Ryan Painter, October 20, 2015 (FoxReno)
"Kino gives us Diary of a Lost Girl a dark tale of a young woman thrown out of her home when she becomes pregnant starring Louise Brooks and directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst (the duo previously teamed for Pandora's Box)."

"Diary of a Lost Girl"
by Gary Tooze, October 20, 2015 (dvdbeaver.com)
-- "Kino include an audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, the director of The Louise Brooks Society and imparts plenty of information about the tragic star and the production.... Essential Silent Era film - and another strong package - the commentary addition gives it strong value."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Louise Brooks film Diary of a Lost Girl out on Blu-ray

Today, KINO releases Diary of a Lost Girl on Blu-ray and DVD ! Be sure and order your copy.


"The second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (Pandora's Box), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is a provocative adaptation of Margarethe Böhme's notorious novel, in which the naive daughter of a middle class pharmacist is seduced by her father's assistant, only to be disowned and sent to a repressive home for wayward girls. She escapes, searches for her child, and ends up in a high-class brothel, only to turn the tables on the society which had abused her. It's another tour-de-force performance by Brooks, whom silent film historian Kevin Brownlow calls an 'actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history'."

Special Features: Mastered in HD from archival 35mm elements, and digitally restored; Audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, Director, Louise Brooks Society; and includes the short Windy Riley Goes Hollywood (1931, 18 Min., featuring Louise Brooks).
  • Actors: Louise Brooks, Josef Rovenský, Fritz Rasp
  • Directors: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber
  • Run Time: 112 minutes


Monday, October 19, 2015

Naomi D. Beebe - her story of discovering Louise Brooks

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society (which went online back in 1995), fans of the actress were asked to submit their story of discovery -- of how they first came across Louise Brooks. This is the second in a series of posts of individual accounts of discovery.

This piece, "RETURNING TO LULU An Autobiographical Journey of Obsession," is by Naomi D. Beebe, a longtime fan of the actress. 
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I beheld the cover of a paperback book that looked like some nostalgic cinema marquee through the  window of the local bookstore.  Lulu in Hollywood, the title read in burning Art Deco. Having been an admirer of classical art nearly all of my young life, I was astonished that the cover artwork had caught my eye. Upon closer examination, the mystery of its appeal eventually sank in. Entranced by those gleaming black eyes in a rather crude two-dimensional drawing, the subject gave me the peculiar sense that I was somehow studying a portrait of myself in the future, or stranger yet, the past.

I was tired of the latest of my Hollywood impersonations. I grew up in a family full of avid readers, musicians, thespians, writers, costumers and artists. Later in life, I would become all of those things and mostly in some professional capacity or another. In the early 80s, I had a desperate desire to be Emma Samms.  She was the up-and-coming British born actress who starred in Goliath Awaits, a low-budget made-for-TV movie co-starring Mark Harmon.  Samms’ character, Lea, was a young, raven-haired beauty trapped in the era of the 1920s in the hull of a great ship that had been sunk by a German submarine during a war many years before she was born. I did not quite possess the nymph-like quality that was Samms’ and it aggravated me because, even by this early stage in my life, I had practically transformed surreptitiously impersonating famous people into a kind of art form.

I loved that 1920s style and had the black eyes and dark, wavy hair, but the face just wasn’t quite right.  A couple of years later, just as I was becoming weary of the “Lea” character, I came upon the cover of that Louise Brooks’ autobiography.  The face on the cover attempted a kind of doll-like quality that was betrayed by an unapologetic gaze that could only belong to an independent woman; a woman, who like me, was likely described by others as “too intense.”  I had to have that book.  I hungrily read each and every page of those memoirs and, after finding it impossible to put down, the obsession was complete.  I had so much in common with that eerily familiar image that it haunted me.

Unbeknownst to me, in only a few more years, I would walk away from the music industry in much the same way Brooks walked away from Hollywood.  After a disastrous stint in a band that included a famous rock guitarist whom shall remain unnamed and whom I thought would be my ticket to stardom and financial security, I found that constantly placating his narcissism became a compromise that I found impossible.  Just as the black-eyed girl in that book, I inspired profound rage and hatred in those with high opinions of themselves with my inadvertent penchant for telling the ugly naked truth.  After the one-time rock star exasperated me with one of his sophomoric jokes, asking me what it would be like if men could suck their own cocks, without even a moment’s pause, I declared that he would likely be a hunchback.  Although he found my quick and lethal wit detestable, he couldn’t help but laugh.  It was both amusing and excruciatingly accurate.

Soon, I had started my own string of rock bands, one of which even earned me full membership status with ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, due to a song that I had co-written and performed entitled “Gypsy Woman” being played overseas in more than one country.  Like most of the songs I wrote and still write, it was autobiographical and served to mock its author.  As for romance, I took only a few lovers, characteristically much younger than I, for I found no use for amorous company.  This is where I was different from the woman in that book.  I was far too busy moonlighting as a would-be rock star, celebrity impersonator, artist, vocal and guitar coach, and more.  Thus, I found it much easier to avoid the inconvenience of commitment by dating beautiful men who were much younger than me.  When you grow up without a father from a very early age, you have no idea what purpose a man in your life serves with exception to the momentary thrill of a random fling now and again.

By my late 30s I was finished with that nonsense.  Many years earlier, I had surrendered to music completely to the point that I, again, found that I could not sellout when I was offered an opportunity to record at a multi-million dollar studio in Seattle.  I left a mere two weeks into the project after being asked to sing songs that portrayed women as needy, pathetic creatures forever searching for someone to save them.  I knew that if I continued down that road, I would wake up one day with the money and fame I had initially sought after, but would have lost myself in the process.  I would rather be dead.  To the chorus of the throng who called me ‘crazy,’ I walked away forever.

Some things never change.  My impersonations continued.  I branded myself as “Xena, the Warrior Princess” as a premier personal trainer for nearly a decade.  I even painstakingly hand-crafted a Hollywood worthy costume that was virtually identical to the one worn by Lucy Lawless in the TV show. After graduating from college and finding that Xena was objectified too much, and loathing those blue color contacts, I quickly metamorphosed into Joan Jett, complete with leather to match my wicked tat.

After my unstable and tragically self-centric mother died, I found myself moving yet again.  The thing I hated the most was transporting all of my books from place to place.  I had also inherited a few more thanks to my mother’s similar voracious appetite for reading.  A curious thing happens when you unpack books.  Only someone who loves to read knows about this phenomenon.  As you glance at each cover, you are taken back to each of the worlds to which those texts transported you.

And standing out among all of that scholarly reading was my guilty pleasure, Lulu in Hollywood.  I had found that graduating in the top one-percentile of my class with a nondescript Bachelor of Arts degree from a celebrated liberal arts college was worthless in the marketplace.  Worse yet, the small stipend from my mother’s estate was running dry.  No one would hire a woman who so closely resembled Joan Jett no matter how iconic she might be to me.  The image is just too wild, although so personally relevant.

Whose image could I adopt this time?  My personas mustn’t lie.  That’s implicit.  It has to be someone who is just as rebellious and independent as me, but delightfully obscure enough for the average employer to completely overlook.  Of course!  The girl in the black helmet!  My self-destructive, fiercely independent and forever unmanageable doppelganger - Louise Brooks!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Jazz singer Hailey Tuck - her story of discovering Louise Brooks

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society (which went online back in 1995), fans of the actress were asked to submit their story of discovery -- of how they first came across Louise Brooks. This is the first in a series of posts of individual accounts of discovery.

This piece is by Hailey Tuck - a jazz singer, recording artist, and self-described "Modern Vintage Chanteuse" who has an obvious affection for Louise Brooks. Learn more about the artist at her website at haileytuckmusic.com or check out this piece in Interview magazine.

------

When I was 18, I was working in a rare and out of print bookstore in Austin, TX and lazily attending a mess of random liberal arts classes at the community college across the street. I'd graduated from a Baptist military boarding school early, and subsequently 'suffered' two heart wrenching defeats in attempting to gain admittance to Julliard, and though I can look back on that malaise with the same wry smile as reading my self-aggrandizing childhood diaries, I do acutely remember looking at my options and feeling very "none of the above."

The job itself was a total dream, and still my number one back up in case I didn't manage to become wildly successful in jazz. My grandmother was a bookseller and called in an old favor for her bibliophile granddaughter, and voila I became their only employee. The shop opened at noon (ideal) and I was mostly left to my own devices, or occasionally joined by my boss, Luke -- an obviously extreme literate, and general good time -- or one of the eccentric collectors who would come and have a whiskey, or tutor me in French.


Like some sort of adult Montessori school, my browsing led me to a total cultural revolution for a curious 18 year old. After dully expressing my distaste for poetry, Luke pointed me to Pablo Neruda and Rainer Maria Rilke, and like a light-bulb I suddenly understood the art behind the subtlety of expressing something sensuous or painful without the directness or girth of literature. I pawed through sections on occult, anthropology, Swedish furniture. I bought the entire play section. I dated a professor from the university who slept in a soundproof, light proof box and cut off my black hair because I wanted to look like a New York art dealer in the 90's. And luckily, I picked up a book called Lulu in Hollywood because the illustration of the chick on the front had my hair cut. 

Reading, or inhaling rather, doesn't cover it. For once I felt I was reading a real story, and one that closely echoed my own -- sexual abuse, alcoholism, family troubles, and then looking at traditional success and saying, "Fuck that I'm going to make weird ass art house movies in Germany!" Some might view Louise's subsequent eeking descending fall into obscurity as a classic tragedy, however from my current vantage point as a young performer, I see someone who made deliberate u-turns based on a desire to be the most authentic version of themselves, regardless of the viability for commercial success. And most importantly, I saw myself, and felt steeled to seek out my own adventure, regardless of the wobbling uncertainty of ditching college, my father's approval, and the American dream. 

My newfound hubris manifested into a one way ticket to Paris. I should add that I also had the rare luck of a modest trust fund of sorts -- before you start gagging -- it was an insurance settlement. A lonely month or so later on the metro, this American girl complimented my vintage dress, and I asked her how she knew I spoke English, and she said, "I don't, I just speak to everyone in English!" 
For some reason it seemed entirely charming, and I asked her if she wanted to get off and have a glass of champagne together. She told me about her strange marriage to an older wealthy record producer (they have separate houses, and she collects dollhouses) and I told her that I was sort living in this squat and was too scared to tell my Dad, or he'd make me come home. She happened to be house sitting this beautiful apartment in Voltaire and offered for me to sleep on the red velvet fainting couch. One night later we were throwing a party and I was sitting on my bed/fainting couch and this completely decadent red headed American, in head to toe 1920's sat down next to me and I told her I'd been living there on this couch, then asked her the proverbial, "Do you come here often?" She looked at me sardonically, and patiently replied that this was her house. And her couch. After a second/hour or so of complete embarrassment I bumbled and mumbled my way through an explanation about being fresh off the boat, wanting to do acting or singing or something, and a few glasses of Prosecco later she had yanked off the music and had me singing Billie Holiday's "I'll Be Seeing You" on her dining room table. 

When I read Lulu in Holywood I had this grand idea of what Europe might be -- cavorting with intellectuals and passing out at orgies at Rothschild mansions. But when I got there everything seemed garishly contemporary, and lonely. I just felt like an American at an overpriced cafe.

But whatever Sorrel saw in me on her dining room table was the catalyst for everything I could have imagined. I got upgraded from fainting couch to painting studio, introduced to a swath of filthy Italian phrases, chess on trains, regency balls, schooled on not offending Venetians at Carnival, posing nude in an Art Deco harem, literally physically force-dressing me for winter time, and above all encouraged and supported to sing at every single event, party, and opportunity possible until, like learning the other side of poetry, or understanding the inevitability of forever, I became the most true, authentic version of myself as a jazz singer trying to evolve and challenge myself in Europe, and of course offending Venetians and passing out at Mansion parties.



I'm still sort of making wobbly guess-choices, but I do know that everything that has led me to where I am now feels right, and nothing about it seems like the beaten path to any real commercial success, and that feels great. And when Marie Claire did an article on me this year, I definitely felt a wry self-aggrandizing smile when reading the title "The Millennial Louise Brooks".

Friday, October 16, 2015

Seeking your Louise Brooks story of discovery


To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Louise Brooks Society is soliciting short essays from the actresses' many fans asking them to describe how and when they first came across Louise Brooks, and what the actress means to them. The length of the piece is up to the writer, with the only requirement being that it be detailed and individualized. Pieces that range from short anecdotes to full fledged compositions are welcome.

Selected submissions will be run here on the Louise Brooks Society blog, and the best piece (in the eyes of the LBS) will be awarded some Louise Brooks swag - like the forthcoming KINO Diary of a Lost Girl Blu-ray bundled together with a signed copy of the Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press). The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2015 with the prize awarded later that month (before Christmas).

Sharpen your pencils, start your engines. Send submissions to LouiseBrooksSociety@gmail.com


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Diary of a Lost Girl giveaway

In anticipation of the October 20th release of The Diary of a Lost Girl  DVD / Blu-ray from KINO, the Louise Brooks Society is sponsoring an Amazon giveaway of the Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl book.



All you need to do to enter is to follow the Louise Brooks Society on Twitter. To enter visit https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/5a94de7c942497e8 



"Diary of a Lost Girl" (Louise Brooks edition)
Hosted by:
Louise Brooks ✪ (@LB_Society)
Win a copy of "Diary of a Lost Girl" (Louise Brooks edition)
Follow @LB_Society to continue.
(or click to confirm you already follow)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Louise Brooks event in San Francisco on November 14th

A special event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Louise Brooks Society and the release of the new KINO DVD and Blu-ray of The Diary of a Lost Girl will take place in San Francisco on Saturday, November 14th at 2:00 pm. (Which also happens to be Louise Brooks birthday.) The event will take place at Video Wave, a video rental business of special significance to the history of the LBS.


Video Wave is now located at 4027 24th Street in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle featured the business. Read the article HERE.

Mark your calendars. Details are still being worked out. Thomas Gladysz, Founding Director of the LBS will be present signing copies of the new Diary of a Lost Girl DVD / Blu-ray (which features Gladysz's audio commentary) along with copies of his earlier book, the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl. Each will be for sale.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Rocky Twins - Louise Brooks look-alike drag queens from the 1930s

I recently came across a reference to The Rocky Twins -- a pair of Louise Brooks look-alike drag queens whose real names were Paal and Leif Rocky. They were Norwegian twins. According to the online endnotes Kay Thompson: From Funny Face to Eloise (Simon & Schuster) by Sam Irvin, The Rocky Twins "were known to prance around the stage practically naked, wearing only thongs to conceal their family jewels. At other times, they would dance in drag as Jazz Age beauties, dead ringers for Louise Brooks."



During the Pansy Craze of the early 1930s, they "danced in the capitols of the world" and performed with and for the likes of Josephine Baker, Mistinguett, Charles B. Cochran, Max Reinhardt and even the Dolly Sisters - who they were said to impersonate. They also knew Lorenz Hart, Lew Cody, Edmund Goulding and other artists and actors, and were photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene. The Rocky Twins can also be seen with Marion Davies in the 1933 film Blondie of the Follies.


While there is nothing to tie them specifically to Louise Brooks -- especially as they were said to impersonate the Dolly Sisters, who also resembled Brools, I wonder if Brooks knew of them. She was certainly comfortable with men in drag and others gay entertainers of the time (Brooks frequented Bruz Fletcher's nightclub in Hollywood). Here is another pic of The Rocky Twins.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

New release: Diary of a Lost Girl first reviews



Diary of a Lost Girl
The second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (Pandora's Box), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is a provocative adaptation of Margarethe Böhme's notorious novel, in which the naive daughter of a middle class pharmacist is seduced by her father's assistant, only to be disowned and sent to a repressive home for wayward girls. She escapes, searches for her child, and ends up in a high-class brothel, only to turn the tables on the society which had abused her. It's another tour-de-force performance by Brooks, whom silent film historian Kevin Brownlow calls an "actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history." - Thomas Gladysz

Germany 1929 112 Min. B&W 1920x1080p (1.33:1) Stereo 2.0
German inter titles with optional English subtitles

DIARY OF A LOST GIRL (Tagebuch einer Verlorenen)
Directed by G.W. Pabst

Based on the novel by Margarethe Böhme Photographed by Sepp Allgeier
With Louise Brooks, Fritz Rasp, André Roanne, Franziska Kinz
Music by Javier Perez de Azpeitia (piano)
Reconstruction and Restoration: Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna;Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF, Frankfurt am Main; Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden
Audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, Director, Louise Brooks Society
Bonus: "Windy Riley Goes Hollywood" (1931, 18 Min., featuring Louise Brooks)


"We are impressed with the image quality of this new home video edition of Louise Brooks' last great film and recommend it enthusiastically to Brooks fans and silent film collectors alike." - Silent Era

"With a good commentary, and a later American short subject starring Brooks.... The Kino Classics Blu-ray of Diary of a Lost Girl is a marvelous reconstruction and restoration. With their plain title cards and tight continuity, German films of this time can be a little abrupt. But the film is surprisingly easy to follow. The inter-titles are in German, with English subs. We’re told that pieces of the picture came from different sources. All blend well save for one obvious recovered censor scene in which Meinert actually lays Thymian down on a bed. Most of the rest of the picture is in great shape. It was indeed strange, recognizing bits of the show from the long-ago screening, but only now having a clue as to what’s going on. . . . The presentation is given a piano score by Javier Perez de Azpeitia, which plays very well. Thomas Gladysz’s commentary is thorough and informative. . . . The commentary tells us everything known about practically everybody who shows up on screen." - Glenn Erickson, Trailers from Hell 

"The Kino blu ray is a beautiful high def transfer . . . The insightful audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz offers a wealth of fascinating information about the movie and about Ms. Brooks" -- film historian James Neibaur,  examiner.com

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Louise Brooks in Dana Delany's library

Emmy award winner and longtime Louise Brooks Society member Dana Delany was recently asked by the New York Post which books figure prominently in her library. Her answer came as no surprise.
Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks

When I was in my 20s, Nick Kazan — Zoe’s dad — told me I reminded him of Louise Brooks, but I didn’t know who she was. Then I saw “Pandora’s Box” and was blown away. Her acting was so naturalistic, sexual and innocent at the same time. She didn’t find her voice until the end of her life, with these essays, which were published in the New Yorker.
Dana Delany     Photo: FilmMagic

Friday, October 9, 2015

KINO's new DVD and Blu-ray of The Diary of a Lost Girl starring Louise Brooks

Here I am holding advance copies of the new KINO DVD and Blu-ray of The Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), for which I provided the audio commentary -- and in which are revealed are number of previously unknown and little known facts about the film and its making. Like, the name of the musical group seen performing in the nightclub scene, and the actor (who was James Joyce's friend) who appears in the film who also had a part in the first ever staging of Pandora's Box in Vienna (alongside Frank Wedekind), and the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari connection, and the fact that one scene was filmed in present day Poland, and more.....


The discs release on October 20th. And, there will be a release party in San Francisco on November 14th (Louise Brooks birthday) at Video Wave in Noe Valley at 2:00 in the afternoon. Details to come.

Don't miss out. Pre-order your copy today! Oh, and here is the trailer.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks screens in Brooklyn, NY on Nov 8

Pandora's Box, the G.W. Pabst directed film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown one month from today at the Brooklyn Public Library on Sunday, November 8.

The screening is free, and is part of a series of silent film screenings at the library curated and hosted by Ken Gordon. More information may be found HERE.

This special screening of the 1929 film coincides with the William Kentridge staging of the 1937 Alban Berg opera, Lulu, at the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan on various dates during the month of November.

The film and the opera are both based on Frank Wedekind's plays Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904).

The screening, with live piano accompaniment by Bernie Anderson, will take place at the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11238, which is at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Eastern Parkway.

Although the branch does not open until 1:00 pm, a side-door, on Eastern Parkway, will open at 12:00 noon, to allow entry to the Dweck Center Auditorium, where introductions will begin at 12:30 pm, and the film soon after.

Louise Brooks' birthday takes place on November 14th. Why not attend this special event to celebrate?


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Slovenian advertisement with Louise Brooks and Marlene Dietrich

I recently came across this 1930 newspaper advertisement from Slovenia which promotes the showing of two films, Sinji angelj (The Blue Angel) with Marlene Dietrich, and a Louise Brooks film, here titled Zrtev velike ljubezni, which translates into Victims of a Great Love.

I am stumped as to what Victims of a Great Love would be -- either I would guess Diary of a Lost Girl or Prix de Beaute. Can any Slovenian speakers help?


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Louise Brooks: Cool Pic of the Day

Louise Brooks looks like she just returned from a trip from New Zealand or Singapore -- or is she ready to step out and have some fun?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Louise Brooks in Singapore (then British Malaysia) #2

Here are a few more Louise Brooks movie advertisements from late 1920's Singapore (then British Malaysia) newspapers. Paramount films sure did get around!





Sunday, October 4, 2015

Louise Brooks in Singapore (then British Malaysia) #1

While working on the Louise Brooks filmography pages on the Louise Brooks Society website, I have been digging around some newspaper archives in search of advertisements for screenings of the actress' films in other countries. I recently came across some articles and ads from Singapore (then British Malaysia), where a handful of Brooks' films American silent films were shown. Here are a few examples of the sort of things I found.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Louise Brooks in New Zealand #2

A follow-up to yesterday's post, about Louise Brooks related material found in vintage New Zealand newspapers. Here are a couple of nifty clippings which I am sure you will appreciate.







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