Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lulu, a new book

Yesterday, I got a copy of Lulu, a new book of photographs by Nili Yosha. This handsomely produced small press edition / artist's book documents the recent San Francisco production of Frank Wedekind's "Lulu" (by the Chicago-based Silent Theatre Company). Along with numerous black and white photographs, there is a bit of text - captions of a kind taken from the play. The book is a fine keepsake, and something I will long treasure. And, it is a "must" for Lulu enthuisiasts! Individuals interested in obtaining a copy can find a few for sale on eBay. 

Monday, January 29, 2007

Louise Brooks exhibit at the ICP

Speaking of exhibits, a small Louise Brooks exhibit is currently on display at the International Center for Photography in New York City. The exhibit, "Louise Brooks and the New Woman in Weimar Cinema," is on display through April 29.

From what I can tell, this exhibit is different from the one which recently closed at the George Eastman House. Instead of portraits, this one focusses on film stills. On display are various images from Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, the two films Brooks made under director G. W. Pabst. According to the ICP website, "The American silent-film actress Louise Brooks (1906-1985) is one of the great female icons in the history of the cinema. . . . She embodied the ideal of the Weimar-era "New Woman," a social role that connoted political equality,  free-spiritedness, and gender ambiguity."

I would enjoy hearing from anyone who sees this exhibit.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

December Trip (part two)

From Detroit, my wife and I flew to Rochester, New York. As most readers of this blog know, Louise Brooks made her home in Rochester starting in the late 1950's. Rochester is also home to the George Eastman House, one of the largest motion picture archives in the world.  My wife and I spent a full day at the GEH, mostly looking through clipping files and archival material related to the actress. We read letters both to and from Brooks, looked at vintage photographs she once owned, poured over many clippings about the actress, and examined other related documents such as manuscript pages, programs, and books. And of course, we took lots of notes.

While at the George Eastman House, we also took the opportunity to see the Louise Brooks exhibit, which was then on display. Here are a few snapshots taken in the museum. Anthony L'Abbate, the helpful curatorial assistant, took this first picture of my wife and I. It was very exciting to be there.

As can be seen from these pictures, the Brooks exhibit at the GEH was a modest one. (The exhibit took up one room - with a few other pictures hanging in the adjoining hallway.) The exhibit mostly featured photographs, many of which were familiar, some of which were not. There were also a few related magazines, books, and other items, including a painting of two birds by Louise Brooks. The painting - which is something I had never seen before - can be seen in two of the images below. (There is similiar piece of art depicted in the Barry Paris biography - see page 446.) I wonder how many such artworks Brooks completed?

It was thrilling to see this exhibit. And I am very glad we took the time to do so. My only regret is that we did not get into the GEH Dryden Theater. Wwe saw it from the outside, but it would have been interesting to see it from the inside. Lastly, here is a snapshot of one-half of the Brooks display in the George Eastman House gift shop. There were also a few DVD's for sale. Peter Cowie's new book and the recently released Pandora's Box DVD from Criterion were each featured prominantly.

While in Rochester, my wife and I also walked around the downtown. (Imagining Brooks herself walking these very streets in the 1950s or 1960's, perhaps . . . .)  We also made a point of visiting the Rochester Public Library - which Brooks frequented - and took the opportunity to do some research. 

We dug up articles, reviews and advertisements for the Denishawn Dance Company's two performances in Rochester during the years Brooks was a member of the troupe. We also scavenged some reviews and advertisements for Brooks' films when they were shown in the city in the 1920's. (Back then, Rochester boasted more than four city newspapers. And to date, I have only been able to get at a couple of them.)  We also copied more recent articles from the Rochester newspapers. For example, there were articles about the actress by Henry Clune, a local columnist. There was considerable coverage, including large headlines and front page articles, about the actress at the time of her death. And there were articles about the Louise Brooks biography by Barry Paris. All together, we gathered much new material. Citations for all that we found have been added to the LBS bibliographies.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

December Trip (part one)

Last month, my wife and I took a trip to Detroit, Michigan. I spent time with my family (I grew up on the east side of the city). I also had the opportunity to introduce Pandora's Box when it was shown at the Detroit Film Theater, which is part of the Detroit Institute of the Arts. (The DIA is the fifth largest fine arts museum in the United States. It has a great collection of paintings, sculpture and other works. Check it out if you're ever in the Motor City.)

I had intended to introduce the film three times, as it was being shown as many times over the course of the second weekend in December. A traffic jam on I-75, however, prevented me from making it to the Friday night screening. (I got there 15 minutes late - but the show must go on, and the film started without my introduction.) Nevertheless, I did make it to the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon screenings. There was an article about the film in a couple of the local papers. More than 500 people were in attendance for each showing. Wow!

Here is a picture of me sitting in the DIA theater before the film was shown on Saturday night. As you can see, it is a splendid theater which dates from the 1920's. (The theater will soon be closed for renovation.) I was told by one of the curators of film that this venue was the first museum theater in the United States to show films as "art." Screenings took place here before similar historic screenings at NY Museum of Modern Art.

And here is a pictue of me introducing the film. My rambling six minute introduction spoke a little bit Louise Brooks, about the LBS, about various centenary happenings, about Brooks' connections to Detroit, and about the film we all were about to see, Pandora's Box. I hope people liked what I had to say.

While in the Detroit-area, I took the opportunity to do a bit of research. I visited the Mount Clemens Public Library hoping to dig up something about Louise Brooks' 1935 dance engagement at the Blossom Heath Inn. (I spoke about this event in my introduction.) This one-time roadhouse is located in what is now St. Clair Shores, a suburb on the east side of Detroit. In the past, I acquired a few newspaper notices and advertisements in the major Detroit newspapers. Now, I thought I might look for additional material. As best I can figure, the only suburban newspapers covering this part of metro Detroit in the 1930's where those based in neighboring Mount Clemens. I looked through the Mount Clemens Daily Leader (daily) and Mount Clemens Monitor (weekly), but found nothing. Happily though, the librarians in the local history room gave me a few suggestions, including a contact at the St. Clair Shores library. So, maybe something futher will turn up. The hunt goes on.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Amsterdam

Apparently, in the New Amsterdam theater lobby and elsewhere in the building, the Disney corporation (the current owners of the NYC building) has placed photographs of various performers who appeared at the theater in the Ziegfeld days, including Louise Brooks. Has anyone been to the newly restored building? Has anyone seen Brooks' image ?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Pandora's Box in Chicago

Mike Quintero sent word that Pandora's Box will be shown February 23rd at Northwestern University. The 1929 film, which stars Louise Brooks, will be screened with live musical accompaniment featuring Chicago jazz guitar virtuoso Andreas Kapsalis and his band. Here is what the film series website had to say about the film.
Friday, February 23, 8pm 
Pandora’s Box 
(G. W. Pabst, 1929, Germany, 110 minutes, 35mm)

Lulu (Louise Brooks), a sensual yet innocent showgirl, weaves a spell of sexual delirium that wrecks the lives of the men and women who fall in love with her. Ultimately a tragedy, the film follows her career and romantic exploits until her eventual destruction. Dramatizing the temptations of Berlin between the wars, Pandora’s Box is one of the classics of silent cinema. It also shaped the radiant on-screen persona of the legendary actress Louise Brooks. With her glossy black bobbed hair and glowing skin Brooks practically patented the “what have you done for me lately” look, becoming an icon of the 1920s.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Louise Brooks Society updates (part two)

Of late, I have been continueing by ongoing (read: never ending) research into the life and films of Louise Brooks. Some of the newspapers I looked at in pursuit of film-related material include the Concord Daily Monitor and New Hampshire Patriot (New Hampshire), South Bend Tribune (Indiana), Charlotte News & Evening Chronicle (North Carolina), Tallahassee Daily Democrat(Florida), and the Oregon Daily Journal (from Portland). Of these inter-library loan requests, the South Bend and Portland newspapers proved to be the most profitable for articles, reviews and advertisements.

Recently, I also made an afternoon visit to the library at San Francisco State University, where I gathered a few articles fromPhotoplay magazine. The library has microfilm of the film journal covering the later 1930's. And, while in Sacramento over the holidays, I made a visit to the California State Library. There, I looked at microfilm of a few California newspapers like the Los Angeles Examiner (I was missing a few film reviews from the 1920's), Santa Rosa Press Democrat (found a few reviews), Sausalito News, and Napa Valley Register. These last two small town newspapers turned up some advertisements.

I have put in inter-library loan requests for yet more periodicals. I still want to look at additional issues of the North China Daily News (from Shanghai), as well as newspapers from various towns and cities in Canada. I also have a number of requests cued up for papers from Kansas, New York and Pennslyvannia . . . . The search goes on.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Louise Brooks Society updates (part one)

I have updated a few parts of the Louise Brooks Society. . . . Recently, I added about a dozen new tracks to RadioLulu (the silent film and Louise Brooks-themed online radio station of the LBS). There are now more than 160 songs on the station. And the current playlist runs 8 hours and 40 minutes! Please tune in.

Some of the vintage tracks just added to the station include a couple from the teens - Byron G. Harlan's "Let's Go In To A Picture Show" and Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan's "Those Charlie Chaplin Feet." There are also a few new tracks from the twenties like Frankie Trumbauer and His Orchestra's version of "Louise(which I think predates Maurice Chevalier's more familiar version)Ernest Hare & Billy Jones' rendition of "Don't Bring Lulu," and Marion Harris' wonderfully wicked jazz age song, "I'm A Jazz Vampire."Also, I couldn't resist "Pandora, Close That Box" by Billy Butterfield and His Orchestra, which dates from the 1940's.

Some of the contemporary tracks added lately include "Pandora's Boxby the Dutch goth band Clan of Xymox (I had added Louise, their other LB related song, late last year). Also new to the playlist is "Clara Bowby Cleaners from Venus, and "Buster Keaton Blues" by the Gomalan Brass Quintet.

There are a handful of other songs I am hoping to add in the near future. One is "Louise, You Tease" by Coon-Sanders Nighthawks, recorded in 1925. Another is "Clara Bow" by the San Francisco rock band The Vaticans, recorded just last year. And, I hope to add a track or two by Blanche Ring, a popular Broadway and vaudeville entertainer who happened to be Eddie Sutherland's aunt. Notably, Blanche Ring appeared along with Louise Brooks in It's the Old Army Game, which was directed by Sutherland (Brooks' first husband).

If you know of any contemporary songs - including rock n roll song or songs by a local band - about Louise Brooks or any silent film star, please let me know. I will consider adding it to the RadioLulu playlist.

Recently, I also revised and expanded the Louise Brooks Society gift shop at CafePress.com. The url is www.cafepress.com/louisebrooks There are a whole bunch of rather nifty new items for sale including a set of tiles, and a set of tile boxes which I call "Pandora's Boxes." There are a few new t-shirts, a new blank journal, some new postcards and more. Here are the new magnet designs.

LB Magnet
LB Magnet
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LBS Magnet
LBS Magnet
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Lulu Magnet
Lulu Magnet
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Rectangle Magnet
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Rectangle Magnet

p.s. The small mark-up I put on each item helps pay for the expanded CafePress shop (which costs $7.00 per month), as well as RadioLulu (which costs $10.00 per month to broadcast). Hopefully, I will sell a few items a month.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Buffalo screening in February

Pandora's Box will be shown at 7 pm on February 6th at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center(639 Main St.), in Buffalo, New York. Open to the public and screened as part of a university class series, the film will be preceeded by an introduction by a class instructor. Philip Carli will provide accompaniment on the electronic piano. This short wrote-up appeared in the University of Buffalo's UB Reporter:
Feb 6: "Pandora's Box/Die Büchse der Pandora," 1929, directed by Georg Wilhem Pabst. Few films come close to "Pandora's Box" for psychological and erotic depth. Louise Brooks is fabulous as Lulu in this film based on two plays by Franz Wedekind. Her look led to a comic strip—"Dixie Dugan"—and a social craze—flappers.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A watch for an eternity dreamed of by Louise Brooks

Boucheron Paris has an interesting advertisement featuring the English fashion model and author Sophie Dahl*, advertising a watch with the slogan, “A Watch for an eternity dreamed of by Louise Brooks.” (The ad appeared in the January 2007 edition of British Vogue.) The ad is part of Boucheron's 2006-2007 advertising campaign, which can be found at www.boucheron.com The website contains a bit more text about Brooks.

* Sophie Dahl is the daughter of Tessa Dahl (daughter of the children's author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal), and her father is actor Julian Holloway (son of actor Stanley Holloway).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Diary of a Lost Girl screens in Seattle

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) will be shown in Seattle, Washington with live musical accompaniment by Dennis James. The film will be shown on Monday, January 15th at 7 pm. Here is what the local alternative papers in Seattle had to say:

From The Stranger:

Diary of a Lost Girl: The Paramount's outstanding Silent Movie Mondays series returns with an abbreviated program on German expressionism. Up first is Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl, starring Louise Brooks as an unlucky pharmacist's daughter with awesome bangs. Preceded by a lecture and accompanied on the organ by Dennis James, shortlisted for the 2006 Stranger Genius film award. Paramount,Mon Jan 15 at 7 pm.

From the Seattle Weekly:

Diary of a Lost Girl This 1929 film, starring Louise Brooks, is featured tonight in STG's series of German Expressionist Silents. Dennis James plays the Wurlitzer Organ during the screening. The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 682-1414. $12. 7 p.m. Mon. Jan. 15.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

More RadioLulu updates

I've added about a dozen new tracks to RadioLulu, the silent film inspired, Louise-Brooks themed online radio station of the Louise Brooks Society. All of the newly added songs date from the 1920's and 1930's.

I 've added a couple of early songs about the movies, Billy Murray's Take Your Girlie to the Movies and the Peerless Quartet'sSince Mother Goes to Movie Shows. Each of these recordings date from the teens. I've also added a track which possibly references the Lon Chaney film, Laugh, Clown, Laugh! by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. Also new is a Jazz Age-themed number by Nat Shilkret & The Victor Orchestra, Flapperette. There are a couple of tracks by Buddy Rogers & His Orchestra,While a Cigarette Was Burning and Lovelight in the Starlight. Interestingly, not only was Buddy Rogers an actor and bandleader, but he was also married to Mary Pickford. And lastly, I added some vintage recordings with "Louise" in the title, such as Coon-Sanders Nighthawks delightfulLouise, You Tease, Bob Crosby & His Orchestra's nifty Louise, Louise, and Django Reinhardt's version of the Maurice Chevalier hit, Louise.

If you haven't already checked out RadioLulu, please give it a listen. The station is growing in popularity. Here's a recap of my station's stats for January:

Total Listening Hours: 890
Total Station Launches: 1231
Station Presets: 1193
Favorite Station Designations: 27

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Lulu in Philly

Pandora's Box will be shown in Philadelphia this coming Monday. Here are the details.

PHILADELPHIA CITY INSTITUTE LIBRARY 1905 Locust St., 215-685-6621. Pandora's Box (1929, Germany, 100 min.) Louise Brooks stars as Lulu, a hedonistic dancer, prostitute and heartbreaker, in G.W. Pabst's silent masterpiece. Mon., Jan. 8, 2 p.m., free.
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