Monday, February 29, 2016

Louise Brooks and The Invention of Morel, by Adolpho Bioy Casares

Brooks’ appearance on the cover of this popular
2003 edition of The Invention of Morel was inspired
by this webpage, which dates to the late 1990s.
Before publication, the publisher contacted the
LBS regarding the actress and the use of an image.
After publication, a stream of articles noting
the connection between the novel and
the film star began to appear.
Back in 1997 or so, I ran across a tantalizing review of Adolfo Bioy Casares’ memoirs, Memorias: Infancia, adolescencia y como se hace un escrito. In a short write-up, a scholar mentioned the Argentine author’s affection for Louise Brooks. This excited me, as I had been aware of Bioy Casares and his work through his friendship with Jorge Luis Borges, a favorite author. Always on the look-out for references to Brooks, my favorite film star, I set to find out more; I couldn’t imagine how these two interests could be linked.

What I found, remarkably, is that Louise Brooks stands at the heart of one of the most important works of 20th century literature. The Invention of Morel is not only an oblique homage to the actress, a small town girl, but also a means to preserve, in writing, the memory of a writer’s desire for an elusive star.

Today, Adolpho Bioy Casares (1914 – 1999) is considered one of the great authors of the 20th century. In fact, he is thought by some to be a near equal of his great friend and sometime collaborator Jorge Luis Borges. Bioy Casares authored short stories as well as novels, including A Plan for Escape (1945), The Dream of Heroes (1954), Diary of the War of the Pig (1969), and Asleep in the Sun (1978), each of which have been translated and published in English. Bioy Casares also collaborated with Borges on the seminal Anthology of Fantastic Literature, as well as a series of satirical sketches and detective stories written under the pseudonym H. Bustos Domecq. Late in his career, Bioy won several important awards including the Gran Premio de Honor of SADE (awarded in 1975 by the Argentine Society of Writers), the French Legion of Honor (awarded in 1981), and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (awarded in 1991).

Bioy Casares is best known for his 1940 novella, La invención de Morel (The Invention of Morel). It has been described variously, as both a stoic love story and a metaphysical mystery. It tells of a man who, evading justice, escapes to a mysterious island. A group of travelers arrive, and the fugitive’s fear of being discovered means he must keep his distance from one of the travelers, a woman named Faustine, with whom he falls in love. The fugitive desires to tell her his feelings, but an anomalous phenomenon makes their meeting impossible. Struggling to understand why everything seems to repeat, the fugitive realizes that the people he sees on the island are nothing more than recordings made with a special machine invented by a scientific genius named Morel; this machine is able to project not only three-dimensional images, but also voices and scents, making everything indistinguishable from reality. In fact, the fugitive is the only real person on the island.

The Invention of Morel has been adopted by reading groups
and in college classrooms.
One recent review noted, “Though it was published in 1940, the book’s continuing relevance was recently proven when it was featured on Lost — a cameo many viewers perceive as a key to that TV show’s plot. Just know that Morel is a poetic evocation of the experience of love, an inquiry into how we know one another, and a still-relevant examination of how technology has changed our relationship with reality.”

The Invention of Morel mixes realism and metaphysical fantasy with elements of science fiction and the Gothic to create what is widely considered the first work of “magical realism.” It prefigured the boom in Latin American literature, and proved to be Bioy Casares’ breakthrough effort when it won the First Municipal Prize for Literature of the City of Buenos Aires in 1941. Despite it being his seventh book, Bioy Casares considered The Invention of Morel to mark the beginning of his career as a writer.

Borges wrote a prologue to the The Invention of Morel in which he placed the book alongside Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw and Franz Kafka’s The Trial as examples of works with “admirable plots.” Borges also termed it a work of “reasoned imagination,” linking it to the philosophical romances of H. G. Wells, notably through its title, which alludes to The Island of Doctor Moreau.
In his prologue, Borges also stated “I have discussed with the author the details of his plot; I have reread it; it seems to me neither imprecise nor hyperbolic to classify it as perfect.” The Mexican Nobel Prize winning poet Octavio Paz echoed Borges’ assessment, “The Invention of Morel may be described, without exaggeration, as a perfect novel.” Other well known Latin American writers also expressed their admiration for the book, among them the Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, and Uruguayan novelist Juan Carlos Onetti.

The first edition of La invención de Morel featured cover art and interior illustrations by Norah Borges de Torre, sister of Jorge. Call me crazy, but I think it significant that Faustine is depicted with short bobbed hair not unlike the trademark style worn by Louise Brooks.


In his memoirs, Bioy Casares wrote of his disillusionment over the decline of the screen career of one of his favorite actresses, Louise Brooks. After Memorias was published, the book and the passage on Brooks was called to the attention the Argentinian magazine Film. In their July, 1995 issue, Fernando Martin Peña and Sergio Wolf published an interview with Bioy Casares in which he expanded upon some of the points he made in his memoirs. What follows is an excerpt (in translation) from the 1995 interview.

QUESTION: You said that the inspiration for La invención de Morel came to you, at least partially, from the vanishing of Louise Brooks from the movies. What happened with you and Louise Brooks?

ADOLFO BIOY CASARES: I was deeply in love with her. I didn’t have any luck, because she disappeared quickly. She went to Europe, she made a film with Pabst, and then I didn’t like her so much as when she was in Hollywood. And then, she vanished too early from the movies.

QUESTION: Could she be seen as one of the characters in La invención de Morel?

ADOLFO BIOY CASARES: Yes, she would be Faustine.

QUESTION: It’s funny, because everybody falls in love with Louise Brooks through her German films.

ADOLFO BIOY CASARES: Well, I didn’t.

Bioy Casares loved film, and once wrote, “I want to wait for the end of the world on the seat of a movie theater.” Bioy Casares also loved the stars of his youth, and named names. In the above mentioned interview, Bioy Casares goes on to say that when he was young he went to the movies all the time, and also had a liking for Marion Davies and Anna May Wong. He also liked Garbo, though only in the light-hearted Ninotchka. Bioy Casares didn’t care for horror films, though he mentions in the interview that Borges was a big fan of The Bride of Frankenstein. I wonder if Bioy Casares would have liked that film more had director James Whale cast Brooks, his first choice, in the role of the bride, instead of Elsa Lanchester.

Here is the passage from Bioy Casares memoirs in which he discusses Brooks and his love of early film.

Progresivamente me aficioné a las películas, me convertí en espectador asiduo y ahora pienso que la sala de un cinematógrafo es el lugar que yo elegiría para esperar el fin del mundo.
Me enamoré, simultánea o sucesivamente, de las actrices de cine Louise Brooks, Marie Prévost, Dorothy Mackay, Marion Davis, Evelyn Brent y Anna May Wong.

De estos amores imposibles, el que tuve por Louise Brooks fue el más v ivo, el mas desdichado. ¡Me disgustaba tanto creer que nunca la conoscería! Peor aún, que nunca volvería a verla. Esto, precisamente, fue lo que sucedió. Despuesde tres o cuatros películas, en que la vi embeselado, Louise Brooks desapareció de las pantallas de Buenos Aires. Sentí esa desaparición, primero, como un desgarriamento; después, como una derrota personal. Debía admitir que si Louise Brooks hubiera gustado al público, no hubiera desaparecido. La verdad (o lo que yo sentía) es que no sólo pasó inadvertida por el gran público, sino también por las personas que yo conocía. Si concedían que era linda – más bien ‘bonitilla’ – , lamentaban que fuera mala actriz; si encontraban que era una actriz inteligente, lamentaban que no fuera más bella. Como ante la derrota de Firpo, comprobé que la realidad y yo no estábamos de acuerdo.

Muchos años despés, en París, vi una película (creo que de Jessua) en que el héroe, como yo (cuando estaba por escribir Corazón de payaso, uno de mis primeros intentos literarios), inconteniblemente echaba todo a la broma y, de ese modo, se hacía odiar por la mujer querida. El personaje tenía otro parecido conmigo: admiraba a Louise Brooks. Desde entonces, en mi país y en otros, encuentro continuas pruebas de esa admiración, y también pruebas que la actriz la merecía. En el New Yorker y en los Cahiers du cinéma leí articulos sobre ella, admirativos e inteligentes. Leí, asimismo, Lulú en Hollywood, un divertido libro de recuerdos, escrito por Louise Brooks.

En el 73 o en el 75, mi amigo Edgardo Cozarinsky me cito una tarde en un cafe de la Place de L’Alma, en Paris, para que conociera a una muchacha que haria el papel de Louise Brooks en un filme en preparacion. Yo era el experto que debia decirle si la muchacha era aceptable o no para el papel. Le dije que si, no solamente para ayudar a la posible actriz. Es claro que si me huberian hecho la pregunta en tiempos de mi angustiosa pasion, quiza la respuesta hubiera sido distinta. Para me, entonces, nadie se parecia a Louise Brooks.

With the help of the web and an Argentine friend, I have attempted a translation of the above passage and have come up with something inelegant, but still interesting. If you are able to provide a better translation, please contact the Louise Brooks Society.

Over time, I fell in love with movies, I became a regular viewer and now I think I want to wait for the end of the world on the seat of a movie theater..

I fell in love, simultaneously or successively, with the film actresses Louise Brooks, Marie Prevost, Dorothy Mackaill, Marion Davies, Evelyn Brent and Anna May Wong.
Of these impossible loves, I was most passionate about Louise Brooks, and it made me miserable. I hated that I could never know her! Worse, one never saw her again. This is exactly what happened. After three or four movies, I was spellbound, and Louise Brooks disappeared from the screens of Buenos Aires. I felt that disappearance, first, as a tearful break; then as a personal loss. Had she been better liked by the public, I feel Louise Brooks would not have disappeared. The truth (or what I felt) is that she was little known to the public, and also to people I knew. Granted she was cute – rather ‘pretty’ – though others complained she was a bad actress; if they found her a clever actress, they regretted that she was not more beautiful. Just like before the defeat of Firpo [the Argentine boxer who lost to Jack Dempsey], I proved that reality and me disagreed.

Many years later in Paris, I saw a movie (I think by [Alain] Jessua) in which the hero, like me (when I was wrote Heart of a Clown, one of my first literary attempts), took everything as a joke and consequently was hated by the woman he loved. That character, like me, admired Louise Brooks. Lately, here in Argentina and elsewhere, there is a renewed assessment and growing admiration for the actress, which is deserved. I read admiring and intelligent articles about her in the New Yorker and the Cahiers du Cinéma. I also read Lulu in Hollywood, a diverting memoir, written by Louise Brooks.

In 73 or 75, my friend Edgardo Cozarinsky asked me one afternoon in a cafe in the Place de l’Alma in Paris if I know a girl who would play Louise Brooks in a film which was in preparation. I was the expert who was to say if the girl was acceptable or not for the role. I said yes, not only to help the possible actress. Clearly, if I had been asked the question during my anguished passion, perhaps the answer would have been different. To me, no one seemed to be Louise Brooks.

In the passage above, Bioy Casares seems to suggest that he tried to write a short story called, “Heart of a Clown,” featuring a character like himself similarly in love with Brooks. However, I am told it is not so. Reportedly, Bioy Casares tried to write such a story to impress someone when he was young, but only got as far as an idea and a title. . . . I don’t know what became of the proposed film featuring a Brooks-like character mentioned in the last paragraph. Bioy Casares’ friend, Edgardo Cozarinsky, is no doubt a kindred soul. In 1994 he completed the documentary, Citizen Langlois, about the famous film archivist and key figure in Brooks’ life.

Boiy Casares’ book was made into a French movie called L’invention de Morel (1967), and an Italian movie called L’invenzione di Morel (1974). Faustine was played by Anna Karina in the latter. Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990’s, the Quay Brothers also hoped to turn Boiy Casares’ book into a film, but were unsuccessful in their pursuit of the rights.

It is thought, by some, that Bioy Casares’ book inspired Alain Resnais’ sur-real film Last Year At Marienbad (1961), which was adopted for the screen by the French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. The case for lineage is loosely made by Thomas Beltzer in his essay, “Last Year at Marienbad: An Intertextual Meditation.” Beltzer’s argument largely hinges on information found on a later-day dust jacket for Boiy Casares’ A Plan for Escape. Beltzer’s case is called into question (though not entirely refuted) by Dan DeWeese in his essay, “The Invention of Marienbad.” Both pieces are worth reading.

What is known is that Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel echoes through the television series Lost (2004 – 2010). The popular and critically acclaimed show follows the survivors of a passenger jet crash on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific. Like The Invention of Morel, the show contains science fiction and supernatural elements while messing with perceived reality. During season four, one of the show’s main characters is seen reading the 2003 NYRB edition of The Invention of Morel (shown below).

Things get meta: Sawyer reads The
Invention of Morel
on an episode
of the TV series Lost.
Thanks to Argentians Diego Curubeto and Erica Füsstinn for supplying and translating some of the information found on this page.

FOR FURTHER READING:

Memorias: Infancia, adolescencia y como se hace un escritor,” by Melvin S. Arrington Jr. World Literature Today, Winter, 1995.
— the review of Bioy Casares memoirs that brought to light the author’s fondness for Brooks

Last Year at Marienbad: An Intertextual Meditation,” by Thomas Beltzer. Senses of Cinema, November 2000.

— essay that builds the case for the influence of The Invention of Morel on Last Year at Marienbad

The Invention of Morel, Reading Group Guide.” New York Review Books, 2003.
— a concise summary on the novella, with study questions

Interview with the Brothers Quay.” Electric Sheep. March 4, 2007.
— Quay Brothers discuss their 2005 film The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes and it’s relationship to The Invention of Morel

A Different Stripe: Playing in Peoria: The Invention of Morel.” Typepad, August 10, 2007.
— NYRB blog post

The Invention of Morel,” in The Facts on File Companion to the World Novel: 1900 to the Present, by Michael Sollars. Facts on File, 2008.
— analysis of the Bioy Casares novel

The Invention of Marienbad,” by Dan DeWeese. Propeller Magazine, February, 2014.
— calls into question the linking of The Invention of Morel and Last Year at Marienbad

Time and the Image: The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes,” by Arturo Silva. Bright Lights Film Journal, January 28, 2016.
— analysis of the Quay Brothers’ The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, with a look at it’s relationship to The Invention of Morel

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Guest Post: Philip Vorwald solves the mystery of "A Trip Through The Paramount Studio 1927"

Philip Vorwald has done the silent film world, and the community of those interested in Louise Brooks, a great service. (Attention Clara Bow and W.C. Fields fans as well.) Recently, he took the time to visit the Library of Congress in order to view the rare promotional short, A Trip Through The Paramount Studio 1927. And, he wrote up this extensive report on what he saw. Vorwald did so to satisfy his own curiosity, and to settle the question of who actually appears in this little known film. Does Louise Brooks? Here is his extensive report.





























What a great report on this rare and noteworthy short film. How fascinating to see George Bancroft dancing with Betty Bronson, and to see a young Mary Astor, and Brooks' fellow actors Chester Conklin and Dorothy Mackaill. Hopefully, this short film will be released someday on DVD so that all can enjoy.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Louise Brooks: Iconic - Totemic - Modernist

Louise Brooks: Iconic - Totemic - Modernist


Here is a soundtrack to viewing the above image, Clarence Williams and his Jazz Kings rendition of "You've Got To Be Modernistic" (1929).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Divine Miss Brooks

A few days ago, I was interviewed by writer Brian O'Neel (author of 39 New Saints You Should Know and other works) for a blog/article on Louise Brooks and Catholicism.

His piece, "The Divine Miss Brooks," can be found at https://catholicsaintsguy.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/the-divine-miss-brooks/


Also, here is another blog/post from 2010 on the actress and the saint. "Lisieux and Louise" can be found at   https://lapinfille.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/lisieux-and-louise/

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hollywood Panorama caricature of Louise Brooks from 1971

I just acquired a copy of a 1971 book, Hollywood Panorama, by Bob Harman. And, remarkably, it contains a caricature of Louise Brooks! That's rather early in her story of rediscovery. It is a few years before the Kenneth Tynan article in the New Yorker, and more than a decade before Lulu in Hollywood was published.


Harman's book features some 1,000 different stars, with Louise Brooks twice depicted among them in both black & white and in color. Nutshell biographies in the back of the book describe Brooks as "A vivid vamp of the twenties -- distinguished by her cold and classic beauty." Here is the page featuring Brooks in color. She can be found in the lower left corner. (In a way, her depiction evokes Al Hirschfield and anticipates David Levine.)


I wasn't able to find much information online about the artist, but according to an informative and illustrated blog by the cartoonist and illustrator Drew Friedman, "The late artist Bob Harman took ten years to create Bob Harman's Hollywood Panorama a 5x9 foot full color montage of 1001 caricatures of vintage film stars set against a background of famous movie sets and Hollywood landmarks. It was published in book form in 1971 by Dutton. Many of the caricatures created for Hollywood Panorama were also reprinted in B&W in the book The MGM years", also from 1971." Here is the 1971 newspaper article which led me to track down this book.



Harman also contributed caricatures to various magazines, including the cover for an issue of Focus on Film, a magazine to which Brooks once contributed.



Harman's Hollywood Panorama was not his only book, and not the only one of his books which included Brooks. His 1991 book, Enchanted Faces, which was self-published and which I just ordered a copy, also contains a rather fine portrait of Brooks. Here Thelma and Louise face one another. The image below is from Drew Freidman's blog.

Harman also drew paper dolls, and published another book, this one from 1990. I ordered a copy of it as well. Hopefully, as it focuses on the stars of the silent screen, it may have some images of interest. I like his style.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Video history of the 1920s includes Louise Brooks

This recent and rather good 45 minute documentary about the 1920s includes two images of Louise Brooks, as well as footage of her friends Charlie Chaplin and George Gershwin.


The piece is part three of a 15-part series of documentaries produced by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on the 20th century and the the United States.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Classic Hollywood Menu Featuring Classic Hollywood Stars

I just had to share this newspaper advertisement for a 1975 San Francisco Bay Area restaurant which I came across recently while doing research. If you love classic Hollywood, this is the place to eat. . . . Jean Harlow, Hedy Lamar, W.C. Fields, Bela Lugosi, James Cagney, Myrna Loy, Janet Gaynor, Marlene Dietrich, and Gary Cooper. Even Carole Lombard and Ronald Colman (each mis-spelled) are included. Three of the stars noted below appeared in a Louise Brooks film. Do you know who?


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jennifer Jason Leigh interview sporting a Louise Brooks bob

Jennifer Jason Leigh on David Letterman in 1999 sporting a Louise Brooks bob while promoting her stage performance in Cabaret.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Video Tribute: Yet Another Faux "Louise Brooks Interview"

Here is yet another faux "Louise Brooks Interview", featuring a young woman named Bri. To me, this is an amazing sub-genre of fan-nonfic.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Video Tribute: Another "Louise Brooks Interview"

And here's another faux Louise Brooks interview found on YouTube. (A veritable sub-genre!) It is titled "Late Night Talk Show ft. Louise Brooks" and was published online last December by Elena Serafimovski.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Video Tribute: "Louise Brooks Interview" by two teenagers

This is cool: a 2013 video tribute to Louise Brooks by two teenagers. it's called "Late Night Show with Lois: with guest star Louise Brooks." I believe woman playing Brooks is named Mayuri Bharathan, and this YouTube video is from her channel.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Music Video Tribute: "LOUISE SEMPRE LOUISE (dedicado a Louise Brooks)" by Rádio Educativa Mensagem (REM)

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the seventh and final installment, "LOUISE SEMPRE LOUISE (dedicado a Louise Brooks)" by Rádio Educativa Mensagem (REM).

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Music Video Tribute: Louise Brooks, "How high the Moon"

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the sixth installment, "Louise Brooks, How high the Moon," compiled by Iram De la Rochefoucault. Uploaded in 2011, "Algunos dibujos de Louise Brooks...Música: "How Hight the Moon" Les Paul & Mary Ford. Lou Lou en Cartoon!!"

Friday, February 12, 2016

Music Video Tribute: "Louise Brooks, Turning Away" by Paul Humphrey

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the fifth installment, "Louise Brooks, Turning Away" by Paul Humphrey. This song dates from 1997, and was done on Video-8: videotaped in Boulder, CO and Nederland, CO, featuring clips from various Louise Brooks films. Camera, Editing, Guitar by Paul Humphrey.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Music Video Tribute: If U Seek Amy [Louise Brooks]

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the fourth installment, "A little tribute to the iconic Louise Brooks," titled "If U Seek Amy [Louise Brooks]". Girl power, rock on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Music Video Tribute: "Louise Brooks" by Paul Hayes

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the third installment, an old favorite. It is "Louise Brooks" by Paul Hayes from his 2003 album Vol. 1: Love and Pain and The Whole Damn' Thing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Music Video Tribute: "Lulu a Hollywood" by Olivia Louvel

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the second installment. French artist Olivia Louvel performs "Lulu a Hollywood" from album Lulu In Suspension. This live footage from a concert at Le Cube in 2009 with mastered audio. Deluxe Digipak CD available at Optical Sound http://www.optical-sound.com/


From Wikipedia: Olivia Louvel is a French-born, British composer, producer and performer, crafting electronic songs from laptop and voice. In 2011, she won the Qwartz Album Award at the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards for Doll Divider. She works on the frontier of art and electronic music, often blurring the boundary between the two. Her innovative and quirky songwriting brought her to perform alongside artists such as Planningtorock at the Earsthetic Festival, The Irrepressibles at the Brighton Dome, and Recoil for concerts on the European 'Selected' tour.

Initially trained in classical singing, she began to work as a singer for the renowned flying trapeze circus 'Les Arts Sauts' performing at 12 metres in the air a Meredith Monk composition 'Madwoman’s vision'. She toured with them for 3 years. From 1996 to 1999, she attended the National Superior Conservatory of Dramatic Arts of Paris, and graduated in 1999.

Lulu In Suspension, inspired by silent-movie star Louise Brooks and her book 'Lulu in Hollywood', was released as a digipak CD on Optical Sound Records and Fine Arts run by French artist Pierre BelouÏn. In 2009, she presented an AV performance of 'Lulu In Suspension' at Le Cube, the digital art space in France.

For more, check out her website or Facebook page.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Music Video Tribute: "Louise Brooks Eyes" by Little-X-Little

Welcome to Music Video Tribute Week on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Here is the first installment, a 2009 video I recently came across on YouTube. It's "Louise Brooks Eyes" by Little-X-Little.


Don't know anything about this two person group. They have a YouTube channel with two other videos, including "Jackie's Town live at the Grape Room" which may have an image of Louise Brooks in the background. Hey Little-X-Little, are you fans of the actress?


Musicall, this duo reminds me a little of a solo act, The GrrrL (aka April Louise McLucas), who I wrote about back in 2010.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Some silent films Louise Brooks saw before she left Kansas

My recent research into Louise Brooks' early life has turned up some of the silent films the actress saw before she left Kansas. Here they are, and on the exact dates she saw them. Dates in italics are approximate within a few days.

Nov. 15, 1919
Hosts an outing for friends, who take in the Dorothy Gish comedy I’ll Get Him Yet at the Best Theatre, followed by lunch at the Sunflower Pharmacy (in Independence).

Token from the Sunflower Pharmacy in
Independence, Kansas.
Jan. 5, 1921
Sees Once to Every Woman, starring Dorothy Phillips and Rodolph Valentino, at the Regent theater in Wichita. The film is heavily promoted in the local papers, plays a full week, and reportedly brought tears to the eyes of many patrons. Brooks critiques the film in her diary.

Jan 12, 1921
Sees Passion, starring Pola Negri, at the Regent theater, which Brooks records in her diary as being “wonderful.” Advertisements in the local papers claim this is its first showing outside of New York.

Jan 25, 1921
Sees The Love Light, starring Mark Pickford, at the Wichita theater.

Feb. 21, 1921
Sees While New York Sleeps, starring Marc McDermott, at the Regent theater.

Feb. 24, 1921
See Worlds Apart, starring Eugene O’Brien, during its three day run at the Wichita theater.

The Princess theater in Wichita, Kansas.
March 10, 1921
Attends a line party with friends at the Wichita theater, where the group sees the locally popular film, Lying Lips, starring Florence Vidor and House Peters.

April 19, 1921
Sees Way Down East, starring Lillian Gish, in the company of her mother at the New Crawford Theater.

Sept. 13, 1921
Sees The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, starring Rudolph Valentino, at the Princess theater. The film played a week, and its presentation featured an augmented orchestra.

Nov. 27, 1921
Sees The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino, at the Regent theater during its week-long run.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A few more interesting bits about Louise Brooks

My research turned up a couple of rather interesting bits regarding Louise Brooks after she left Wichita, Kansas.



On July 18, 1922 the Wichita Daily Eagle reported that Brooks had been moved to the advanced class in dancing at the Denishawn school. Undoubtedly, she communicated as much in a letter home, which was then transmitted to the local newspaper.

And, on July 24, 1922 the Wichita Daily Eagle reported that Brooks had received an offer from the famous Shubert company, which she turned down; it was reported that Brooks intended to continue her studies with Denishawn before returning home to finish high school. Which she never did.

At the end of the summer, Alice Mills returned to Wichita and opened an authorized (meaning franchised) Denishawn school. This advertisement dates from September, 1922.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Alice Mills, The Chaperone, and Louise Brooks, the 15 year old dancer

Revealed here for the first time, pictures not seen in nearly 100 years, are two remarkable newspaper clippings. The first depicts Alice Mills, the Wichita, Kansas dance instructor who taught Louise Brooks and, as importantly, was the woman who chaperoned the 15 year old Brooks to New York City to study with Denishawn.


According to press reports from the time, Brooks was not the only local set to study with Denishawn; so did Mills. That may explain why Mills chaperoned Brooks, and not her mother, who was originally mentioned as the person who would accompany the aspiring 15 year old dancer. The stunning clipping shown below depicts Brooks shortly before she was to leave for NYC.


Tomorrow's post will contains some additional information on this turning point in Brooks' life, which is beautifully depicted in Laura Moriarty's novel, The Chaperone.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Louise Brooks in a two-act comedy, Mr. Bob, in 1921

On May 20, 1921, fourteen year old Louise Brooks played a lead role in a two-act comedy, Mr. Bob, which was staged in the auditorium of the Horace Mann intermediate school in Wichita, Kansas. Brooks played the role of Catherine Rogers.

Some 600 students attended the event. Below is a picture of the cast, which includes a seated, smiling Louise Brooks. She certainly stands out, at least in my eye, in the way she holds herself -- confident, relaxed.



I wasn't able to find much on Mr. Bob, except that it was royalty free and performed in a number of schools in the first few decades of the 20th century. I did a quick search, and managed to purchase an inexpensive copy from the turn of the last century. Here is a synopsis which I found online.







 
And here is a picture postcard of the Horace Mann school from 1920. Check in tomorrow for another blog post with another remarkable and little known image of the one and only Louise Brooks.



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