Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Beverly Cinema

New 35 mm prints of both Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl were screened at the New Beverly Theater in Los Angeles, California. Did anyone attend this double-bill?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from the Louise Brooks Society ( Its been a great year for all things Louise Brooks. (I will be away from this blog for a few days, but shall return with some notes and images from my recent trip to Detroit and Rochester.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pandora's Box makes the Top 10

Pandora's Box was listed among the top 10 DVD's of 2006 by Jeremy Osgood in the Chattanooga Pulse, (the alternative weekly serving Chattanooga, Tennessee). The Pulse noted, "Louise Brooks is utterly seductive as Lulu in this film from 1929, proving you don’t need sound to be sexy." This disc has sure been getting a lot of reviews.

I have also heard from an individual that the two copies of the DVD that he bought on-line were defective. Has anyone had a similar problem ?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Audiophile Audition

A review of the new Criterion DVD of Pandora's Box has appeared on the Audiophile Audition website. The review can be found here. The review starts by noting that G.W. Pabst's masterpiece of sexual suggestion "May be both most important film of the black-helmeted screen vixen as well as the most important German silent film."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A couple of unusual images

A couple of unusual images featuring Louise Brooks have shown up on eBay. One is of Brooks on the cover of the Feb 23, 1929 issue of the Police Gazette. This publication was something like today's National Enquirer.

The other is a publicity pic featuring Brooks, Gary Cooper, and Thelma Todd. This is the first image I've ever seen which shows Brooks and Cooper together. (Cooper was then, like Brooks, a Paramount player.) I'm not sure who the others in the pic are.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Peter Cowie's book

Dennis Drabelle's short write-up of Peter Cowie's new book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Foreverappears in tomorrow'sWashington Post.
Louise Brooks looked so relentlessly modern. Still does, in fact: Photos of the movie star in her prime show an androgynous beauty with coal-black hair cut into both forehead and sidewall bangs, along with features that diverge not a centimeter from classic lines. Her career was short (1925-38) but varied (she starred in G.W. Pabst's German silent "Pandora's Box" and an American talkie called "The Canary Murder Case"). More than anything else, she was a symbol of no-nonsense sex appeal laced with intelligence.

Peter Cowie, who knew Brooks at the end of her life (she died in 1985), has told her story and assembled hundreds of photos of her in Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever (Rizzoli, $55). "I had to run away from the world of celebrities," she explained regarding the implosion of her career. "For years it was a terrible life in limbo without friends or security or approval." But her luck turned when film historian James Card persuaded her to move to Rochester, N.Y. -- "this darling little town," she called it -- where he revived her movies and made much of her. She became a film historian herself, writing articles and memoirs and showing a facility for the well-turned phrase. Here is how she summed up Humphrey Bogart: "When a woman appealed to him, he waited for her the way the flame waits for the moth."

Friday, December 15, 2006

A short cut to stardom

A long article on Louise Brooks appears in Sunday's Telegraph, the UK newspaper.
Louise Brooks was hailed as 'the greatest actress in the history of moving pictures', and yet her career lasted only as long as her famous bob. In the centenary of Brooks's birth, Anne Billson explains what became of her.
Check it out here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lulu returns to Chicago

Through December 23rd, the Silent Theater company will stage their version of Lulu (the Wedekind plays staged as a silent film a la Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box) at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago, Illinois. Showtime is 8 pm daily - with an added show at 10:30 on December 16 and December 23.  If you haven't already seen this exceptional production in San Francisco, Chicago or New York City - here is your last chance to do so in 2006. It's received rave reviews everywhere it's played. Click here for more info

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Motor City

Just a brief entry, as I am about to take off for the City of Detroit where I will be visiting family and, over the course of the weekend, introducing Pandora's Box when it's shown at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. If you live in the area, please stop by and say hello and show your love of Lulu. I will be the nervous looking fellow near the front of the auditorium. For more info or tickets see  ( An article about these screenings appeared in the Metro Times, the alternative weekly for the Detroit area. The illustration for the article is nifty. Check it out.)  Coincedently, there is a new book out on the historic movie theaters of downtown Detroit, some of which showed Louise Brooks films when they first played in town. . . . . After Detroit, I will be making a quick stop in Rochester, New York where I will be visiting the George Eastman House to see the Louise Brooks exhibit and do a little research, both at the GEH and the Rochester public library. See you all on the other side.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

RadioLulu updates & stats

Yesterday, I added a half-dozen new tracks to RadioLulu. (I just bought a bunch of mp3 files of interesting and obscure tunes - mostly contemporary music. There's the Clan of Xymox, a rock song about Clara Bow, an instrumental piece inspired by Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By, etc....) Please tune in and give a listen. Otherwise, here's a recap of the station's November stats:

Total Listening Hours
Last Month: 853
This Month: 1155

Total Station Launches
Last Month: 1400
This Month: 1480

Station Presets
Last Month: 1097
This Month: 1136

Favorite Station Designations
Last Month: 26
This Month: 26

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Detroit, MI: Pandora's Box

"Pandora's Box" (Germany / 1929), starring Louise Brooks as Lulu, will be shown at the historic Detroit Film Theatre, which is located in the Detroit Institute of the Arts in downtown Detroit. The film will be screened December 8, 9, 10.

From the D.I.A. website: "A cause for celebration is this newly restored print of the classic that New York Times critic A.O. Scott recently called “a tour-de-force of cinematic eroticism.” The legendary Louise Brooks stars as Lulu, the singular “earthly being” who, though endowed with irresistible animal beauty, lacks all moral sense. While devoid of outright malevolence, Lulu, in her pursuit of pleasure, does evil unconsciously, bringing men—and women—to their knees. In the course of the film, Scott writes, Lulu is “a music hall performer and a rich man's bride, a murderess and a victim, a fugitive from justice and an object of desire. The mercurial nature of the sexual appetite is explored in set pieces that are at once frenzied and meticulously controlled. Brooks's performance has rarely, if ever, been matched on screen.” (110 min.) Fri. & Sat. at 7:00, Sun. at 4:00"

Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society (, will introduce the film. Gladysz will also speak about the actress, her centenary, and her connections to the Detroit area.  For more info or tickets see

Additional information on the history of the the 1927 theater can be found at

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Wichita Eagle articles

There is an article about Louise Brooks in the current issue of the Wichita Eagle. The article, "Late actress still shockingly modern," focusses on Peter Cowie's new book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever. The article can be found   There is also a second, shorter piece on the upcoming mini-festival of Brooks' film in Wichita. That piece can be found

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Chicago (1927)

Tonight I saw Chicago - the silent version from 1927 starring Phyllis Haver as Roxie Hart - and let me tell you, IT WAS TERRIFIC. Haver was really, really good. She played a kind of American Lulu. And, interestingly, this film was actually directed by Cecil D. DeMille. (It is generally creditted to Frank Urson.) The director gave up his screen credit because he was also then directing King of Kings and was concerned that Christian groups would boycott that film if it was known that he had also directed the rather racy Chicago. If you should ever have the chance to see this Jazz Age morality tale - check it out.

Friday, December 1, 2006

BBC radio program on Louise Brooks

A ten minute BBC radio program about Louise Brooks, "Louise Brooks: Silent Film Star and 20th Century Icon" aired on the BBC today. The program features a discussion between British actor and Louise Brooks fan Paul McGann and Erica Carter, the curator of a month-long retrospective of Brooks films at the National Film Theatre. The BBC website has a page about the program at  

The archived radio program can be listened to at

More about the Brooks "season" at the NFT can be found at   Interestingly, one of the films being shown is The Street of Forgotten Men (1925). Brooks' first screen role was in this once thought lost minor masterpiece directed by Herbert Brenon.

Lulu heading to Iowa

The Silent Theater company will stage their version of Lulu at the North Scott High School Theatre in Eldridge, Iowa.  The company of young actors - many of whom I had the great pleasure of meeting - is currently making their way back home to Chicago on their unique Pandora's Bus. They had been in San Francisco, where they enjoyed a three month run at the Victoria Theater.


Once they return to Chicago, the company will stage Lulu at the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts on December 11 - 23. Visit this link for more info.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Two book reviews

Two reviews of the excellent new book by Peter Cowie, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, were published today. A long, appreciative piece by Wayne Meyers appeared in the Oneida Daily Dispatch (from Onedia, New York). That piece can be foundon-line. A shorter, and even more enthuisiastic piece by Leonard Maltin appeared on his website. (I believe Maltin will also be mentioning the book on one of his television shows.)

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has gotten the book. Please post a reply comment and let everyone know what you think.

BTW: The Booksmith in San Francisco is nearly out of autographed copies, though I think they still have one or two or three left. (Any remaining signed copies will likely be for sale at the Castro Theater this Saturday.) Hurry up and get one from whatever source. . . . they are going like hotcakes. And with a bunch of reviews starting to hit, there will probably be a run on them.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Silly Symphonies / Chicago this Saturday

This Saturday, December 2nd at the Castro Theatre here in San Francisco, the good people at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival are showing the original filmed version of the great Broadway hit CHICAGO, starring Phyllis Haver as tough-as-nails Roxie Hart; and a rarer-than-rare 35mm presentation of a bunch of Walt Disney's pioneering SILLY SYMPHONIES - great cartoons, and great examples of how a silent-era filmmaker met sound head-on in a dazzling display of music, creativity and imagination. I am very excited. I will be there!

SILLY SYMPHONIES (one show only at 1:30)

Straight from the Disney archives, a program of SILLY SYMPHONIES, the famous cartoon series set to a madcap mix of classical, popular and folk music. Disney and his team of talented animators make skeletons, frogs, devils and trees dance in time to music with delightful originality – thus trailblazing the transition to sound. The host and expert guide to this tribute will be Russell Merritt, silent film historian and co-author of two invaluable studies of early Disney animation: Walt in Wonderland and Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series. The shorts to be shown are:

THE SKELETON DANCE (1929, Walt Disney)
HELL'S BELLS (1929, Ub Iwerks)
NIGHT (1930, Walt Disney)
THE CHINA PLATE (1931, Wilfred Jackson)
EGYPTIAN MELODIES (1931, Wilfred Jackson)
THE UGLY DUCKLING (1931, Wilfred Jackson)
FLOWERS AND TREES (1932, Burt Gillett)
MUSIC LAND (1935, Wilfred Jackson)
Following these special screenings . . . 

DUCKS, DEVILS, DOWNBEATS AND DISNEY: An Animated Conversation On Animation
Right after the films, Russell Merritt will moderate a lively talk with Disney scholars and animation experts, including: Leslie Iwerks (granddaughter of the legendary animator Ub Iwerks), Neal Gabler (author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination), Jere Guldin (UCLA Film & Television Archive, Preservationist) and J.B. Kaufman (co-author of Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series).

CHICAGO (one show only at 7:30)

There may be other versions – Bob Fosse’s 1975 Broadway musical, and the 2002 adaptation that took the Academy Award for Best Picture – but you haven’t seen CHICAGO until you’ve seen the original! Based on the true story of two women who dealt with their no-good lovers by gunning them down in cold blood, CHICAGO features an explosive, riotous performance by Phyllis Haver, who throws everything she’s got – and more! – into the role of two-timing, morality-free jazz baby Roxie Hart. Fast-paced, hard-boiled and sin-soaked, the 1927 CHICAGO is  the real thing: a straight-up portrait of Roaring Twenties madness, straight out of the Twenties! Presented in the long-lost roadshow version, now completely restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with pulse-pounding live accompaniment supplied by the BAKER–MEHLING HOT FOUR, purveyors of authentic 1920s jazz!
I will be at the book table in the lobby before and after each program hosting book signings with Neal Gabler, Russell Merritt, John Bengtson (author of Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin) and Jack Tillmany (Theatres of Oakland). Visit the San Francisco Silent Film Festival website at for further information or to purchase tickets.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pandora's Box DVD reviews

A number of reviews of the new Criterion DVD of Pandora's Box have started appearing in newspapers and magazines around the country. Here are links to some of the on-line versions of these reviews:

The New York Times ran a long article in today's paper (11-28-2006) of the new DVD. It's especially good on the American history of the film. Here is the link:    

And, a couple of days ago, on Sunday the 26th, the Boston Globe ran a review. The link to that piece by Ty Burr can be found at

And a few days before that, on the 24th of November, a piece by Justin DeFreitas appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet. That review can be found at

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Times ran a capsule review in today's newspaper:
"Pandora's Box" (Criterion, $40): Superlative two-disc set of G.W. Pabst's seminal 1929 German silent starring the iconic Louise Brooks as the tragic heroine, Lulu. Brooks never looked lovelier in the high-definition digital transfer. Extras include four different musical scores that run the gamut, including cabaret and orchestral, and enthralling commentary from film historians Thomas Elsaesser and Mary Ann Doane, both of whom have studied "Box" for years; a well-crafted 1998 TV documentary, "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu"; a fabulous 1984 documentary "Lulu in Berlin," with a rare filmed interview with Brooks; and an interview with the director's son, Michael Pabst.
As did the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Their staff review ran in today's paper as well:
Louise Brooks is one of the legendary actresses of the silent era -- a Kansas beauty with a "black helmet" of hair turned into a sex symbol by German director W.S. Pabst. In this defining role, the former Hollywood bit player and Ziegfeld Follies dancer plays Lulu, an innocent but sexually aggressive showgirl turned prostitute who leaves death in her wake and eventually ends up on a foggy London street with Jack the Ripper. The Criterion Collection release provides the 1928 silent with four stylistically different scores, a disc of extras including the documentary "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu" and a booklet with a chapter from her memoirs and Kenneth Tynan's essay, "The Girl in the Black Helmet." 109 minutes. Unrated.
The Los Angeles Daily News ran a short piece by Rob Lowman in yesterday's paper:
Criterion is releasing a remastered disc of one of the more daring films of the silent era, German director's G.W. Pabst's 1929 psycho-sexual melodrama "Pandora's Box," which stars Lousie Brooks. The American actress plays a showgirl named Lulu, whose unabandoned lifestyle sends her on a downward path that results in terrible end. Brooks was a fascinating figure in Hollywood, and that magnetic personality comes across on in the film. Her controversial life is examined in the 1998 documentary "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu," narrated by Shirley Mclaine is one of the extras, as well as commentary by film historians.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Brazilian article

Just back from a few days away for the holidays. . . . This long article on Louise Brooks in a Brazilian publication was brought to my attention. Check it out here. Embedded in the piece is a nifty video clip (featuring video from Pandora's Box and music by Clan of Xymox) from The music reminded me of Joy Division. Check it out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Still keeping busy

Despite all that is going on lately in the world of Louise Brooks, I have been able to make it to the library pretty much every week over the course of the last month . . . as I am trying to keep up with my research. I am still requesting inter-library loans - and microfilm still arrives for me to look through. Lately, I have secured Louise Brooks-Denishawn material from the Sharon Herald(from Sharon, PA.) and Knickerbocker Press (from Albany, New York). I figure I have acquired material on about 95% of the Denishawn engagements with which Brooks was involved. Striving towards completion, I still have a couple dozen New York and Pennsylvannia dates to acquire

I also recently looked through the Atlanta Georgian (a Hearst newspaper), Knoxville JournalTulsa Daily WorldCapitol Times (from Madison, Wisconsin),  and Waterbury American (from Conneticut). And in each of these newspapers I found a few more film reviews and advertisements. The pile grows. Slowly, I am also finishing up my gathering of film-related material from major American cities and towns. My goal has been to gather articles and reviews from the 30 or 40 biggest urban centers, as well as material from every region and state. To that end, I also recently looked at microfilm of the Arizona Republican (from Phoenix) and Santa Fe New Mexican, but I found nothing in either of those papers. Phoenix and Santa Fe were pretty small towns back then - and didn't seem to support much of a movie culture.

The most interesting material I came across concerned the Better Films Committee of Atlanta, Georgia. In the review I found for A Girl in Every Port (1928), the journalist reported that the local committee gave the film a rating of "A - G," which basically means it was deemed "very good" but for an "adult" audience. This was not a "general audience" rating that some of the other films playing in town received. I guess "A - G" might be the equivalent of today's "R" rating. Apparently, the local committee back then found the theme of "flirtation, fighting and friendship" a bit strong.

And, while looking through September issues of the Capitol Times for material on The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), I happened to notice the paper's radio guide included a listing for a live broadcast of the Atlantic City beauty contest. Wow - I never knew! That was the same contest which served as the backdrop for The American Venus (1926), Brooks' second film. I wonder if Brooks herself was there? Certainly, Paramount film crews were, as was Brooks' friend and fellow Ziegfeld Follies performer Dorothy Knapp. One can only wonder.

These are the sort of interesting things I find on occassion, and that's why I keep on looking. To be continued . . . .

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Leaving things for fans

Lately, during my weekly research trips to the San Francisco Public Library, I have been paying a quick visit to the Louise Brooks exhibit which I organized and which is on display at the SFPL (on the 4th floor). The exhibit is titled "Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks." It will remain on display through January 5, 2007. (See this LJ entry  for pictures, and this entry for a short description.)

And what I have taken to doing every week is leaving things for fans to pick up: so far, I have left a few Louise Brooks Society pinback buttons, programs to the Lulu play currently in town, a LB "Further Reading" handout, and some of the reproduction movie heralds created for the Peter Cowie event here in San Francisco. In the coming weeks, I will leave some more buttons, as well as Louise Brooks crossword and word search puzzles, as well as whatever else I have extra of or will create just to give away. Everything I leave will be on the comment book stand, so please do check out this little exhibit if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I had also rubber stamped the comment book with the Rick Geary images of Louise Brooks and Buster Keaton, and somebody responded with a little drawing of LB. Very cool!  And somebody else wrote that they had visited the show while visiting from Pittsburgh, PA. Thank you all for stopping by.

Long live Lulu - Lulu Forever.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wichita screenings

Four of Louise Brooks'  films will be screened in Wichita, Kansas in early December. The Louise C. Murdock Center has announced that they will be showing Diary of a Lost Girl (on December 7), Pandora's Box (on December 8), and The Show Off and Prix de Beaute (on December 9).

The 20th Century Center, incorporating the Louise C. Murdock Theatre, is located at 536 N. Broadway in Wichita, just one block north of Central on Broadway. More info can be found at

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Love em and Leave em

A FREE EVENT: Tuesday - November 21st in San Francisco - A screening of the rarely shown 1926 Louise Brooks flapper comedy, "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em,'' at 6 p.m. at the San Francisco Public Library (Koret Auditorium), 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco. More info at (415) 557-4400 or  And while you are there, take in the Louise Brooks exhibit, "Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks," which is currently on display on the 4th floor.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pandora's Box in Milwaukee

This is how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes tonight's free screening of Pandora's Box on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. So succinct!

German classic: Selfish behavior leads to tragic consequences in G.W. Pabst's 1929 silent film "Pandora's Box" starring Louise Brooks. 7 p.m. UWM Union Theatre, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. Free.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Wedekind's Spring Awakening

Following the successful adaption of Frank Wedekind's "Lulu" by the Silent Theater company of Chicago comes a new musical adaption of Wedekind's "Spring Awakening."  Though one of the first expressionist writers, Wedekind's sometimes akward, sometimes scandalous work has fallen between the cracks of literary history. Nevertheless, we are seeing something of a revival of interest in the United States. There is a big article about the new production, which opens December 10th, in today's New York Times.
“SPRING AWAKENING,” the new Broadway musical in previews at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, covers nearly all the hurly-burly that can rattle, confuse and capsize the teenage years: sexual confusion, abuse, death. A bit like “The History Boys” with a rock score and a lot more angst.
The candid portrayal of such subjects may disquiet some of today’s viewers, but the original 1891 German drama by Frank Wedekind on which the musical is based caused a scandal. The play wasn’t produced in Germany until 1906, 15 years after it was written, and then only in an abridged form. In New York City the commissioner of licenses tried to shut down its English-language American premiere in 1917. A court injunction permitted the production, which ran for a single matinee and closed.
Wedekind — probably best known for the Lulu plays, the source of Alban Berg’s famous opera — was not unaccustomed to such dust-ups. He lived in Munich, a center of the literary avant-garde, and often contributed poems and stories to the satirical magazine Simplizissimus. One that ridiculed Kaiser Wilhelm II (better known for his megalomania than his sense of humor) landed him in jail for several months in 1899 on charges of treason. He was continually at odds with the censors until his death in 1918.
Thanks to Rob Carver for pointing this out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

In the news, again

There is a long, illustrated interview with Peter Cowie about Louise Brooks on the PopMatters website. It can be found


LBS member Gregor Arlt tipped me off to these recent illustrated articles on Louise Brooks in various German language publications. (Not only have there been major film retropsectives in Berlin and Vienna, but there is a new book on Louise Brooks published by the Austrian Film Archive, Louise Brooks. Rebellin, Ikone, Legende. Peter Cowie's book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, has also been published in Germany.)

Film-Dienst,  Nov. 2006
"Das Leben ist ein Scherz: Erinnerungen an Louise Brooks" by Claudia Siefen

Neue Zürcher Zeitung,  Nov. 4, 2006
"Lächeln und Los der Lulu" by Jürgen Kasten

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,  Nov. 9, 2006
"Louise Brooks: Die Rebellin von Hollywood" by Verena Lueken

Süddeutsche Zeitung
,  Nov. 13, 2006
"Die Chiffre des Lichtspiels" by Hans Schifferle


I had a great time at Tuesday evening's Louise Brooks Birthday Bash at the Victoria Theater. We all sang "Happy Birthday" to Louise. There was cake and something to drink. And, it was fun to meet the cast of "Lulu" and other members of the Louise Brooks Society, some of whom had come from as far away as Los Angeles! Here are a few snapshots taken that evening.

A bit blurry, but here's a pic of yours truly and Kyla Louise Webb, the talented young actress who plays Lulu.
If there is anyone who could play Louise Brooks in a film, it is this terrific Chicago-based actress!

LBS members Scott Bradley and Amy Wallace, with whom I had a very nice chat!
 (Amy, the daughter of novelist Irving Wallace, is the co-author of such bestsellers
as The Book of Lists and The People's Almanac, etc....)

That evening, I also met photographer Nili Yosha, who is producing a book of photographs of the Lulu cast and play. I am looking forward to it, I plan to get a copy of what promises to be a rather cool keepsake.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In the news

There was a "Pop Candy" column about Louise Brooks in yesterday's USA Today. The article, by Whitney Matheson, can be found at  The article mentions the Louise Brooks Society and this blog. How cool!


Thanx to Amanda, who noticed that the current issue of TIME magazine has a long article on Louise Brooks by Richard Corliss. The article can be found on-line at,8599,1559304,00.html


Paul Doherty sent me some snapshots of the Louise Brooks event in Rochester, New York on November 14th. Paul said I could share these with all of you. Thank you Paul.

Before the show

A bit of the exhibit at the George Eastman House

Jack Garner (sitting) and Peter Cowie (standing). Cowie authored Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever for which Garner wrote the forward. Cowie is wearing a Louise Brooks Society button which I had given him in Sunday in San Francisco.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Today in history - Nov. 14

According to the Associated Press syndicated feature - "Today in history - Nov. 14" - which has been printed in newspapers across the country
"In 1906, 100 years ago, actress and dancer Louise Brooks was born in Cherryvale, Kan."


Monday, November 13, 2006

Marian Marsh

Marian Marsh, petite film star of the 1930's, has died. I always liked her bangs. Here is an excerpt from the New York Timesarticle on her death.
Marian Marsh, 93, Petite Star of ‘Svengali,’ Dies

Marian Marsh, a Hollywood actress of the 1930s and early ’40s best known for starring opposite John Barrymore in the 1931 melodrama “Svengali,” died on Thursday at her home in Palm Desert, Calif. She was 93.
Ms. Marsh, who was known by her married name, Marian Marsh Henderson, died in her sleep, her daughter, Cathy Scott, said.
Mr. Barrymore handpicked Ms. Marsh, then a teenage bit player, for the role of Trilby, the virginal young singer who falls under Svengali’s control. The film was based on “Trilby,” the 1894 novel by George du Maurier.
A petite blond actress described by critics of the day as doll-like, Ms. Marsh was also known for her performance opposite Edward G. Robinson in “Five Star Final” (1931). She played Sonya to Peter Lorre's Raskolnikov in “Crime and Punishment” in 1935. Her last film role was in the 1942 comedy “House of Errors.”
Ms. Marsh was born Violet Ethelred Krauth on Oct. 17, 1913, in Trinidad, West Indies, where her parents ran a chocolate factory. The family moved to the Boston area when she was a child. After her older sister, Jean, became a bit player in Hollywood — she worked first as Jean Morgan and later as Jean Fenwick — the family relocated to California.
Following her sister into acting, Ms. Marsh began her career in the late 1920s as Marilyn Morgan. Under that name, she had a small role in “Hell’s Angels,” the 1930 war drama directed by Howard Hughes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pandora's Box in San Rafael

Last night I attended the screening of Pandora's Box at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, California. (That's about 45 minutes north of San Francisco - across the Golden Gate Bridge.) Peter Cowie, author of the just released must-have new book,Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu, gave some introductory remarks. He told how he came to meet Louise Brooks. And what her life was like in the 1970's while living in Rochester, New York. Cowie discussed Brooks' brief affair with Charlie Chaplin. And, Cowie made some interesting references to the existentialist author Jean-Paul Sarte and the Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer - both of which I hope to ask him about tonight, when I host him at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco. I will be meeting him for dinner before hand - so there will be time to talk!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tonight on IFC

Tonight on the Independent Film Channel, Lulu on the Bridge (1998), the Louise Brooks / Pandora's Box - "inspired" film.

A seemingly magic stone leads an aging, injured musician into love with a young, aspiring actress.
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, Willem Dafoe, Gina Gershon, Mandy Patinkin, Vanessa Redgrave, Victor Argo, Don Byron, Richard Edson, Kevin Corrigan.

Director(s): Paul Auster.
Producer(s): Sharon Harel, Jane Barclay, Ira Deutchman, Peter Newman, Greg Johnson, Amy Kaufman , Amy J. Kaufman.
Writer(s): Paul Auster

Friday, November 10, 2006

This Sunday in Witchita

Don't forget, this Sunday in Witchita: Louise Brooks' Centennial Birthday Bash, a viewing of two films by the Kansas-born silent film star, 2-4:30 p.m., Wichita Public Library, 223 S. Main. Free. Information, 316-261-8500.  Longtime LBS member Amanda Howard has a display of some of her Louise Brooks' treasures on display. Check it out!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

What a Lulu!

from today's San Francisco Chronicle website. The two area Louise Brooks screenings were the e-pick of the week!
ePick image'Pandora's Box' (Sat/11)
What a Lulu!
Kansas-born Mary Louise "Brooksie" Brooks went to New York to become a dancer, joined the Ziegfield Follies and then headed west, and Hollywood -- though she despised the movie-making culture -- was never the same. Shortening her name to Louise Brooks, she created a screen persona of a magnitude hard to imagine today: Her slinky on-screen and off-screen wardrobe was a model for the glamorous garments that have been ubiquitous in Tinseltown ever since, and her pageboy hairstyle became all the rage. And it is this movie that she was and has ever since been identified with -- G.W. Pabst's German silent film "Pandora's Box" (also known as "Lulu," after its title character's name), about a man-eating vamp. Indeed, the scandal that ensued in response to the provocative movie nearly killed her career; she made only 10 mostly forgettable films after that, seldom receiving top billing, and retired when she was only 32 years old. The Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center marks the centenary of her birth with a screening of her signature film, introduced by film historian Peter Cowie, author of "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever." Cowie will also appear Sun/12 at the Balboa Theater, to give a short talk and presentation preceding a surprise Louise Brooks feature. -- Mark Nichol, special to SFGate
 Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael; 7 pm; $6-$9.25; (415) 454-1222.

p.s. I am planning on making a give-away "limited edition" reproduction movie herald for the Balboa event, which will be distributed at the door. It will make a nice keepsake.

p.s.s. I am also working on a powerpoint presentation, which provided all goes according to plan, will be screened prior to the event. It will be accompanied by a special selection of Louise Brooks related music.

Louise Welsh

The other night, I attended an reading / booksigning for Louise Welsh, the author of the recently released contemporary noir, The Bullet Trick. Its a terriffic new novel set in contemporary Berlin, London and Glasgow. (The author is Scottish, and she read here in San Francisco at a pub called the Edinburgh Castle.) During her talk, she mentioned that the Berlin section of the book was a riff off of the Frank Wedekind plays, namely Lulu. Welsh also mentioned Louise Brooks, and her admiration of the actress. I spoke with her afterwords, and gave her a Louise Brooks button. Welsh is very cool - and her two earlier books, The Cutting Room and Tamberlaine is Dead - are well worth checking out.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks

"Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks"  
an exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library
November 4, 2006 through January 5, 2007

Main Branch, Fourth Floor, Steve Silver Beach Blanket Babylon Music Center

"Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks" celebrates the centenary of the silent film star Louise Brooks (1906 - 1985). Now considered an icon of the Jazz Age, Brooks' popularity today rivals that of her more celebrated contemporaries. On display are dozens of vintage objects - including books, magazines, sheet music, postcards,and related ephemera - which tell the story of her life and films.

Highlights include American and French photoplay editions (the movie tie-in editions of the 1920's), an editorial comic strip explaining the scandalous circumstances behind Brooks' affair with Charlie Chaplin, Brooks' inspired novels, a jumbo-size lobby card, and a full-page newspaper advertisement for "Show Girl" - the Brooks-inspired novel which became a hit stage play and the long-running comic strip "Dixie Dugan."

This exhibit - organized by Thomas Gladysz and the San Francisco-based Louise Brooks Society - coincides with many other events taking place around the San Francisco Bay Area and the world. More info at

Here are some snapshots I took of "Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks" - both as it was being installed and after it opened. Hopefully, this gives a sense of the scope of the exhibit, which is currently on display at the San Francisco Public Library. The hardest thing was figuring out what to include and what to leave out. There were some things that I was eager to share, like the full-page Sunday color comic of "Dixie Dugan," and the various compact discs, 45's and long playing records (LP's) I've collected over the years which feature an image of Louise Brooks.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who sees this exhibit. Let me know what you think. There is also a stand with a comments book. The stand also has fliers for Louise Brooks-related events in the Bay Area.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Nov 2006 events

This month - November 2006 - is shaping up to be a truly remarkable month for Louise Brooks. The world celebrates the actress, who was born on November 14, 1906 in the small town of Cherryvale, Kansas. There are screenings and film festivals taking place across the United States and Europe. There are two new books being published. There are two DVD's being released. There are two exhibitions devoted to the actress. And there are other events and happenings taking place which celebrate the life and legend of Lulu.

Thru November 21, 2006: The Verlag Filmarchiv Austria is sponsoring a multi-film tribute - "Louise Brooks - Tribute zum 100. Geburtstag" - at the Metrokino in Vienna, Austria. /// More info at 

Thru November 26, 2006: The Silent Theater company has extended their stage production of "Lulu" (the Wedekind play done as a silent film a la Louise Brooks in "Pandora's Box"). Performances run Thursdays through Sundays through the end of the month at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco. November will be the last month to see this play in the City by the Bay, where it has enjoyed a widely acclaimed three-month run. /// More info at

Thru January 5, 2007: "Homage to Lulu: 100 Years of Louise Brooks" - an exhibit sponsored by the Louise Brooks Society - is on display at the San Francisco Public Library. /// More info at

November 5, 2006: The Three Rivers Film Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania screens "Pandora's Box" (1929) at the Regent Square Theater. Pianist Philip Carli will provide live piano accompaniment, and Louise Brooks biographer Barry Paris will introduce the film.

November 5, 2006: Bristol Silents in Bristol, England will screen the silent version of "Prix de Beauté" (1930). Before hand, there will be an onstage conversation between  Paul McGann and Kevin Brownlow, who promises to show never before seen color home movie footage of Louise Brooks from the 1960s!  More info at

November 6, 2006: The seldom seen comedy, "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" (1926) will be shown at the Museum of the City of New York. This special event is sponsored by the Silent Clowns Film Series. More info at 

November 6, 2006: The G.W. Pabst film, "Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929), will be shown at Free Library of Philadelphia at 2 pm.  More info at

November 7, 2006: Peter Cowie's new book, "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever" is due in bookstores. Events with the author are planned in select cities across the United States. More info at

November 7, 2006: "A Girl in Every Port" (1928) will be shown at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Philip C. Carli will provide live piano accompaniment. /// More info at

November 8, 9, 10, 2006: Reportedly, the Slovenska kinoteka - a film archive located in Ljubljana, Slovenia - will celebrate the Louise Brooks centenary with a series of screenings. Further details have not been confirmed. Any Slovenian fans out there planning to attend?

Nov. 11, 2006 through February 18, 2007: "Hollywood Lost: The Power of Louise Brooks" will be on exhibit at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. /// More info at

November 11, 2006: Peter Cowie will give introductory remarks prior to the screening of "Pandora's Box" (1929) at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, California. Afterwords, Cowie will sign copies of  "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever." /// More info at

November 12, 2006: The Wichita Public Library will screen two Louise Brooks films as part of it's "Louise Brooks Centennial Birthday Bash" at the Central Library. Festivities start at 2:00 pm.  /// More info at

November 12, 2006: Peter Cowie will give a short talk as part of "Celebrating Louise Brooks: An Evening of Rare Films" at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco, California. This event starts at 7:30 pm. Special guests, door prizes, Louise Brooks give aways and more will round out the evening. Afterwards, Cowie will sign copies of "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever." This special event co-sponsored by The Booksmith and the Louise Brooks Society. /// More info at

November 13, 2006: Around this date, the Verlag Filmarchiv Austria will publish "Louise Brooks. Rebellin, Ikone, Legende" by Günter Krenn and Karin Moser.  /// More info at

November 14, 2006: Louise Brooks was born 100 years ago on this date in Cherryvale, Kansas. To celebrate, a Louise Brooks birthday bash will take place at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco. The celebration starts around 7 pm. A special staging of "Lulu" starts around 10 pm. /// More info at

November 14, 2006: "The Art of Louise Brooks" will take place at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Author Peter Cowie will discuss the alluring mystery and fascinating career of the Louise Brooks. This presentation will conclude with a question-and-answer session with Cowie and syndicated film critic Jack Garner. After the event, Cowie will sign copies of his new book, "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever," which features a foreword by Garner. /// More info at    After this on-stage presentation, "Pandora's Box" (1929) will be shown a with live piano accompaniment by Philip C. Carli. /// More info at

November 14, 2006: Portugal's Costa do Castelo Films plans to release "Pandora's Box" (1929) on DVD. This two-disc set will feature the original Portuguese intertitles, as well as bonus material.

November 14, 2006: "Pandora's Box" (1929) will be shown in Campbell Hall on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Michael Mortilla will provide live piano accompaniment. /// More info at

November 14, 2006: Rumor has it that a "little cineclub" in Rome, Italy will show some movies featuring Louise Brooks. Any Italian fans out there planning to attend?

November 15, 2006: Peter Cowie will introduce "The Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929) at the Film Society at Lincoln Center in New York City. The program starts at 6:30. A booksigning will also take place. /// More info at
November 17, 2006: Peter Cowie will introduce "Pandora's Box" (the Munich Filmmuseum's new restoration) at The American Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. A reception and book signing will take place from 6:30 to 7:30, and the screening will begin at 7:30 pm. /// More info at

November 17 - December 16, 2006: The Filmmuseum in Munich, Germany will mount a major Louise Brooks film retrospective which will include 17 films, as well a rarely seen fragments from "The Street of Forgotten Men" (1925) and "The American Venus" (1926). /// More info at

November 20, 2006: A new 35mm print of "Pandora's Box" (1929) will be shown in the student union at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. This free screening starts at 7 pm. /// More info at

November 21, 2006: "Pandora's Box" (1929) will be released on DVD in the United States by Criterion. This restored version of the film will be accompanied by considerable bonus material. /// More info at

November 21, 2006: Coinciding with the ongoing exhibition (see above) at the San Francisco Public Library, Thomas Gladysz (Director of the Louise Brooks Society) will give introductory remarks prior to the screening of "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" (1926) at the SFPL. This event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6 pm. /// More info at

November 28, 2006: A new 35mm print of "Beggars of Life" (1928) will be shown at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Philip C. Carli will provide live piano accompaniment. /// More info at

November 28, 2006: The National Film Theater in London will screen "Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929) with live piano accompaniment. /// More info at

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Blue Church

I live in a part of San Francisco called Noe Valley. It's a mostly working class neighborhood. Just down the block from me is a blue building which was once home to a movie theater. It is one of the oldest movie theaters in San Francisco, though it has for some time been home to a church.   According to an article about the building in the current issue of the Noe Valley Voice (the local neighborhood newspaper):
Demolition of the church would drop the final curtain on a building that started life as a one-screen temple to Hollywood. The theater opened in 1916 as the Searchlight, according to Cinema Treasures, a web site devoted to movie preservation. The theater, which showed German and Russian films in the 1930s and later on American movies, was also known as the Empress, the Lux, the De Lux, the Isis, the Princess, the Church, and the Rita. The Rita moniker eventually gave way to the Del Mar - until 1965 when the Holiness Temple in Christ purchased the building.
I thought it interesting that this small neighborhood theater showed "foreign films" in the 1930's. And I wondered if they ever might have shownPandora's Box ? According to Jack Tillmany's book, Theaters of San Francisco, there is no known photograph of the building as a movie theater. Thus, I offer this image which I took just minutes ago using my digital camera.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The LOUISE BROOKS event not to miss!

"Celebrating Louise Brooks: An Evening of Rare Films"
a talk, film screening & book signing for "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever"
Sunday, November 12 at 7:30 pm
at the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa Street) in San Francisco

On Sunday November 12th, world renown film critic and biographer Peter Cowie, author of the just published "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever," will give a talk as part of "Celebrating Louise Brooks: An Evening of Rare Films" at the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa Street) in San Francisco. Rare Louise Brooks films, special guests, door prizes, Louise Brooks give-aways and more will round out the program, which starts at 7:30. A book signing will follow.

With her distinctive haircut and classically drawn features, Louise Brooks is, without question, one of the great icons of world cinema. Her role as Lulu in "Pandora's Box" has gained her film immortality. This month, the world celebrates her centennial with the publication of Peter Cowie's much-anticipated new book, "Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever," an insightful and lavishly illustrated portrait of the actress and the legend.

Peter Cowie is a world famous film historian and the author of some thirty books including "The Cinema of Orson Welles," "John Ford and the American West," and "Revolution!: The Explosion Of World Cinema In The Sixties," as well as acclaimed biographies of Ingmar Bergman and Francis Ford Coppola. Cowie will be joining us from his home in Switzerland.

This special event, co-sponsored by The Booksmith ( and the Louise Brooks Society (, will take place at the historic Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa) in San Francisco. Tickets are $8.50 and can be purchased in advance  


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Interview article

There is a full page article about Louise Brooks (and her bob) in the current issue of Interview magazine.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever

Today, I received my copy of Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever by Peter Cowie. (Copies are not due in stores for about a week.) It is absolutely gorgeous! It is a book every Brooks fan will want to own . . . .  I had written my review for Publisher's Weeklybased on page proofs (an early version of the book which was sent to me by the publisher). This finished copy is so much more appealing. The images look really stunning. Wow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


A recently released French compact disc with Louise Brooks on the cover, Swing for Modern Clubbing, has been called to my attention. (Thank you Pascal.) Is anyone familiar with this CD or the music? More info here. (Brooks also appears on an interior illustration.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Philippe Boussemart

A French artist by the name of Philippe Boussemart has painted a handful of works featuring Louise Brooks - and Charlie Chaplin. I am not sure what it all means - but you can check out his website at






Monday, October 23, 2006

This being detail

Another swell image of Louise Brooks - this being detail from a film still from Love Em and Leave Em (1926), which is for sale on eBay. The seller is located in Portugal, where the film was shown under the title Amá-las e deixá-las.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Modish coiffure

Here is a nifty advertisement I came across while looking through microfilm at the library this week. It dates from 1925.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another Lulu review

"Thankfully, Chicago-based Silent Theatre Company understands the appeal of classic celluloid, which they ape to sublime ends in their piece "Lulu", an adaptation of German playwright Frank Wedekind’s 1894 Lulu cycle, comprising "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora’s Box", but bearing more of a resemblance to G.W. Pabst’s 1928 film revision starring über-vamp Louise Brooks. "      Another review of the stage play of Lulu can be found at

Friday, October 20, 2006

Research jottings

Back at the library, I continue my search for even more Louise Brooks clippings. I went through the Columbus Ledger (from Columbus, Georgia), Ripon Weekly Press (from Ripon, Wisconsin),  and Arkansas City Daily Traveler (from Arkansas City, Kansas) - and in each found articles and advertisements relating to Brooks' two seasons with Denishawn. The company performed in each of thee towns. I also went through a few other newspapers looking for material relating to Brooks' films. I went through the Arkansas Gazette (from Little Rock, Arkansas), Deseret News (from Salt Lake City, Utah), and Hartford Times(from Hartford, Connecticut). And I found a few reviews and ads. The most interesting item was a Little Rock ad for the Capitol Theater promoting the screening of Love Em and Leave Em during the first half of the week, and Just Another Blonde during the second half. That's unusual, especially considering that the two films were made by different studios.

I also went through the North China Daily News, an English-language newspaper from Shanghai. I looked through the first four months of 1929, and found material - including one review - for three of Brooks' 1927 films! Wow - what a cosmpolitan city and what a worthwhile newspaper! There were numerous movie theaters in Shanghai at this time, and all of the major American films seemed to have been shown. And the theaters ran big advertisements in the newspaper. The review I found marks my first Chinese citation! Eventually, I plan to look through every month of theNorth China Daily News from the late 1920's and early 1930's that I can get my hands on.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pandora's Box screening 10-23

The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida will screen a "digitally restored" version of Pandora's Box (1929) on October 23rd. This screening will feature a new score for the film composed by Prof. Tony Steve of Jacksonville University, which will be performed live by the JU Percussion Ensemble. This one-time only show will take place at 7 pm.

A reminder

Don't miss this . . . . "Lulu" - a silent (wordless) stage play at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco
Frank Wedekind's scandalous turn of the century drama performed as a silent film a la Louise Brooks in "Pandora's Box."

"Lulu" was the hit of the 2006 NYC Fringe Festival, and has received rave reviews in the New York TimesChicago Tribuneand San Francisco Chronicle.  It's lot's of fun. And Kyla Louise as Lulu is the sexiest femme fatale since Brooks herself played the role.

“…dreamlike…luscious…a bona-fide knockout.” - CHICAGO TRIBUNE.

Performances run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm.
(Remaining shows October 19-20-21-22, 26-27-28-29).
More info and tickets at

More about the play, the actors and the theater company (including video clips) at or

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two local stage productions

This review of two local stage productions appeared in today's San Francisco Bay Guardian. Check it out at
Mother Courage
By Robert Avila

The sideshow denizens who scramble out onstage at the Victoria to mime the evening's prologue constitute an impressive assortment of freaks and wild beasts, stooping giants and bearded ladies strutting and marauding in the nostalgic glow of a flickering projection lamp. But they take second billing to what a supertitle introduces as "the most untamed beast of them all." That would be unbridled sexuality, in the person of our heroine, Lulu.

It's now more than a century since Frank Wedekind, the forefather of German expressionism, gave creative birth to Lulu, a charmingly insatiable and just too desirable young woman and singer from several good homes, thereby throwing sexual hypocrisy back in the faces of his bourgeois audience. Today sexuality is hardly less controversial to the bourgeois even if, say, a film like Shortbus simultaneously suggests we've come a short way. Shortbus gets a happy ending, after all, while the result of pitting anarchic human sexuality against a repressed and repressive patriarchal society in Lulu's day had to spell tragedy. Still, though the results are grim, untamed sex emerges glorious if not victorious in Lulu: A Black and White Silent Play, Chicago-based Silent Theatre Company's lightly and cheerfully lewd and cheekily clever production.

Both form and content marked out Wedekind's two antinaturalistic Lulu plays — Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora's Box (1902) — as exceedingly modern and risqué for their day. Silent Theatre's silent-movie-style staging builds shrewdly on permutations of form and nostalgia by translating back to the stage G.W. Pabst's famous 1929 silent screen adaptation (which starred Louise Brooks and her distinctive bob) in a single one-hour-and-fifteen-minute act. The results benefit from a game cast (including a pert Kyla Louise Webb as Lulu), as well as shrewd and playful staging, filled with the vivacious gestures and grotesque exaggerations of the silent screen and spiritedly choreographed to the infectious accompaniment of pianist-composer Isaiah Robinson and his spiraling movie-house score.

Although principally an expressionist, Wedekind also pointed in the direction Bertolt Brecht was to take a generation or so later in an already post-expressionist mode. But then, Wedekind and Brecht had much in common, including a penchant for cabaret songs and reimagining the traditions of the carnival and the circus in assailing in boldly experimental form the ferociousness and folly of the social order. That circus-cabaret theme is certainly evident in the Berkeley Rep and La Jolla Playhouse coproduction of Brecht'sMother Courage, not least in the utterly fresh yet evocative new score by composer Gina Leishman (among other things founder of Mr. Wau-Wa, a quintet devoted to Brechtian songs). Director Lisa Peterson's sharp cast and vigorous, inspired staging take full advantage of playwright David Hare's earthy and immediate translation to bring Brecht's antiwar play resonantly alive.

Mother Courage, the wily peddler who with her three children follows the battling armies of 17th-century Europe's Thirty Years War to hock her wares and make her living, remains one of the most famous antiheroes of a decidedly antiheroic, antiromantic playwright. But that doesn't seem to stop audiences from identifying her (unironically) with that intentionally ironic name of hers. Indeed, rendered with a fine Weimar-esque soulfulness and grit by Ivonne Coll, she's a charismatic figure despite her outstanding flaw: her parasitic reliance on war at the inevitable, albeit unintended, expense of her offspring.

Brecht's play, in addressing itself to the class enemy lurking behind the delusional divisions of religion and territory, systematically undercuts any legitimacy claimed by the warmongering values of courage and valor. The Chaplain (a deftly comic turn by Patrick Kerr), for instance, easily exchanges his cassock for some street clothes when the need arises, just as surely as the Catholic flag comes down and the Protestant one goes up when the winds of battle change direction. And by showing how Mother Courage, having tied her cart to the scam of war, must hang on to it at all costs — even that of her children's lives — the play doubly negates her name in the circumstances it exposes. But maybe it’s Brecht’s ambivalence even more than his excoriating attack on the hideous cheat of war that seems utterly contemporary: the strangely productive and seductive balancing act taking place between his dismal view of human nature — alternately vicious and comic in its outline — and his overweening determination to awaken his audience to the truth and thereby to change the world. 

Through Oct. 29
Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.
Victoria Theatre
2961 16th St., SF
(415) 863-7576

Through Oct. 22
Tues. and Fri., 8 p.m.; Wed., 7 p.m.; Thurs. and Sat., 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
2015 Addison, Roda Theatre, Berk.
(510) 647-2949

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jazz Age Beauties

Today, I got a copy of Jazz Age Beauties: The Lost Collection of Ziegfeld Photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston by Robert Hudovernik. It's a very nifty book - and you'll want to check it out. There are five full page images of Louise Brooks, a few other future silent film stars (nudes of Norma Shearer, portraits of Billie Dove, Mae Murray, etc....), along with a bunch of other lovely portraits of Ziegfeld Follies girls. There is also an image - something I had not ever seen before - of the front of the New Amsterdam Theater (the home of the Follies) in 1925. That's when Brooks was performing there. Wow! That makes me wonder what other sort of unknown images might be out there. There was also a gracious mention of myself and the Louise Brooks Society in the acknowledgements. Thank you Robert, glad to be of help.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pandora's Box in Pittsburgh, PA with Barry Paris

Just announced: On November 5th the Three Rivers Film Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will screen Pandora's Box at the Regent Square Theater. Pianist Philip Carli will provide live piano accompaniment, and Louise Brooks biographer Barry Paris will introduce the film. Tickets are $10.00

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Pandora's Box on TV

Pandora's Box will be shown on the Independent Film Channel on Tuesday, October 17th. The film starts at 9 pm eastern time. The film will be repeated at Wednesday, October 18th at 2:10 am (EDT) and 11:15 am (EDT). Here is what the IFC webpagehas to say.
1929 | 110 min. | Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
German filmmaker G.W . Pabst's late-silent classic Pandora's Box (Die Busch de Pandora) stars the hauntingly beautiful Louise Brooks as libertine dancer Lulu. Ever out for the Main Chance, Lulu tries to persuade her wealthy lover Dr. Schon (Fritz Kortner) to marry her. When he refuses, she shoots him. Escaping to London with the doctor's moonstruck son Alwa (Francis Lederer), Lulu takes up residence with her bisexual "adopted" father (Carl Gotz). Soon Lulu's selfish behavior alienates everyone, and she is reduced to walking the streets, with tragic consequences. Based on two works by the controversial German novelist. Even after seven decades, Pandora's Box exudes smoky sensuality in every frame. Regarded now as a masterpiece, the film received surprisingly scathing reviews, with most of the critical broadsides aimed at Louise Brooks (this was long before Brooks graduated from just another pretty Hollywood starlet to Cult Goddess).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Art House Films

This article appeared in today's Chicago Sun-Times. Louise Brooks has certainly getting her fair share of press coverage lately. I especially appreciate the last line of the article.
Art house films

Here's a look at some of the arthouse films opening today:

"Pandora's Box" ("Die Buchse der Pandora") 3 stars

Revived in a new black-and-white print, this classic from the end of cinema's silent era pairs German director G.W. Pabst with American actress Louise Brooks. Ladislaus Vajda's screenplay blended two plays by Frank Wedekind to track the amoral career of dancing gold-digger Lulu (Brooks).

When a newspaper executive (Fritz Kortner) ends his affair with Lulu, he tells his son Alwa (Francis Lederer): "Men don't marry such women. It would be suicide." One gunshot later, a prosecutor likens Lulu to Pandora, "well-versed in the infatuating arts of flattery."

Falling for his late father's mistress, Alwa serves as her character witness. She escapes a manslaughter sentence and hides on a gambling ship. Next she escapes a fate of white slavery in a Cairo brothel and lands in a wintry London garret. Christmas Eve finds her under the mistletoe with Jack the Ripper (Gustav Diessl). Only a psychopath would not succumb to her charms.

The Pabst touch is seen in his kinetic crowd scenes: backstage at Lulu's theater before the curtain rises, and the courtroom she flees after a false fire alarm triggers pandemonium. Pabst also excels at canted expressionist close-ups of faces. Brooks overwhelms the lens with her magnetic eyes. Her signature coiffure looks like a black patent-leather bathing cap.

After shooting a second Pabst film in Berlin, Brooks' star fell. The February and March 1934 headlines that she made in Chicago evoke a Lulu in exile: "Scion of Old Family Makes Debut With Wife at Chez Paree Club."

(No MPAA rating. Running time: 110 minutes. Screens at Music Box tonight with live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott and Sunday with Jay Warren at the keyboard.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Movie review: 'Pandora's Box'

Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune gave Pandora's Box four stars in his review of the film in today's paper. Interestingly, the article also noted the film's "implied perversion."
Few movie goddesses can break your heart like saucy, black-banged Louise Brooks, whose centennial comes this year and whose best film and performance, as Lulu in G.W. Pabst's "Pandora's Box," plays this weekend at the Music Box Theatre, in a new print.

If you've never seen Brooks--or "Pandora's Box"--you've missed one of the most extraordinary personalities and films of the silent movie era. Brooks' life story is remarkable in itself. She was an American actress and dancer from Kansas who had starred for directors Howard Hawks and William Wellman by the time she was 22, then became famous and scandalous in Germany for her two films with Pabst ("Pandora's Box" and "Diary of a Lost Girl"), only to see her Hollywood star career collapse at the dawn of the sound era. A few decades later, when her career was over and the films were revived, she achieved and then held her present legendary status. She died in 1985.

How did Brooks survive the buffets of fate and fame? She was no careerist obviously. But she was a stunner--one of those personalities who can explode off the screen, with a piquant energy and dazzling smile that, in the end, broke down all defenses. As Lulu, the girlish, wanton temptress of Pabst's 1929 picture--a playful German seductress who casually enslaves and destroys good men while arousing and provoking bad ones--Brooks radiates a sexuality and flawed humanity so potent that one never questions why the males around her so easily fall apart.

One look at Brooks' curving helmet-like bangs, soft dark eyes and hyperactive dancer's body, and you know why the well-respected editor Peter Schoen (Fritz Kortner) sacrifices himself to pursue her, and why his son, Alwa (Franz Lederer, who became "Francis Lederer" when he emigrated to Hollywood), throws away his life to flee with Lulu when she's convicted of manslaughter in his father's death. You know also why she enslaves women like the chic lesbian Countess Anna Geschwitz (Alice Roberts), and why even London's Jack the Ripper (Gustav Diessl) falls for her.

"Pandora's Box," showing Friday and Sunday, was regarded in its day as shocking and immoral. But it's actually one of the most socially acute, sophisticated films of its era, a prime example of the urbane, knowing German-Austrian film tradition that also produced Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder. With his brilliant staging and visual mastery of the rich, shadowy blacks and whites that would later mark American film noir, Pabst re-creates the rigid, mercenary society around Lulu. Then he shows how her impish beauty throws open its doors.

In life, beauty is ephemeral. But in the movies, it can become seemingly immortal. Brooks lost a career--due, it's said to sound, to American dismissal of her foreign stardom and to her refusal of some key Hollywood mogul advances. But she won a legend afterward comparable to that of '30s superstars Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich (Pabst's second choice for Lulu)--and Henri Langlois, master film collector of the French Cinematheque, ranked her above the latter two, insisting: "There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!" Watching "Pandora's Box" now, one can see why bad-girl Lulu remains in our eyes and hearts, why Louise Brooks still lives.

Pandora's Box

Directed by G.W. Pabst; written by Ladislaus Vajda, based on Franz Wedekind's plays "Erdgeist" and "Pandora's Box"; photographed by Gunther Krampf; edited by Joseph Fliesler; art direction by Andrei Andreiev; produced by George S. Horsetzky. A Kino International release; opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre. Running time: 1:50. "Pandora's Box" will be accompanied on the theater organ by Dennis Scott at 8:30 p.m. Friday and by Jay Warren at 2 and 5 p.m, Sunday. No MPAA rating (parents cautioned for implied sexuality and perversion, drug use and violence).
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