Friday, May 17, 2019

Facts matter: Louise Brooks and some mistaken eBay listings

As there are with other movie stars and other cultural icons, there is a fair amount of misinformation floating around the internet regarding Louise Brooks. This misinformation ranges from simple inaccuracies regarding how many films the actress appeared in (was it 24, or 25?) -- or the date of a particular film's release (Pandora's Box is sometimes listed as a 1928 film, though released in 1929), to the mistaken identification of the actress (just because the subject of a portrait or film still is wearing bobbed hair doesn't mean it is Brooks). And then there are the various fake nudes.... which I've written about in the past HERE.

With all the attention Brooks has been getting of late with the release of The Chaperone, it is important to keep the facts straight. A few articles about The Chaperone, as well as a few related Facebook postings about the PBS film, have included a bit of inaccurate information. The film itself even contains a few historical anomalies. Read more about those HERE.

The Louise Brooks Society is intent on providing accurate information -- as well as pointing out inaccurate and mistaken material. Fact matter, after all - despite all the fake news coming out of Washington.

Recently, I've come across a handful of examples of inaccurate and mistaken material regarding the actress on eBay. It is hard to say whether these sellers are simply mistaken, suffering from wishful thinking, or are intent on deception. (As Lee Israel was when she faked letters from Louise Brooks and others as depicted in the recently released film, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) You be the judge.





To me, and to most Louise Brooks fans, the above photo does NOT depict Louise Brooks, despite the fact she was a Ziegfeld girl in the 1920s and was photographed in a similar fashion by Alfred Cheney Johnston. It is not even close.

In all fairness, the seller of this photo is uncertain (hence the question mark), but still willing to mention Brooks by name in the item descriptor. [Does anyone know which film this still is from? I wasn't able to track down the identification numbers in the lower left hand corner.]





Again, just because a woman is wearing bobbed hair doesn't mean it is Brooks.To my eyes, this women looks nothing like Louise.



This one is a hoot. No, that is NOT Louise Brooks and Fred Astaire. That is Cyd Charisse (meant to look like Louise Brooks) and Gene Kelly in a scene from Singin' in the Rain. Here is a better image from the celebrated 1952 film, and in color (not colorized, but that is a whole different debate).

Monday, May 13, 2019

Diary of a Lost Girl starring Louise Brooks to show twice at BFI Southbank in London, England

The sensational 1929 Louise Brooks' film Diary of a Lost Girl will be shown at the BFI Southbank in London, England in June as part of the Weimar Cinema 1919-1933 series. Diary will be shown twice, on Thursday, June 13 and Saturday, June 15, 2019. More information about this event, including ticket availability, can be found HERE.


Diary of a Lost Girl / Tagebuch einer Verlorenen

Iconic silent movie star Louise Brooks plays a woman who suffers at the hands of men, but refuses to be victim.

Germany 1929
Director G.W. Pabst
With Louise Brooks, Fritz Rasp, Valeska Gert
113min / Digital / English subtitles
Certificate PG

Louise Brooks gives a performance of radiant vitality and real depth as a young woman who suffers at the hands of a grotesque assortment of men, but refuses – despite everything – to be a victim. Pabst scathingly depicts the poverty and hypocrisy by which women’s lives are routinely destroyed. A heady cocktail of lurid eroticism, knockabout humour and genuine pathos.

Print and permission courtesy Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung.
With Javier Pérez de Azpeitia score (June 13), with live piano accompaniment (June 15).
The screening on Thursday 13 June will be introduced by film critic Pamela Hutchinson, author of a recent and rather excellent book on Pandora's Box.

Monday, May 6, 2019

New Book Features Louise Brooks - Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde

A new book, Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde by Thomas Bleitner, looks at the lives of seventeen influential women of the Jazz Age -- one of those seventeen is Louise Brooks. Bleitner's 176 page book will be published by Abbeville in September. A bit more information can be found HERE.


According to the publisher, "It was a time of unimagined new freedoms. From the cafés of Paris to Hollywood's silver screen, women were exploring new modes of expression and new lifestyles. In countless aspects of life, they dared to challenge accepted notions of a “fairer sex,” and opened new doors for the generations to come. What’s more, they did it with joy, humor, and unapologetic charm.

Exploring the lives of seventeen artists, writers, designers, dancers, adventurers, and athletes, this splendidly illustrated book brings together dozens of photographs with an engaging text. In these pages, readers will meet such iconoclastic women as the lively satirist Dorothy Parker, the avant-garde muse and artist Kiki de Montparnasse, and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, whose stories continue to offer inspiration for our time. Women of the 1920s is a daring and stylish addition to any bookshelf of women's history."

"Experience the glamor and excitement of the Jazz Age, through the lives of the women who defined it." Among the other notable women profiles in Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde are Zelda Fitzgerald, Nancy Cunard, Tamara de Lempicka, Lee Miller, Claude Cahun, Clara Bow, Anita Berber, Josephine Baker, and Elisa Schiaparelli.

Thomas Bleitner is a writer and bookseller based in Hamburg, Germany. I found the image below online, and am not sure if it is an alternative cover, or what? I am sure that I like it.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks shows in Denver, Colorado on May 9

The sensational 1929 Louise Brooks' film, Pandora's Box, will be shown at The Preservery in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, May 9th. More information about this event, as well as ticket availability, can be found HERE.

Silent Films at The Preservery: Pandora’s Box (1929) starring Louise Brooks

Thursday, May 9th, 2019
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Denver Public Library and Denver Film Society have teamed up for this silent film series hosted by The Preservery. Showtime is 7pm, but arrive early to order special appetizers, drinks and entrees inspired by the films. Louise Brooks shines in this masterpiece directed by G.W. Pabst. It’s daring and stylish and a testament to Brooks’ unique presence on film.

The Preservery
3040 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80205

Alas, the image used on the information page comes not from Pandora's Box, but from Diary of a Lost Girl.  That incorrect image is shown above. And alas again, it is a common mistake. Instead, here is an image from Pandora's Box.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tonka of the Gallows and other points of interest and revelation at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival

There are a number of really fine films being shown at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Some of them may be familiar to silent film buffs (like the Buster Keaton and Lon Chaney films), while others are likely not (Victor Fleming's Wolf Song (1929), starring Gary Cooper and Lupe Velez, or the films from Bali and Japan). For me, it's those little known gems which prove themselves a revelation. And make attending this world class festival necessary. I detailed the schedule of films in an earlier LBS blog HERE.

I haven't seen all the film which will be shown, but I have seen a handful of them. The Ukiah Daily Journal just published my article on one of the films which will be shown, Clarence Brown's The Signal Tower (1924). Louise Brooks devotees might take note that the film's two stars, Virginia Valli and Wallace Beery, also appeared in later Brooks' films. Valli appeared in Evening Clothes (1927), while Beery appeared in another "train film," Beggars of Life (1928). Both actors are pictured below in one of the film's most dramatic scenes.


The director of Beggars of Life was William Wellman. His earlier film, You Never Know Women (1926), will also be shown at the Festival. Long thought lost, this backstage story is a bravura work - and according to his son, the success of this film got Wellman assigned to direct Wings (1927), the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. I enjoyed You Never Know Women immensely. If you can't attend the Festival, be sure and track down the DVD, recently released by Kino. It is brilliant! Really brilliant stuff!


For me, the one film I saw that proved a revelation was Tonka of the Gallows (or Tonka Šibernice), from 1930. It is a Czech film which stars Ita Rina, an attractive Slovenian ingénue. This rarely seen gem -- a parable of the cruelty that comes from small-mindedness -- tells the story of a country girl who becomes a prostitute in Prague where an act of selfless generosity -- spending the night with a condemned man -- marks her as a pariah. This exceptionally filmed film also has a Louise Brooks connection. Prague-born actor Josef Rovenský, Thymian’s father in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), plays the condemned man in Tonka of the Gallows. The SFSFF sums things up when it states "Made as sound was taking over the industry, Tonka of the Gallows is a tour-de-force of silent-era filmmaking from Czechoslovakian director Karel Anton, who here has made his best work, always tempering style to serve the larger story." Tonka of the Gallows is a moving film, one which I hope to see many times in the future.


G.W. Pabst, who directed Louise Brooks in both Diary of a Lost Girl and Pandora's Box (1929), directs another of the films to be seen at this year's festival, The Love of Jeanne Ney (1927). Set against Russia’s post-revolution civil war, the story follows Jeanne Ney (Édith Jéhanne) who flees to Paris when her diplomat father is killed after receiving a list of Bolshevik agents from the duplicitous opportunist Khalibiev (Fritz Rasp) -- a list that contains the name of Jeanne’s lover (Uno Henning)! Rasp played the villainous seducer of Thymian in Diary of a Lost Girl. He has one of the more memorable faces in early German film.

 

Ahead of time, I also had the chance to see the Monta Bell directed Light of Old Broadway (1925), starring Marion Davies, as well as Brownie's Little Venus (1921), starring Baby Peggy, but found both not as enjoyable as I have other films starring either Davies or the diminutive Baby Peggy. King Baggot's The Home Maker (1925), starring Alice Joyce, was interesting from a sociological point-of-view. It tells the story of a frustrated housewife who must go to work when her less than successful husband is disabled. She is a success, and the tables are turned.

One other film which I enjoyed a great deal and which also proved to be something of a revelation was the John Stahl directed Husbands and Lovers (1924). Lewis Stone is the not-so-doting husband to Florence Vidor’s devoted wife in this splendidly nuanced, briskly directed comedy that features the quintessentially caddish Lew Cody as the other man. For me, Vidor's performance was an eye-opener. She is appealing and has a manner that draws one into her character. I certainly want to see more of her films.


I am looking forward to this year's Festival, which starts later today. I am also looking forward to seeing some films for the first time -- like the Italian diva vehicle Rapsodia Satanica (1917), and the first ever Italian feature, L'Inferno (1911). And though I have seen it before, once a number of years ago after meeting Fay Wray, I am also excited to see the Paramount restoration of Erich von Stroheim's The Wedding March (1928), starring Fay Wray; this special presentation will be introduced by Wray's daughter, Victoria Riskin.


And there's also Ernst Lubitsch's The Oyster Princess (1919), starring Ossi Oswaldo, and another early German film, Opium (1919), starring Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt, and Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933), which the Village Voice described as “A knockout. Shimizu’s stunning tale of passion, crime, and decadence [is an] exhilarating triumph of ... experimental style [and] also a precious portrait of the great port city of Yokohama.” And there's . . . . .

For those interested, I will be signing copies of Louise Brooks the Persistent Star following the Saturday, 10:00 am showing of the Marion Davies film, The Lights of Old Broadway. My book signing is expected to start around 11:15 am.More information HERE.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Today: Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box screens on Isle of Wight / Love Em and Leave Em in Japan

Later today, the sensational 1929 Louise Brooks' film Pandora's Box will be shown on the Isle of Wight, an island off the south coast of England. This 7:45 pm screening will take place at the at the Ryde Academy, Pell Lane PO33 3LN. More information about this event may be found HERE.


Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Pandora's Box was released in 1929. It features Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Carl Goetz, Krafft-Raschig, Alice Roberts, and Daisy D'Ora.

Running time: 105 minutes. Category: PG

Dr Ludwig Schön (Fritz Kortner) keeps Lulu (Louise Brooks) as his mistress, but does not like it when the worm turns. Lulu faces injustice when fear of damage to his reputation gets in the way of Ludwig doing right by her. Unsurprisingly, Ludwig is already engaged to be married to Charlotte (Daisy D'Ora), a woman of his own social class. But Lulu relishes life, a survivor in a failing, repressive society, while those around her are victim to their own delusions and fixations.

Ryde Film Club's monthly screenings are now at Ryde Academy, Pell Lane PO33 3LN. Ample parking and disabled access. Admission: £5 for RFC members, £7 guests.


Pandora's Box is going through a major revival in the UK. The previous day, the acclaimed film was shown in a medieval church in York, England. Read about that event HERE. Want to learn more about Louise Brooks and her role as Lulu in Pandora's Box? Visit the Louise Brooks Society website as well as its Pandora's Box filmography page.

LAST MINUTE UPDATE:

I just found out that the 1926 Louise Brooks film, Love Em and Leave Em will be showing in Japan later today. Here are the details:

【SILENT FILM PIANO LIVE】 Love’em and Leave’em (1926) 《Date & Time》 April, 29, 2019, 3:00pm 《Location》 Planet+1 (Nakazaki2-3-12, Kita-Ku, Osaka) 《Live Music performed by》 Ryo Torikai(Piano) 《Fee》 ¥1500 (student/¥1300, under20/¥800)


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Today: Louise Brooks' in Beggars of Life screens in Greeley, Colorado

Later today, the sensational 1928 Louise Brooks' film Beggars of Life will be shown in Greeley, Colorado with live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (pictured below). This 2 pm screening will take place at the Hensel Phelps Theatre - 701 10th Ave, Greeley, CO 80631. More information about this event may be found HERE.


In this gripping film set in American hobo subculture, Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen take to riding the rails to escape a manslaughter charge. Pre-depression America is shown as a place of formless threats and constant danger. Long unavailable, Beggars of Life was recently restored by the George Eastman Museum, and is now widely regarded as Louise Brooks’ finest American film.

This silent film will be accompanied by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Based in Louisville, Colorado, this quintet has become famous for its sensitive and powerful resurrection of the lost repertoire played by silent film orchestras. Through live appearances throughout America and dozens of recordings, the Mont Alto orchestra shows that the golden age of Hollywood music actually came before “talkies.” Mont Alto will be performing the score that they were commissioned to record for the recent Blu-ray release of this film on the Kino-Lorber label.

“…in “Beggars of Life,” Rodney Sauer and company are once again authoritative and expressively pitch-perfect. But the players are not there to lead, distract or showboat, but to underscore, strictly in partnership with the film.” — Bright Lights Film Journal.


Want to learn more about Louise Brooks and Beggars of Life? My book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, as well as the DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber, are the perfect compliment to one another. And what's more, the DVD, featuring the best copy of the film available anywhere as well as the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra score, also includes an informative commentary by your's truly!

My 106-page book on Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (played by Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.” This first ever study of Beggars of Life includes more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by actor and author William Wellman, Jr. (the director's son).

If you haven't secured a 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. And what's more, my book is available around the world on Amazon.


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