Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Louise Brooks Society now on Post (a new messaging app)

I launched the Louise Brooks Society website way back in the summer of 1995. I was a pioneer. The LBS was one of the first websites devoted to silent film and/or a silent film actor. Today, my website is certainly one of the longest lasting. 

Along the way, I branched out. There was a Louise Brooks Society MySpace page at one point, as well as a TribeNet page, and a streaming music channel (RadioLulu) on Live365. Things come and go. This blog dates back to 2002, when I first started writing about Louise Brooks on LiveJournal. In 2009, I transitioned the LBS blog to Blogger, where it has been ever since. (Some of the other Louise Brooks Society social media accounts can be found in the right hand column. Or, check out the LBS on LinkTree.)

The LBS has been on Twitter since 2009. (See https://twitter.com/LB_Society) To date, I have tweeted more than 6,150 times and gained some 5,200 followers. Not bad considering Louise Brooks and silent film is something of a niche interest.

With all the changes and uncertainty around Twitter these days (I think you know what I mean, as some are predicting its demise), I figure it is best to have a back-up, twitter-like account - an alternative app. I plan to stay with Twitter for the time being, but have recently set up an account on POST. That account can be found at https://post.news/louisebrooks

I would encourage anyone interested in exploring the brave new world of Post to check it out. The Louise Brooks Society already has a few followers, and a few posts! Come on and join the smart set.


The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

 

Monday, December 5, 2022

An Interview with Alexandre Lobao about his Louise Brooks story, A Caixa de Pandora

Back in 2000, the Brazilian writer Alexandre Lobão published one of the earlier works of fiction to include Louise Brooks. His book was titled A Caixa de Pandora (Pandora's Box and other stories). I remember hearing about it sometime around then, and even obtaining a pdf copy of the Portuguese-language book. I never had the chance to really connect with the author until recently, when we "ran into one another" in Instagram. I sent Alexandre, who is now a successful author, a message asking if he might answer a few questions about A Caixa de Pandora, his first book. He agreed.

 The 2000 edition                          The Author - Alexandre Lobão                        The 2015 edition     

Louise Brooks Society: Your first book, A Caixa de Pandora (Pandora's Box and other stories), is a collection of stories; it was first published in Brazil in 2000, and has been described as a work of "fantastic reality." What would you like readers to know about it?

Alexandre Lobão:
This book has ten short stories, and it’s still being published nowadays, 22 years later - which is unusual, at least in Brazil. Most of the stories have some kind of fantastic or magical element. The main (and longest) story, “Pandora’s Box,” is about a writer who is researching Louise Brooks in order to write a book, and every new piece of information he gets about her, he finds her more and more appealing, until the point that he realizes he is in love with her. Knowing that there is little more information about her, after all the research he did, he becomes more and more uneasy, lonely and abandoned, until he goes one last time to the local university library to see if he can uncover anything else. At the library he experiences a strange moment, a dream that leads him to a small recess he never saw in the library, an old video cassette library where he finds some tapes about Louise. To his surprise, he discovers that the tapes are not movies, but instead they allow him, for a limited time, to talk with Louise Brooks using his TV.  It’s a blessing, but also a curse, because he has only a few hours to talk to her. In the end (which was a surprise even for me, when I first wrote) he manages to help Louise and help himself to go on with their lives, leaving the past behind and knowing that each other are fine.

Louise Brooks Society: When and how did you first discover Louise Brooks?

Alexandre Lobão: I first saw Louise in the video clip of the O.M.D. (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark) song “Pandora’s Box.” I was in my twenties, in a train station during my first trip around Europe, and was mesmerized by her appearances in the video.

Louise Brooks Society: In the title story, you appear as a character in love with Louise Brooks. The narrator details your encounters with the actress. What lead you to write this story? Were you inspired by any other story or writer?

Alexandre Lobão:  After 25 published books, “Pandora’s Box” is still the story that most resonates with me. When I returned to Brazil after my trip, I started to look for information about her (which was rather difficult, because there are no internet back in 1991) out of curiosity. I started then to hunt around in libraries, and discover that Louise was also inspiration for the Dixie Dugan comic strip (1929, by J. P. McEvoy) and other works beyond the movies, and after some research the idea of writing a book about a writer that researches & searches for her came to me. By then, I was only published in magazines and short story collections; “Pandora’s box” was my first short novel (60 pages). The inspiration of it was only Louise and my own journey in discovering how amazing she was.

Louise Brooks Society: Is Louise Brooks very well known in Brazil?

Alexandre Lobão:  Not really. I found some people that know her, some that love her, but she’s not a pop culture icon here – although many people would recognize her bob hair style.

Louise Brooks Society:
What does she mean to you as an actress, or as a person?

Alexandre Lobão: Tough question! When I first found out about her, I fall in love as we usually do, loving not the real person, but the idealized person we have in our minds. After a while, I knew her flaws, her problems, the details that are not so lovable; but I still love her as a person. Nowadays my feelings for her are more like an old passion that, after the right time, became more like an ember that never fades away than a huge fire that burns bright and ends fast. I love seeing her movies, of course; I believe she was the greatest artist of her time, although she unfortunately hasn’t followed the evolution of the movies industry and language.

Louise Brooks Society:
You have written fiction, as well as books for young readers, comics, and screenplays. You have written in may genre's. How can someone find out more? 

Alexandre Lobão: All my books and movie scripts and comics are on my web site, www.AlexandreLobao.com. I have some works published in English and Chinese, but only technical stuff – the rights for publishing my fiction works on other countries are currently available. 😉

* * * * * 

Pandora's Box and other stories is a book of short stories with varied themes, mostly containing fantastic elements. The tales present stories that take place in different times and places, in Brazil and abroad, from the past to the future, and have a common point in a personal, intimate view of each story, making the reader feel as if they were listening to a friend's story, the kind friends share around a campfire, when the lack of television increases interaction between people. The last story, “Plain”, subtly creates a link between all the stories, where the character has visions about situations that happen in several other stories in the book. More about Caixa de Pandora (Pandora's Box and other stories) can be found on the authors website. 

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Another great Louise Brooks film to screen in Toronto, Canada

It seems Toronto, Canada is the place to be if you are a Louise Brooks fan. 

Following the announcement that the rarely shown silent version of Prix de beauté will be shown on Saturday, December 3 at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto comes word that another great Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life, will be shown Toronto's Revue Cinema. More information about this Sunday, January 29, 2023 screening can be found HERE

Beggars of Life was released in 1928, and this special afternoon event at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto) is being billed as a 95th anniversary screening. The Revue Cinema's series of silent films, Silent Revue, is curated by Alicia Fletcher (who introduced Prix de beauté at the Bell Lightbox). And notably, the Beggars of Life screening will feature live musical accompaniment by Marilyn Lerner (who accompanied Prix de beauté at the Bell Lightbox). Evidently, Louise Brooks has at least a few fans in Toronto.

According to the Silent Revue event page, "Our season-long look at Planes, Trains and Automobiles continues with the rail-hopping thriller BEGGARS OF LIFE, starring the irresistible Louise Brooks. Co-starring Wallace Beery and Richard Arlen, BEGGARS OF LIFE is frequently cited as Brooks’ best American film, and under the direction of "Wild Bill" Wellman (of WINGS fame, which kicked off the current Silent Revue season), it is no wonder.

Brooks plays Nancy, who, on the lam after killing her abusive guardian, disguises her identity in hope of escaping to Canada. Tucking those signature bangs under a cap (don't worry -- they fall out from time to time) she passes as a boy among a gang of rail-riding hobos, where the threat of being revealed a killer takes a back seat to a more pressing danger: being exposed as a woman! Prefiguring many future Hollywood films’ treatment of hobo culture in the Great Depression, BEGGARS OF LIFE is a late silent-era masterpiece." It's true. Brooks' character, Nancy, does hope to escape to Canada! 


To celebrate the film's 95th anniversary, here is an advertisement and a short review of the film from the time it first showed in Toronto, back in October, 1928, at the Pantages. In case you are wondering, the Revue theater was showing Frank Capra's The Matinee Idol, starring Bessie Love, paired with The Sporting Age, starring Belle Bennett.

The Revue Cinema dates to 1912. It is a charming neighborhood theater with a notable history. (It is also home to the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Canada's only such festival.) But what's more, the Revue Cinema and Louise Brooks have a history. Over the last few years, the theater has shown a couple of Brooks' other films, including Pandora's Box in 2014, Beggars of Life in 2015 as part of their IT girl series, and most recently, Diary of a Lost Girl in early 2022. Evidently, Louise Brooks has at least a few fans in Toronto. Did I already say that ?

Beggars of Life -- a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer once described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life” -- is widely regarded as Louise Brooks' best American silent, as well as the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. The Revue Cinema screening is an event not to be missed.

Want to learn more? Allow me to recommend Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, by yours truly, Thomas Gladysz. This first ever study of the film features more than 50 little seen images, as well as a foreword by actor William Wellman, Jr., son of the legendary director. The book is available on amazon.com (in Canada) and amazon.com (in the United States).

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Rare Louise Brooks film to screen in Toronto, Canada

The rarely screened silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks film, Prix de beauté, will be shown on Saturday, December 3 at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Canada. This special screening will feature a print, courtesy of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna in Italy, of the restored original silent version. And what's more, the film will be introduced by series curator Alicia Fletcher and will feature live musical accompaniment by Marilyn Lerner. More information about this event can be found HERE.


According to the Toronto International Film Festival website, "Weimar-era icon and prototypical Hollywood iconoclast Louise Brooks stars in Prix de beauté as Lucienne, a typist who enters a newspaper beauty contest and wins a chance to compete for the Miss Europe title in Spain. A tale of morbid jealousy and revenge co-scripted by G.W. Pabst and René Clair (the latter was intended to direct before Italian expat Augusto Genina was brought in), Prix de beauté had the unfortunate distinction of being filmed as a late-era silent, only to be hastily re-edited and released as a sound film (with Brooks dubbed by a French actress). The end result was a film out of step with the times in its format, yet one which was distinctly modern in its fashion sense, with Jean Patou of the famed House of Patou outfitting Brooks for her final starring role. The sophisticated originator of women’s sportswear who eradicated the flapper style of the ’20s and ushered in the dropped hemlines and elegance of the ’30s, Patou was the perfect outfitter for the rebellious, singularly fashion-forward actor. And, as the inventor of ladies’ knitted swimwear, he was also the perfect match for the film’s bathing-beauty sequence."

 

The internationalism of Prix de beauté is suggested in this vintage poster, which names the film’s American star, French actors, and Italian director, and also shows the flags of the four nations whose languages the film would be dubbed – Italy, France, England, and Germany.

Despite its delayed, problematic release (having to be converted from a silent to a sound feature), Prix de beauté was a considerable hit at the time of its release. It played continuously for a couple of months -- at a time most films only played a week -- following its May 9, 1930 debut at the Max Linder-Pathe in Paris, France. And soon thereafter, the film was shown all over Europe, in Northern Africa, parts of Asia, and in South America and the Caribbean well into the mid-1930s. In fact, the film remained in circulation for some six years. It was often revived in France. And, it played in present day Algeria, Brazil, Iceland, Japan, Madagascar, Turkey and the former USSR. And speaking of former nation states, the film even played in the one-time city-state of Danzig. Prix de beauté had legs (pun intended).

For example, records show that the film played in Havana, Cuba in March 1932, and then debuted at the Haitiana theatre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti later that year, in December 1932. Ever green, Prix de beauté returned to the Haitiana theatre in October 1933, April 1935, and July 1936 - that's six years after is debut. Truth be told, the film played just about everywhere, except for the United States and Canada.

Haitian newspaper ad

More about Prix de beauté can be found on the Louise Brooks Society website HERE. The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Louise Brooks painting found in Sacramento

Yesterday, my wife and I and my sister-in-law spent some time at the Crocker Holiday Artisan Market, an event held annually at the Scottish Rite Center in Sacramento, California. This three-day bazaar is a benefit meant to support participating artists, the Crocker Art Museum’s exhibitions and educational programs, the Creative Arts League of Sacramento, and other community programs. While browsing among the 100+ artists, vendors and creators, I came across a rather charming portrait of Louise Brooks.


This small painting is the work of Grass Valley artist Cheryl Wilson, who kindly allowed me to photograph her booth. I like her work, and really like her portrait of Louise Brooks, though I did not purchase it as I am budgeting for other Louise Brooks stuff. It was priced at $100.00, should anyone want to contact the artist.

I spent a little time perusing the artist's blog and found she has painting portraits of Louise Brooks in the past. HERE is a blog post to a 2021 blog post showing another portrait. And HERE is another blog post from 2019 which depicts another portrait of Louise Brooks. And, HERE and HERE are two more portraits of Louise B. If you like this work, I would encourage everyone to check out the artists blog (at https://cherylwilsonstudio.blogspot.com/), which features other portraits of other early film stars such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Leila Hyams and others.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Unlikely Louise Brooks, number 3 in an occasional series

This post is the third in an occasional series focusing on unusual finds, unusual material, and unusual connections all related to Louise Brooks - even if only tangentially. I run across these sorts of things regularly... and this is one way to share them with my readers. Scroll through the preceding blog posts to read the first two entries in this series.

I suppose I could have titled this blog post, "The time that Louise Brooks partied with Louise Brooks." The Washington D.C. newspaper clipping shown below appeared in the Washington Times on Monday, April 7, 1930. It documents a day in the life of the silent film star, and the time she encountered another (lesser known) celebrity of the time with whom she shared a name.


Remarkably, our Louise Brooks (who was the guest of sometime paramour George Marshall), is described as an "erstwhile Movie star," suggesting her career was thought to be over. In fact, it was slowly grinding to a halt, though within a year, Brooks would be cast in three more films.

The other Louise Brooks (1912-1965) was born Evalyn Louise Brooks; as mentioned in the article, she was the daughter Mrs. Cromwell MacArthur, an American socialite whose four marriages included seven years as the first wife of General of the Army and future WWII legend Douglas MacArthur. (There is no indication that the General was in attendance.) Mrs. Cromwell MacArthur was at one time "considered one of Washington's most beautiful and attractive young women".

After her father's death, her mother married prominent investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury.If that name sounds familiar, it should, as his Palm Beach villa, El Mirasol, was the estate that was trashed by W.C. Fields and company (including Louise Brooks) in the 1926 film, It's the Old Army Game! Read more about that location shoot on John Bengtson's superb blog, Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more).

And here they all are, together. How unlikely!

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Powered By Blogger