Produced by PBS Masterpiece and based on the 2012 New York Times bestselling novel of the same name by Laura Moriarty, The Chaperone reunites the writer (Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes), director (Michael Engler), and star (Elizabeth McGovern) of Downton Abbey for "an immersive and richly emotional period piece." The film stars Haley Lu Richardson as a teenage Louise Brooks, as well as Campbell Scott, Victoria Hill, Geza Rohrig, Blythe Danner, and Miranda Otto (as dance great Ruth St. Dennis) and Robert Fairchild (as dance great Ted Shawn). A website for the much anticipated film has also been established at www.thechaperonefilm.com/ (There is also an old PBS webpage.)
The Louise Brooks Society and the Louise Brooks community has long anticipated the release of The Chaperone. (We're fans of the novel, and in fact, the Louise Brooks Society provided the cover image for the hardcover and softcover editions of the book in the United States, as well as other editions released around the world.)
PBS Distribution puts it this way: "Louise Brooks the 1920s silver screen sensation who never met a rule she didn’t break, epitomized the restless, reckless spirit of the Jazz Age. But, just a few years earlier, she was a 15 year-old student in Wichita, Kansas for whom fame and fortune were only dreams. When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother insists there be a chaperone. Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern), a local society matron who never broke a rule in her life, impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise (Haley Lu Richardson) to New York for the summer. Why does this utterly conventional woman do this? What happens to her when she lands in Manhattan with an unusually rebellious teenager as her ward? And, which of the two women is stronger, the uptight wife-and-mother or the irrepressible free spirit? It’s a story full of surprises—about who these women really are, and who they eventually become."
Besides a Facebook page, there are also Twitter account and Instagram account to follow the latest on this new film release.
Want to find out more? Check out this 2012 interview with Chaperone author Laura Moriarty by Louise Brooks Society director Thomas Gladysz on the San Francisco Chronicle website. There is also a related LBS blog posted at the time we had the privilege of introducing Laura Moriarty at one of her author events around the time of the book's release. Stay tuned to this blog and the Louise Brooks Society website and Twitter account for the latest news on this exciting new release.
What's a Louise Brooks Society blog post without a gorgeous picture of Louise Brooks? Here is a portrait of the 16 year old dancer (and future film star) taken during her first season (spoiler alert) with Denishawn dancing alongside legend Martha Graham (who is not a character in the new film, though was likely present during some of the NYC scenes depicted in the film). I think Haley Lu Richardson looks the part.
Of all her fellow dancers, Brooks looked up to Martha Graham the most. In later years, she told Kenneth Tynan, “Graham['s] genius I absorbed to the bone during the years we danced together on tour.”
Brooks, apparently, also made an impression on Graham. In her autobiography, Blood Memory, Graham wrote, “Louise Brooks was a member of the Denishawn Company and breathtakingly beautiful. She wore her hair always in that pageboy. Everything that she did was beautiful. I was utterly absorbed by her beauty and what she did. Even before she was introduced to me, I remember watching her across the room as she stood up with a group of girls from Denishawn, all dressed alike. Louise, though, was the absolute standout, the one. She possessed a quality of strength, an inner power that one felt immediately in her presence. She was very much a loner and terribly self-destructive. Of course, it didn’t help that everyone gave her such a difficult time. I suppose I identified with her as an outsider. I befriended her, and she always seemed to be watching me perform, watching me in the dressing room. She later said, ‘I learned how to act by watching Martha Graham dance.”