Thursday, April 19, 2018

Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit set for May 19

This year's annual Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit is set for May 19th. For more information click HERE.

31st Annual Silent Film Benefit & Art Auction
Saturday, May 19
1:00 pm, Avalon Casino Theatre

One day each year, the Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit offers a rare and authentic 1920s cinema experience in the historic Avalon Casino Theatre. This year's film is Terror Island (1920).



Harry Houdini stars as an inventor who travels to the South Seas, where there is buried treasure belonging to a girl. The girl's father is being held captive by cannibals until she returns a pearl that belongs to one of their idols. Terror Island was filmed on Santa Catalina Island.

Live Musical Accompaniment
by Michael Mortilla and The Accompanists

Award-winning composer, sound designer, and friend of the Louise Brooks Society, Michael Mortilla, and a group of the very best musicians in the nation will provide the live orchestral accompaniment. The group will perform an original score written by Mortilla.


​This year's event also features an art auction and a member's only pre-performance magic show. More details to come. Period dress is encouraged.

Make it a Roaring Twenties Weekend: The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles hosts the annual Avalon Ball on Saturday, May 19th at 6:00 pm in the historic Casino Ballroom. Attend our Silent Film Benefit in the afternoon and then dance the night away to Big Band music! Click HERE for more info.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks screens in Warsaw on April 21

The 1929 Louise Brooks film Pandora's Box (in Polish Puszka Pandory) will screen in Warsaw, Poland on Saturday, April 21 at the Kino Iluzjon. More information on this event, with live musical accompaniment, can be found HERE. (This page link includes notes in Polish on the film by the 8th Doctor Who, actor Paul McGann, the star of Withnail & I and other films.)

What follows are notes in Polish from the Polish venue.

W sobotę 21 kwietnia w ramach 15. Święto Niemego Kina zapraszamy na pokaz filmu „Puszka Pandory” z muzyką na żywo w wykonaniu Resiny & Mirona Grzegorkiewicza.

W programie:
„Puszka Pandory” / „Pandora’s Box”, reż. Georg W. Pabst, Niemcy 1929 r., 133’
Muzyka: Resina & Miron Grzegorkiewicz

FILM:
W 1926 roku w Berlinie reżyser Georg Wilhelm Pabst rozpoczął obsesyjne poszukiwania aktorki, która zagra główną rolę w „Puszce Pandory”, historii uwodzicielskiej Lulu, której niemoralne zachowanie doprowadza do upadku kilku zakochanych w niej mężczyzn. Trwały one dwa lata. Przesłuchano dwa tysiące kandydatek, kilkaset poddano próbom przed kamerą. Wszystkie zostały jednak odrzucone – jedne nie miały odpowiednich warunków fizycznych, inne – talentu. Historię śledziły gazety i czasopisma. Wybór aktorki stał się wkrótce sprawą narodową.
We wrześniu 1928 roku 21-letnia Louise Brooks, niezwykle piękna i wyzywająco seksualna, opuściła Hollywood, by stać się nieśmiertelną. Pierwszy raz zwróciła na siebie uwagę Pabsta występem w „A kochanek miał sto” („A Girl in Every Port”) Howarda Hawksa, gdzie grała wyrachowanego drapieżnika. Reżyser poprosił o możliwość współpracy z aktorką, ale studio Paramount, z którym była związana kontraktem odmówiło. Legenda głosi, że w momencie, gdy Brooks odmawiała podpisania nowego kontraktu z Paramountem, młoda Marlena Dietrich stała właśnie pod drzwiami Pabsta w Berlinie, umówiona na spotkanie w sprawie głównej roli w „Puszce Pandory”. Reżyser dowiedział jednak się, że Brooks jest wolna i z miejsca ofiarował jej rolę w swoim nowym filmie. W czasach, gdy Ameryka kusiła wiele talentów z Niemiec, Brooks postanowiła wyjechać w przeciwnym kierunku i w ciągu zaledwie dziesięciu miesięcy, pod kierunkiem Pabsta na nowo zdefiniowała sztukę gry aktorskiej i zajęła ważne miejsce w historii kina.
Więcej o filmie: bit.ly/2q4gqKX


MUZYKA:
Wyjątkowe spotkanie muzyczne, którego rezultatów nie sposób przewidzieć. W duecie wystąpią wiolonczelistka i kompozytorka Karolina Rec oraz gitarzysta, twórca muzyki elektronicznej Miron Grzegorkiewicz. Artystka znana szerzej pod pseudonimem Resina ma duże doświadczenie w graniu do filmu, które zdobywała między innymi na kilku poprzednich edycjach Święta Niemego Kina. Przeważnie wykonuje jednak materiał autorski łączący brzmienie wiolonczeli z prostymi narzędziami elektronicznymi. Wśród nich centralną rolę odgrywa looper, który sprawia, że budowane z kolejnych pętli utwory Resiny gęstnieją i rozbudowują się w czasie. Poszukiwania artystki czasem prowadzą w stronę zaskakująco piosenkowych kompozycji, innym razem przybierają formę bardziej abstrakcyjnych impresji. Można je usłyszeć na albumie „Resina”, który ukazał się w 2016 roku nakładem 130701 – neoklasycznego oddziału popularnej brytyjskiej wytwórni FatCat.
Więcej o muzykach: bit.ly/2GBpnXa

Bilety do nabycia on-line i w kasie kina Iluzjon.
Kasa kina: (22) 848 33 33; iluzjon.rezerwacje@fn.org.pl.
http://www.iluzjon.fn.org.pl/cykle/info/852/15-swieto-niemego-kina.html

Pełen program wydarzenia: www.swietoniemegokina.pl



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks shows in Greece on May 3

Pandora's Box, the 1929 German film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Greece on May 3. This screening is part of a series of films to be shown in late April and early May under the sponsorship of the local Goethe Institute. The film was based on a play by the German dramatist Frank Wedekind; the title of Wedekind's work was in turn suggested by a Greek myth. More information on the event can be found HERE (near the bottom of the page).

Πέμπτη 3/5
11:00 – 20:00  Σε λούπα στο κάτω φουαγιέ
Ο Κάφκα πάει σινεμά/Kafka goes to the Movies (2002, 55´)
Ντοκιμαντέρ του Hanns Zischler

20:30 Αίθουσα Εκδηλώσεων
Το κουτί της Πανδώρας (Die Büchse der Pandora) (1929, 131´)
του Georg Wilhelm Pabst με μεγάλα ονόματα της εποχής Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer κ.ά.

Βασισμένη στα έργα «Το πνεύμα της γης» και «Το κουτί της Πανδώρας» του Φρανκ Βέντεκιντ
Ζωντανή μουσική: Someone Who Isn’t Me (S.W.I.M.)


Follow this unrelated page for MORE information on Brooks and Pabst. A Google search using the Greek title for Pandora's Box ( Το κουτί της Πανδώρας  1929) along with the date of it's release will turn up a number of Greek-language pages about the film.


«Ένα tour de force κινηματογραφικού ερωτισμού», New York Times.

«Δεν υπήρξε, ούτε θα υπάρξει ξανά άλλη Λούλου», Village Voice.

«H Μπρουκς ως Λούλου είναι κάποια που μόλις τη δει κανείς, δε μπορεί να την ξεχάσει»,
Henri Langlois

Friday, April 13, 2018

Pandora's Box screens in Chicago on April 17

Chicago's Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St. in St. Charles, is continuing its "Silent Film Night" series with the silent film classic Pandora's Box (1929), featuring Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner and Francis Lederer. This German film was directed by G.W. Pabst. More information may be found HERE.


Chicago was a one-time home to Louise Brooks (in the early 1930s.) The Arcada Theatre opened in 1926 as a silent film and vaudeville theater. Tickets are $10 or $8 for members of the Chicago Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts or the Silent Film Society of Chicago. Visit www.arcadalive.com 
 

The movie will be accompanied live by Jay Warren, Chicago's foremost pipe organ expert, on the classically restored 3/16 Marr Colton/Geneva Arcada organ. As a regular photoplay organist for the Silent Film Society of Chicago, Warren has accompanied most of the great silent films throughout his 40-year career. He has been featured annually for the society's highly regarded Silent Summer Film Festival since its beginning in 2000.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985 - additional dates from the 1930s

A follow-up of sorts to my last post.... recently, I have been researching Brooks' life for material to ad to the "Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985" page on the Louise Brooks Society website when I came across these additional dates from the 1930s.

Jan. 14, 1931
Attends performance of Porgy stage play at the Music Box Theater in Los Angeles. Also in attendance were other cast members of God’s Gift to Women, as well as Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Capra, Jack Holt, Hobart Bosworth, and Ralph Graves.

January 10, 1932
Florenz Ziegfeld's article, "I Knew 'Em When," notes, "Another name well known to the movies not so long ago was Louise Brooks. She joined my companies as a chorus girl in Louie the 14th. Her beautiful and colorful personality won my immediate attention, however, and I soon decided I must give her some prominence. I placed her in the madcap dance number there fore, a kind of fight number which opened the first act. Her flaming intensity in this flight, her beauty and the cracking of the lash seemed to set off the whole show at a high tempo."

Feb. 10, 1932
United Press reports Brooks files for bankruptcy in Federal Court, listing liabilities as $11,969, and assets only of personal wearing apparel, most of which, according to Associated Press, were "purchased in exclusive Fifth avenue shops." Brooks gave her occupation as "motion picture actress, unemployed."

Oct. 10, 1933
Brooks (26) marries wealthy Chicago playboy Deering Davis (36) at City Hall in Chicago, Illinois. The ceremony was read by Judge Francis J. Wilson, and witnessed by Davis' brother and sister-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. Nathan S. Davis III. After a few days, the couple leave for a three month honeymoon in Tucson, Arizona, where they were expected to "live on a ranch." The marriage makes news in papers across the country.

Feb. 20, 1935
Syndicated columnist Ed Sullivan writes: "Dario and Louise Brooks, the former cinema queen, one of the more exciting dance teams in Florida."

October 25, 1936
Los Angeles Times columnist Gabrielle Landon reports Brooks was seen at the Brown Derby with Addison Randall, as were Margo and Francis Lederer, and Clark Gable and the Mervyn Leroys.

 Dec. 11, 1936
Associated Press reports Brooks is "starting her movie comeback," as a chorus girl in the new Grace Moore musical. The AP piece notes that she was a chorus girl in The Canary Murder Case, "her last Hollywood picture." Many subsequent mentions of Brooks regarding her comeback reference her role as the Canary.

May 23, 1938
Los Angeles Times columnist Read Kendall reports "Just few minutes after Addison Randall walked into Bruz Fletcher's Club Bali with Louise Stanley, his former girlfriend, Louise Brooks put in an appearance with Howard Shoup but none appeared embarrassed."

May 31, 1938
Syndicated columnist Ed Sullivan writes that Brooks and Howard Shoup are "going places."

May 3, 1939
Los Angeles Times columnist Read Kendall reports "Louise Brooks looked comfortable in blue slacks" while attending the opening of Gilmore Field, a new baseball ballpark in the Pacific Coast League. Actress and team sponsor Gail Patrick threw out the first pitch. Also in the stands were Joe E. Brown, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Jack Benny, Roscoe Karns, Rudy Vallee, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom and others.

 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Louise Brooks on stage in the 1930s

In the 1930s, Louise Brooks attempted -- or was seen to attempt -- a series of comebacks. Hoping to relaunch her sputtering film career, the actress kept her name in gossip columns and made it known she was interested in working; she tested with a few studios, took the occasional role in films for which she was poorly suited (namely Westerns), and even worked on the stage.

Recently, I have been researching Brooks' life for material to ad to the "Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1985 " page on the Louise Brooks Society website when I came across a couple of little known occurrences regarding Brooks' work on the stage.

It is known, for example, is that in the Fall of 1931, while living in New York City, Brooks was under consideration for the ingenue role in Norma Krasna’s Louder Please, a comedy about Hollywood press agentry. Replacing Olive Borden at the end of October, Brooks appeared in a pre-Broadway staging of Krasna’s play at Brandt’s Boulevard Theater in the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. Within a few weeks, however, the actress left the cast and was replaced by Jane Buchanan. Here is a rare newspaper advertisement of that production which mentions Brooks. Tickets were only 50 cents. Don't you wish you could have been there?


What is not known is that earlier in the year, while living in Los Angeles, Brooks was under consideration for the role of Poppy in an upcoming stage production of The Shanghai Gesture at the Music Box theater in Hollywood. The production was being staged by no less a person than Mrs. Leslie Carter, the red-haired American silent film and stage actress known as "The American Sarah Bernhardt." Brooks did not get the role, despite being under serious consideration for three weeks. Because of a disagreement over billing, Brooks and Mary Duncan were passed over for a young actress named Isabel Dawn, a former Indiana newspaper reporter.

Over the next few years, mentions would appear in various newspapers noting Brooks come back. On New Year's Eve in 1936, the New York Times wrote ”Louise Brooks, star of the silent screen, is making her screen comeback as a member of the ballet in Grace Moore’s forthcoming Columbia production, When You’re in Love.” Nothing came of it.

In June of 1938, the Los Angeles Times columnist Read Kendall reported “Louise Brooks, under the name Linda Carter, is essaying a comeback through the Bliss-Hayden Miniature Theater. Her first appearance is in the play Miracle for Two by Stanley Kaufman and Effie J. Young. Others in the cast include Beverly Holden, William Stelling, Margaret Meri, Harry Hayden, Howard Johnson, Walter Murray, Nell Keller, Michael Stuart, Mary Rains, Geraldine Gorey and Franco Corsaro.” A couple of days later, Louella Parsons reported in her syndicated column that “Louise Brooks has changed her name to Carrington [Carter], dyed her hair black and opened in a play at the Bliss-Hayden Theater. It is the first step in her new career.” The following day, in its review of Miracle for Two, which the Los Angeles Times thought "zestful," the newspaper coyly remarked “Linda Carter used her every artifice to give an interesting portrayal.”



Brooks seemed to have stuck with it, despite the fact that her part was only a supporting role. In early July, syndicated columnist Paul Harrison reported that Brooks, under the stage name Linda Carter, has been appearing in a play in Los Angeles. “A 20th-Fox talent scout spotted a girl called Linda Carter in a little-theatre play and offered her a screen test. It turned out that ‘Linda Carter’ really is Louise Brooks, who’s aiming at a screen comeback under a different name.” I don't think the production ran much more than a month, or five weeks, as other productions were announced in mid-July.

The Miracle for Two actress who did get some attention was the star of the production, Beverly Holden (who seemingly replaced Margo Bennett just before opening?). Despite a bit of press, I wasn't able to find any other screen credits for Holden. Nor could I find any other stage credits for Linda Carter. In early August, production work began on Overland Stage Raiders, a film which would turn out to be Brooks' last.



I was able to learn a little more about the Bliss-Hayden Miniature Theater. The building still stands, and is now known as the Beverly Hills Playhouse, an acting school with theaters and training facilities in Beverly Hills. From the pictures I found online, it's stage is indeed a small one. The Bliss-Hayden School of Acting was founded and run by a husband and wife team of motion picture actors—actress Lela Bliss with over 45 credits stretching from 1915 to 1965, and her husband actor Harry Hayden with over 260 credits from 1936 to 1955. Veronica Lake, Mamie Van Doren and many other professional actors later studied there. I contacted the Beverly Hills Playhouse asking if they had any  archives or records from 1938, and they responded that they did not. Might any reader of this blog know if any sort of regional theater archives cover this historic little theater exists?

[In 1954, the Bliss-Hayden Theatre was acquired by Douglas Frank Bank and Jay Manford, and renamed The Beverly Hills Playhouse. Many actors had performed there including Anne Baxter and Louella Parsons. Bank and Manford owned the theatre until 1959. Later stars who studied and performed under later owners include George Clooney, Alec Baldwin, Tom Selleck, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ted Danson, Tony Danza, Jeffrey Tambor, Tyne Daly, Patrick Swayze, Miguel Ferrer, James Cromwell, and others.]

A footnote to Brooks' 1930s stage work was her work as a ballroom dancer and her curious appearance at the Racquet Club of Palm Springs. On November 4, 1939, Brooks and dance partner Barrett O’Shea performed at a Saturday night party at the Racquet Club in support of headliner Rudy Vallee. (Actor Ralph Bellamy (one of the founders of the Racquet Club), actor Charles Butterworth, director Edmund Goulding, and singer Judy Starr were also present, and took their turn on the Racquet Club’s "stage.") According to a report in the Palm Springs Desert Sun,  O’Shea, and “his charming partner Louise Brooks, did a very clever mask dance, imitating Mrs. Roosevelt and [English Prime Minister] Chamberlain, doing an old time square dance.”

Louise Brooks and Barrett O'Shea

The Racquet Club in Palm Springs was a Hollywood hot spot. Reportedly, Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey Bogart had their own table near the dance floor, and Harry Cohn, Howard Hawks, Franchot Tone, Peter Lorre, and others were occasional visitors.

A week after Brooks did her mask dance, The Desert Sun reported that O’Shea and Brooks had been hired as staff dance instructors at the Racquet Club. “They will teach Saturday and Sunday afternoons until the middle of the season and then every afternoon for the rest of the season. Rhumba and La Conga classes, as well as ordinary ballroom dances and private lessons, will be their feature.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Annual Toronto Silent Film Festival is set to take place April 6 - 9

This year's annual Toronto Silent Film Festival is set to take place April 6 - 9. Further information, including the line-up of films and ticket availability, can be found HERE.

  Saturday and Sunday Passes available this year.
These passes get you into all films screening that day, and saves $3 off regularly priced tickets.

Their spotlight on Women in Film this year focuses on Producer (Asta Nielsen for Hamlet); Director (Lois Weber for Sensation Seekers); and Comedians (the criminally under seen Louise Fazenda, Alice Howell, Mabel Normand, Anita Garvin & Marion Byron). Various short films will be added to most programs

FRIDAY Hamlet (1921) Germany
SATURDAY 1000 Laffs & The Sensation Seekers (1927) USA
SUNDAY Battle of the Somme (1916) Great Britain & Page of Madness (1926) Japan 
MONDAY The Strong Man (1926) USA


And this just announced!

WINGS (starring Richard Arlen, Buddy Rogers, Clara Bow, and with Gary Cooper)

Saturday April 28 @4pm
Fox Theatre 2238 Queen St. East Toronto
 
 
Tickets $15/$13 for Fox members from foxtheatre.ca

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

DVD Review: The Beginnings of Fritz Lang from Kino Lorber

Dubbed the "Master of Darkness," Fritz Lang is counted among the most influential directors of all time, alongside the likes of Hitchcock, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Truffaut, and Orson Welles. His best known films include the futuristic Metropolis (1927), and the chilling M (1931), a film noir precursor made before he moved to the United States.

Lang is considered one of the great German directors – he is certainly the single greatest German director between the two World Wars, a period straddling the silent and sound eras. (His only rivals are, arguably, G.W. Pabst and F.W. Murnau.) Lang was also an accomplished Hollywood director – his American movies include Fury (1936), a classic, as well as a handful of notable dramas, Westerns, and thrillers including Ministry of Fear (1944). Today, Lang’s reputation rests largely on the dozen or so film noirs he made in Hollywood, stylish, brooding, gritty films like Scarlet Street (1945), The Big Heat (1953), and While the City Sleeps (1956).



Kino Lorber, a label best known for their reissues of cinema classic, has just released Fritz Lang: The Silent Films, an impressive twelve-disc, Blu-ray only collection gathering the complete surviving silent films of the cinema's supreme early stylist. Along with a 32-page booklet and a generous helping of special features and bonus material, the boxed set includes The Spiders (1919), Harakiri (1919), The Wandering Shadow (1920), Four Around the Woman (1921), Destiny (1921), Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922), Die Nibelungen (1924), Metropolis (1927), Spies (1928), Woman in the Moon (1929), and The Plague of Florence (1919). The latter, based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” was directed by Otto Rippert from a screenplay by Lang. All of the other films were directed by Lang, with a few having also been written or produced by the director.

Lang enthusiasts or silent film buffs who purchased earlier video tapes or DVDs or even boxed sets of the director’s early work will find each of their treasures represented here in best available or restored versions (including original tints). Metropolis, for example, is the newsworthy 2010 restoration which incorporates 25 minutes of missing footage found in Argentina. (That missing footage include the material featuring Diary of a Lost Girl star Fritz Rasp.) There is also a 50 minute documentary on the making and restoration of the dystopian classic about a worker’s revolt.

The pleasure of a collection like Fritz Lang: The Silent Films is the chance to see the director’s lesser known and sometimes hard-to-find work. Two years after revolutionizing the science fiction film with his epic Metropolis, Lang revisited the genre with Woman in the Moon (1929), an ambitious spectacle that dramatizes the first lunar expedition. There’s also the strange and haunting film, Destiny. Inspired by a childhood dream, this is the work that first brought Lang widespread recognition. It is the story of a young man, taken by Death as he about to be married, whose fiancé makes a deal with Death to save him. Director Luis Bunuel wrote that Destiny “opened my eyes to the poetic expressiveness of the cinema … I suddenly knew that I wanted to make movies.”


Lang's monumental Die Nibelungen is well known in film history, but how many have seen it? This beautifully remastered edition of the more than four hour retelling of a Nordic legend boasts a high definition transfer that sweeps you into its mythic past.

The Spiders is an adventure film, and The Wandering Shadow is a thriller. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (along with the later, sound-era Mabuse films) had an impact on the development of the crime film, as did Spies on the espionage genre. In some way, each anticipates the visual and metaphorical darkness of Lang’s later film noir efforts.

The Austrian-born Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang (1890 – 1976) had a five-decade long career as a filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional producer and actor in the two of greatest centers of film making in the 20th century, Weimar Germany and Hollywood. He worked in different genres and styles, successfully transitioning from silent to sound film and producing masterpieces in both forms. As noted film scholar Tom Gunning states in his booklet essay, “No other filmmaker had a career like Fritz Lang…. his silent films forged his unique vision. This box set brings together all of Lang’s existing silent films in restored versions (including original tints), offering a chance to experience the unity of his work as never before possible.”

I agree. Whether of not you own one or two or three of these films already, this affordably-priced box set is one every silent film enthusiast will want to own.


Lang’s films are at the heart of another recent release from Kino Lorber, From Caligari to Hitler,  a 2014 documentary by Rüdiger Suchsland. Anyone interested in exploring the cinema of Weimar Germany should check out this compelling study, which explores the many connections between the expressionist cinema of Germany and the subsequent rise of Nazism. Looking at landmark films like Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Metropolis, The Golem, and others, Suchsland tracks the timely concept of the charismatic villain who bewitches the people. Sound familiar?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Fake Louise Brooks images, including nudes

Since it is April Fool's Day, there is no better day to look, once again, at some of the images of Louise Brooks recently for sale on eBay and elsewhere which are, for obvious reasons, simply wrong. Some are images of Louise Brooks look a-likes which have been misidentified, purposefully I would guess, in some instances. Others are fakes, poor photoshop efforts that just don't look convincing. Alas, I censored three of the nude images so as to not run afoul of the blogger censor.


ABOVE: Simply put, a BAD photoshop job. Louise Brooks' real head has been placed on another body. And, her head is obviously too big for the body, the proportion is off. Yes, Louise Brooks posed in the nude, but this ain't her.


ABOVE: This item has been identified on eBay as Louise Brooks. Yes, Louise Brooks posed in the nude, but this ain't her. This postcard model is pretty. And she does have the same hair style, but it ain't her.


ABOVE: Again, this item has been identified on eBay as Louise Brooks. Yes, Louise Brooks posed in the nude, but this ain't her.


ABOVE: Again, this item has been identified on eBay as Louise Brooks. Yes, Louise Brooks posed in the nude, but this ain't her.


ABOVE: Another unreal image, another BAD photoshop job. That is Louise Brooks, but she did not pose with a bird/hat on her head. Ridiculous.

It is too bad eBay sellers and Facebook fans continue to promote these images as being authentic. They ain't. And while we're at it, here are a couple of more images which are sometimes said to be Louise Brooks.  They ain't. The first features a model named Mischa Barton, who is sometimes mistaken for the silent film star. Not sure of the name of the contemporary model in the second gothic image.



Friday, March 30, 2018

A couple of rather good music videos which feature Louise Brooks and which you may not have seen before

Here are a couple of rather good music videos which feature Louise Brooks and which you may or may not have seen before.

First up, The Green Pajamas performing "Any Way the Wind Blows" in this tribute to the film, Pandora's Box and it's star, Louise Brooks. The video dates from around 2008.


And next is the song "Berlin" by Gosta Berling, inspired by the life of Louise Brooks. "It focuses specifically on the period when she left Hollywood in 1928, burning many bridges, to travel to Germany for her greatest starring role, as Lulu in Pandora's Box. Her story and iconic image have inspired many tributes - songs, books, plays and movies. The fascinating and frustrating saga of her life is captured in the biography Louise Brooks by Barry Paris - which I devoured while writing the words to this song. The images for this video were all scanned from the book Lulu Forever by Peter Cowie. This song is on Gosta Berling's first EP, Everybody's Sweetheart (2007).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Pandora's Box, staring Louise Brooks, to be shown in theaters across UK

Pamela Hutchinson broke the news yesterday on her excellent Silent London blog ....... (in what can only be described as an unusual event), the British Film Institute has announced that the 1929 Louise Brooks film, Pandora's Box, will be given a theatrical re-release in the UK. According to the BFI website, "Screenings across the UK to be confirmed at a later date. In cinemas 1 June 2018." The particular version of the film which will be shown is a new 2K DCP of Munich Film Museum’s definitive 1997 restoration, with an orchestra score Peer Raben.

According to the BFI website, "One of the great silent films, GW Pabst’s Pandora’s Box is renowned for its sensational storyline, sparkling Weimar-period setting and the legendary, lead performance from its iconic star Louise Brooks. Following the rise and fall of Lulu (Brooks), a spirited but innocent showgirl whose sheer sexual magnetism wreaks havoc on the lives of men and women alike, the film was controversial in its day, then underappreciated for decades. Pandora’s Box now stands as an incredibly modern movie, and few stars of any era dazzle as bright as Louise Brooks."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Invention of Morel : A new sci-fi opera with a Louise Brooks inspired character

This past weekend, the Long Beach Opera (LBO) premiered its co-commissioned opera The Invention of Morel, composed by Stewart Copeland, co-founder and drummer of The Police, with an English libretto by the London-based actor, director and playwright Jonathan Moore, who also directs the production. I had written about this production on Huffington Post when it debuted in Chicago.



The Invention of Morel is a music theater adaptation of the 1940 novella by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Casares’ book is widely considered the first literary work of magical realism, predating the kindred fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and others. It features a character named Faustine who was inspired by the author’s affection for Louise Brooks. Casares said as much in interviews in later years. Those facts are seemingly not lost on the designers of the opera, who have modeled their Faustine character after Brooks’ appearance, especially her signature bob hairstyle. [Take note of the bouquet to Brooks on the Long Beach Opera website.]


Though not as well known as it should be, The Invention of Morel has had a unique, lingering resonance throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Casares’ book was made into a French movie called L’invention de Morel (1967), and an Italian movie called L’invenzione di Morel (1974). It is also believed to have inspired the Alain Resnais’ film Last Year At Marienbad (1961), which was adopted for the screen by the French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. Brooks herself ended up on the cover of a recent edition of Casares’ book (due to the efforts of the Louise Brooks Society), which in turn was given a shout-out on the television series Lost (2004 – 2010).


Reviews for the Long Beach opera production were glowing, and each and everyone of them mentioned Louise Brooks.

Ginell, Richard S. "Long Beach Opera raises life's questions, loudly, in Stewart Copeland's Invention of Morel." Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2018.
-- "The piece is based on the novel "La Invención de Morel" by Adolfo Bioy Casares, and there is an autobiographical element in that the unrequited love element of the piece was inspired by Bioy Casares' crush on film star Louise Brooks.

Farber, Jim. "Long Beach Opera’s Invention of Morel offers a fascinating journey." Long Beach Press-Telegram, March 20, 2018.
-- "Considered a classic example of Latin American “magical realism” (in the tradition of Jorge Luis Borges), the novella describes the plight of a political fugitive who finds himself cast away on a tropical island. Seemingly alone, he discovers a mysterious building, an abandoned museum, and in its substructure an immense, even more mysterious, machine. Then, as if they had materialized out of thin air from the 1920s, an elegant group of tuxedo-clad gentlemen and willowy flappers appear. One, who bears a striking resemblance to the silent film star, Louise Brooks, instantly becomes the castaway’s obsession. But every time he sees her, she reacts as if he does not exist."

Gordon, Eric A. "The Invention of Morel: A new operatic sci-fi take on eternal life." People's World, March 23, 2018.
-- "The ensemble reminded me of the cast of the Twenties-set The Wild Party. Soon the Fugitive becomes infatuated with an elusive woman from their group named Faustine (Jamie Chamberlin), who resembles the Silent Era’s vixen movie diva Louise Brooks, on whom Casares late in life admitted he had a crush. Yes, the name Faustine is purposely meant to evoke the Faust legend, for this weird encounter will indeed lead to a kind of eternal but, all things considered, perhaps not so unpleasant fate."

Wyszpolski, Bondo. "Seeking eternal love at Long Beach Opera." EasyReader News, March 23, 2018.
-- "The Fugitive spies on the week long day trippers, but they seem to have no interest in him, even when he develops an infatuation for the Louise Brooks-lookalike Faustine (Jamie Chamberlin). In fact, even when he approaches her she seems to ignore him and/or to pretend he’s not there."

Nathan Granner as Morel and Jamie Chamberlin as Faustine.
Photo by Kip Polakoff

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Line-up of films for 23rd San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) has announced the complete lineup of films for its 23rd edition. Adding a fifth day to the annual celebration of art of live cinema (silent-era films with live musical accompaniment), the festival will take place May 30 to June 3, 2018 at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco.


May 30, 7:00 pm | Opening Night
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS
111 minutes | $24 general / $22 member
USA, 1928, d. Paul Leni
Cast: Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin, Julius Molnar, Olga Baclanova
Spellbinding in its visual acuity and psychological depth, director Paul Leni’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1869 novel about a man disfigured from childhood stands with the great masterworks of the silent era.
Live musical accompaniment by Berklee Silent Film Orchestra
Restoration by Universal Pictures

May 30, 9:00 pm | Opening Night Party
120 minutes | $25 general / $20 member
Combo Film and Party: $45 general / $37 member  

  
Special added program May 30, 3:00 pm: Jon Wengström of the Swedish Film Institute (this year’s SFSFF Award recipient) will present an illustrated lecture with rare Greta Garbo footage at the PFA, Berkeley with Stephen Horne on piano. Info: bampfa.org

May 31, 10:00 am
Amazing Tales from the Archives
100 minutes | Free
Join us for another edition of our popular free program—a behind-the-curtain look at the international preservation scene! Sharing their amazing preservation tales are Deutsche Kinemathek’s Martin Koerber, who, with Weimar film scholar Cynthia Walk, will talk about the complete reworking of E.A. Dupont’s The Ancient Law (screening on Sunday); Davide Pozzi from L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, whose Kinemacolor presentation will examine the first successful color process for motion pictures; and Elżbieta Wysocka of Filmoteka Narodowa, with SFSFF’s Robert Byrne and Russell Merritt, will share the detective story that led to the rediscovery and restoration of Richard Oswald’s German version of The Hound of the Baskervilles (screening on Saturday).
Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin

May 31, 1:00 pm
SOFT SHOES
45 minutes / with short: 62 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
USA, 1925, d. Lloyd Ingraham
Cast: Harry Carey, Lillian Rich, Paul Weigel, Francis Ford
Harry Carey plays small-town sheriff Pat Halahan, who comes into an inheritance and travels to San Francisco to collect. All hell breaks out in the crime-ridden metropolis, but Sheriff Pat holds his own, gets the girl, and saves the day!
With short: Detained (1924, d. Scott Pembroke, starring Stan Laurel, 17 m.)
Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Soft Shoes restoration funded through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation with additional funding from the SFSFF Film Preservation Fund. Film restored by by SFSFF in partnership with Národní Filmový Archiv (Prague) and is based on the nitrate print preserved at the archive.

May 31, 2:45 pm
MASTER OF THE HOUSE
DU SKAL ÆRE DIN HUSTRU
107 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
Denmark, 1925, d. Carl Th. Dreyer
Cast: Johannes Meyer, Astrid Holm, Mathilde Nielsen, Karin Nellemose
Several years before his piercing drama The Passion of Joan of Arc, Danish master Carl Th. Dreyer made this exquisite comedy. When downsized husband Viktor (Johannes Meyer) becomes an autocrat at home, his wife Ida (Astrid Holm) and wily family nanny Mads (Mathilde Nielsen) turn the tables, deftly puncturing Viktor’s sense of entitlement and restoring domestic equilibrium.
Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Print courtesy of the Danish Film Institute

May 31, 5:15 pm
AN INN IN TOKYO
TÔKYÔ NO YADO
80 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
Japan, 1935, d. Yasujirô Ozu
Cast: Takeshi Sakamoto, Yoshiko Okada, Chôko Iida, Tomio Aoki
Ozu’s poetic masterpiece follows a single father (Takeshi Sakamoto) who wanders the industrial outskirts of Tokyo looking for work with his two young boys in tow. The story is told with great delicacy and humor, the characters drawn with such vivid humanity, that, like most of Ozu’s oeuvre, Inn bristles with life-affirming truth.
Live musical accompaniment by Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius
Print courtesy of Janus Films

May 31, 7:15 pm
PEOPLE ON SUNDAY
MENSCHEN AM SONNTAG
73 minutes | $24 general / $22 member
Germany, 1930, d. Robert Siodmak, Edgar G. Ulmer, Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann
Years before their eventual Hollywood successes, a group of young German filmmakers took to the streets of Berlin to create “a film without actors.” A descendant of the “city symphony” films of the 1920s, People follows a coterie of city dwellers (an appealing cast of non-professionals) who go on a weekend outing. In its blending of fiction and documentary, the film is both charming and lyrical—and a breathtaking portrait of Weimar Berlin on the cusp of the rise of the Nazis.
Live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Print courtesy of Deutsche Kinemathek, with permission of Janus Films

May 31, 9:15 pm
THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS
GARDIENS DE PHARE
83 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
France, 1929, d. Jean Grémillon
Cast: Paul Fromet, Geymond Vital, Genica Athanasiou, Gabrielle Fontan, Maria Fromet
A raging sea strands a man and his son in a lighthouse off the coast of Brittany in this silent French masterpiece. As the film unfolds it becomes apparent that the son is suffering from rabies and getting progressively worse. Based on a one-act play created for the Théâtre du Grand Guignol, director Grémillon limns the horrific psychological details without resorting to guignolesque excess.
Live musical accompaniment by Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius
Print courtesy of National Film Centre of Tokyo

June 1, 10:00 am
GOOD REFERENCES
60 minutes | $14 general / $12 member
USA, 1920, d. Roy William Neill
Cast: Constance Talmadge, Vincent Coleman, Ned Sparks, Nellie P. Spaulding
One of the brightest comedic stars of the silent era, Constance Talmadge plays a penniless, yet cheerful single gal who can’t find work because of her lack of references—until she impersonates a sick friend and gets a job as secretary to an elderly socialite. And then things really go downhill!
Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Restoration by UCLA Film and Television Archive from an original nitrate print discovered at the Národni Filmový Archiv in Prague

June 1, 12:00 noon
THE OTHER WOMAN’S STORY
65 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
USA, 1925, d. B.F. Stanley
Cast: Alice Calhoun, Robert Frazer, Helen Lee Worthing, Gertrude Short
Robert Marshall’s dying utterance seems to point to Colman Colby (Robert Frazer) as his killer. Colby is arrested and at trial all testimony points to his guilt. But as the jury deliberates, the unfairly named “other woman” (Helen Lee Worthing) sets out to prove his innocence.
Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Restoration by SFSFF using materials preserved at the Library of Congress, Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation with funding by David Stenn
Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne

June 1, 2:00 pm
SILENT AVANT-GARDE
70 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
From the collection of Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Films
Included in this program of films from the extraordinary Unseen Cinema collection: Anémic Cinéma (1924-26, Marcel Duchamp); [Pas de deux] Looney Lens (1924, Fox Movietone); a Slavko Vorkapich montage with four sequences (1928–34); A Bronx Morning (1931, Jay Leyda); The Life and Death of 9413–A Hollywood Extra (1927, Robert Florey); Hände (1927, Mikos Bandy and Stella F. Simon); and 1931 Mexican footage by Sergei Eisenstein.
Live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble
Prints courtesy of Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1894-1941, a collaborative film preservation and restoration project by Anthology Film Archive, New York, and Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt-am Main, with generous support by Cineric, Inc., Eastman Kodak Company, and Film Preservation Associates
Live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble

June 1, 4:15
ROSITA
90 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
USA, 1923, d. Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Mary Pickford, Holbrook Blinn, Irene Rich
Mary Pickford brought German director Ernst Lubitsch to Hollywood to direct her in Rosita, his first American film and their only collaboration. Pickford plays a Seville street singer who catches the eye of the comically lecherous Spanish king. MoMA’s restoration has returned this legendary film to a form as close as possible to its original release.
Live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Restoration by MoMA with funding provided by the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, Mary Pickford Foundation, RT Features, and The Film Foundation

June 1, 6:30 pm
MOTHER KRAUSE’S JOURNEY TO HAPPINESS
MUTTER KRAUSENS FAHRT INS GLÜCK
133 minutes | $24 general / $22 member
Germany, 1929, d. Piel Jutzi
Cast: Alexandra Schmidt, Holmes Zimmermann, Ilse Trautschold
Mother Krause shares a tenement apartment in Berlin’s Wedding district with her grown children, a shady lodger, his prostitute lover, and her child. She ekes out a living by selling newspapers, but when son Paul drinks up her earnings, desperation sets in. This Weimar masterpiece inspired R.W. Fassbinder’s 1975 Mutter Küsters’ Fahrt zum Himmel.
Restoration by the Munich Film Archive who reconstructed the film combining materials from the only remaining nitrate prints. The print has original intertitles in Berliner dialect.
Live musical accompaniment by Sascha Jacobsen and the Musical Art Quintet

June 1, 9:30
POLICEMAN
KEISATSUKAN
121 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
Japan, 1933, d. Tomu Uchida
Cast: Eiji Nakano, Isamu Kosugi, Taisuke Matsumoto
One of the few pre-WWII films of Tomu Uchida to survive reveals the Japanese director’s astonishing range. A stylish crime drama melding the fast pace of Hollywood with the fluid, evocative camerawork of the Germans is a gripping story of two childhood friends who grow to be on opposite sides of the law.
Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Print courtesy of the National Film Centre of Tokyo

June 2, 10:00 am
NO MAN’S GOLD
65 minutes | $14 general / $12 member
USA, 1926, d. Lewis Seiler
Cast: Tom Mix, Tony the Horse, Eva Novak, Frank Campeau, Michael D. Moore
Tom Mix was the first authentic cowboy to become a Hollywood Western star, appearing in nearly 300 films—almost all silent. One of the best titles Mix made for Fox Films, No Man’s Gold is a fast-paced actioneer featuring adventure, romance, and gorgeous Death Valley and Alabama Hills locations.
Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Frank Bockius
Print courtesy of Národní Filmový Archiv in Prague

June 2, 12:00 noon
MARE NOSTRUM
111 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
USA, 1926, d. Rex Ingram
Cast: Alice Terry, Antonio Moreno
Espionage, romance, and submarine warfare come together in this story, loosely based on Mata Hari, from the author of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Filmed in director Rex Ingram’s Nice studio and on Mediterranean locations, John Seitz’s luminous photography is shown to full effect in this tinted print.
Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and Frank Bockius

June 2, 2:45 pm
TRAPPOLA
52 minutes, with short: 62 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
Italy, 1922, d. Eugenio Perego
Cast: Leda Gys, Suzanne Fabre, Gian Paolo Rosmino, Claudio Mari, Carlo Reiter
This effervescent comedy features one of the first starring roles for Leda Gys, Italy’s most-loved diva. Here she plays the irrepressible Leda Bardi, who goes from orphan to film star, poking gentle fun at convent life, movie production, and screen goddesses along the way.
With short: San Francisco, 1906 (newly discovered post-Earthquake footage!), screening in conjunction with Silver Shadows and the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Live musical accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Print courtesy of Cineteca Italiana, Milano

June 2, 4:45 pm
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
DER HUND VON BASKERVILLE
65 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
Germany, 1929, d. Richard Oswald
Cast: Carlyle Blackwell, Alexander Murski, Livio Pavanelli, Fritz Rasp
SFSFF is pleased to return Richard Oswald’s German version of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles to the Sherlockian canon. Long considered lost, this version was the last silent Sherlock Holmes film ever made and is considered the most important Hound produced in Europe.
Live musical accompaniment by the Guenter Buchwald Ensemble
SFSFF restoration in partnership with Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualn (Poland), based on film materials conserved at the archive.




June 2, 7:00 pm
THE SAGA OF GÖSTA BERLING
GÖSTA BERLINGS SAGA
200 minutes | $24 general / $22 member
Sweden, 1924, d. Mauritz Stiller
Cast: Lars Hanson, Greta Garbo, Sven Scholander, Ellen Hartman-Cederström
Along with Victor Sjöström, Mauritz Stiller was a leading force behind the golden age of Swedish cinema. And his discovery of the young Greta Gustafsson gave the world the dazzling film star Greta Garbo! This is Garbo’s first starring role and she is radiant opposite the superb Lars Hanson as the defrocked minister.
Live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye Ensemble
Restoration by the Swedish Film Institute
>>Preceding the screening, the 2018 SFSFF Award will be presented to Jon Wengström and the Swedish Film Institute. >>There will be a 30-minute intermission at approximately 8:45 pm

June 3, 10:00 am
SERGE BROMBERG PRESENTS
65 minutes | $14 general / $12 members
A selection of short silents from Lobster Films—including several in 3D!
Included are Georges Méliès’s Robinson Crusoe (1902) and The Merry Frolics of Satan (1906); and in 3D, a Lumière Brothers stereoscopic selection and accidental 3Ds by Georges Méliès—The Oracle of Delphi (1903), The Infernal Cauldron, and The Mysterious Retort (1906). Plus, a stereoscopic demonstration from 1900, and a surprise or two!
Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin

June 3, 12:00 noon
A THROW OF DICE
PRAPANCHA PASH
74 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
India, 1929, d. Franz Osten
Cast: Seeta Devi, Humansu Rai, Charu Roy
Inspired by a tale in the Mahabharata, A Throw of Dice tells the story of two kings vying for the hand of a young woman. Filmed entirely on location in India, the film features Indian screen legends in the starring roles, a cast of more than 10,000 extras, and stunning visuals that capture exquisite landscapes.
Live musical accompaniment by Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius
Print courtesy of the British Film Institute

June 3, 2:15 pm
THE ANCIENT LAW
DAS ALTE GESETZ
129 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
Germany, 1923, d. E.A. Dupont
Cast: Henny Porten, Ruth Weyher, Hermann Vallentin, Ernst Deutsch
Ancient Law takes on the theme of Jewish assimilation in 19th-century Europe as it contrasts the closed world of shtetl life with liberal society. With its depiction of a rabbi’s son who breaks with family tradition to become an actor, this 1923 film was clearly the inspiration for the 1927 American film The Jazz Singer.
Live musical accompaniment by the Donald Sosin Ensemble with Alicia Svigals
Restoration by Deutsche Kinemathek

June 3, 5:30 pm
FRAGMENT OF AN EMPIRE
OBLOMOK IMPERII
109 minutes | $17 general / $15 member
USSR, 1929, d. Fridrikh Ermler
Cast: Fiodor Nikitin, Yakov Gudkin, Liudmila Semionova, Vaelerii Solotsov
A shell-shocked World War I soldier regains his memory after ten years and returns home to St. Petersburg, finding peace and justice but also heart-wrenching change. An exhilarating hymn of solidarity, this masterpiece has long been available only in truncated prints missing its most celebrated imagery—until now!
Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and Frank Bockius
Restoration by SFSFF, EYE Filmmuseum, and Gosfilmofond of Russia, based on materials preserved by EYE Filmmuseum and Cinémathèque Suisse

June 3, 8:00 pm
BATTLING BUTLER
74 minutes | $24 general / $22 member
USA, 1926, d. Buster Keaton
Cast: Buster Keaton, Snitz Edwards, Sally O'Neil, Walter James
This sparkling comedy has Keaton as a wealthy fop who takes a high-end camping trip, meets a country girl, falls in love, and proposes marriage. When her he-man father won’t consent to a union with such a weakling, Buster masquerades as a prizefighter (who happens to share his name) to win the day.
Live musical accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Restoration by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Cohen Collection

Friday, March 23, 2018

23rd San Francisco Silent Film Festival Castro Theatre, May 30–June 3, 2018

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) announced the complete lineup for its 23rd edition. Adding a fifth day to the annual celebration of art of live cinema (silent-era films with live musical accompaniment), the festival will take place May 30 to June 3, 2018 at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco.




The largest, most prestigious festival devoted to silent film in the Americas, SFSFF will present twenty-three programs, all with live musical accompaniment, including eleven recent film restorations. Ten of those restorations will make their North American premieres at the festival and four are SFSFF projects.

Films from nine countries will be represented at the festival (Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Sweden, USA, and the USSR), and more than 40 musicians from around the world will accompany the films. The musicians include: the Berklee Silent Film Festival (student composers, conductors, and players, from the Berklee College of Music in Boston), Guenter Buchwald and Frank Bockius  (Germany), Sascha Jacobsen and the Musical Art Quintet (San Francisco), Stephen Horne (UK), Matti Bye Ensemble (quintet from Sweden and Finland), Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (Colorado), Donald Sosin (New York), and Alicia Svigals (New York).

The 2018 San Francisco Silent Film Festival Awaard will be presented to Jon Wengström and the Swedish Film Institute at the premiere of the SFI’s new restoration of The Saga of Gösta Berling on Saturday, June 2, 7:00 pm. The film marks Greta Garbo’s first starring role!

The festival will begin on Wednesday, May 30 with a special presentation of Universal Pictures’ new restoration of Paul Leni’s 1928 The Man Who Laughs. Leni’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1869 novel about a man disfigured from childhood stands with the great masterworks of the silent era. This presentation also marks the world premiere of a commissioned score by Berklee College of Music’s Silent Film Orchestra.

To close the festival on Sunday, June 3, SFSFF will present the North American premiere of Cineteca di Bologna’s restoration (in collaboration with Cohen Film Collection) of Buster Keaton’s Battling Butler, which will be accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Keaton considered this sparkling comedy his personal favorite among his works.

Complete information is available at www.silentfilm.org


SFSFF 2018 MUSICIANS


Based at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, the all-student BERKLEE SILENT FILM ORCHESTRA composes and performs under the leadership of Alison Plante.

Conductor, composer, pianist, and violinist GUENTER BUCHWALD is a pioneer of the renaissance in silent film music. He has provided live accompaniment for thousands of titles, playing at festivals worldwide from Berlin to Tokyo, both solo and with other musicians through his Silent Movie Music Company. Percussionist FRANK BOCKIUS joined Buchwald’s Silent Movie Music Company twenty years ago and has since performed for silent films around the world. Bockius will accompany Buchwald and several other performers this year.

Principally a pianist, STEPHEN HORNE often incorporates flute, accordion, and various other instruments into his performances, sometimes playing them simultaneously. Horne is considered one of the world’s leading silent film accompanists.

Led by bassist and composer Sascha Jacobsen, SASCHA JACOBSEN AND THE MUSICAL ART QUINTET also features Matthew Szemela and Michele Walther on violin, Keith Lawrence on viola, and Lews Patzner on cello. For his compositions, Jacobsen draws on a wealth of musical styles from classical to jazz.

Playing a variety of instruments that include piano, glockenspiel, violin, and percussion, the MATTI BYE ENSEMBLE is led by Matti Bye, silent-movie pianist at the Swedish Film Institute since 1989 and one of his country’s leading film composers. The ensemble members include Kristian Holmgren, Helena Espvall, Lotta Johannson, and Laura Naukkarinen.

Reviving the tradition of silent-film orchestras, MONT ALTO MOTION PICTURE ORCHESTRA culls historic libraries of music for live musical accompaniment. Rodney Sauer, Britt Swenson, David Short, Brian Collins, and Dawn Kramer have recorded and toured widely, creating vibrant and historically appropriate musical scores.

DONALD SOSIN scores silent films for major festivals, archives, and DVD recordings and is the resident accompanist at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Violinist ALICIA SVIGALS is the world's leading klezmer fiddler, a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics who she led for seventeen years, and a composer who was selected to be a 2014 MacDowell Fellow.
 

PRESENTERS AT SFSFF 2018


Preservationist SERGE BROMBERG is the founder of Paris-based Lobster Films, where he has collected and preserved thousands of titles. Bromberg travels the globe presenting rare films with a showman’s flair.

SFSFF 2018 Award recipient JON WENGSTRÖM is curator of the archival film collections at the Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm.

This year’s Amazing Tales from the Archives presenters include: CYNTHIA WALK, Associate Professor Emerita, UC San Diego; MARTIN KOERBER, head of the department of Audiovisual Heritage at the Deutsche Kinemathek; SFSFF Board President and independent film preservationist ROBERT BYRNE and RUSSELL MERRITT, Professor in the Film Studies Department at UC Berkeley and member of the SFSFF board; ELŻBIETA WYSOCKA, head of film restoration and digital repository at Filmoteka Narodowa in Warsaw; and DAVIDE POZZI, Director at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna.

 
The 23rd San Francisco Silent Film Festival will take place May 30-June 3, 2018 at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco. For complete ticket information, please visit the San Francisco Silent Film Festival at silentfilm.org.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Louise Brooks' film, Beggars of Life, shows in Boulder, CO in August

Beggars of Life, the sensational 1928 William Wellman directed film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Boulder, Colorado on August 15 with live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. More information can be found HERE.



"An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life (1928) stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who disguises herself as a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, she befriends a kindly drifter (Richard Arlen). They ride the rails together to escape the police and reach Canada, until their fateful encounter with blustery Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) and his rambunctious band of hoboes. What happens is an incredibly cinematic event of daring and desperate conflict – atop a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman, Beggars of Life is a must-see."

Total running time: 100 minutes

Want to learn more about the film?  

Last Spring saw the release of my well reviewed new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and this past Summer saw the release of a new DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber. (The DVD features a commentary by your's truly, Thomas Gladysz, as well as an outstanding musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.) If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today? Each is available on amazon.com. And each is an essential addition to your Louise Brooks collection.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Book review: Two film books about the bad old Pre-code days

Here is a short write up about two recent books on Pre-code film, an endlessly fascinating period in American film history. The two books are Sex In the Cinema: The Pre-Code Years (1929-1934)
by Lou Sabini, and Hollywood’s Pre-Code Horrors 1931-1934 by Raymond Valinoti Jr. Both were published by Bear Manor Media. [The only one of Brooks film's which would count as Pre-code is the less than racy God's Gift to Women (1931), directed by Michael Curtiz.]

As right-wing conservatives try to push the country back to a time which never really existed, it’s worth noting that mainstream movies of their grandparent’s era were nearly as lurid as movies today. These two worthwhile titles shine a spotlight on the pre-code era, when gangster films, horror films, and social problem films depicted sex, violence, and drugs with pointed honesty and stylistic flair.

Among the many movies under consideration are I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) and Call Her Savage (1932), as well as Freaks (1932), Frankenstein (1931), and Dracula (1931). The most jaw dropping of them all may be Baby Face (1933), starring Barbara Stanwyck. It’s a Nietzschean use-or-be-used story of an attractive young woman who climbs the ladder of success by using sex to advance her social status. The reaction to it and other films like it was the enforcement of the Production Code, a set of guidelines which restricted Hollywood filmmakers in what they could show or even suggest. Call it censorship or self-censorship, the Production Code reigned until the late 1960s, when the MPAA film rating system we know today took effect. Sabini’s and Valinoti’s books survey the time when strong female characters, miscegenation, profanity, promiscuity, abortion, homosexuality and other taboos were once seen on the screen.



Sex In the Cinema: The Pre-Code Years (1929-1934)
Lou Sabini

From the publisher: "Hollywood movies in the 1920s depicted sex, violence, and alcohol and drug abuse with freewheeling abandon, but filmmaking freedom halted with the mysterious murder of director William Desmond Taylor, the drug death of writer-director-actor Wallace Reid, and the rape trials of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Hollywood had to choose self-censorship or face the moral indignation of the law. They chose to manage movie madcaps themselves. Will H. Hays, President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) from 1922 to 1945, prescribed the Production Code in 1930 and began strictly enforcing it in 1934. The Production Code spelled out a set of moral guidelines that were popularly known as the Hays Code. For decades, moviemaking was never the same. Rediscover 107 spicy films from the Pre-code era, including Stolen Heaven (1931), The Night of June 13th (1932), Three on a Match (1932), Red-Headed Woman (1932), Call Her Savage (1932), This Reckless Age (1932), Young Bride (1932), Panama Flo (1932), and Baby Face (1933)."

Hollywood’s Pre-Code Horrors 1931-1934
Raymond Valinoti Jr.

From the publisher: "In the first few years of the Great Depression, before the Production Code was rigidly enforced in 1934, Hollywood took advantage of its laxity, producing racy and violent films that titillated film goers and outraged reformers. The American horror genre blossomed during this time and the studios exploited its lurid possibilities. The results were both shocking and controversial. Some of these films remain unsettling today. Hollywood's Pre-Code Horrors 1931-1934 appraises all of these films, from Dracula (1931), which spearheaded the American horror market, to The Black Cat (1934), the last chiller released before the strengthening of the Code. Each film is thoroughly analyzed, not only in its insinuations and/or portrayals of sex and violence, but in the context of the era in which it was made and the reactions of critics and film goers during this time."
Related Posts

POPULAR POSTS