Friday, August 31, 2018

Louise Brooks’ first review on this day in 1925

On this day in 1925, Louise Brooks received her first review as actress.

Though not listed in the film’s credits, the Los Angeles Times took note of her brief appearance in The Street of Forgotten Men when its anonymous critic wrote, “And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the ‘blind’ man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed.”


The paper was referring to Brooks, who’s less than 5 minutes of screen time in the Herbert Brenon-directed film was uncredited. It was Brooks’ first role. She played the part of a moll (the girlfriend of a gangster).

Prior to August 31, 1925—Brooks had only been mentioned in newspapers and magazines in connection with her appearances as a Denishawn dancer and as showgirl with the George White Scandals and Ziegfeld Follies. She also had a knack for showing up in various New York City gossip columns. The Los Angeles Times review was her first mention in connection with a film.

The article, titled “Marmont Metropolitan Star,” stands out not only as the first review to reference Brooks but as the only review for The Street of Forgotten Men to note her appearance in the film. One wonders who that anonymous critic might have been? And what they saw?


The Street of Forgotten Men is an underworld romance set among professional beggars in New York’s Bowery. It is a singular film, and received uniformly superb reviews when first released. Leading man Percy Marmont was singled out for his exceptional performance and director Brenon was praised for his realistic depiction of Bowery life.

The National Board of Review named it one of the 40 best pictures of 1925, and it was picked as one of the best films of the year by the Houston Chronicle, Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Tacoma Times, and Topeka Daily Capital. In many reviews and advertisements, The Street of Forgotten Men was compared to The Miracle Man, a similarly themed 1919 Lon Chaney film about a gang of criminals.

The Street of Forgotten Men was long thought lost. However, six of seven reels were later found at the Library of Congress. Among the surviving footage (the second reel is missing) is the scene that includes Brooks. Part of that scene is excerpted in the outstanding documentary, Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu.

Eighty-five years ago today, Louise Brooks received her first film review. It was a tentative beginning to a comet-like career in film.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Louise Brooks event in Folsom, California

One month from today, I will be speaking about Louise Brooks and my new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star, at the Folsom Public Library in Folsom, California. I will give a slide-show presentation featuring rare images of the silent film star. Any and all film buffs in the greater Sacramento area are invited to attend.

More information about this September 29th event may be found HERE (scroll to date).

More information about my new book may be found HERE.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Louise Brooks appearance in an Alfred Hitchcock film starring Marlene Dietrich

Yesterday, I received an email from a longtime internet friend, Mark Armstrong-Roper. He's lives in Australia, and like me, is a Louise Brooks devotee. We've never met, but have exchanged emails on and off for well more than a decade.

Yesterday, Mark wrote to say he was enjoying my new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star (which he bought through amazon Australia). Mark added that he was reading my piece on the possible photograph of Louise Brooks seen in the original Maltese Falcon (1931), starring Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels. Ultimately, I couldn't decide if it is Brooks or not, though it sure looks like her.



Mark went on to say that my piece reminded him of another possible appearance of a Louise Brooks photograph in a film, Alfred Hitchcock's 1950 British thriller Stage Fright, starring Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, and Alastair Sim.

The film, which was directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, was shot in England. The story centers on an aspiring actress, with some scenes shots at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. The art direction was by Terence Verity, an architect (from a family of accomplished architects) and one of the foremost art directors of early post-war Britain. Despite the considerable talent and familiar story line, Stage Fright received mixed reviews. Today, it is among Hitchcock's lesser known works.

Louise Brooks' first appearance in Stage Fright takes place about 91 minutes into the film. Hanging on the wall near the door of a backstage changing room are two photographs, the lower one is this well known portrait of Brooks, taken circa 1928.


Here is a (poor resolution) screen capture of the Brooks' portrait hanging on the wall in the "quick change" room, followed by another with a close-up view. I have ordered a copy of the film from which I hope to gather a better, high resolution screen capture.




And here is another screen capture from a few minutes later in the film of Marlene Dietrich standing next to the image while speaking to Jane Wyman. Dietrich, as is well known, was considered for the role of Lulu in Pandora's Box (1929). I wonder if she recognized Brooks' portrait.



What in the world is that image doing in this film? Do an Hitchcock experts have an explanation?

Stage Fright has been released on DVD, and can also be found as part of the Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection box set. The film, with Portuguese subtitles, can be viewed online HERE via archive.org

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Louise Brooks related film, The Chaperone, set for 2019

I have long been expecting the Louise Brooks related film, The Chaperone, to be released sometime in 2018.... But just yesterday, I noticed IMdB now has a April, 2019 release date.

In 2017, PBS Masterpiece posted this about the much anticipated production: "The Chaperone takes place against the backdrop of the tumultuous times of the early 1920’s. A Kansas woman (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey) is forever changed when she chaperones a beautiful and talented 15-year-old dancer (Haley Lu Richardson, Split) named Louise Brooks to New York for the summer. One of them is eager to fulfill her destiny of dance and movie stardom; the other is on a mission to unearth the mysteries of her past.

MASTERPIECE’s first feature film will reunite the writer, director and star of Downton Abbey. The Chaperone, based on Laura Moriarty’s best-selling American novel, will be scripted by Julian Fellowes, directed by Michael Engler, and star Elizabeth McGovern, who played Lady Grantham in the hit series."

So, it looks like fans of film star Louise Brooks and Laura Moriarty's wonderful book will have to wait just a little bit longer.....

Today, I came across an Irish news story about the in-the-works Downton Abbey film which mentioned The Chaperone film. That news story stated:
Downton Abbey is not McGovern's only movie in the pipeline as she also stars in The Chaperone, which is due for release before the former arrives in cinemas.

She said: "It's the same period but it's a script that Julian adapted from a book that I brought to him and we both love it.

"It's about Louise Brooks, who is a famous, iconic movie star, who, as a young girl, traveled from Kansas to New York and she's accompanied by a middle-aged housewife.

"It's the story of their journey before she became a big movie star."
By all accounts, The Chaperone is finished shooting. It is expected that the film will be released in theaters, and then shown on PBS Masterpiece. Below is an earlier photo of Haley Lu Richardson and Elizabeth McGovern on the set of The Chaperone.


I should mention that my new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star, contains a 2013 article on the various Downton Abbey / Louise Brooks connections as well as a brief 2012 interview with author Laura Moriarty.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Louise Brooks featured on the Junot Files podcast

I am pleased to let everyone know I was featured on the latest episode of the Junot Files podcast talking about Louise Brooks and my new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star. Thanks to host Jim Junot for a great interview. Listen here below or on the Junot Files page


The Junot Files is an interview show which features authors (including actors and actresses) who write about Hollywood and TV! Previous episodes include interviews with Mary Mallory, Tony Villecco, Jennifer Ann Redmond and Alan K. Rode.

 
Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star gathers a selection of my best published articles, essays, blogs and interviews about the silent film star. The actress' best known films -- including Beggars of Life, Pandora's Box, and Diary of a Lost Girl -- are discussed, as are many other little known aspects of Brooks' now legendary career. A few of these pieces are previously unpublished. Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star is 296 pages, with approximately 115,000 words of text and dozens of illustrations (many little seen, some rare).

The book is available on amazon -- order a copy HERE.  This English-language book is also available through amazon Canada, England and Australia, as well as on the amazon sites in Mexico and Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Japan. It is also available on Barnes & Noble website HERE, as well as on IndieBound.

This book, my fourth, is a publication of the Louise Brooks Society. Autographed copies of Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star may be purchased directly from me, the author.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks, screens August 15 in Boulder, Colorado

Beggars Of Life — “When it comes to cinematography, acting and plot, this is the best film of the season,” said Hart. “The star Louise Brooks had the gift that Marilyn Monroe had — she was just electric on film, she was just beautiful.” Hart added that, in a time when stunt-doubles were rare, the chase scene on top of a train is legendary and “breathtaking.”(1928, 100 minutes. Screens Aug. 15.)

More information at https://brookvilletimes.com/chautauqua-silent-film-series-opens-with-hollywoods-top-dog/ 

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 last 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. If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today? Each is an essential addition to your Louise Brooks collection.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star - new book now available

I have published a new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star. In my opinion, it makes for good reading, and is a book every Louise Brooks fan will want to own.

It gathers a selection of my best published articles, essays, and blogs about the silent film star. The actress' best known films -- including Beggars of Life, Pandora's Box, and Diary of a Lost Girl -- are discussed, as are many other little known aspects of Brooks' now legendary career. A few are previously unpublished.

These pieces, some of which goes back 15 years, range from the local ("Louise Brooks, at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and 16th Street") to the worldly ("Making Personas: Transnational Film Stardom in Modern Japan"), from the provocative ("A Girl in Every Port: The Birth of Lulu?") to the poignant ("Homage to George W. Lighton of Kentucky, idealistic silent film buff who perished in the Spanish Civil War"), from the quirky ("Louise Brooks' First Television Broadcast") to the surprising ("A Lost Girl, a Fake Diary, and a Forgotten Author").

Also included are related interviews with other devotees of Louise Brooks including English actor Paul McGann (the eighth Doctor Who), singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and novelist Laura Moriarty (author of The Chaperone, which is soon to be a major motion picture from PBS Masterpiece). Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star is 296 pages, with approximately 115,000 words of text and dozens of illustrations (many little seen).



The book is available on amazon -- order a copy HERE.  This English-language book is also available through amazon Canada, England and Australia, as well as on the amazon sites in Mexico and Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Japan.

It is also available on Barnes & Noble website HERE, as well as on IndieBound.

This book, my fourth, is a publication of the Louise Brooks Society. As of now, it is a print-only book.

I am also continuing work on a few other book and non-book projects, and have begun to gather material and assemble a fifth book, an oversized pictorial, tentatively titled Around the World with Louise Brooks. I hope to have this multinational and multilingual title ready sometime in 2019

Autographed copies of Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star may be purchased directly from the author.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Louise Brooks died on this day in 1985

The American silent film star Louise Brooks died on this day in 1985. Her passing made news not only across the United States, but around the world. The second clipping comes from Australia.



Monday, August 6, 2018

Double trouble with Louise Brooks at South West Silents

There's double trouble coming up in September at South West Silents in the UK !

On September 14th, the sensational Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, will be shown at Cube Microplex in central Bristol, England. More information about this event can be found HERE.

South West Silents presents: Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
with introduction and live musical accompaniment
Dir: G.W. Pabst, 1929, Germany, 106 mins, Cert: PG
-
Fri 14 September // 20:00
Tickets: £8 (full) / £7 (concession)

A masterpiece of the German silent era, Diary of a Lost Girl was the second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst a mere months after their first collaboration in the now-legendary Pandora’s Box (1929).
Brooks plays Thymian Henning, a beautiful young woman raped by an unscrupulous character employed at her father’s pharmacy (played with gusto by Fritz Rasp, the degenerate villain of such Fritz Lang classics as Metropolis, Spione, and Frau im Mond). After Thymian gives birth to his child and rejects her family’s expectations of marriage, the baby is torn from her care, and Thymian enters a purgatorial reform school that seems less an institute of learning than a conduit for fulfilling the headmistress’s sadistic sexual fantasies.

The screening will have a specially recorded audio intro by author and critic Pamela Hutchinson with live music on piano by Jonny Best (Yorkshire Silent Film Festival).

“Brooks exudes a hypnotic resilience, retaining a transcendent moral decency in a corrupt world.”  Philip French, The Guardian

Learn more about Diary of a Lost Girl on the Louise Brooks Society website. 
  
 


And on September 16th, the equally provocative Louise Brooks film, Pandora's Box, will be shown at Curzon in Clevedon, North Somerset, England. (The Curzon cinema has been at the centre of cultural life in Clevedon since 1912.) More information about this event can be found HERE.

Heritage Weekend: South West Silent's Presents... Pandora's Box

G.W. Pabst's 1929 silent masterpiece Pandora's Box stars Louise Brooks in the role that secured her place as one of the immortal goddesses of the silver screen.

This controversial, and in its day heavily censored, film is regularly ranked in the Top 100 films of all time (including Cahiers du Cinema and Sight & Sound). Brooks is unforgettable as Lulu (Louise Brooks), a sexy, amoral dancer who creates a trail of devastation as she blazes through Weimar-era Berlin, breaking hearts and destroying lives. From Germany, she flies to France, and finally to London, where tragedy strikes. This stunning photographed film is loosely based on the controversial Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind, and also features one of the cinema’s earliest lesbian characters.

Showing as part of this year's Heritage Open Weekend which celebrates Heritage sites all over the UK.



Learn more about Pandora's Box on the Louise Brooks Society website. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Capitolfest features Ronald Colman, who likes Louise Brooks' eyes

This year's Capitolfest is set to take place August 10, 11, 12 in Rome, New York. This year's tribute star is Ronald Colman, who, if you believe the 1930 issue of Girl's Cinema, had a thing for Louise Brooks, or at least her eyes. In describing his "dream girl," Colman says she must have Louise Brooks' eyes, but not her hair! 
Here is Ronald's 'own description of his ideal mate:
The unbobbed hair of the texture of that which adorns the head of Vilma Banky, but it is dark rather than light. The brown eyes of Louise Brooks.
Vilma's nose.
Mary Pickfor's mouth and Smile.
Gloria Swanson's neck and shoulders.
The diminutive body and figure of Bessie Love. And has -- and this is most important, Mr. Colman says -- Constant Talmadge's sense of humour.
The complexion and colouring of Doris Kenyon.
There you have the future Mrs. Ronald Colman.
The article goes on the quote the famed British actor, "Louise Brooks' eyes are marvellous. They are large and dark brown in colour. They fascinate me."
 




Capitolfest is Central New York's premier summer Cinephile film festival - a place to see rarely-shown and newly-discovered films of the silent and early talkie era in a historic 1,788-seat movie palace. For more information on Capitolfest, go to this link HERE.

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