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."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pandora's Box (under the title LouLou) shows in Paris tomorrow, March 11

Pandora's Box (under the title LouLou) will be shown in Paris, France on March 11 in a special event put on by La cinémathèque française. More information about this event can be found HERE. The French language information about the vent is presented below, followed by a Google translation.


Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Allemagne / 1929 / 134 min
D'après Die Büchse der Pandora et Erdgeist de Frank Wedekind.

Avec Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Alice Roberts.

Loulou, orpheline perverse et manipulatrice, devient la maîtresse d'un directeur de journal, le docteur Schön, mais son autre amant voudrait qu'elle soit à lui seul. [Loulou, a perverted and manipulative orphan, becomes the mistress of a newspaper editor, Dr. Schön, but her other lover wants her to be alone.]
Version restaurée en 2009 par la Deutsche Kinemathek (Berlin) et la George Eastman House (Rochester) aux laboratoires Haghefilm. Numérisation par la Deutsche Kinemathek. Ressortie en salles par Tamasa à l'automne 2018. [Version restored in 2009 by Deutsche Kinemathek (Berlin) and George Eastman House (Rochester) at Haghefilm Laboratories. Digitization by the Deutsche Kinemathek. Released in theaters by Tamasa in autumn 2018.]

La Cinémathèque française et le Red Bull Studios Paris proposent une performance unique autour du film, dont la musique sera jouée en direct par la musicienne française Irène Dresel. [The Cinémathèque française and the Red Bull Studios Paris offer a unique performance around the film, whose music will be played live by the French musician Irène Dresel.]



Avec Loulou, Georg Wilhelm Pabst adapte L’Esprit de la terre et La Boîte de Pandore, deux pièces écrites par Frank Wedekind, toutes deux inspirées de sa rencontre douloureuse avec Lou-Andreas Salomé. De ces récits, toutefois, Pabst ne conservera qu’un souvenir lointain. Grand découvreur d’actrices (il donne, en 1925, l’un de ses premiers grands rôles à Greta Garbo dans La Rue sans joie), Pabst songe d’abord pour incarner Loulou à Marlene Dietrich, qui a déjà gagné une certaine notoriété en Allemagne. Il lui préfère finalement une actrice américaine de vingt-deux ans au jeu très physique, découverte dans Une Femme dans chaque port de Howard Hawks (1928) : Louise Brooks. [With Loulou , Georg Wilhelm Pabst adapts The Spirit of the Earth and The Pandora's Box , two pieces written by Frank Wedekind, both inspired by his painful encounter with Lou-Andreas Salomé. From these stories, however, Pabst will only keep a distant memory. Big discoverer of actresses (he gives, in 1925, one of his first great roles in Greta Garbo in Joyless Street), Pabst thinks first to embody Loulou to Marlene Dietrich, who has already gained some notoriety in Germany. He finally prefers a twenty-two-year-old American actress in the very physical game, discovered in A Girl in Every Port of Howard Hawks (1928): Louise Brooks.]

De Pabst, Brooks disait qu’il connaissait les réactions humaines comme personne. Il pouvait ainsi tourner « une scène avec peu de répétitions et de prises ». Cette faculté lui permet de façonner le jeu naturaliste et déconcertant de Loulou. Le metteur en scène et l’actrice travailleront beaucoup à partir des costumes du personnage qui jalonnent la tragédie : tenue de cabaret, déshabillés, robe de mariée, vêtements de veuve ou haillons – autant de tenues qui nourrissent le jeu de l’actrice, et marquent les étapes de la chute du personnage. [ From Pabst, Brooks said he knew human reactions as a person. He could thus shoot "a scene with few repetitions and shots". This faculty allows him to shape the naturalistic and disconcerting game of Loulou. The director and the actress will work a lot from the costumes of the character who punctuate the tragedy: cabaret outfit, stripped naked, wedding dress, widow clothes or rags - all outfits that nourish the actress's game, and mark the stages of the fall of the character. ]

Si Loulou s’offre aux hommes, elle reste insaisissable. Profondément amorale, il émane d’elle une innocence inaliénable. Elle évolue toujours libre, intacte et candide. Pourtant, Loulou est aussi un conte moral. Dans ses aspirations libertaires et son allant, la jeune femme se heurte à la société, à ses jeux de fausseté, de trahisons et d’humiliations. Loulou est le dévoilement cruel de l’abjection sociale qui dicte bien des aspects de la vie de l’héroïne : carrière, amours, mariage, justice, jeux ou prédation. [ If Loulou offers herself to men, she remains elusive. Deeply amoral, it emanates from her an inalienable innocence. She evolves always free, intact and candid. Yet, Loulouis also a moral tale. In her libertarian aspirations and her going, the young woman comes up against society, its games of falsehood, betrayal and humiliation. Loulou is the cruel disclosure of social abjection that dictates many aspects of the heroine's life: career, love, marriage, justice, games or predation. ]

Pauline de Raymond

Friday, March 9, 2018

A couple of rather odd Louise Brooks related videos found on YouTube, including a singing shirt

Here they are, a couple of rather odd Louise Brooks related videos which I recently came across on YouTube, including a singing shirt, seen below, and a quirky song, which follows. I like the song by the Tombstone Teeth well enough, but don't know what to think of the shirt short.


And there is this music video, which is odd in a different way.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Louise Brooks Society on Twitter @LB_Society

The Louise Brooks Society is on Twitter @LB_Society.

In fact, the LBS is followed by more than 4,769 individuals. Are you one of them? Sign up to get the latest news. And, be sure and check out the LBS Twitter profile and the more
than 5,370 LBS tweets so far!


Louise Brooks ✪

@LB_Society

Louise Brooks Society - all about the silent film & Jazz Age icon who played
Lulu in Pandora's Box. Visit our website, blog & online radio station!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Toronto Silent Film Festival set for 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.

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).

Monday, March 5, 2018

More on Poland and film, including Louise Brooks





As a follow-up to the just concluded 4 part series of posts featuring Polish film posters of the 1920s and 1930s, and as a nod to the forthcoming Polish Film Festival in London which is about to take place (I wish I could be there), I present this Louise Brooks Society blog post from 2010 titled "Discovering a Polish Lulu."


========================================

For those interested in European film history, in silent film, and in Louise Brooks - Marek Haltof’s Polish National Cinema (Berghahn Books) offers a little something for everyone. Haltof’s 300-page survey is the first comprehensive English-language study of Polish filmmaking and film culture from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st century. It’s also a groundbreaking work well worth checking out - whatever your interst.

The book's first two chapters, “Polish Cinema before the Introduction of Sound” and “The Sound Period of the 1930s,” are each fascinating and detailed accounts of the origins and development of the Polish cinema.

Buffeted as it was between Germany and Russia and by the more dominant film industry’s found in each of those countries, Polish cinema was, naturally, influenced by its neighbors. German and Russian as well as French and American films all showed in Poland – and each left their mark. It’s known, for example, that at least a few of Louise Brooks’ American silent films as well as her German-made movies were shown in Warsaw – the capitol of both Poland and the Polish film industry.

For example, Pandora’s Box, retitled Lulu, opened at the Casino Theater in Warsaw at the end of May, 1929. It ran for a few weeks, and was well received. In my research, I have been able to track down the Polish newspaper reviews and advertisements for that historic screening.

One striking example given by Haltof of the German influence on Polish cinema is noted in the book’s second chapter, on the films of the 1930s.

Haltof writes, “The treatment of women in Polish melodramas oscillates between presenting them as femme fatales in the tradition of Pola Negri’s silent features made for the Sfinks company, and as vulnerable figures at the mercy of the environment. The former representation, which is not very popular in Polish cinema, can be seen in Zabawka (The Toy, 1933), directed by Michal Waszynski. The title refers to the female protagonist Lulu (Alma Kar), a Warsaw cabaret star, who is invited to a country manor by a wealthy landowner. The landowner’s son and local Don Juan both fall in love with Lulu and pay for it. The name of the protagonist and the theme of the film suggest G.W. Pabst’s influence (Louise Brooks as Lulu in Pandora’s Box, 1929), and this inspiration has been emphasized by one of the scriptwriters of the film.” Pictured here is Alma Kar as Lulu in Zabawka.




Haltof, a Polish-born scholar, is now resident in the United States where he teaches Film in the English Department at Northern Michigan University. Via email, he confirmed the influence of one film on the other. He also supplied a photocopy of a page from a hard-to-find Polish work, Historia filmu polskiego (1988), which he cites in his own book. It quotes coscriptwriter Andrzej Tomakowski on the influence of Pandora’s Box on Zabawka.



A viewing of Zabawka itself confirms the influence (see video clip below - the entire film resides, in parts, on YouTube). The character, played by the charming Alma Kar, is named Lulu and is like Pabst’s version of Lulu a showgirl desired by many (including a Father and his son) with disastrous results. In one early scene, this Polish Lulu is surrounded by a line of chorus girls each wearing a sharp bob haircut just like that worn by Brooks in Pandora’s Box – except each of these Polish chorines are blonde!


Marek Haltof’s Polish National Cinema was first published in 2002, and was reprinted in softcover in 2008 by Berghahn Books. It is available online and at select independent bookstores.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Some Polish movie posters from the 1920s and 1930s, part 4

I love looking around digital databases. And if those databases are located in other countries, all the better.

Recently, I returned to Polona, a digital archive from Poland which features Polish books, magazines, newspapers, and ephemera - such as movie posters. Except for the first poster shown in the first post, a 1939 poster for When You're in Love (1937), and the last poster in the last post, a 1932 poster for Prix de beaute (1930), I didn't find any other posters related to Louise Brooks career, but I did find a number of rather attractive posters promoting American films of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. (Most of the posters in this digital collection date from the 1930s, when Brooks' career was in sharp decline and her films were seldom shown in Europe.)

Interestingly, these posters are predominately typographical in design, with very few images. The best of them play with design, varying the size, color, orientation and type of font displayed. There are more than 1700 posters. Here are a few that caught my eye due to their design or the film or stars featured.

This Sonja Henie poster displays a sleek design




Daughter of Shanghai (1937)


the French actress Simone Simon can be heard on RadioLulu

Madame Sans-Gêne (1925), starring Gloria Swanson

a religious film

Elmo Lincoln was the first Tarzan; this poster promotes a later western called All Around Frying Pan (1925)

from the Jules Verne novel Michael Strogoff

Laurel and Hardy

King Vidor's The Champ (1931) starred Wallace Beery



a 1932 poster for the 1930 Louise Brooks' film Prix de beaute

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Some Polish movie posters from the 1920s and 1930s, part 3

I love looking around digital databases. And if those databases are located in other countries, all the better.

Recently, I returned to Polona, a digital archive from Poland which features Polish books, magazines, newspapers, and ephemera - such as movie posters. Except for the first poster shown in the first post, a 1939 poster for When You're in Love (1937), and the last poster in the last post, a 1932 poster for Prix de beaute (1930), I didn't find any other posters related to Louise Brooks career, but I did find a number of rather attractive posters promoting American films of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. (Most of the posters in this digital collection date from the 1930s, when Brooks' career was in sharp decline and her films were seldom shown in Europe.)

Interestingly, these posters are predominately typographical, with very few images. The best of them play with design, varying the size, color, orientation and type of font displayed. There are more than 1700 posters. Here are a few that caught my eye due to their design or the film or stars featured. Tomorrow's post will feature even more posters.

Mazurka, starring the Polish born Pola Negri
Shadow of Sherlock Holmes ?

Love Me and the World Is Mine (1927)
Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
Faust, with Emil Jannings and Camilla Horn (the first silent film I ever saw on TV)
this 1927 poster says that this military cinema in Dęblin was showing a German film


with Zarah Leander, and with Boris Karloff





Friday, March 2, 2018

Some Polish movie posters from the 1920s and 1930s, part 2

I love looking around digital databases. And if those databases are located in other countries, all the better.

Recently, I returned to Polona, a digital archive from Poland which features Polish books, magazines, newspapers, and ephemera - such as movie posters. Except for the first poster shown in the first post, a 1939 poster for When You're in Love (1937), and the last poster in the last post, a 1932 poster for Prix de beaute (1930), I didn't find any other posters related to Louise Brooks career, but I did find a number of rather attractive posters promoting American films of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. (Most of the posters in this digital collection date from the 1930s, when Brooks' career was in sharp decline and her films were seldom shown in Europe.)

Interestingly, these posters are predominately typographical in design, with very few images. The best of them play with design, varying the size, color, orientation and type of font displayed. There are more than 1700 posters. Here are a few that caught my eye due to their design or the film or stars featured. Tomorrow's post will feature even more posters.

King Kong, with Fay Wray (who I once had the pleasure to meet)

Monsieur Beaucaire, starring Rudolph Valentino
Monsieur Beaucaire as Mr Beaucaire
Buck Jones, in a "sensational film"

Had to include this because I'm reading the Miriam Hopkins bio by Allen Ellenberger, and loving it!

An odd pair: Heidi, with Shirley Temple, and La Grande Illusion, with Erich von Stroheim

My Man Godfrey, one of my favorite films, starring Carole Lombard and William Powell

Charlie Chaplin, in The Gold Rush

Buster Keaton, in Doughboys

Charlie Chan in Honolulu
Last of the Mochicans

an example of a dual language poster, in Polish and Yiddish

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