Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Garbo DVD set on the way

September will see the release of a new box set of Greta Garbo DVD's. Garbo - The Signature Collection includes many of the actresses best known films including Anna Christie (English and German versions), CamilleAnna KareninaNinotchka,Queen ChristinaGrand HotelMata Hari and three silent films, Flesh and the DevilThe Temptress, and The Mysterious Lady. There are also a number of worthwhile extras including the TCM documentary Garbo, the surviving 9-minute fragment from The Divine Woman (the only lost Garbo film), an alternate ending and a theatrical trailer, a photo gallery and more. In addition, there will be audio commentary on Flesh and the Devil by Garbo and Louise Brooks biographer Barry Paris; audio commentary on The Temptress by photo historian and author Mark A. Vieira; and audio commentary on Mysterious Lady by film historians Tony Maietta and Jeffrey Vance.

Mark A. Vieira's new book, Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy, will also hit stores in September. I have a copy, and can tell you it is  fabulous - a worthwhile addition to any Garbo or silent film bookshelf. Vieira is the author of a number of other books, including Sin in Soft Focus, a smashing pictorial survey of  pre-code films.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Library report

This weeks' trip to the San Francisco Public Library yielded some interesting and challenging material. A few inter-library loans were waiting for me. I dug some good Denishawn material out of both the Eire Dispatch Herald (from Eire, Pennslyvannia) and the Rocky Mount Evening Telegram (from Rocky Mount, North Carolina). Curiously, the Dispatch Herald arrived instead of theEire Daily Times, which I had requested and which apparently is not available for loan. . . . And the microfilm record of theRocky Mount Evening Telegram was incomplete. I usually approach a Denishawn performance date a week to ten days out, scanning the newspaper microfilm for relevant articles, pictures and advertisements. I was doing so when I noticed that the filmed newspaper record jumped from February to July! How unfortunate, as I had found some interesting articles up to just two days prior to the performance. I would guess that the newspaper for Rocky Mount simply doesn't exist anymore. And a likely review of this particular Denishawn performance is lost.

I also scanned a few months of the Oregon Daily Journal (from Portland, Oregon). I found some worthwhile film reviews and advertisements, including the one pictured above. At this particular screening of Just Another Blonde, the psychic Gene Dennis (1903 - 1948) made an appearance. I have run across her name before, and am always curious about the live acts which accompanied screenings of Louise Brooks' films. Apparently, Gene Dennis (who hailed from Atchison, Kansas) was well known in her day, and made a number of accurate predictions. She was also the first psychic to appear on national radio.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Artist AnaRosa

AnaRosa is a talented artist whose affection for Louise Brooks comes across in her art. According to the artist's webpage, "AnaRosa has been honoring the life and image of Louise Brooks through her art for many years. Her renditions of the beautiful 'Jazz Baby' of the Art Deco era captures the everlasting essence of the flapper girl as well as the inner light of a woman who captivated the world and remains a mystifying legend." AnaRosa's Brooks' paintings are especially appealing. I own a couple of her pieces, including the one shown here.

The artist has said, "I'd love to be known as the girl who paints Lulu". For more on Ana Rosa, check out her website at

Thursday, July 28, 2005

More pics: "Smoking with Lulu" rehearsal

Posted a half-dozen pics from the rehearsal for Smoking with Lulu, the play by Janet Munsil recently performed at Lulupalooza. Shown here is Elizabeth Cusack (Louise), Stephanie Kelley (Lulu), and Mark Adams (Kenneth Tynan) - photo by Amie Oliver. These images can be found at the LBS at Flickr webpage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lulupalooza pictures

Harry Kollatz, the organizational genius behind Lulupalooza, has sent me a bunch of photos taken at the recent Richmond, Virginia event. He asked me to share them with everyone. This picture (depicting a scene from Smoking With Lulu by Janet Munsil) and others can be found online at the newly established webpage, LBS at Flickr. (Flickr is a popular photo sharing website. It's cool, check it out.) 

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Louise Brooks Society + Google = Logogle. Check it out.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Siouxsie Sioux

A July 22, 2005 article on the Guardian website about musical maverick Siouxsie Sioux states that the the one-time punk rocker claims Louise Brooks as her inspiration. Click here to see the profile of Siouxsie Sioux on the British newspaper website.

First record bought: ABC by the Jackson Five
Favourite film: Kill Bill
Record to grab in an emergency: Akhnaten by Philip Glass
Inspiration: Louise Brooks
Recent discovery: Telstar by the Tornados

Friday, July 22, 2005

New articles - "Louise Bobs Her Hair"

There is an article about Louise Brooks and Lulupalooza in the current issue of CityPaper from Washington D.C. (CityPaper is the free weekly.) The article can also be found online for the next four weeks.

And today's "Weekend Update" in the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran this bit. "Lulupalooza '05: A Celebration of the Cinematic Life of Louise Brooks" screens cult favorites from the'20s and'30s, beginning with remarks and special presentations at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., running through 10:30 p.m. Sunday. All events are at the Firehouse, except for the 1:30 p.m. Saturday showing of "Pandora's Box" at the Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St. $37.50 weekend; $17.50 per day; $5 per film, except "Pandora's Box," which is $12.50. or 355-2001." Don't forget !

"That '20s Girl: Lulupalooza celebrates the work of a screen goddess" appears in the current issue of Style Weekly, a free newspaper in Richmond, Virginia. The article can be found on-line as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Louise Brooks' art from 1974

I just came across this rather interesting art depicting Louise Brooks. It dates from 1974. The piece, entitled "Louise Brooks," is by Frank Martin (b. 1921). It is an intaglio print on paper and measures 371 x 273 mm. The work is owned by the Tate Gallery in England, and was presented to that museum by Christie's Contemporary Art through the Institute of Contemporary Prints in 1975. Does anyone know anything more about this artist? (Stylistically, the piece looks like its from the 1920's. For me, it recalls the Cubist aesthetic and the work of Leger.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Diary of a Lost Girl shows in Columbus, Ohio

Diary of a Lost Girl will be screened tonight in Columbus, Ohio as part of an ongoing film series. According to theColumbusalive website. "The Summer Abroad series continues on Wednesday, July 20, with two extraordinary examples of early German cinema: G.W. Pabst’s silent classic Diary of a Lost Girl, in which the luminous Louise Brooks is a naïve girl who stumbles onto the path to ruin when she becomes pregnant, and Fritz Lang’s M, one of the first, best and most thoughtful serial killer movies ever made. Between M star Peter Lorre’s constant humming of Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” and the live accompaniment toDiary by Scrawl’s Sue Harshe, you’ll be leaving the theater with a song in your head."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Gavin Lambert (1924 - 2005)

"Gavin Lambert, an incisive observer of life in Hollywood through his screenplays, novels and film histories, died on Sunday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 80." For those interested in early film, Gavin Lambert is best  known as the author of outstanding biographies of Norma Shearer and Nazimova. (The Nazimova biography earned the William K. Everson Film History Award from the National Board of Review.)  Lambert also authored "On Cukor," and appeared in the recent documentary. I recently read Lambert's biography of Shearer, and enjoyed it a great deal. And his book on Nazimova sits on my stack of books I must read. I remember speaking with Gavin Lambert on the phone a few years back regarding his books.

According to an Associated Press article, "In April, Lambert joined author Gore Vidal and others at a motion picture academy salute to Greta Garbo. That's believed to be one of his last public appearances." A short biography of author and Oscar-nominated screenwriter appeared in today'sNew York Times. Here is the link to a longer article in the Hollywood Reporter.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Australian crime fiction writer Kerry Greenwood

I received an email recently from Mark Armstrong-Roper, a longtime LBS correspondent from Melbourne, Australia. Mark wrote to tell me about an Australian crime fiction writer named Kerry Greenwood, whose work certainly shows some awareness of Louise Brooks. Mark wrote "I live not far from the Australian crime writer Kerry Greenwood. In fact she has the launches of her new books at my local cinema. I've been to several of these launches and at one a few years back she mentioned that she was a big fan of Louise Brooks and had modelled some of the aspects of her 1920's detective heroine, Phryne Fisher, on Louise. Over the years with various repackagings and reprintings of the series of now 15 books the artwork on the covers has come to resemble LB more and more, until with Kerry's current publisher, Allen & Unwin, the similarity is more than just a coincidence! Have a look:"

I checked out the author's website and agree with Mark. The books look appealing. Has anyone read any of these works ? Descriptive text for the most recent title in the series, Death by Water, reads thus: "Phryne Fisher, with her Lulu bob, green eyes, Cupid's bow lips and Chanel travelling suits, is exactly the sort of elegant sleuth to take on a ring of jewellery thieves aboard the high seas - or at least, aboard the SS Hinemoa on a luxury cruise to New Zealand. With the Maharani - the Great Queen of Sapphires - as the bait, Phryne rises magnificently to the challenge." Here is my favorite cover, the first book in the series.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lulupalooza article

There is an article in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch about Lulupalooza. The article, "Lulu of a film fest recalls Jazz Age," can also be found on-line. The two-day festival starts next Saturday. For more info, see

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Around reading (Ali Smith and Toby Litt)

I recently received a copy of New Writing 13, a literary journal from England. This 350-page publication contains "new writing from established writers and names to watch" from around the British Isles. Admittedly, I am not very familar with contemporary British lit. The only authors I recognized in this 46-author collection are David Mitchell, John Berger, Fay Weldon, Kate Atkinson, and Muriel Spark. (For those interested, here is the page on the book.) However, I did recognize the names of the journal's two guest editors, Ali Smith and Toby Litt. Each are themselves authors with a handful of books to their credit. Each author has been critically acclaimed. And each share a particular interest in - Louise Brooks.

In speaking about her first book, Free Love and Other Stories (Virago, 1994), Ali Smith stated in an interview with the Times of London that her editor "kindly let me have the cover I wanted, a picture of Louise Brooks from the G. W. Pabst film Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)." ( link to article ) Like many first books, it was published in a small edition, gained a few reviews, and quietly won a prize. In another interview, Smith noted, "My first book, a collection of short stories called Free Love, had almost no promotion at all. It had a charming photo of Louise Brooks on it, though, and was an interesting size, slimmer and longer than your usual book of short stories, and has become, apparently, very rare and highly collectable. That's what comes of a *really* tiny print run." On another occassion, the author added "Best was when I saw a man in front of me in a queue buying my first book. That was very exciting. I think it was the picture of Louise Brooks that did it for him. I often wonder if he liked the stories." I have been searching the internet in vain for a scan of a first edition of Ali Smith's first book - with the Louise Brooks cover, but have been unable to find an image. Does anyone have a copy ? Would anyone be able to send a scan ?

It was a Louise Brooks book cover that caught Toby Litt's attention. In a 2004 interview with the London Independent ( link to article ), the British novelist said "I'd never heard of Adolfo Bioy-Casares' The Invention of Morel (New York Review of Books £7.99). Initially attracted to it by the beautiful cover photo of silent film actress Louise Brooks, I found it to be an equally beautiful novel of unrequited love and parallel worlds." Elsewhere, in writing about Bioy-Casares' seminal 1940 novella, Litt said "This is a strange book. . . . The narrator falls in love with one of them, Faustine. . . . Faustine is based upon the great silent film actress Louise Brooks, star of Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. (It was her picture on the cover that first attracted me to this book.)" **  Notably, Pandora's Box also makes Toby Litt's list of the all-time top ten films on the author'swebsite.

Perhaps it's just coincidence, but here we have two "emerging" 21st century authors who have an interest in a 20th century icon and muse, Louise Brooks. Has anyone read either author?

** The Louise Brooks Society webpage devoted to Adolpho Bioy-Casares played some small part in putting the actress on the cover of the NYBR reissue of The Invention of Morel, a classic work of "magical realism." Prior to its publication in 2003, the publisher (who had come across the LBS webpage) contacted me about finding an appropriate image for the cover. I steered them toward this picture of Brooks asleep and dreaming, books at her feet.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Reading around

Since finishing A Beautiful Fairy Tale: the Life of Lois Moran, by Richard Buller, I have been reading around. I have been dipping into three books of late, skimming or reading chapters or chunks of the book that interested me. One of them is Allan Dwan: the last pioneer by Peter Bogdanovitch. (Yes, that Peter Bogdanovitch. The acclaimed movie director started his career in film writing books.) Though not so well known today, Dwan made many highly regarded films in the silent and early sound era. Among his silents are Robin HoodStage StruckManhandledTin GodsThe Iron Mask, etc.... Dwan worked with Gloria Swanson, Douglas Fairbanks, Marion Davies, and others - and Bogdanovitch's book is an interesting, quick survey of his accomplished career. Another book I've been reading from is Malcolm St. Clair, by Ruth Anne Dwyer. Clair was responsible for such hits as Are Parents People?The Grand Duchess and the WaiterGentlemen Prefer Blondes, as well as three films featuring Louise Brooks, A Social CelebrityThe Show-Off and The Canary Murder Case. The extensive material from Dwyer's book on The Canary Murder Case is especially interesting.

The book that I have been looking at most recently is Hollywood and the Culture Elite, by Peter Decherney. Published by Columbia University Press, this somewhat academic book takes a look at the little known connections between the film industry and various professors, academic institutions, museums and other members of the so-called cultural elite. "Peter Decherney explores the development of a symbiotic and unlikely relationship between the film industry and America's stewards of high culture. Formed during Hollywood's Golden Age (1915-1960), this partnership ultimately insured prominent places in American culture for both the movies and elite cultural institutions. As the book delves into the ties between Hollywood and various cultural institutions, an intriguing cast of characters emerges, including the poet Vachel Lindsay, Hollywood producers Adolph Zukor and Joseph Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller, and film curator Iris Barry."  I'm skimming this book for factual material regarding the beginnings of film criticism / film history. (The book is not bad.)

I recently scored an inexpensive copy of An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930, by Denise Lowe. The book is worthwhile as a reference work (if gotten cheap), as it brings together much information. I immediately checked out the entry on Louise Brooks, however, and discovered a factual error. (Brooks' second husband was identified as "Deering Doyle.") There were a few other slight mistakes in the Brooks' entry, and I ran across typos in other entries. Nevertheless, it is a 623-page book I am glad to have. Has anyone else checked out this book ? Opinions ?

And today I received in the mail a copy of Lina: DeMille's Godless Girl, by Lina Basquette. I hadn't even known this book existed until a week ago, when I was scouring the bibliography of 
An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films. I immediately ordered a used copy - the book was published by a small press in 1990, and is scarce. (I managed to get a signed copy - and paid dearly for it.) Basquette is an interesting figure in 1920's film history. She was married to Sam Warner (of the Warner Bros.), and appeared in some 50 motion pictures includingCecil B. DeMille's sensational The Godless Girl (with Marie Prevost). I first became aware of Basquette through the Barry Paris biography. Basquette and Brooks appeared together in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1925. Basquette writes of that time, "Louie the Fourteenth did not have a long run and after it closed Ethel Shutta and I were put in the current edition of the Follies at the New Amsterdam. To bolster publicity for the show, we arrived at the theater in taxies accompanied by sirens and motorcycle police. Then as now, publicity stunts were used wherever possible." I am looking forward to reading more from this book.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Yesterday I went to the library

Yesterday I went to the library, where a half-dozen inter-library loans were waiting. I got some good Denishawn material (articles, reviews, and advertisements) from the Rockford Republic (from Rockford, Illinois) and St. Joseph Gazette (from St. Joseph, Missouri). I also went through a couple of months of the Daily Progress (from Charlottesville, Virginia), as I had recently come across a fleeting reference to a little known Denishawn performance which took place in the Summer of 1923. Apparently, this particular performance on the campus of the University of Virginia was occasioned by that fact that Robert Gorham, who was then a member of Denishawn, had been a student at this historic university a couple of years earlier. (While Louise Brooks was a member of Denishawn, the dancers had summers off; the company only toured during the Fall, Winter, and Spring months.)

About half way through microfilm for July, I came across a couple of articles about the performance. One article printed the program notes for the evening, and from what I could discern, Brooks did not participate. Also, she wasn't mentioned in any of the articles, as was Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Martha Graham, Lenore Scheffer, Charles Weidman and accompaniest Lois Horst. I wonder, why weren't Brooks and the other Denishawn dancers present? What was Brooks doing during the Summer of 1923?

I also went through some microfilm of the New Orleans Item, and the Spokesman Review (from Spokane, Washington), where I gathered a couple more film reviews. Then, I went through three years of microfilm of McCall's magazine. (Yes, the same McCall's our mothers and grandmothers read!) While reading A Beautiful Fairy Tale, the biography of Lois Moran, author Richard Buller (who I just recently had the pleasure to meet) mentioned that critic Robert Sherwood had written about Stella Dallas in the pages of the magazine. I was intrigued, as I didn't know McCall's covered films! As it turned out, starting in 1926, the future Pulitzer Prise winning playwright wrote about one "film of the month" every issue. His picks included Stella DallasThe Big ParadeThe Sorrows of SatanThe Circus, etc. . . . The only Brooks' film mentioned was The Show-Off,which received his "also recommended" notation in December, 1926 and January, 1927.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

HE Who Gets Slapped

Once again, I am watching the perverse film, He Who Gets Slapped (1924), which is showing on TCM. The film stars Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Norma Shearer and Ford Sterling. Each are excellent in their roles. If you haven't seen this sublime film, you should!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Referenced in China Daily

Louise Brooks was referenced in the July 6th edition of China Daily. In an article on hair entitled "China's first lady of long hair reveals scalp secret," Zhao Feifei wrote " The styles date from the 16th, 18th or early 20th century down to a quiff right out of the 1960s, a bob in the style of Louise Brooks  . . . . " Louise Brooks is certainly a world wide cultural icon.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

SFSFF first day

Lots of fun last night at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The 1926 Harold Lloyd film, For Heaven's Sake (1926), was screened to applause and laughter. Suzanne Lloyd, Harold's granddaughter and the author of three books about the great comedian, was on-hand to introduce the film. (She was interviewed on-stage by Frank Buxton. As a young man, Frank was the bartender in a play called "Three Men on a Horse" with Buster Keaton in 1949. He then went on to a highly accomplished career in TV and films, including working with Woody Allen and writing, producing and directing shows like "The Odd Couple," "Happy Days," and "Mork and Mindy.") Suzanne Lloyd was also on hand to sign books. We chatted a bit at the booktable. (This is the forth event I have done around one of her books.) Suzanne is very nice, and told stories about her grandfather - who raised her, and a trip they took together with King Vidor and Colleen Moore, her godmother.

I was working the booktable, and other friends dropped by to say "hello." Philip Ituarte, the Jeanne Eagels expert, was up from Los Angeles. At long last, I was able to pass along an "as told to" article on excercise by the actress, "How I Keep Fit," which I came across in the Hollywood Daily Citizen. This 1927 piece includes sage observations such as "I do the 'bear-walk' before every performance." Be sure and check out his Jeanne Eagels website at Also stopping by was my old pal, Remy Charlip - the dancer and acclaimed children's book author. A long time ago (when he was part of the Merce Cunningham dance company), Remy also worked as an arttist designing book covers. He, along with his friend Edward Gorey, worked for Doubleday - and designed many memorable dust jackets. Among Remy's designs is the original cover for Buster Keaton's autobiography.

I am looking forward to today's festival. Hopefully, I will be able to see a film or two.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Baba Yaga

Thanx to my friend voxylou I was able to view Baba Yaga (1973), an Italian film based on the comix of Guido Crepax. In this sometimes surreal, very 70's, almost gothic film, Isabelle De Funes plays the bobbed-hair Valentina. She resembles Valentina more than she looks like Louise Brooks (the inspiration for Valentina, the comix character by Crepax). Also appearing in the film is Oscar-nominee Caroll Baker. Along with the movie was a brief Italian documentary about Crepax and the comics. Louise Brooks is mentioned. Has anyone else ever seen Baba Yaga? Apparently, it is available on DVD in the United States and Canada. For those keeping score, here is the IMdb page on the film.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Saved from ignominy

Here is a link to an excellent article by Mick LaSalle which appeared in today's San Francisco Chronicle. It is about Leatrice Fountain, the daughter of John Gilbert, and her campaign to restore her father's reputation. The article can be found at ( Pictured below is Gilbert and his one time lover, Greta Garbo. )

[ FYI: After the screening of The Big Parade at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, 
Leatrice Fountain will be signing copies of Dark Star - the rather excellent book she wrote about her father. Though the book is now out-of-print and somewhat hard-to-find, two dozen copies will be for sale courtesy of the author and The Booksmith. ]

Monday, July 4, 2005

Travelling radio station

Here is another item I found in the Riverside Daily Press. This 1927 article talks about radio station 6XBR, the "travelling broadcast station of Warner Brothers" (see the truck pictured above), which was to visit Riverside and broadcast live from the sight of a motion picture production (featuring Patsy Ruth Miller and others). In my research, I've come across references to other early radio broadcasts from Hollywood. I wonder if any records exist of such programs? And if the programs themselves still exist ? I wonder if Louise Brooks ever appeared on radio in the 1920's or early 1930's? Any radio buffs out there familiar with these earliest days of radio ?

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Another Sacramento trip

I'm just back from the California State Library in Sacramento, where I spent a day looking at microfilm in search of  yet moreLouise Brooks material. Though I didn't find alot of stuff, I did find a few really choice items. Quality, rather than quantity, ruled the day.

I continued my survey of California newspapers. This time, I went through more than three years of the Riverside Daily Press, where I found a handful of short articles and advertisements for Brooks' silent American films. The Riverside Daily Press was a typical small town newspaper, and the articles were largely composed of studio supplied copy. Nothing special . . . . nothing I hadn't seen before. It was only when I came to 1929 and a March screening of The Canary Murder Case that things got interesting. By then, the paper had gotten its own film critic. In "Canary Murder Case Brimfull of Mystery," local reviewer Rex Dane would write "Louise Brooks, as the Canary, the murdered woman; James Hall and Jean Arthur are excellent in their roles."

I then moved on the Santa Ana Register, which was far less productive than the Riverside paper. This small town had only a couple of theaters, and most films only played for two or three days. I went through the first six months of 1926 and was about to give up when I came across a rather unusual advertisement. It was for a screening of The American Venus and It's the Old Army Game! This Paramount double feature is one of the few instances from the 1920's (that I've come across) of two Brooks' films being played on the same bill. I wonder how many Santa Ana patrons noticed the petite brunette wth the distintive bob?

I figured little could be gained by looking at anymore of the Santa Ana Register, so I turned to the Los Angeles Examiner. Previously, I had uncovered a bunch of film reviews in this big city newspaper. So this time, I decided to search for news items which corresponded to articles I had already uncovered in the Los Angeles Times. I found small pieces on Brooks' marriage and divorce, her 1932 bankruptcy, and the time in 1927 that she was the guest of honor at the Montmarte Cafe. Good stuff, but nothing new . . . . And then - I found something that really floored me.

This 1940 article told how Brooks' suspicions of an ex-con led to his arrest "on suspicion of grand theft and issuing bad checks." Brooks herself had lost $2000 in what the paper described as a $147,000 "big Hollywood swindle." I hadn't ever seen this article, let alone this image of Brooks - and so, was very pleased to find it. (For more on this curious incident in Brooks' life, see pages 386-387 of the Barry Paris biography.)

I plan on returning to Sacramento at the end of August to look for more news items, and more film reviews on other California newspapers.
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