Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Help support The Commentary Track podcast - a great cause

Please consider supporting The Commentary Track podcast. If you love the movies and movie history, it is a more than worthy cause. I made a small donation, and so should you. Every little bit helps! More information can be found HERE.

Frank Thompson started The Commentary Track podcast five years ago. It was created to feature in-depth conversations with film historians and archivists as well as actors, composers and filmmakers who have a deep knowledge and love for films of the past. Until February, 2016, Thompson did just that.

The Commentary Track’s guests have included many top film historians – Kevin Brownlow, David Shepard, Sam Gill, Bob Birchard, Rudy Behlmer, Leonard Maltin, Richard M. Roberts, Jordan R. Young, Jerry Beck, John Bengtson and many others. Actors such as Jim Beaver, Trace Beaulieu and George Chakiris; filmmakers Joe Dante, Craig Barron and Ben Burtt; authors James Curtis, Steve Bingen, Marilyn Moss, Tracey Goessel and Matthew Kennedy – in fact, too many guests to list them all here.


In late 2015, a perfect storm of technical issues combined with a series of financial reversals made it impossible to continue. Now, Thompson wants to get the podcast up and running again. He already have five episodes ready to post and many more interviews lined up.

Thompson need funds to rebuild his website, thecommentarytrack.com. He also need to invest in new equipment so that I can begin doing phone interviews at an acceptable sound quality. And if there’s any money left over, he wants to explore ways to more aggressively advertise the podcast. So far it has been a labor of love. He can’t afford labors of love anymore, so he wants to find a way to make the podcast sustainable.

Any contribution is welcome. If you can’t toss any money his way – please spread the word to your friends who might want to be a part of this podcasts’ resurgence.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sneak peak at the forthcoming Louise Brooks / Beggars of Life book

Here is a sneak peak at my new book, which is inching toward publication. Since first announced, this project has "suffered" a bit of project creep. I've added about 30 more pages, including a bit more text and a half-dozen especially rare and newly acquired images, as well as a foreword by actor and writer William Wellman, Jr.

Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film (100 pages, 15,000 words, & 50+ illustrations)
by Thomas Gladysz, with a foreword by William Wellman, Jr.

This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.”

FRONT COVER

BACK COVER


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Louise Brooks inspired Lulu Soda Pop

Ray Ryan tweeted this snapshot of Lulu soda pop. It sure seems Louise Brooks inspired to me, though the image seems a little Betty Boop!


That pic led me to do a google image search on Lulu soda pop, and here's what I found. Seemingly, Lulu soda comes from Mexico or Latin America. And it may be vintage. Anyone know more about it?





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New book: Lulu in New York and Other Tales

A forthcoming book, Lulu in New York and Other Tales, has more than a little connection to Louise Brooks. The book, by Robert Power and featuring paintings by Max Ferguson, features an image of the actress on the cover.

From the publisher: "American Artist Max Ferguson’s paintings often feature solitary figures, brooding atmospheres, and urban landscapes whose narrative and cinematic qualities hint at hidden stories, secrets, and conversations waiting to happen. Writer Robert Power’s fiction of longing and resolution, alienation and loving, provide the perfect voice to give life to Ferguson’s mysterious paintings. Lulu in New York and Other Tales brings their work together in a unique collaboration.

Lulu in New York and Other Tales presents an exquisite and beautifully crafted volume of sixty stories from Power, inspired by paintings from throughout Ferguson’s career. Some of the pictures, like Chess Players and Interiors lend themselves to whimsical or heart-rending conversations. Others, such as Woman in Bath, Subway, and Billy’s Topless have violence and menace simmering at their core. Other paintings that inspire tales of reflection, reminiscing on love both lost and found.

Binding Ferguson’s paintings and Power’s storytelling together is a shared appreciation of the nuances, agonies and ecstasies, complexities and delicacies, of the human condition. The result is a lushly produced book that is at once powerful and beautiful, and will appeal to both art and short story lovers."

Max Ferguson is an American artist best known for his realistic paintings of vanishing urban scenes in and around New York City.  His work has been widely exhibited in such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum. Robert Power lives in Melbourne. His other books include Meatloaf in Manhattan and Tidetown.

Lulu in New York and Other Tales is due out in July, though there will be an earlier release party in New York City in May at the famous Strand bookstore.

LULU IN NEW YORK AND OTHER TALES
Wednesday, May 24th  
6:30 - 9:30 pm

828 Broadway
New York
                                 

In conjunction with the book launch, 
there will be an exhibition of  Max Ferguson paintings.

SOLO EXHIBTION

May 4 - May 27

37 West 57th Street
New York

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Trivia about Now We're in the Air, with Louise Brooks

As you should know by now, a chunk of the 1927 Louise Brooks film Now We're in the Air has been found in Prague at the Czech Republic’s Národní filmový archive (National Film Archive). The restored, 23 minute fragment will be shown June 2 at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Read more about it HERE on the Huffington Post.

In the meantime, here is some trivia related to the film....

The film was shot between August 1 and September 8, 1927 at Paramount’s studio in Hollywood, as well as at a local ranch, a local aviation field, and at an amusement pier in Venice, California.

Now We’re in the Air was one in a series of service comedies teaming Raymond Hatton with Wallace Beery, a future Academy Award winner.  The film follows Behind the Front (1926) and We’re in the Navy Now (1926).

— Early on, William Wellman, James Cruze and even Mauritz Stiller were announced as the director for Now We’re in the Air. Among cast members who were announced but did not appear in the film were Ford Sterling and Zasu Pitts. An outline (by Tom J. Geraghty) and a treatment (by John F. Goodrich) for the film were completed as early as February 2, 1927.



— Frank R. Strayer (1891 – 1964) who was assigned as director, was an actor, film writer, and producer. He was active from the mid-1920s until the early 1950s. Strayer is credited with having directed 86 films, including 13 movies in the series based on the Blondie and Dagwood comic strip.

Now We’re in the Air cinematographer Harry Perry also worked on two other notable aviation pictures, Wings (1927) and Hell’s Angels (1930). He was nominated for an Academy Award at the 3rd Academy Awards for his work on the latter.

— Fifteen airplanes were hired for the making of the film, including a 76-foot Martin Bomber which was deliberately wrecked for one of the film’s “big thrill scenes.”

— In late August, 1927 the New York Times reported that the combined blast of six wind machines and a dozen airplanes lifted both Raymond Hatton and Wallace Berry into the air and on to an off-screen net set to catch them.


Now We’re in the Air was released as sound was coming in. According to the Barry Paris biography, Brooks once suggested there was some thought given to adding dialogue to the film.

— Though a silent, Now We’re in the Air continued to be shown into the early sound era. In January, 1930 it was screened in Fairbanks, Alaska and in December, 1931 it was screened in the Darwin in Northern Territory, Australia.


Under its American title, Now We’re in the Air, documented screenings of the film took place in Australia, British Malaysia (Singapore), Canada, China, India, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, and the British Isles (England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, and Scotland). Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Dos tiburones en el aire (Argentina); Riff und Raff als Luftschiffer (Austria); Nous sommes dans les air (Belgium); Dois aguias no ar (Brazil); Ted my jsme ve vzduchu (Czechoslovakia); Katu Njosnararnir (Iceland); Aviatori per forza (Italy); Aviatori … per forza (Italy); Ed eccoci aviatori (Italy); Yagi and Kita in the Air (Japan); 弥次喜多空中の巻 (Japan); Reclutas por los aires (Mexico); Hoerawe vliegen (The Netherlands); Luftens Spioner (Norway); Recrutas Aviadores (Portugal); Agora Estamos no Ar (in Portuguese-American newspapers); and Hjältar i luften (Sweden).

Friday, April 7, 2017

A little something about Now We're in the Air, with Louise Brooks

As you should know by now, a chunk (a technical terms meaning partial) of the 1927 Louise Brooks film Now We're in the Air has been found in Prague at the Czech Republic’s Národní filmový archive (National Film Archive). The restored, 23 minute fragment will be shown June 2 at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Read more about it HERE on the Huffington Post.

In the meantime, here is a little background on the film....

Now We’re in the Air is a comedy about two fliers (a pair of “aero-nuts” also called “looney Lindberghs”) who wander on to a World War I battle field near the front lines. The film was one of a number of aviation-themed stories shot in 1927 (following Lindbergh’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic), as well as one in a popular series of “service comedies” pairing Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton. Louise Brooks plays the unusual role of twin sisters, one raised French and one raised German, named Griselle & Grisette, who are the love interest of the two fliers.


Arguably, Now We’re in the Air was the most popular American silent in which Brooks appeared. Generally liked by the critics, the film did big box office where ever it showed. In New York City, it enjoyed an extended run, as it did in San Francisco, where it  proved to be one of the biggest hits of the year. At a time when most new releases played only one week, Now We’re in the Air ran for more than a month in San Francisco, where it was extended due to robust ticket sales. In Boston, it also did well, opening simultaneously in five theaters in the area. The Boston Evening Transcript noted, “most of the audience at the Washington Street Olympia this week were so moved by mirth that they were close to tears. Presumably the experience has been the same at the Scollay Square Olympia, the Fenway, the Capitol in Allston and the Central Square in Cambridge.” Newspapers in other large cities like Atlanta, Georgia and St. Louis, Missouri reported a similar reception.

The New Orleans Item noted, “The added feature of Now We’re in the Air is the presence of Louise Brooks as the heroine. One of the cleverest of the new stars, she has immense ability to appear ‘dumb’ but like those early Nineteenth Century actresses, commended by Chas. Lamb, she makes the spectators realize that she is only playing at being dumb.” Radie Harris of the New York Morning Telegraph wrote, “Louise Brooks is seen as the feminine lead. She essays the role of twins. Which, if you know Louise, is mighty satisfactory. She is decorative enough to admire once, but when you are allowed the privilege of seeing her double, the effect is devastating.” The Boston Post added, “You see there are pretty twin sisters, Grisette and Griselle, both played by the fetching Louise Brooks, who marry Wally and Ray, who cannot tell their wives apart except by their dogs, one a poodle, one a daschund.”


The dual role played by Brooks made the film for many critics. Curran D. Swint of the San Francisco News stated, “Both the hulking and ungainly Beery and the cocky little Hatton give goofingly good accounts of themselves. Then there is Louise Brooks. She’s the girl — or the girls — in the case, for Louise is twins in the story, and about this fact much of the comedy is woven.” Across town, A. F. Gillaspey of the San Francisco Bulletin added, “Louise Brooks is the leading woman of this picture. She appears as the twin sisters. This results in some remarkable and very interesting double exposures.”

Mae Tinee, the Chicago Tribune critic who seemed to always champion Brooks, put it this way, “Louise Brooks as twins, is — are — a beautiful foil for the stars and if you think she doesn’t marry both of them before the picture ends, why, cogitate again, my darlings.”

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Special Ciné-Concert screening of William Wellman's epic masterpiece "Wings" at FIAF


Speaking of WWI films.... To commemorate the centennial of the United States’ April 6, 1917 entry into World War I, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), New York’s premiere French cultural center, is thrilled to present a special ciné-concert screening of the American silent film classic Wings on Thursday, April 6 in FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall. For more info visit www.fiaf.org


The evening is co-presented with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, with support from the French Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre Mondiale and the US WWI Centennial Commission.

One of the last great films of the silent era, William Wellman’s epic masterpiece won the Academy Award for Best Picture at the first-ever Oscar Ceremony in 1929. The beautifully restored film will be paired with a live US premiere performance of the musical score by Baudime Jam featuring France's Prima Vista Quartet.

Set against the backdrop of the Battle of Saint-Mihiel in the Meuse, Wings is the captivating story of two men who enlist to join allied troops in France, and the girl they’ve left behind. Featuring thrilling aerial battle scenes and breathtaking camera work, this tale of friendship and love, rivalry and heroism stars screen siren Clara Bow alongside Richard Arlen, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, and the legendary Gary Cooper in a cameo appearance.


About the Prima Vista Quartet
The Prima Vista Quartet has been recognized worldwide for their breathtaking musical accompaniment of masterpieces of silent cinema. Led by acclaimed composer Baudime Jam with violinists Elzbieta Gladys and Amélie Paradis, and cellist Frédéric Deville, the quartet magnifies the beauty of silent movies, emphasizing emotions while staying faithful to the singularity of the film.
The quartet has been featured in numerous prestigious film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. All scores are written and composed by Baudime Jam, conferring a personal and emotional touch to the music.

For this unique performance, the quartet will be accompanied by Matthias Champon (trumpet) and Cédric Barbier (percussions), celebrated artists who have worked both in classical and contemporary orchestras.
About Baudime Jam
Baudime Jam, born in Clermont-Ferrand in 1972, is an artist, musicographer, and composer. Jam has written extensively about music, including a biography of the composer George Onslow, and has lectured in France and abroad. In 1998 he became producer of the musical magazine Melodia on Clermont-Ferrand’s RCF 63 radio, and in 1993 he was appointed head of classical musical programming at Radio France. Jam founded the Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra in 1994, and directed it until 1997. In 1988, he founded the Prima Vista Quartet with whom he has presented nearly 700 performances.

Jam is interested in a variety of repertories: baroque, classical, romantic, modern, and contemporary, while exploring other horizons including jazz, klezmer, tango, and silent film scores. He is a composer and member of the SACEM and of UCMF associations, who has created original works for concerts, scores for silent films, and fairy tales set to music, as well as numerous transcriptions and orchestrations.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Huffington Post: Long Missing Louise Brooks Film Found

Approximately 23 minutes of a long missing 1927 Louise Brooks film, Now We’re in the Air, has been found in an archive in the Czech Republic. The discovery is significant, not only because of Brooks’ widespread popularity, but because it helps fill a gap in the legendary actress’ body of work. Until now, each of the four films Brooks made in 1927—at the peak of her American career—have been considered lost.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival revealed the existence of the film while announcing the lineup of works to be shown at its upcoming event. The newly restored partial film will be shown at the Festival, which is set to take place June 1 through June 4 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.
Now We’re in the Air will be paired with Get Your Man (1927), a Dorothy Arzner directed film starring Clara Bow. The Library of Congress has reconstructed Get Your Man from recovered materials, filling in missing sequences with stills and intertitles. Festival Executive Director Stacey Wisnia noted that the pairing brings together not only two recovered films, but also the era’s two “It” girls, Bow and Brooks.

The discovery of Now We’re in the Air came about, in part, through the efforts of film preservationist Robert Byrne, president of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Byrne has made a name for himself of late, having helped in the recovery and restoration of a handful of important films over the last few years. Prominent among his discoveries were two films identified in the collection of Cinematheque Francaise, Sherlock Holmes (1916), and Silence (1926). The latter, a Cecil B. DeMille production directed by Rupert Julian, will also debut at the June event. Another of Byrne’s efforts, Behind the Door (1919), is due out on DVD / Blu-ray from Flicker Alley.

In a recent interview, Byrne related how he mentioned to English film historian and Academy Award honoree Kevin Brownlow that he would be going to Prague to visit the Czech Národní filmový archiv (the Czech Republic’s National Film Archive). It’s known they have an extensive collection of silent era material, including the only remaining nitrate copies of a number of American silent films. Unsure as to what might be found, Brownlow provided Byrne with a list of about a dozen titles he should ask to see. That list included Now We’re in the Air. Though popular in its time, the 1927 film is little known today except for the fact it includes Brooks in an important supporting role.


When Byrne inspected the elements for Rif a Raf, Politi (the Czech title for Now We’re in the Air), he found the film had only partially survived in a state which also showed nitrate decomposition. Additionally, the surviving scenes were found to be out of order, and there were Czech-language titles in place of the original American titles. Byrne spent more than eight months reconstructing the surviving material, including restoring the film’s original English-language inter-titles and original tinting.

“As is often the case, the most challenging aspect was not the technical work of cleaning up the image,” Byrne stated, “but rather the research that ensured we were making a faithful restoration, especially when it came to replacing the Czech language inter-titles with the original English versions.”

Byrne was especially appreciative of the help given by the Národní filmový archive. “They were incredibly gracious and generous with their time and resources; in addition to granting access to their nitrate print, they are responsible for the color-dye tinting of our new 35mm print. This is the first San Francisco Silent Film Festival restoration where we have used the traditional dye-tinting process to restore a film’s original color. In prior projects, we have used a modern method that utilizes color film stock.” Byrne added, “This is what an American audience would have seen when the film was released in 1927.”

Byrne said he was “thrilled” to find a missing Brooks film. “The shame is that so many of her American films are lost. Seeing Now We’re in the Air projected for the first time was pretty amazing. I have seen stills of her in the black tutu a million times, but actually seeing the sequence where she is wearing it was like watching a still photograph magically come to life.” Byrne’s excitement for the newly found Brooks’ film was matched by Judy Wyler Sheldon, a longtime Brooks’ fan and the daughter of legendary director William Wyler. Festival Artistic Director Anita Monga was likewise excited, and thought the fragment was “revelatory.”

Directed by Frank Strayer, Now We’re in the Air is a World War One comedy starring future Oscar winner Wallace Beery and the once popular character actor Raymond Hatton. The film, released by Paramount, also features Brooks in two supporting roles. The actress plays twins, one raised French, one raised German, who are the love interest of two goofy fliers. The surviving footage of Brooks only includes her in the role of the French twin, a carnival worker dressed in a short, dark tutu.



In the 1920s, Beery and Hatton were teamed in a number of popular Dumb and Dumber-like comedies. With its aviation-theme, Now We’re in the Air was one of the pair’s “service comedies,” following similar themed movies like Behind the Front (1926) and We’re in the Navy Now (1926).

Notably, the film’s cinematographer is Harry Perry, who worked on two other significant aviation pictures, Wings (1927), and Hell’s Angels (1930). Perry was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the latter. Interestingly, a notation in the script for Now We’re in the Air uncovered during its restoration calls for the use of left-over footage from the William Wellman-directed Wings, another WWI movie, and the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. That footage can be seen during the Armistice scene in Now We’re in the Air, near the end of the surviving footage.

Though some winced at its crude humor (not evident in the surviving material), the Beery-Hatton film proved to be one of the more popular comedies of 1927. Generally liked by the critics, the film did big box office where ever it showed. In New York City, it enjoyed an extended run, as it did in San Francisco, where it proved to be one of the year’s biggest hits. At a time when most new releases played only one week, Now We’re in the Air ran for a month in San Francisco, according to local newspaper listings. In Boston, the film also did well, opening simultaneously in five theaters. At the time, the Boston Evening Transcript noted the audience at one screening “was so moved by mirth that they were close to tears.”

The recovery of Now We’re in the Air comes 90 years after its first release, and 100 years after the United States formally entered what became known as the First World War, on April 6, 1917. Though a comedy, Now We’re in the Air was one of a number of silent films from the time—including Behind the Door (1919), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), The Big Parade (1925), What Price Glory? (1926), and Wings (1927), which depict the international conflict.

Byrne and others involved in the restoration of Now We’re in the Air believe the surviving footage lives up to the promise of its original reviews. In June, Festival goers and Louise Brooks fans will have the chance to see for themselves. More about the lineup of films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival can be found at www.silentfilm.org.
 

this piece originally appeared on Huffington Post

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Now We're in the Air - Lost Louise Brooks Film Resurfaces!

A Louise Brooks film previously considered "lost" has just been found!
Now We're in the Air (1927) will be shown June 2 in San Francisco
at the annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival. This is what
Louise Brooks fans have been waiting for for a long time.
The film was a smash hit in San Francisco back in 1927,
and a large turn-out is expected for this
historic screening 90 years later.

Read all about it HERE on the Huffington Post.


Thomas Gladysz and Christy Pascoe of the Louise Brooks Society had a hand
in the restoration of this new discovery. To mark the occasion, a related 100
page book by Thomas Gladysz is in the works, and should be available at
the San Francisco Silent Film Festival June event.

Read all about this BIG news on the Huffington Post.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Louise Brooks -- photo of the week

Here is a publicity portrait of Louise Brooks taken for Now We're in the Air (1927). It is the Louise Brooks Society blog photo of the week!


Monday, March 27, 2017

Forthcoming Louise Brooks projects

I have been busy lately.... within the next four months, four Louise Brooks-related projects with which I have been involved will come to fruition. Three have been completed, and one is nearing completion. I can only speak of a couple of them in any detail right now.

One of these projects, in which I had a hand, will be announced within a few days. It has been in the works for a number of months. I made my small contribution earlier this year. I cannot say more about it at this time, but be assured, it is BIG news. Louise Brooks fans everywhere will be thrilled.

After it is announced, I will announce my related project, a 100+ page book which I am currently editing / compiling.

But for now, I can announce the forthcoming publication of a small book which I have recently completed, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. The publication of this work, within the next two months, will more-or-less coincide with the release of the DVD / Blu-ray of Beggars of Life from KINO Lorber, which is due out this summer. [Another project I have just recently completed is a 9,000 word audio commentary which will accompany the DVD / Blu-ray as bonus material.]

Here is a mock-up of the cover for my forthcoming book, which was superbly designed by my wife, and which will feature more than 13,000 words of text and 35 images, many of theme rare. I am proud of this little book, as I think it breaks new ground and reveals a good deal of information and analysis on what I feel is a significant silent film. The book will be approximately 72 pages long.

Copies will be available through amazon.com, as well as other online sources. And for those who might want an autographed copy, those will be available directly from yours truly, the author. Details to come. I also hope to sign books at a few events in California sometime this year, should things work out.

Friday, March 24, 2017

New Book: The W.C. Fields Films by James Neibaur

Coming soon from film historian James Neibaur, The W.C. Fields Films (Mcfarland & Co).

I, for one, am looking forward to this new book, which I expect will include information on the 1926 film, It's the Old Army Game, which starred W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks.

From the publisher: "W.C. Fields was one of the top comedians during Hollywood's Golden Era of the 1930s and 1940s and has since remained a comic icon. Despite his character's misanthropic, child-hating, alcoholic tendencies, his performances were enduringly popular and Fields became personally defined by them. This critical study of his work provides commentary and background on each of his films, from the early silents through the cameos near the end of his life, with fresh appraisals of his well known classics. Pictures once believed to be lost that have been discovered and restored are discussed, and new information is given on some that remain lost."

James L. Neibaur is a film historian and educator with more than a dozen books and articles in Cineaste, Classic Images, Film Quarterly, Films in Review, Filmfax, and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Among his books are James Cagney Films of the 1930s (2014), Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts: 1920-1923 (2013), The Charley Chase Talkies: 1929-1940 (2013), The Silent Films of Harry Langdon (1923-1928) (2012), Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927 (2012), Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist as Apprentice at Keystone Studios (2011), The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM, Educational Pictures, and Columbia (2010), Chaplin at Essanay: A Film Artist in Transition, 1915-1916 (2008), and Arbuckle And Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations (2006).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If you could find one of Louise Brooks' lost films, which would it be?

It is a well known and regrettable fact that the majority of films made during the silent era are lost. The percentage of lost films has been estimated to be as high as 75% or 80%.

That percentage, which is shockingly high, does not apply to the films of Louise Brooks -- at least not by much.

The actress appeared in only 14 silent films during her brief career, and only 7 of these productions are considered lost. (One of them, Just Another Blonde, is partially extant. I have seen what remains, and it looks rather fun. Another, The Street of Forgotten Men, is largely extant, but is rarely shown.) Please note, I am counting both Beggars of Life and The Canary Murder Case among Brooks' silent films, as each was released in both silent and sound versions.


All this leads me to wonder which lost Louise Brooks film YOU would most like to see. It is something to think about or even fantasize about.

If I had to pick one, I might picked Rolled Stockings, simply because Brooks likely had the most screen time in it among the lost films. Or, I might pick The City Gone Wild, because it is a gangster picture and it would be kinda cool to see Brooks as a moll. Of course, I would be thrilled to see any lost Brooks' film. Wouldn't you?

Here is a list of films featuring Louise Brooks which are considered lost. If you wish, post your pick in the comments section below.


The American Venus (1926)
A Social Celebrity (1926)
Just Another Blonde (1926) *

Evening Clothes (1927)
Rolled Stockings (1927)
Now We're in the Air (1927)
The City Gone Wild (1927)




Monday, March 20, 2017

W.C. Fields brief appearance in Love Em and Leave Em

I came across this still from the 1926 Louise Brooks film Love Em and Leave Em for sale on eBay. And in doing so, I spotted something I have never noticed before, the portrait of comedian W.C. Fields pinned to the wall of the bedroom belonging to the two sisters, played by Louise Brooks and Evelyn Brent. Of the three images on the wall above a sleeping Louise Brooks, the Fields portrait is to the right. I can't make out the other portraits seen in this scene still.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

New book includes chapter on a Louise Brooks film

A recently released and rather expensive new book, Camera-Eye Metaphor in Cinema, by Austrian scholar Christian Quendler, contains a chapter on the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, and its literary source material, Margarete Bohme's book of the same name. The book was published by Routledge Advances in Film Studies in November, 2016.

I haven't yet seen the book, nor have I come across any reviews, so I can't say much about it except what I read online. According to the publisher's description, "This book explores the cultural, intellectual, and artistic fascination with camera-eye metaphors in film culture of the twentieth century. By studying the very metaphor that cinema lives by, it provides a rich and insightful map of our understanding of cinema and film styles and shows how cinema shapes our understanding of the arts and media. As current new media technologies are attempting to shift the identity of cinema and moving imagery, it is hard to overstate the importance of this metaphor for our understanding of the modalities of vision. In what guises does the 'camera eye' continue to survive in media that is called new?"

Warren Buckland, of Oxford Brookes University in the UK, said this, "The metaphor of camera as eye is fundamental to both everyday discussion as well as more academic theories of cinema: it is a pervasive metaphor through which we understand cinema on several levels. Christian Quendler’s detailed study of the camera-eye metaphor is therefore a significant and erudite contribution to scholarship. But, more than this, Quendler’s study takes a truly interdisciplinary approach to this metaphor. The Camera-Eye Metaphor in Cinema is not dogmatic in limiting itself to one or two theoretical positions; far from it. This book encompasses a broad array of theoretical approaches – from the philosophy of mind to art theory, narratology, and gender studies. It therefore has a potentially wide appeal, not only in film studies, but also cultural and media studies more generally."

Thought you might want to know . . . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New book mentions Louise Brooks on the cover

A just published Italian-language book, Guida al cinema erotico & porno. Dal cinema muto a oggi, by Alessandro Bertolotti, mentions Louise Brooks on its cover. (The actress' name can be found on the lower left hand side.) The 383-page book, published by Odoya library, looks at erotic and pornographic films from the silent era to today.

The publishers description, in Italian, reads: "Nella storia del cinema l'amore, l'erotismo e la pornografia si intrecciano continuamente: dal cinema muto a oggi, il romanticismo, il vizio e la trasgressione si danno la mano malgrado la censura, l'ipocrisia e il perbenismo. Per Alessandro Bertolotti, l'erotismo non esiste come genere cinematografico, ma in tutti i film possiamo trovare momenti erotici: in ogni scena dove due persone si incontrano, nei loro gesti, negli sguardi, nelle parole. Ma cosa rende un film erotico? La bellezza può essere un motore erotico, ogni attrice diventa bella nel momento dell'amplesso, ma puntare solo su un approccio estetizzante, ad esempio attraverso una fotografia ricercata e raffinata, non è sufficiente. Ci vuole un intreccio, una regia. Louise Brooks e Marlene Dietrich sono diventate star perché guidate dal talento di Pabst e Sternberg; Brigitte Maier e Constance Money si sono distinte dalla pletora di attricette porno grazie alla fantasia di Lasse Braun e Radley Metzger. I migliori registi creano un intreccio, per lo meno un'atmosfera, ritardando quanto più possibile l'evento tanto atteso: l'arto sessuale. È la costruzione di una storia a creare le premesse necessarie a una delle principali molle erotiche: l'infrazione dei tabù. Non c'è erotismo senza trasgressione o senza un colpo di scena. Passione, Matrimoni e Tradimenti, Primi amori, Orge, Sesso e Violenza: cinque capitoli tematici aiutano il lettore a scoprire i film più importanti della storia del cinema erotico e porno tra drammi d'amore, commedie e parodie scollacciate, film underground, horror e thriller, sadomaso e a tematica omosessuale, fino agli originalissimi capolavori giapponesi."

According to Wikipedia, the author of this book, Alessandro Bertolotti, "has worked as a director of variety shows for the Italian television channel RAI for twenty-five years. He is also a photographer of female nudes and author of two works on Capri. His photographs are included in the archives of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He is one of the largest collectors of erotic books and nude photographs in Europe. A portion of his book collection has been exhibited in the fall of 2007 at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris. His Books of Nudes (2007), features published studies by photographers, both famous and forgotten, who have taken the naked body as their subject."

I haven't had a chance to see a copy of this new title, which was released this month, so I don't know how much Louise Brooks figures in the book. Have any of the Italian readers of this blog seen the book? Here is a LINK to a blog about the book from last month.

The book seems to be available throughout Europe. Here is a LINK to its page on amazon France.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New book with Louise Brooks on the cover

Thanks to Louise Brooks devotee Darkwoods France, a (perhaps new) Chinese-language book (published in Taiwan?) with Louise Brooks on the cover has come to the attention of the Louise Brooks Society. The book is titled 100 Years of Fashion, and the author is Cally Blackman. An English-language version of this title was published in 2012, but without Brooks on the cover.

Eugene Robert Richee's iconic portrait of the actress holding a single strand of pearls has been features on a number of book covers over the years. And no matter which book it is, it always looks great. Simply said, Brooks makes for a great cover girl.



Here is a picture of the book without its pink wrap around band. 


Cally Blackman is a writer and lecturer with degrees in Fashion Design and History of Art, and an MA in History of Dress from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She teaches at various institutions, including Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design. Her previous publications include 100 Years of Menswear, 100 Years of Fashion Illustration, Costume: From 1500 to the Present Day and, of possible interest to members of the LBS, The 20s and 30s: Flappers and Vamps.

Monday, March 13, 2017

WTF: Margins will be thinner than Louise Brooks' negligee

Naturally, I have a keyword alert for "Louise Brooks" set on google news. And just about every day for the last few months I have received news alerts for financial or economic outlook type stories which use the phrase "Margins will be thinner than Louise Brooks' negligee."

I believe that is a quote from Mr. Burns, the parsimonious cartoon character in The Simpsons television show. The actress was referenced once or perhaps twice on the iconic TV show.

But WTF? Why in h-e-double hockey sticks is it showing up on all of these financial news websites? And, do they even know who Louise Brook is?


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Beggars of Life screens in Chicago on March 11

Beggars of Life (1928) will be shown at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, March 11. This special screening features a 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman Museum, with permission of Paramount Pictures. The screen will also feature a live musical score on the famous Music Box organ by Dennis Scott, Music Box House Organist. General Admission Tickets – $11 // Senior Tickets – $9 // Music Box Members – $7. More information about this event may be found HERE.

Beggars of Life

DIRECTED BY: William A. Wellman
WRITTEN BY: Benjamin Glazer and Jim Tully (screenplay), adapted from the book by Jim Tully; titles by Julian Johnson
STARRING: Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Robert Perry, Roscoe Karns, Edgar "Blue" Washington
 

"After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl (Louise Brooks) tries to escape the country with a young vagabond (Richard Arlen). She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police, and reach Canada. Released more than a year before The Great Depression, the film was loosely based on Jim Tully’s novel Beggars of Life: A Hobo Autobiography, published in 1924, which describes his hardscrabble existence on the rails during the recession years of the 1890s and 1900s."

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Beggars of Life and Wild Boys of the Road

If you appreciate the  charm and realism of the 1928 William Wellman film, Beggars of Life, than you simply must see Wellman's 1933 film, Wild Boys of the Road. I just watched the later for the first time, and was WOWED.


From Wikipedia: "Wild Boys of the Road is a 1933 Pre-Code Depression-era American film telling the story of several teens forced into becoming hobos. The film was directed by William Wellman from a screenplay by Earl Baldwin based on the story Desperate Youth by Daniel Ahern. The film stars Frankie Darro. In 2013 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant'."



But what's more, like Beggars of Life, this latter film also features a young woman (Dorothy Coonan) who dresses as a boy as she rides the rails. It is a terrific, unapologetic, and at times harrowing film.  And like Beggars of Life, it is also in the words of review for Wellman's earlier film, "pungent, powerful, appealing, masterfully directed and superbly acted."



Dorothy Coonan as Sally is real cute, Sterling Holloway as Ollie, another hobo, is oh so likeable, and Grant Mitchell as Mr. Smith is also pitch perfect. The film also has Claire McDowell as Mrs. Smith. She had a similar, motherly role in The Show-Off (1926), which featured Brooks.

The film is available on DVD as part of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume Three (which includes Other Men's Women / The Purchase Price / Frisco Jenny / Midnight Mary / Heroes for Sale / Wild Boys of the Road). Each is a Pre-Code film directed by William Wellman, one of my very favorite directors. Copies are available through amazon.com

Monday, March 6, 2017

Guest Post: Philip Vorwald on Louise Brooks' Sordid Affair

Guest blogger Philip Vorwald has authored this interesting look at "Louise Brooks' Sordid Affair," which took place during the filming of Beggars of Life.


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