Thursday, November 28, 2019

Louise Brooks Society - Black Friday #silentfilm specials

Looking for something good to read? In search of that special gift for the Louise Brooks or silent film fan on your holiday shopping list?

The Louise Brooks Society is pleased to let everyone know that for a limited time (Thanksgiving Day, November 28 through Cyber Monday, December 2, 2019) each of the following titles are available at a special discounted price. And what's more, the LBS will ship the book for free within the United States. Send an order via email to silentfilmbuff AT gmail.com. The LBS accepts major credit cards through it's safe and secure PayPal account. Want a special inscription? Send a note along with your order, and we'll be happy to oblige.

Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star (softcover 1st edition)
by Thomas Gladysz
-- This new 296 page book brings together 15 years work by the Director of the Louise Brooks Society. Gathered here are the author's best articles, essays, reviews and blogs about the silent film star and her films: Beggars of Life, Pandora’s Box, and Diary of a Lost Girl are discussed, as are many other little known aspects of Brooks’ legendary career. With dozens of illustrations, many rare.  AUTOGRAPHED by the author.


Regular price $22.50 // now just $19.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)

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Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film (softcover 1st edition)
by Thomas Gladysz
-- This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. With more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by William Wellman, Jr. A must have addition to your library, and an essential companion to the KinoLorber DVD/Blu-ray. AUTOGRAPHED by the author.


Regular price $13.50 // now just $10.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)


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Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film (softcover 1st edition)
by Thomas Gladysz
-- This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. With more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by William Wellman, Jr. A must have addition to your library, and an essential companion to the KinoLorber DVD/Blu-ray. AUTOGRAPHED by the author AND BY WILLIAM WELLMAN JR. (Limited availability, limited time offer.)


Special price, $75.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)

With the DVD of the film, featuring audio commentaries by Thomas Gladysz and William Wellman Jr., only 1 available $100.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)

With the Blue-ray of the film, featuring audio commentaries by Thomas Gladysz and William Wellman Jr., only 1 available $100.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)

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Now We're in the Air (softcover 1st edition)
by Thomas Gladysz

This companion to the once "lost" 1927 film tells the story of the film’s making, its reception, and its discovery by film preservationist Robert Byrne. With two rare fictionalizations of the movie story, more than 75 little seen images, detailed credits, trivia, and a foreword by Byrne. AUTOGRAPHED by the author.


Regular price $17.50 // now just  $14.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)


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Now We're in the Air (softcover 1st edition)
by Thomas Gladysz

This companion to the once "lost" 1927 film tells the story of the film’s making, its reception, and its discovery by film preservationist Robert Byrne. With two rare fictionalizations of the movie story, more than 75 little seen images, detailed credits, trivia, and a foreword by Byrne. AUTOGRAPHED by the author AND BY ROBERT BYRNE. (Limited availability, limited time offer.)


Special price, $25.00 (includes shipping & handling within the USA)


Looking for more great reads and more great deals?
Check out the "Related Books for Sale" Page.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Thanksgiving themed post from the Louise Brooks Society

Louise Brooks shows on Thanksgiving Monday

In Canada in 1927, the Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on different days on a regional and even local basis. Nationally, the holiday was set to take place on July 3rd. But as the above advertisement from Nanaimo, British Columbia shows, a special showing of Rolled Stockings was announced for the local Bijou theatre on an alternate holiday – Monday, November 7th. (... Some thirty years after this Thanksgiving Day screening, the Governor General of Canada issued a proclamation stating the Thanksgiving holiday would henceforth be observed throughout the nation on the second Monday in October.)

In the United States, Thanksgiving takes place on the last Thursday in November. And south of the border on November 24, 1927, the popular Louise Brooks comedy Now We're in the Air was showing in Appleton, Wisconsin. The film, which the Appleton Post-Cresent described as a "nonsense opera", was going over "big," according to the local newspaper. The advertisement for Fischer's theatre proclaims "After that Thanksgiving Day Dinner Come on Down," noting Brooks is the "leading lady and how she leads." Notably, the accompanying short film is Love Em and Feed Em (starring Max Davidson & Oliver Hardy); its title is a take off on Brooks' 1926 film, Love Em and Leave Em.


Appleton moviegoers who couldn't get enough of Louise Brooks could return to Fischer's the following Saturday or Sunday, where another 1927 Brooks film, The City Gone Wild, was showing. How's that for a cinematic feast? Elsewhere around the United States in 1927, The City Gone Wild was showing on Thanksgiving Day in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Walnut theatre, while Now We're in the Air was showing in Allentown, Pennsylvania at the Strand. (If you live in either of those towns, get in your time machine and travel back to catch a screening of these now "lost" films.) Or, if you live in Bloomington, Illinois, you can take in The City Gone Wild at the Irvin theatre, as the turkey bordered advertisement below shows. (It remarkable that the local Bloomington newspaper had enough turkey dingbats to set a border.)


On Thursday, November 29th - Thanksgiving Day in 1928, the recently released Louise Brooks film Beggars of Life was showing in Hartford, Connecticut. The Hartford Courant newspaper ad below notes the "special holiday bill" at the Central theatre would be shown at 2:30, 6:30, and 8:30 pm, but incorrectly states the film stars Noah Berry. In actuality, the film starred Noah Beery's younger brother, future Oscar winner Wallace Beery!




In traditional clothing in Beggars of Life
Wherever you live in the United States or Canada, and however you celebrate the holiday, happy Thanksgiving from the Louise Brooks Society. And don't forget, the Louise Brooks inspired film, The Chaperone, will be shown on Thanksgiving afternoon on PBS. Check you local TV listing for the time and channel.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

If you watched The Chaperone and want to find out more about Louise Brooks

If you watched The Chaperone and want to find out more about Louise Brooks, here is where to start.

(Left) Louise Brooks as a Denishawn dancer c. 1923                (Right) Louise Brooks as Lulu in Pandora's Box, 1929
The one and only biography of actress and dancer is titled Louise Brooks, and it's author is Barry Paris. It is a great read. It is a book that will fascinate you, it is a book that will immerse you in the rich history of the Jazz Age, and it is a book that will break your heart. It is full of empathy. And it is smartly written. This biography was first published in 1989 (with a different cover), and it is still in print  today. I read a lot of biographies, and 25 years after I first read the Barry Paris biography, I still feel that it is the single best biography I have ever read and will ever read. I love it. And you will too. Get a copy on amazon HERE.


Later in life, Louise Brooks became an accomplished writer. In 1982, a collection of her autobiographical essays was published (with a different cover) under the title Lulu in Hollywood. It became a bestseller, and it too is still in print today. Get a copy on amazon HERE.

  

Today, Louise Brooks is best known for playing Lulu in the classic 1929 silent film, Pandora's Box. It is a masterpiece, and is considered one of the great films of the silent era. Unfortunately, it is not currently available on DVD or Blu-ray in the United States, but may be found on online streaming services or on DVD in Europe

Fortunately, Brooks' other best film, Diary of a Lost Girl, is available on DVD / Blu-ray. It's a tragic story that may well break your heart - it tells the story of a teenage girl who is raped and conceives a baby, only to have the child taken away; this young unwed mother is then sent to a reform school, but escapes, only to end up as a prostitute. Like Pandora's Box, it is a German silent film; in fact, the two films were made within a year of each other. I recommend the Kino Lorber discs as the best version available. Get a copy on amazon HERE.


Louise Brooks' other best available film on DVD is an American film. It is titled Beggars of Life (1928), and it tells the story of an orphan girl who murders her abusive stepfather and goes on the run dressed as a boy. It is a terrific film, despite its grim story. I recommend the Kino Lorber discs as the best version available. Get a copy on amazon HERE.


If you enjoyed The Chaperone as a film as much as I did, you may well want to read Laura Moriarty's fine novel - the basis for the film. It too is available on amazon HERE.


As is the film of The Chaperone. It too is available on amazon HERE

Of course, there are other books and DVDs available to those willing to go further. This blog was begun in 2002, and needless to say, there are many entries to check out. Also worth checking out is my website, the Louise Brooks Society at www.pandorasbox.com. I started it online in 1995, and it is full of information and images of Louise Brooks, including her days as an aspiring dancer in Kansas and her two seasons with the Denishawn Dance Company.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Louise Brooks and The Chaperone in the news

This post begins with a reminder that the Louise Brooks-inspired film, The Chaperone, debuts on television this Sunday at 9 p.m. The film is set to air on PBS as part of Masterpiece. Check your local listings. The Chaperone will air again on Thanksgiving afternoon, with many stations across the country listing a 2 p.m. start time. Check your local listings for the time and channel in your area of the United States or Canada. (I also noticed at least one or two other PBS stations have scheduled repeat broadcasts of The Chaperone for other times during the week. Again, check your local listings.)


Because it is scheduled for broadcast, The Chaperone and "Louise Brooks" has been popping up on my news feed again and again. One article that caught my attention was John Anderson's November 21st piece in the Wall Street Journal, "The Chaperone Review: Traveling Companions With Baggage." It begins by placing Brooks in a larger context:

The year 1922 was the Big One for Modernism. "Ulysses" was published. So was "The Waste Land." Brecht's "Drums in the Night" had its stage debut and Joan Miró finished "The Farm." Meanwhile getting on a train in Wichita, Kan., to join the modern dance company of Ruth St. Denis was actress-to-be Louise Brooks—"the most seductive, sexual image of Woman ever committed to celluloid," as the British critic Kenneth Tynan described her in 1979. Brooks was a wonder, a sex symbol of disturbing volatility, but what's also evident now in her silent movies—specifically "Diary of a Lost Girl" and "Pandora's Box"—is how she occupied the space between her medium and her audience, creating a unique kind of screen acting, a way of existing on film that still seems new today.
Anderson's thoughtful reading of the film shines a light on a few of the film's actors and "two astounding performances. One is by Blythe Danner, who is on screen for mere minutes. The other is by Ms. McGovern. I'm not an Elizabeth McGovern completist, but it may be the best thing she's ever done." Haley Lu Richardson, the young actress who plays Brooks, is described as "always wonderful."


Newsday also ran a very brief piece on The Chaperone, as did a number of PBS station websites across the country. One that caught my attention was WKAR in Lansing, Michigan. I used to watch this station during my college days at Michigan State University, and the rush of memories compelled me to write a piece about Louise Brooks into the comments section.
When I attended Michigan State ever so long ago, I watched WKAR.... and when my news feed brought your write-up of The Chaperone to my attention, I immediately recognized your call letters. I now live in California, and am the Director of the Louise Brooks Society, as well as the author of four books on Louise Brooks, the dancer and silent film star. I wish to recommend The Chaperone to everyone in your viewing area. The film is a spirited depiction of the early life of a 20th century icon, and Haley Lu Richardson, as a teenage Brooks, gives an Oscar worthy performance.

Your viewers may be interested to know a little something regarding the film's local connection. As The Chaperone shows, a teenage Brooks left home in the summer of 1922 to go to New York City to study dance at Denishawn, then the leading modern dance company in America. That's where The Chaperone story ends..., but Brooks' story was only just beginning. After little more than a month, the 15-year old dance prodigy was asked to join Denishawn's touring company, whose members included not only legendary founders Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn (each are characters in the film), but also dance greats Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weideman. As a member of Denishawn, Brooks toured the United States for two seasons, playing in hundreds of cities and towns, including a number in Michigan. During Brooks' second season with Denishawn, the company came to Lansing, where on March 19, 1924 they danced at the now demolished Gladmer Theatre (231 N. Washington Avenue). At the time, there was considerable buzz around the event, which was sponsored by the local Zonta club, an organization of business and professional women. In fact, the Lansing State Journal ran a series of seven articles prior to the performance, each of which helped build local interest by naming the dancers and describing the costumes and music locals could expect to see and hear. The long review which appeared the following day suggests the performance was rapturously received; the Denishawn Company was said by the Lansing State Journal to "thrill the audience," and the newspaper noted a crowd remained to applaud the Denishawns until Ruth St. Denis made a curtain speech.

As depicted in The Chaperone, Brooks was an unruly teen. She was dismissed from Denishawn in May 1924. Within a year, however, she found work in the movies. A July 22, 1926 article in the Lansing State Journal titled “Little Louise Brooks Is on Way to Success” pointed the way to her eventual stardom. Within months, she was featured in films shown at the Gladmer as well as the Strand (211 S. Washington Avenue) and Capitol (204 N. Washington Avenue) theaters in Lansing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Even though I have seen it three times already, I am looking forward to watching The Chaperone again on Sunday night, and in between Thanksgiving day preparations and celebrations, perhaps once again. How long does the turkey take to cook, with homemade stuffing?

BTW: The Chaperone is being released on DVD on Tuesday, November 26th.Click HERE is buy a copy. My brief amazon.com review, "A richly detailed period piece," reads "I like this film, and not just because it centers on a young Louise Brooks -- brilliantly portrayed in an Oscar-nomination worthy performance by vivacious Haley Lu Richardson. I like it because it is a worthy and richly detailed period piece which viewers of today can relate to -- just like Downton Abbey."


This post concludes with a reminder that the classic Louise Brooks' film, Pandora's Box, will be screened on Saturday, November 23 in San Diego, California - with live musical accompaniment. The San Diego Symphony Orchestra will screen the 1929 film at Copley Symphony Hall to mark the 90th anniversary of the San Diego Fox theater, which opened in 1929. The San Diego Symphony Orchestra will not appear as part of this performance, but instead, the film is accompanied by a live soundtrack performance on the Fox Theater Organ by Russ Peck. More information about this event can be found HERE.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Quentin Tarantino’s list of the greatest movies of all time includes a Louise Brooks film

Last month, England's Far Out magazine ran a piece titled "Quentin Tarantino’s handwritten list of the 11 greatest films of all time." The article states, "It comes as little surprise that Tarantino has studied the significant moments of cinematic history with an unrelenting thirst to quench his artistic desire. So, when the filmmaker was asked to pick 11 films which he considered to be the greatest of all time, it will come as little surprise that he struggled to define it with precision."

Here is Tarantino’s handwritten list, as shown on the Far Out magazine website.


Not surprisingly, at least to me, is that it includes the G.W. Pabst directed Pandora's Box. The 1929 Louise Brooks film, in which the actress famously plays Lulu, is the only silent film to make the list.

I say not surprisingly, because Pabst and Pandora's Box have been lurking beneath the sheen of Tarantino's films for some time. For example, if you had the opportunity to see the director's most recent film, Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood, which is set in 1960s Los Angeles, you may have noticed that shortly after the legendary L.A. nightclub Pandora's Box is shown in Tarantino's film, a character named Lulu is introduced. Coincidence? Perhaps. Cinematic nod? More likely. And then there is Uma Thurman's severe Louise Brooks-like bob in an earlier Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction (1994).



G.W. Pabst was also given a big shout out in an earlier Tarantino film, Inglourious Basterds. In that 2009 movie, a few characters in the film (who include members of the French underground who also happen to be cinephiles) talk about movies while dropping the names of various historical figures. Much of the later action in the film - including an attempt to kill Adolph Hitler - takes place in a small Parisian theater which had been showing a Pabst film, White Hell of Pitz Palu. That was the film Pabst shot in 1929 between making his two classic films with Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl.


Is all this coincidence, or a form of cinematic homage in the form of cinematic Easter eggs. You be the judge. For more on Quentin Tarantino, G.W. Past and Louise Brooks, see my earlier blog Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood - Quentin Tarantino & Louise Brooks. And Q., if you are reading this, drop me a line.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Happy birthday to Louise Brooks - the magnetism of the cinema

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LOUISE BROOKS,
who was born on this day in 1906 in Cherryvale,  Kansas

"Louise Brooks is the only woman who had the ability to transfigure no matter what film into a masterpiece. The poetry of Louise is the great poetry of rare loves, of magnetism, of tension, of feminine beauty as blinding as ten galaxial suns. She is much more than a myth, she is a magical presence, a real phantom, the magnetism of the cinema." 


So said Ado Kyrou (1923-1985), a Greek-born filmmaker, writer, critic and associate of the Surrealists long resident in France. Kyrou was a contributor to the French film journal Positif, and the author of Amour - érotisme & cinéma (1957) and Le Surréalisme Au Cinéma (1963).


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Louise Brooks silent film Pandora's Box to screen in India

In researching Around the World with Louise Brooks, I have been able to determine that many of Louise Brooks' American films (both the silent films and the talkies) were shown around the time of their release in India.

Now comes word that Brooks' best known film, the German silent Pandora's Box, will be shown at the International Film Festival of India. In fact, Pandora's Box is one of three silent film classics that will be shown at the annual event. According to an article in the Navhind Times, "The films to be screened on November 22, 23, and 24 include Battleship Potemkin (1925) by Russian master filmmaker and pioneer of montage editing, Sergei M Eisenstein; Pandora’s Box (1929) by German expressionist master, G W Pabst; and Blackmail (1929) directed by the British filmmaker known as Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, respectively. The three silent films will be screened with live music performed by BFI UK Pianist, Jonny Best."



The Navhind Times describes the film this way: "Pandora’s Box is a German silent film based on Frank Wedekind’s two plays, ‘Erdgeist’ or ‘Earth Spirit’ (1895) and ‘Die Büchse der Pandora’ (1904). It stars Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner and Francis Lederer. Brooks portrays a seductive, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature brings ruin to her as well as those who love her."

This year marks the 50th year of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which is often counted among one of the earliest film festivals on the Asian continent. The International Film Festival of India will witness over 200 films from 76 countries, 26 feature films, and 15 non feature films in the Indian Panorama section. More than 10,000 people are expected to participate in the event in Panaji, Goa, India.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Things found : Around the World with Louise Brooks - Island edition

In researching Louise Brooks and her films and in compiling material for Around the World with Louise Brooks, I have been able to document the showing of the actress' film in numerous nations and territories. Including, as it turns out, on a number of islands. 


Brooks' films were shown not only in England, Ireland, and Australia, but also in Iceland, Cuba, Haiti, pre-statehood Hawaii (then an American territory), Indonesia, The Canary Islands, and elsewhere. They were even shown on at least one occasion on Madagascar, off the south east coast of Africa. Below is a newspaper advertisement from Poverty Bay, New Zealand for a special New Year's Eve showing of Rolled Stockings on that island nation.


Just recently, I came across a first, newspaper records showing at least a few of Brooks films, including, Love Em and Leave Em (1926) and Rolled Stockings (1927), were shown in Port Moresby on the island Papua, then called the Territory of Papua (then deemed an "External Territory of Australia"). Below is the write-up for Rolled Stockings which appeared in the Papuan Courier, the island's only newspaper, on October 3, 1930. As films were not reviewed on Papua back then, any reaction by locals to the film -- a rom-com about American youth -- is unknown.


As my exhibition records for Rolled Stockings show, a 1930 screening of the film is late, but not so late as to be considered among the last documented public showings. That would come a year later, when Rolled Stockings was shown in Darwin Australia. (See my earlier blog, "Louise Brooks in Australia - now and then," for details.)

James Hall and Louise Brooks wondering
where Rolled Stockings will be shown next.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, to show in San Diego, California

The 90th anniversary of the release of Pandora's Box is being celebrated in San Diego, California later this month. On Saturday, November 23, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra will screen the 1929 Louise Brooks film at Copley Symphony Hall to mark the 90th anniversary of the San Diego Fox theater, which also opened in 1929. The San Diego Symphony Orchestra will not appear as part of this performance, but instead, the film is accompanied by a live soundtrack performance on the Fox Theater Organ by Russ Peck. More information about this event can be found HERE.


According to the San Diego Symphony Orchestra website, "One of the most fascinating and controversial films of the Silent Era, G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box debuted in 1929, the same year The Fox opened its doors. Starring the unforgettable Louise Brooks as a seductive and feminine force of nature, this brazenly melodramatic movie was a startling breakthrough for the portrayal of women on the Silver Screen."


The Jacobs Music Center's Copley Symphony Hall opened in 1929 as the Fox Theatre, part of the nationwide Fox theater chain.  Designed by Weeks and Day in the Spanish Gothic-revival style, the Fox was an "old-school" movie palace, measuring 68,000-square-foot and accommodating more than 2,200 people.

https://ornatetheatres.com/index.php/copley-symphony-hall/
The Fox cost $2.5 million to build, and at the time was the third largest theater in California. After many years of use as both a movie theater and live venue, it was conferred to the San Diego Symphony in 1984 and was extensively renovated. While its exterior has changed radically, the interior has been restored to the way it looked in 1929.

https://ornatetheatres.com/index.php/copley-symphony-hall/
This year also marks the 90th anniversary of another 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Canary Murder Case. A mystery story, The Canary Murder Case was the last film made by Brooks in the United states before she left for Germany to make Pandora's Box (and Diary of a Lost Girl). When The Canary Murder Case opened in San Diego in March of that year, the Fox was still under construction. (The Fox opened 90 years ago today, on November 8, 1929). As with Brooks earlier films shown in San Diego, The Canary Murder Case played at the Cabrillo theatre, where it was well received. The San Diego Union headline for March 10 read “Cabrillo Theatre Offers Gripping Mystery Picture.”


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Things found: Around the World with Louise Brooks

This past weekend I experienced project creep. While working on the Pandora's Box chapter in  Around the World with Louise Brooks, I ventured off on a few internet side-trips, one to Cuba, one to the Dominican Republic, and the other to The Free City of Danzig. Happily, I came away with my first ever records of the showing of Brooks' films in both Danzig and the Dominican Republic. Hooray! I now have documentary records (newspaper advertisements and newspaper listings) for Brooks films having been shown in nearly 65 sovereign states and non-sovereign territories.

I also came across some rather unusual clippings which don't go into my new book, but which I wanted to share. Because they are so damned cool. Like this montage from Carteles, a general interest magazine from Cuba which often ran pieces about American movie stars including Brooks. Can you identify each of the movie stars in the piece below?


And then there is this page of movie advertisements from the Danziger Volksstimme, a German-language newspaper from The Free City of Danzig. At the bottom of the page is an ad for Wings, the acclaimed WWI film which won the first Best Film at the first Academy Awards ceremony.
In case you don't know, The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) and nearly 200 towns and villages in the surrounding areas. It was created in 1920 in accordance with the terms of Article 100 of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I. The Free City included the city of Danzig and other nearby towns, villages, and settlements that were primarily inhabited by Germans. As the Treaty stated, the region was to remain separated from post-World War I Germany (the Weimar Republic) and from the newly independent nation of the Second Polish Republic, but it was not an independent state. The Free City was under League of Nations protection and put into a binding customs union with Poland. One of the most famous people born in Danzig was the German novelist Gunter Grass, who's great novel The Tin Drum, is set in the Free City. (The Tin Drum was also made into a great film.)

Here are a couple of more pages of movie advertisements from the same German newspaper. How many films or movies might you be able to pick out of the bunch? Bonus points for those who can spot the Louise Brooks' films lurking in the jumble.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Louise Brooks inspired biopic The Chaperone set for TV broadcast premiere and DVD release

This November is set to be a BIG November for fans of Louise Brooks. PBS has announced that the Louise Brooks inspired bio-pic The Chaperone will air on broadcast television in the United States on Sunday, November 24 at 9:00 p.m. That's during the regular PBS Masterpiece time slot. (Check your local listings!) And, just two days later, the film will be released on DVD and digital in the United States.
The Chaperone is the first ever theatrical release from PBS Masterpiece, and as the DVD proclaims, it is from the creator of Downton Abbey, the hit PBS Masterpiece series and recent worldwide smash hit film. The creator is Julian Fellows, who penned the scripts for Downton Abbey.

The Chaperone was directed by Michael Engler, who directed episodes of the hit TV series, and it was produced and stars Elizabeth McGovern, who also stars in Downton.

One trip can change everything ... "The Chaperone follows Louise Brooks, who would become a 1920s silver screen sensation of the Jazz Age, a few years before her fame. A 15-year-old student in Wichita, Kansas, she has the opportunity to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe. Her mother (Victoria Hill) insists there be a chaperone, and 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." As the descriptive copy states "Its a story full of surprises -- about who these women really are and who they eventually become."

I like this film, and not just because it centers on a young Louise Brooks -- brilliantly portrayed in an Oscar-nomination worthy performance by vivacious Haley Lu Richardson. I like it because it is a worthy and richly detailed period piece which viewers of today can relate to -- just like Downton Abbey.


I have seen the film three times, but plan to watch it again on November 24. I also plan on getting a copy of the DVD, which regrettably doesn't see to have any bonus material. (Come on PBS, you can do better!) I have written a lot on this film. My main piece, "Never the Victim: Louise Brooks and The Chaperone," was published on Film International. Check it out. This blog also contains a number of Chaperone related posts, including a brief interview with Laura Moriarty, who's best selling 2012 novel was the basis of the PBS film.


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