Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The LBS gift shop

The LBS gift shop at Cafepress has been updated. I've added a few new products, and removed a few that never sold. I am especially pleased with the four new postcard designs. Each are based on rare vintage images of Louise Brooks. The pinback buttons are nifty too. I want to come up with some sort of new t-shirt design for the  centenary. I will work on that, and have something done by Spring or Summer. The LBS gift shop at Cafepress. com can be found athttp://www.cafepress.com/louisebrooks  Please, check it out.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Beggars of Life" title card not available to those of limited means

A lobby card from the 1928 Louise Brooks film Beggars of Life is being offered on eBay for the ridiculous price of $3,245. (Perhaps they meant $32.45 ?) The description reads "Title Lobby card 11 x 14” (28 x 35 cm.), U.S. This early William Wellman silent film is universally acknowledged as the finest American film done by Louise Brooks. She plays a young woman who murders her sexually abusive guardian and then goes on the run as a hobo, dressed as a boy. This card is in unbelievable condition---except for a couple of tiny marginal bumps, it is utterly perfect. MINT"  Thank the heavens they are offering free shipping to the lucky winner.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pandora's Box to be released in Portugal

Kieren Valente, a fan and LBS member from Portugal, emailed to let everyone know that a special, 2-DVD edition of Pandora's Box will be released in Portugal on November 14th, the Louise Brooks' centenary. This new edition of A Caixa de Pandora ( or A Buceta de Pandora ) will contain the "as much as possible of the original Portuguese intertitles." The second disc will features stills from the film, cast biographies, and the outstanding Hugh Neely documentaryLooking For Lulu.  Interestingly, Kieren Valente notes, the company releasing this DVD is the same that first distributed the film in Portugal in 1931.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mrs Harris on HBO

Tonight, HBO is showing a film called Mrs Harris, new movie about Jean Harris' conviction for the 1980 shooting death of "Scarsdale Diet" Dr. Herman Tarnower. Apparently, near the beginning, Louise Brooks makes "an appearance." Some of the articles reporting on the film have noted, "Barely has the title scrolled across the screen when gunfire erupts in excerpted, classic-movie scenes of Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson and others portraying women pushed to extremes." I don't subscribe to HBO. If anyone does, and has a chance to watch this film, please report back on what it all means.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Lulu in Berlin" screening / "Pandora's Box" screening

I just found out . . . .  Richard Leacock's fascinating documentary, Lulu in Berlin, will be screened at the De Young Museum as part of a "Leacock / Pennebaker: Pioneers of Cinema Verite" series taking place in San Francisco. Leacock's 1984 film will be shown at the De Young Museum (in Golden Gate Park) on Thursday, March 2nd at 7:30 pm. And what's more, Richard Leacock will be on hand to introduce the film. If you are a Louise Brooks fan, and haven't seen this film, you should! The series is sponsored by the Documentary Film Institute, which is part of the International center for the Arts at San Francisco State University. Tickets can be had for $10.00 through www.ticketweb.com

For more information about these films and Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker visit www.collegeofcreativearts.org/DFI/


I've just heard that a newly struck print of Pandora's Box will be shown at the historic Castro Theater as part of the annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival in July. This year, the festival will take place on July 14 - 16. Pandora's Box will likely be shown on Saturday, the 15th. More about the festival (though this year's schedule has not been posted) can be found at www.silentfilm.org.      I am very excitied to see this screening. And you can bet I will be there.

And some more late breaking news . . . . Another new book about Louise Brooks - this one published in Austria - is due out near the end of the year!

For the latest on Louise Brooks centenary news, please visit this page.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I am distraught

This morning, I had used my computer to check email, read the news, etc.... Everthing was working fine. Then I headed off to the library. When I returned, I booted up my computer and my secondary hard drive - a storage drive, failed. I am distraught. All of my RadioLulu files (more than 100 mp3's), all of my Cafepress work, and all of my work on other Louise Brooks related projects was stored on that drive. I am very anxious that this data may be lost or it may cost me a shitload of money to get back it through the services of a data retrieval company. And, I wasted all afternoon chasing down solutions in the vain hope  I might be able to reverse the situation. Apparently, this particular Maxtor hard drive has a history of firmware corruption. The Louise Brooks Society shall not depend on Maxtor hard drives ever again!

Continueing my pursuit

Continueing my pursuit of Louise Brooks / Denishawn material from college newspapers, today I looked at an interlibrary loan of the Daily Iowan (the student newspaper at the University of Iowa). I found a few good articles and a couple of advertisements, though no review, regarding the February, 1924 Denishawn performance in Iowa City. I was impressed by the Daily Iowan. It was a pretty decent college newspaper for the time. I think it the equal of the papers from the University of Michaigana, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley.

I also looked at a small town newspaper, the Altoona Tribune, from Altoona, Pennsylvannia. I found lots of material on the October, 1922 Denishawn performance - though only a little on the March, 1924 engagement. Nevertheless, my pursuit goes on . . . I mean to be thorough. I had also requested a couple of later reels of the Altoona Tribune. And, I found some stuff on screenings of The Street of Forgotten Men and The American Venus, including a few nice advertisements! I will add those to the files, and add citations to the appropriate LBS bibliographies.

Here is a rather busy, though rather typical advertisement I came across today. I think it is rather nifty - so wordy! Notice the adjoining advertisement for the Hipitty Hop Girls. I hadn't realized hip-hop went back so far. . . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Wil Wheaton reblogged

Back in December, Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame, actor, author, and blogger extraordinare) posted a blog headlined "girls in corsets juggling knives." The entry read thus. "If you like:
and you're not on dial-up, you simply must go watch this video from The Ditty Bops." I would suggest taking his advice! The Ditty Bops video is nifty - very surreal, and the Ditty Bops themselves look smashing in their dual bobs. (Does Wil Wheaton know that the Squirrel Nut Zippers once used an image of Louise Brooks on a concert poster?)

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Girl in Every Port

On this day in 1928, A Girl in Every Port, starring Victor McLaglen and Robert Armstrong and featuring Louise Brooks, premiered at the Roxy Theater in New York City. It was a big hit in the big apple. It would also prove popular in France.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mick LaSalle's Prix review

Today, Mick LaSalle, the well known film critic for the San Francisco Chroniclereviewed the recent Kino DVD release, Prix de Beaute. Mick is a fine newspaper critic, and the author of two worthwhile books on pre-code film, Complicated Women, and Dangerous Men. However, he has never much liked Louise Brooks.

A 1995 article by LaSalle, titled "Pandora's Box is Steeped in Critical Hysteria," began by stating "Pandora's Box, which opens today for a four-day run at the Castro, is one of those revered classics, so steeped in critical hysteria that it's almost heresy to question its greatness." He goes on to suggest that Brooks (who he refers to as "a minor star best known for her Moe-in-the-Three-Stooges haircut") is today known only because of her friendships with a number of film critics. LaSalle also refers to Kenneth Tynan's long 1979 article in the New Yorker as "critical lunacy." LaSalle's review of Prix de Beaute echoes his earlier sentiments. Today's piece begins "More nonsense has been written about Louise Brooks than any other silent-era figure. A minor American actress . . . ." I would suggest that some of that nonsense about Brooks is LaSalle's own.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The bob as mask

Yesterday, at the library, I ran across this striking 1924 photo of a stage actress sporting a rather exaggerated bob. I have never seen such stylized cut - especially in the way the points of the bob reach across Jean Bodine's face. And look at her eyebrows, extended to touch the hairline. The effect quite nearly looks like a kind of disquise, or mask. I thought "a haircut performing as a mask." Or is this image a kind of masque?

Friday, February 17, 2006

I think he was right

On this day in 1925, Florenz Ziegfeld is quoted in the Baltimore News as saying, "Louise Brooks, is going to eclipse a lot of the present stars in a very few short years."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Here is what I what I looked at and here is what I found

I went ot the library yesterday to check out some of my just arrived interlibrary loans. Here is what I what I looked at and here is what I found. . . .  Following up on an earlier post, I requested some college newspapers in hopes of finding reviews of Denishawn performances. I asked for the Ohio State Lantern, but my request was rejected as the microfilm for this Ohio State University student newspaper was "not on the shelf." I shall ask for it again at a later date. I also requested the Cornell Daily Sun and the Reveille (from Louisiana State University), but neither newspaper contained any editorial coverage. The Cornell Daily Sun did run a couple of advertisements for the Denishawn performance in nearby Ithaca, New York.

I also looked at various issues of the Whig Journal (from Quincy, Illinois) and the Omaha Bee (from Omaha, Nebraska), and in each I did find articles and reviews of the Denishawn performances in those two cities. Citations for the material I found have been added to the various LBS bibliographies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Think about it

Louise Brooks appears on the cover of the previous issue of Think magazine, which comes from Prague. Check it out here.

Jeffree Benet "I photoshopped in the cover of the previous issue into the hands of 20's film darling Louise Brooks, from an old publicity still. The cover conspiratorally warns 'Look Normal. They must suspect nothing'."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Louise Brooks by Rick Geary

A caricature of Louise Brooks by Rick Geary shows up on eBay ocassionally as a rubber stamp. There is one for sale now. I have one of these rubber stamps. And I remember that Barry Paris stamped a copy of his biography that he signed for me some years ago. They are nifty.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Library of Congress follow-up

I have heard back from the Library of Congress regarding The Street of Forgotten Men. Here is what they wrote.

The Moving Image Section of the Library of Congress has an incomplete 16mm reference print of THE STREET OF FORGOTTEN MEN (1925), which is available for viewing in our Motion Picture and Television Reading Room by researchers with an advance appointment.

6 reels (r1, 3-7); 2000 ft., si., b&w, 16mm reference print

I am excitied. I shall attempt to make an appointment to view this film while I am in Washington D.C.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Library of Congress

For work reasons, I will be travelling to Washington D.C. in mid-May to attend the national booksellers convention. While in the Capitol, I hope to visit the Library of Congress, and do some research on Louise Brooks. (I've never been to the Library of Congress - though I have borrowed a number of inter-library loans from this institution. They have an amazing collection.)

And so, yesterday, I spent most of the day planning my visit. The LOC is the largest library in the world. It has closed stacks. And there are a number of rules which apply to individuals and independent researchers like myself. For example, individuals can only make 9 requests per hour in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room. And scanners, larger than the hand-held variety, are not allowed, etc . . . . Thus, I spent my day figuring out which buildings, collections, and rooms are open when, and what material can be found where. I also obtained call numbers for the various items I hope to look at. I will likely have little more than one day at the LOC - and so, I prioritized which material I want to examine first. I hope to make the most of my time. And there is sure to be some competition for the microfilm reader/printers. I have to work efficiantly.

For a handful of key newspapers, The Library of Congress is the only library in the country which has certain titles readily available on microfilm. For example, in order to complete my survey of particular papers (in search of either Denishawn material or film reviews), I plan to request theRochester Times UnionNewark Star-EagleMinneapolis Morning TribuneBoston Post and a couple of Buffalo papers. I also hope to explore theIndianapolis NewsOklahoma City times, and Rocky Mountain News. The LOC has each of these papers on microfilm. One elusive paper which the LOC does not have on microfilm - but instead has in bound volumes - is the Atlantic City Evening Union. I have long been anxious to look at this paper and uncover what articles it may have run about the near week-long Denishawn engagement there in 1923, the Miss America contest and the filming of American Venus in 1925, and the later screening of the film in 1926. I would guess it is ripe with interesting material!

It is also my understanding that the LOC has 6 of 7 reels of  The Street of Forgotten Men, the first film in which Louise Brooks appeared. I have a query in to the LOC to find out if  this 1925 Herbert Brennon directed film is, in fact, available for individual screening. How thrilling it would be to view the film! If it is, and if I am able to see it, I will take many notes. To be continued . . . . 

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Teatro della Lulu

Mars Toyko is a visual artist working in miniature 3-D diorama who has created "Teatro della Lulu (Homage to Louise Brooks)." The artist sent an email to alert me to her work. She wrote, "I have been a fan of Louise Brooks for years and have created an Homage to her."

This photo was taken with a macro lens attachment. The original diorama is only 3" wide, 4.5" deep, and 4" high. For me, this piece evokes the work of the American surrealist Joseph Cornell - one of my favorite artists and an inspiration to Mars Toyko. (Cornell was famously obsessed with certain ballerinas and actresses - most notably Hedy Lamarr - and he created elaborate shadow boxes in their honor.) Toyko's collage and constructions also bring the work of Betye Saar to mind. Those wishing to see more of the artist's efforts should visit http://teenytheaters.com/

Friday, February 10, 2006

Diary of a Lost Circus

The Montreal Mirror reports on a vaudeville entertainment taking place this weekend in Montreal, Canada called "Diary of a Lost Circus." The event/performance is burlesque, and has nothing to do with silent film, though it was in some small way inspired by the Louise Brooks' film, Diary of a Lost Girl. The Mirror reports

"I was talking with Damiana on the phone," he recalls, "she was asking me what to call the night, and we came up with names like the Sexy Pants Party, the I Wanna Dance Half-Naked by Myself Show and the like. Damiana, the goddess she is, mentions we should use the word 'circus.' As I gracefully glanced at the 1929 German poster for the Louise Brooks film Diary of a Lost Girl, I thought to myself, 'We are all kind of lost, all trying to find our spot, looking for other spot-finders and with our dances and guitars, we end up finding each other by accident.'"

Castelli's philosophical revelation prompted the title 'Diary of a Lost Circus,' and Dolce dug it too. 'A lost circus,' muses Castelli, 'a  whole lot of us wandering around in the city with a stick, a dress and a good song in our head.
Interestingly, Frank Wedekind's original Lulu plays - the basis for Pandora's Box - are framed by a circus. Anyways, here is a link to the news story. If anyone should attend and spot a Brooks sighting, please post something here.

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Louise Brooks event this Saturday

Louise Brooks fans will want to know about an event taking place on Saturday. Echoeing language from the LBS website, this small piece appeared inArtvoice, a Buffalo alternative weekly. "Louise Brooks appeared in 24 films between 1925 and 1948, during what is considered the Golden Age of Hollywood. Perhaps most famous for her portrayal of Lulu in G. W. Pabst’s German classic Pandora’s Box (1929), Brooks has since gained iconic status among film buffs. Though she may be remembered as much for her trademark bobbed haircut as for her acting ability, her impact on film history is undeniable. This year marks what would have been the actress’ 100th birthday, and a photo exhibit and reception will be held in her honor at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum. An exhibit of Brooks images is noteworthy enough but the fact that entertainment is provided by Lowest of Low frontman Ron Hawkins’ Acoustic Revue makes the evening extra special." For more info and pix, visit this website.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Silent Black and White Play in Chicago

From the press release of the new Louise Brooks-inspired play in Chicago. For more information (including images), check out the website at www.silenttheatre.com 

Silent Theatre in association with The Journeymen Theater Company present
Conceived and Directed by tonika todorova
Adapted from the LULU plays by Frank Wedekind

Playing at Theatre Building Chicago, located at 1225 West Belmont Avenue, in Chicago. Performances run Fridays and Saturdays @ 8:00pm & 11:00pm and Sundays @ 7:00pm through February 26th, 2006. Running time 80 minutes with no intermission. All tickets are $20 and are available through the box office @ 773-327-5252 and at all TICKETMASTER outlets. Here's a special offer for Louise Brooks fans. When purchasing tickets, say "luluesque" at the Box office, and get half off!

LULU is adapted from German playwright Frank Wedekind's 1894 Lulu cycle "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora's Box" and follows the escapades of the unbearably sexy Lulu who causes many to destroy themselves while pursuing the maddening passion she inspires.

LULU is beautiful, narcissistic and young. She is a woman who possesses a thrilling combination of powerful and candid innocence that has made her the object of ardent admiration since childhood. As Lulu passes through Berlin’s high society, she exercises a cruel power over the many men and women who love her to the point of obsession, exploiting them before she herself can be used. But her beauty is cursed, and her power short-lived; it is she who will ultimately be destroyed by her lovers.

LULU presents its story in complete silence. It takes the silent film genre, combined with German expressionism and portrays it on stage to accent with gesticulation and body language, what words sometimes fail to express.

LULU includes Brendan Balfe, Nicholas DuFloth, Lauren Ashley Fisher, Gillian Hastings, Curtis M. Jackson, Matthew Massaro, Scott Moulton, Alzan Pelesic, Brian Quijada, Marvin Eduardo Quijada, Joe Vonderhaar and Kyla Louise Webb. Lighting design by Jennifer Larkin, set design by Rick Gleeson, directed by tonika todorova with original music by Isaiah Robinson.


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

“…the embodiment of feminine . Lulu is a must see… a totally unique Chicago stage experience…” - CHICAGO CRITIC

“…giddy excitement…energetic strangeness…” - NEW CITY

“…marvelous…flawless…gorgeous. Hats off to director Tonika Todorova and the riveting, ridiculously skilled cast.” - CHICAGO READER

“…We’re dealing with smart people…Don’t miss!” - TIMEOUT CHICAGO

Production History: Premiered @ The Journeymen Theater Company (September/October 2002). Remounted with Silent Theatre in association with The Journeymen @ City Lit Theatre (November-December 2005).

Valet & metered parking available and restaurant discounts (with TBC ticket stubs) at nearby restaurants TBC restaurant partners: http://www.theatrebuildingchicago.org/images/restuarants.gif

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Welcome to the LBS

The other day, the Louise Brooks Society welcomed its first member from Senegal. "mrcina" hails from Dakar, and is one of a few members from Africa. At last count, more than 1400 individuals from 49 (now 50!) countries have joined the LBS! From Australia to Zimbabwe, from Canada to Argentina, from the Canary Islands to the Czech Republic, LBS members comprise a truly world wide web of Louise Brooks fans and silent film enthusiasts.

Other new members include 
Sergio from Porto, Portugal, Daniel from Goteborg, Sweden, and Rodrigo from Uruguay. Terry from Los Lunas, New Mexico wrote to say, "I just saw the film, The Showoff.  I was surprised by the stunning beauty of an actress called Louise Brooks.  I had never heard of her before and went on the Internet and found your web-site." Louise from Alfreton, Derbyshire, UK wrote " I have been a Louise Brooks fan since I was 14 years old, I am now 37. Is that odd?" No, not at all. Welcome.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Marc Quinn

A British artist named Marc Quinn referenced Louise Brooks in today's Guardian newspaper. "Kate Moss is iconic now because she's come to signify what beauty is in our eyes. When you look back at the 1920s you think of Louise Brooks . . . . " Click here for the complete article.

And yesterday, Vanwall came across this article referencing Brooks - another Brooks / Kate Moss connection!

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Louise Brooks centenary

This year marks the Louise Brooks centenary. The dancer and actress was born on November 14, 1906 in Cherryvale, Kansas. The anniversary of Brooks' birth will be celebrated by the release of a new DVD and a new book, a museum exhibit, screenings, and other events held across the United States and Europe.

February 7, 2006: Kino will release Prix de Beauté (1930) on DVD. This marks the French film's first commercial release on disc in the United States. (more info)
February 11, 2006:
 "Silent Star: Louise Brooks in Photographs" will be shown at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Buffalo, New York.

Spring 2006: The Rochester Historical Society will screen a Brooks' film in Rochester, New York. Local film critic Jack Garner will give introductory remarks. Details to come.
May, 2006: A celebration of Brooks' 100th birthday, sponsored by the Cherryvale Chamber of Commerce, will take place in Cherryvale, Kansas. Details to come.
Spring 2006: Screening of a newly restored version of Pandora's Box in New York City. Details to come.
August 2006: "New Histories of Photography 11: Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema" opens at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Details to come.
August 2006: The Louise Brooks Society celebrates 11 years online. Special biographical content will be added to the site to mark the occassion.
October 3 - 8, 2006: SEDICICORTO International Film Festival Forlì in Italy takes place. A special category this year includes films relating to Louise Brooks. (more info)

October 10, 2006: Rizzoli will publish Peter Cowie's new pictorial on the actress, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever. (more info)

November 2006:
 An event to celebrate the publication of Peter Cowie's new book will take place in San Francisco. Details to come.
November 14, 2006: Louise Brooks was born 100 years ago on this day in Cherryvale, Kansas. Happy Birthday!
December 8, 2006: "New Histories of Photography 11: Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema" opens at the International Center of Photography in New York City. The exhibit runs through February 25, 2007. Details to come.
Rumours have it that even more happenings, not listed here, are in the works! The LBS would be interested in hearing from anyone who might know of other events. Please email the LBS.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Alban Berg's Lulu

I recently viewed a DVD of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu. I want to recommend it, as I think this production is truly exceptional! Previously, I had seen one live production of this opera (in San Francisco a few years back), heard one on the radio (a Metropolitan Opera broadcast), and listened to a couple I have on CD. This is my favorite Lulu, by far.

Based on a pair of once banned plays by Frank Wedekind (the same source material that G.W. Pabst drew on for his 1929 film starring Louise Brooks), Alban Berg's operatic swansong charts the rise and fall of a femme fatale - Lulu. With its intense, and at times beautiful and harsh score, this is one of the great operatic masterpieces of the 20th century. This subtitled production by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera stars Christine Schafer, Kathryn Harries, and Wolfgang Schone. Andrew Davis conducted the London Philharmonic.

Schafer, who sings the role of Lulu, is especially appealing. (She has short hair, but does not evoke Brooks' appearance.) I really enjoyed watching her. And the staging of the opera was brilliant. Minimal, but sophisticated in many ways. To have to see it to know what I mean. This production won the 1997 Gramaphone Award for Best Video. If you have ever wanted to check out a production of Lulu, I would recommend this.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Who has influenced your style?

An article in today's Charlotte Observer about a clothes boutique in that North Carolina town contains an interview with the owner, Kim Terrell of Hysteric Glamour. The exchange reads in part.

Who has influenced your style? "Louise Brooks, Penelope Tree and Peggy Moffitt. Those women took no cues from anyone. They set a standard for themselves and for many women.... You have the bobbed hairdos because of Louise Brooks. You have the smoky eye pallid look because of Peggy Moffitt."

Is anyone familar with this store?

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Barry Paris references Louise Brooks

Today, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette film critic Barry Paris referenced Louise Brooks in his review of a new documentary film about the Ballets Russes. Paris gives the film three stars, and describes it as "joyful." His review ends this way.

It's hard enough for us regular mortals to lose our youthful beauty and movement. How much harder must it be for these graceful octogenarian creatures? You will fall in love with them and their nobility.
"In my dreams I am not crippled," said Louise Brooks, a Denishawn dancer confined to a wheelchair at the end of her life. "In my dreams, I dance."
In this docu-dream, so do our Russians.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Christa Parravani is sometimes mistaken

Photographer Christa Parravani is sometimes mistaken for actress Louise Brooks. The curious should visit this webpage (a la Cindy Sherman?).
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