Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Some Charlie Chaplin news, and a bit of Louise Brooks too

First off, let me thank long-time friend Rena Azevedo Kiehn of the Niles Essanay Film Museum for sending me a pair of Louise Brooks face masks. What an unexpected delight. They should help fend off the coronavirus. I think they are very groovy, and they are much liked in this stay-at-home, go-out-very-little California household. Here are the two, modeled by yours truly.


Speaking of the Niles Essanay Film Museum. . . . the Fremont, California museum will be hold their annual Charlie Chaplin Days on June 26 through June 28, about a month from today. Unlike the real world events of the past, this year's event is going virtual due to the you know what. There are a bunch of activities planned, and I would encourage everyone to check things out come June.

And speaking of Charlie Chaplin . . . . author and Chaplin authority Dan Kamin has a new interactive presentation available called Red Letter Days Live. It is a complement to his superb book, Charlie Chaplin Red Letter Days, which I wrote about for Huffington Post back in 2017. (Read that piece HERE.) Red Letter Days Live is a multi-media work which looks at the public and private worlds of the comedic legend and how the great comedian affected the WWI and the "war to end all war" affected him. What follows is a short video by Kamin about his new work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Video Diary of a Lost Girl - Louise Brooks homage from Pandora's Talk Box Productions

Here's something unusual from, a Louise Brooks homage titled Video Diary of a Lost Girl from a indy film group called Pandora's Talk Box Productions. This 2012 video, which I only recently came across on YouTube, described itself as "A rock and roll horror fantasy where we meet the immortal Louise and her beloved Charlie. Unfortunately due to Louise's supernatural origins, every man she sleeps with must die so that she can survive! A heart felt love letter to 80's horror, punk, VHS and German expressionism." 

I think most fans of Louise Brooks will pick-up on the various allusions relevant to our favorite silent film star. The cast includes Priscilla McEver as Louise, Chris Shields as Charlie, Casey Puccini as Michael, Monica Panzarino as Jane, and Erica Gressman as Emily. Video Diary of a Lost Girl was named  given an Audience Award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and named an Official Selection at the Brisbane Underground Film Festival, an Official Selection at the South Texas Underground Film Festival, and an Official Selection: Dark Carnival Film Festival. Here is the trailer, which should give you a taste of the film:

I understand there has been a video release. Also, Video Diary of a Lost Girl screens on TruIndie TV. However, back on March 19, the film's Facebook page announced "While everyone is quarantined for the next few weeks (or months?), Video Diary of a Lost Girl will be available to watch for free on Youtube! The link below is unlisted, so all I ask is to share the link with a friend who is bored and needs a good laugh and/or scare! Happy Apocalypse my fellow demon babies!" The link to the temporary free full version on YouTube can be found HERE.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

As seen on TV - Louise Brooks the Persistent Star gets screen time during LA news story.

My book, Louise Brooks the Persistent Star, received some screen time the other day during a news story on Los Angeles TV.  The 2018 book can be seen over Jeff Mantor's right shoulder throughout the short news segment on Larry Edmunds bookshop. The online text version of this news story can be viewed HERE, while the video can be viewed HERE.

The Larry Edmunds Bookshop has been a Hollywood landmark since 1938. Now, it is the last of its kind. Like many small retailers, including and especially bookstores, the Larry Edmunds bookshop is struggling to make ends meet. Just recently, they launched a GoFundMe campaign to make ends meet. It is a worthwhile cause -  especially if you love books & film, and one I would suggest everyone contribute at least a little to. Already, everyone from director Steven Soderbergh to screenwriter Marti Noxon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to film historians James Curtis (W. C. Fields) and Donna Hill (Rudolph Valentino) to and the czar of film noir Eddie Muller and have made donations. And seemingly, so have the spirits of Fred Astaire and Rock Hudon. As well as the Louise Brooks Society.

If you would rather order a book, why not do so? Chances are, the Larry Edmunds bookshop has the film book you are looking for. Some of their current selection is how below. Check out their website HERE. Or check out their Facebook page HERE.

At the end of February, I did one of the very last events put on by the store before the Covid-19 pandemic closed things down. It was a book signing in conjunction with the showing of Pandora's Box at the American Cinematheque / Egyptian theatre in Hollywood. I left some autographed books with Jeff which were put on sale. And that's why Louise Brooks the Persistent Star is on display at the bookshop. Jeff should have autographed copies of each of my recent books. See this EARLIER BLOG.

Speaking of my books, I want to thank the CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association) for featuring my titles on a recent April blog post, "Books, Books, Books, 7th edition." Be sure and check it out.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Update on Around the World with Louise Brooks

This blog post is my first this month. Instead of blogging regularly, I have been concentrating my efforts on my two volume book project, Around the World with Louise Brooks, which I hope to finish by September and publish by November. Volume one is subtitled "The Actress." Volume two is subtitled "The Films." I have completed about eithy percent of the books. And can say both volumes will contains hundreds of images and ten of thousands of words of text. New information will be revealed, some of it a bit startling (at least to those deeply interested in Louise Brooks). I expect each 8" x 10" volume will run between four hundred to five hundred pages.

Around the World with Louise Brooks is something different, even unprecedented. This is not the story of Louise Brooks, Kansas-born American silent film actress. Rather, this is the story of Louise Brooks, international movie star. Most all of the images in each book have been sourced from international publications - and all together, they tell Brooks story from a  different perspective.

Lately, I have broke new ground in unearthing material for the first time from Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Bermuda. Here is an image I just came across from Argentina, which I would like to share. It was colorized, and appears below as it did in 1928. I am not sure if it will appear in my new book, but if it does, it will appear in black and white, as the interiors of Around the World with Louise Brooks are in black and white.

In fact, Around the World with Louise Brooks will feature material from more than 50 countries including The Ukraine, Vietnam, Poland and Iceland. There is material from a few nations which no longer exist, like The Free State of Danzig, and a few countries yet to be born, like Indonesia.

Did you know that a portrait of a young Louise Brooks first appeared in Europe nearly half a year before she made her first film? Or that the uncredited actress was pictured in film stills published in South America which were used to promote The Street of Forgotten Men, her first film? Or that her sensational 1929 film Diary of a Lost Girl was shown in Japan under a different title not long after its release in Germany? Or that the French-made Prix de beaute was shown in Haiti on a number of occasions in the early 1930s? Or that Brooks name appears in advertised credits in New Zealand for King of Gamblers, a film from which her role was cut? All this and more in Around the World with Louise Brooks.

As mentioned, most all of the images in each book have been sourced from international publications. The only exception is a chapter from volume one, "Mit Anderen Worten: Louise Brooks en los Estados Unidos," or "In Other Words: Louise Brooks in the United States." It surveys the actress career through America's many non-English language ethnic and emigre newspapers and magazines. Just lately I have added a few "exciting" pieces from Hungarian-American and Slovenian-American newspapers. They join Russian, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish-American publications. Want to know how the German-made Pandora's Box was promoted in the German-American press when it first showed in the United States? You can find out in Around the World with Louise Brooks. Admittedly, there are a few English-language clippings in this chapter, but they hail from American territories like the United States Virgin Islands, and a Japanese-English newspaper serving the population of pre-statehood Hawai'i. Here below is something remarkable, a bilingual English-Yiddish clipping about Brooks' marriage to Eddie Sutherland which leads off "Mit Anderen Worten: Louise Brooks en los Estados Unidos." It appeared in the Jewish Forward, which was published in New York City.

A cleaned-up version of the above piece appears in the book. A Yiddish piece that won't appear (there is too much other material) which is shown below is this remarkable conglomeration of 1928 advertisements featuring Howard Hawks' A Girl in Every Port, William Wellman's Wings, and an early stage adaption of Dracula, with immigrant Bela Lugosi in the title role.

Besides "Mit Anderen Worten: Louise Brooks en los Estados Unidos," other chapters in the first volume include "New Zealand’s Shaped Text Ads" (a visual delight for typographers) and "Louise Brooks as Modan Gāru" (which looks at Brooks' popularity in Japan in the 1920s). There are also individual chapters featuring vintage postcards from around the world, trade ads, and magazine covers - each with dozens of examples. There is also a chapter of magazine portraits, one of curiosities and odds 'n ends, and another looking at Brooks' long running relationship with Canada. Did you know that Canada was the first foreign country Brooks ever visited, as well as one of the last she ever visited....

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

New Find 7 - Extremely Rare Louise Brooks Puzzle from Before She Entered Films

There is still a lot of interesting Louise Brooks & silent film material yet to discover. This post is the seventh in an ongoing series highlighting some of the newly found material I have just recently come across while stuck at home due to the corona-virus. With time on my hands, I have turned to picking through some of the many online databases and archives - some of which are newly accessible (due to the physical restrictions put on researchers because of the corona-virus), and some of which I am returning to in order to more thoroughly explore their holdings. As I am always finding out, it pays to not only have more than one set of key words to search under, but to look in the most unlikely places. You never know what you will find. Be sure and follow this blog for more discoveries in the coming weeks. 

Before she entered films, Louise Brooks enjoyed a small but growing reputation as a showgirl. In 1924 and 1925, she performed briefly with both the George White Scandals and the Ziegfeld Follies, and on a few dozen occasions, her name and occasionally her image appeared in one or another of the various New York City newspapers, usually in conjunction with the Scandals or Follies, but sometimes not. Brooks' reputation, or "fame," was essentially local to the Big Apple until she posed for a series of mildly risque photos which ended-up in various low-brow magazines like Police Gazette or Art & Beauty, some of which had regional and even national distribution.

Such was the nature of Brooks' renown in the period after she left Denishawn and before her first screen role, an uncreditted bit part in The Street of Forgotten Men, which was released in July of 1925. All-in-all, it is uncommon to come across a mention or publicity bit for the actress from before that time.... Thus, I was surprised to come across the following "Puzzle Page," which mentions and depicts the actress. It appeared in the Taylor Daily Press on June 18, 1925. (The Taylor Daily Press newspaper is located in Taylor, Texas - a small town in the central part of the state.)

This contest, and the use of Brooks' image, must surely have been syndicated content - but, I have not been able to find any other instances of it in any other American newspapers. Here is a blow-up of the top middle section which references Brooks and her forthcoming appearance in The Street of Forgotten Men.

My apologies for the grainy, low resolution quality of the full page image - but that is as good as it gets. I printed out the page and cut out the pieces which show Louise Brooks. The portrait of the future actress, when reconstructed, resembles this image:

Here are the other two Puzzle Pages referenced in the initial piece. The first mentions "Miss Brooks," the second does not.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Louise Brooks retrospective in Switzerland postponed

A major Louise Brooks film retrospective - originally set to run March 30th through May 15 in Zurich, Switzerland - has been postponed due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Organized by Filmpodium in collaboration with Stadt Zurich and Cinematheque Suisse, the 15 film event is now set to run October 5 through November 15, 2020. The pandemic has hit Europe hard. And just yesterday, Germany cancelled its annual Octoberfest celebrations, which take place in September. So, keep your fingers crossed that this significant retrospective will take place as now rescheduled. More information may be found HERE.

I have been aware of this event for some time now, as I had been emailing back and forth with the director of FilmPodium earlier this year, exchanging information and images, helping source films, etc... The Louise Brooks Society is credited in the back of the program (pictured above) which will accompany the retrospective. BTW, the illustrated program including Elisabeth Bronfen's program essay, can be viewed online on the Issuu website. Pictured below is part of the poster which was displayed around Geneva, including on the local trams.

A statement from FilmPodium about the retrospective and its postponement reads: "Das Coronavirus hat Louise Brooks nicht aufgehoben, nur aufgeschoben: Im Herbst kommt dann doch noch die Filmreihe zu dem schönen Plakat, das in Zürich prangt.

Mit ihrem Bob wurde Louise Brooks (1906–1985) zur Ikone der Roaring Twenties; als Schauspielerin war sie ihrer Zeit voraus. Hollywood setzte die ausgebildete Tänzerin ab 1925 vor allem in Komödien ein, aber Howard Hawks machte sie 1928 in A Girl in Every Port zum kühlen Vamp und William A. Wellman entdeckte in Beggars of Life Brooksʼ Fähigkeiten im ernsten Fach. Erst in Europa entstanden ihre legendärsten Filme: G. W. Pabst besetzte sie als verführerische Lulu in Die Büchse der Pandora (1928) und als unterdrückten Freigeist in Tagebuch einer Verlorenen (1929); in Prix de beauté (1930) von Augusto Genina spielte Brooks ihre letzte Hauptrolle und mit 32 Jahren beendete sie ihre Karriere."

A view inside the FilmPodium theatre

Along with the above mentioned films, the retrospective is also set to include the surviving fragment of Now We're in the Air (1927), Its the Old Army Game (1926), The Show Off (1926), Love Em and Leave Em (1926), The Canary Murder Case (1929), God's Gift to Women (1931) and Overland Stage Raiders (1938). Also on the schedule is the outstanding documentary Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu (1998), and the recent feature The Chaperone (2018), which will be having its Swiss premiere.

A view outside the FilmPodium theatre

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Louise Brooks locations tour postponed until 2021

The Louise Brooks' locations tour, sponsored by the Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York and hosted by filmmaker Charlotte Siller, has been postponed. The tour, set to coincide with the 6th Nitrate Picture Show at the Museum, was originally scheduled for June 4–7, 2020, but has now been set back until June 3–6, 2021. More information can be found HERE.
The annual, increasingly popular Nitrate Picture Show event, was cancelled out of concern for the health and safety of attendees, staff, and volunteers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The descriptive text about the tour reads: "In 1956, at the encouragement of the Eastman Museum’s first curator of motion pictures, James Card, silent-film icon Louise Brooks relocated from New York City to Rochester. The move contributed to the film world’s rediscovery of the largely forgotten Brooks. A long-time admirer of her work in such classic films as Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl (both 1929), Card invited Brooks to use the museum and its film collection as a study center—a place where she could watch films, do research, and write about motion pictures and the people she knew. Brooks’s essays were ultimately published in the 1982 book Lulu in Hollywood.

For the first time, a limited number of Nitrate Picture Show guests will be given an exclusive one-hour bus tour of Rochester’s Park Avenue neighborhood where Brooks lived and wrote until her death in 1985. Led by Charlotte Siller, producer-director of A Curious Idol, a new documentary about Louise Brooks’s post-Hollywood years and the influence her life and career had on those in her wake, the tour will include two of her residences, the church she attended, the site of her last public appearance, and more. Note: This is a street tour of exterior locations only; no interiors of private property are included."

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