Monday, April 30, 2007

Lulu in Göttingen

Pandora's Box will be screened on May 3rd, with live music performed by "Ensemble Werner Küspert," as part of the 2nd Göttingen Silent Film Festival. For more information, please

Saturday, April 28, 2007

RadioLulu in danger

For the last few years, I have paid to have RadioLulu broadcast over the internet. I figured it was a great way for fans of Louise Brooks and the silent film era to hear related music - most of which is rarely broadcast anywhere else. Where else, for example, can one hear the theme song to such Louise Brooks films as Beggars of Life or Prix de Beaute ? To broadcast over the internet via, it costs me more than $100.00 per year. Some of that money goes to pay artist royalties. Now, things might change. . . . 

Recently, a ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) - which governs broadcast and internet radio - announced catastrophically high new royalty rates (higher for internet broadcasters than over-the-air broadcasters) as well as a $500 / year minimum per station. Despite the outcry of nearly all webcasters, the CRB denied the request for a rehearing and has proceeded with their ruling.

In response to these new and unfair fees, Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) introduced the Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060). This bill will provide immediate relief from the proposed new rates and can save thousands of Internet radio stations from going off the air, including RadioLulu!

RadioLulu, Live365, and the other members of the SaveNetRadio Coalition fully support this proposal and are working diligently to see it turned into law. The next step is to line up cosponsors for HR 2060, but time is running short.

We ask that you IMMEDIATELY:

CALL your Representative and ask them to cosponsor HR 2060 -- the Internet Radio Equality Act. Click here to find your Representative's number. And, notify others and have them call THEIR Representatives with the same request to cosponsor HR 2060. Without your help, RadioLulu and other stations that play music of the 1920's and 1930's over the internet may cease to exist.

Thank you for your support! And let's keep the music playing.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Speaking of Evolution

Evolution was a controversial topic back in the 1920's - as it still is today (sadly enough). This amusing editorial cartoon plays off to controversy to comment on changes in social behavior.

I came across this cartoon while researching and though I would share it with my hotsy totsy readers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Quick, quick

Attention New York City fans of Louise Brooks, go see Louise Brooks and the 'New Woman' in Weimar Cinema at the International Center of Photography before it closes on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kevin Brownlow booksigning!

I have just learned that Kevin Brownlow will be signing books following the screening of his restored version of The Iron Mask at the Castro Theater in San Francisco this Saturday afternoon. If you love Louise Brooks, if you love silent film, this is a booksigning not to miss! Copies of Brownlow's classic book on early cinema, The Parade's Gone By, will be for sale in the Castro lobby.

Monday, April 23, 2007

W.C. Fields exhibit

I just received my copy of the Lompoc Picayune-Intelligencer, the official newsletter of the W.C. Fields Fan Club. In it, there is an article about a large W. C. Fields exhibit currently on display at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. The exhibit - “The Peregrinations & Pettifoggery of W.C. Fields” - runs through Sunday, May 13. Click through to the on-line press release for further information and details about a special May 11th event. Pictures of the exhibit in the newsletter didn't include any images of Louise Brooks (who performed with Fields in the 1925 Ziegfeld Follies, as well as the 1926 film It's the Old Army Game, but I am sure it is well worth checking out for anyone who lives in Southern California.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pandora's Box in Minneapolis / St. Paul

Pandora's Box will be shown this coming Tuesday at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Interestingly, the film will be musically accompanied by students Bri'Ann Wright and Adrian Moravec, who will play their own cabaret-inspired score for the silent film on two grand pianos simultaneously. Are any readers of this blog planning to attend ?

This short article, along with a still from the film, appeared in yesterday's Star Tribune

Art house spotlight: 'Pandora's Box'

German director G.W. Pabst's scandalous, sensual "Pandora's Box" is mostly famous for the devastatingly beautiful Louise Brooks. She indelibly personifies the depravity of Weimar Berlin as Lola, a provocative dancer and irresistible seductress. Neither a vamp nor an innocent, Lola's amoral sexuality unleashes a vortex of lust, gambling, promiscuity, suicide, blackmail, prostitution and murder on those around her. Even in the free-swinging Jazz Age of 1929, the film provoked outrage. Lola chooses her lovers freely (the film contains what is reportedly the first overt lesbian subplot in cinema) and indiscriminately, given that she dies in the arms of Jack the Ripper. The film will be screened Tuesday, musically accompanied by Augsburg College students Bri'Ann Wright and Adrian Moravec. They will play their own cabaret-inspired score for the silent film on two grand pianos simultaneously. (8 p.m. Tuesday, Sateren Auditorium, Augsburg College, at Riverside Av. and 22nd Av. S., Mpls. Free and open to the public.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Leni Riefenstahl

In two weeks time, I'll be hosting Steven Bach - the noted film biographer and author of the recently published book on filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Steven Bach will be appearing at The Booksmith in San Francisco - where I work as the events coordinator - to talk about his widely reviewed new book. Bach will give a short talk, show some brief film clips, answer questions from the audience, and then sign books. I hope anyone interested would attend.

Like Louise Brooks, Riefenstahl worked with director G.W. Pabst and made both silent and sound films. Brooks figures in this new book. I am really looking forward to this special event. Here is some descriptive material about it from the Booksmith.

STEVEN BACH - talk & booksigning for "Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl"
Thursday, May 3rd at 7 pm
at The Booksmith (1644 Haight Street in San Francisco) 
"Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl" is the definitive biography of the woman known as "Hitler's filmmaker" - one of the most controversial personalities of the 20th century. Relying on new sources,­ Steven Bach has produced an exceptional work of historical investigation which both untangles the past and is an objective and unsparing appraisal of a woman of spectacular gifts corrupted by ruthless personal ambition. 
Steven Bach is the author of two previous biographies, "Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend" and "Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart." He was in charge of worldwide production for United Artists, where he was involved in such films as Raging BullManhattanThe French Lieutenant's Woman, and Heaven's Gate, about which he wrote the bestseller "Final Cut." 
This Booksmith sponsored event will take place at The Booksmith (1644 Haight Street in San Francisco). For further information, call 415-863-8688 or visit     If you can't attend this event and would like to order a signed copy of the author's new book, please email or phone our store.

"Steven Bach's Leni finally presents Riefenstahl as she genuinely was: not as we have seen her so far but as Hitler's self-serving and mendacious p.r. handmaiden. If you haven't thought of 'Nazi artist' as a noxious and corrupting oxymoron, Bach's scrupulous account of a zealously masked life may persuade you otherwise." 
-- Cynthia Ozick

"In this lively, engaging biography of the legendary Leni Riefenstahl, Steven Bach finally separates fact from fiction to give the powerful filmmaker, manipulative narcissist and friend of Hitler her due." 
--Richard Rhodes

“It is difficult to overpraise Bach’s efforts . . . Bach is determined to present [Leni Riefenstahl] coolly, ironically, without loss of his own moral vector. What emerges is a compulsively readable and scrupulously crafted work . . . an almost novelistically compelling narrative of a life endlessly obfuscated by lies . . . graceful . . . nuanced . . . brilliant.”
-Richard Schickel, The Los Angeles Times (March 11, 2007)

“First-rate . . . [a] richly fleshed-out portraiture and social history”
- Judith Thurman, The New Yorker (March 19, 2007)

“Energetic . . . Serves as [a] much needed corrective to all the spin, evasions and distortions of the record purveyed by Riefenstahl.”
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times (March 13, 2007)

“Bach makes the vivid and exasperating Riefenstahl come back to life and stand before us to be judged . . . Meticulous . . . Bach unearths the buried facts, finds the truth behind the lies.”
-Book World (March 4, 2007) 

“Penetrating and superbly well-written . . . As Bach expertly elucidates the opportunistic Riefenstahl’s exploits . . . he takes measure, as no one else has, of her ruthless ambition . . . Riefenstahl loved fairy tales, and, as Bach so perceptively and artistically reveals, she succeeded in living one, however insidious.”
-Donna Seaman, Booklist (February 15, 2007)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Screenings in Toronto

Two films featuring Louise Brooks will be shown in Toronto at the Goethe-Institut. Pandora's Box will be shown on Thursday, April 19th and Diary of a Lost Girl will be shown on May 24th. Both screenings are set for 7 pm.  Further information here.

163 King St. W. (St. Andrew subway), 416/593-5257
-admission $5., reservations possible, 18 yrs. +
Silent Films with live accompaniment by some of Toronto’s most innovative contemporary musicians!

Thu, Apr 19, 7pm
Pandora’s Box (“Die Büchse der Pandora”),1929, large screen projection, 131 min, by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, with Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner - Five Stars/Now Magazine      With live music accompaniment by Marilyn Lerner (piano) and Mark Duggan (marimba/percussion).

Pandora’s Box is the story of Lulu, a femme fatale, whose innocent sexuality destroys the men around her. The best known of G.W. Pabst’s works, and the most famous masterwork of eroticism and desire in German silent film!

Thu, May 10, 7pm
Madame Dubarry,1919, 16mm, 92 min,
by Ernst Lubitsch, with Pola Negri, Emil Jannings.     With live music accompaniment by Susanna Hood (voice) and Debashi Sinha (percussion).

Lubitsch’s first historical film and the best of his early silent films, Madame Dubarry is the story of a poor French seamstress who sleeps her way to the top in the court of King Louis XV and ultimately suffers the consequences. Legendary screen actress Pola Negri plays the courtesan, and the inimitable Emil Jannings plays the king. This film was a big audience success at its time! Rare screening!

Thu, May 24, 7pm
Diary of a Lost Girl (“Tagebuch einer Verlorenen”), 1929, 16mm, 100 min, by Wilhelm Pabst, with Siegfried Arno, Louise Brooks.     With live music accompaniment by Kathleen Kajioka (violin) and Rich Brown (electric bass).

As in Pandora's Box, Brooks plays an outcast, but when the film begins, Thymiane is a world away from Pandora's Lulu. Whereas Lulu had men eating out of her hand, Thymiane is an innocent cast adrift in a hostile world. Thymiane is less in control of the men around her and much more dependent on them than they are on her. After enduring many hardships in the first half of the film, the second half sees Thymiane gain the strength to reassert herself and take back control of her life. 

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo died 7 years ago on April 15, 2000. The long obituary which appeared in the New York Times the following day can be found online. The article is titled "Greta Garbo, 84, Screen Icon Who Fled Her Stardom, Dies."

There is also a rather interesting article in the Sunday New York Times about the influence of the cinema on the art of Picasso and Braque. The article by Randy Kennedy, "When Picasso and Braque Went to the Movies," appears in the art section. It disccusses an exhibition which seeks cinematic clues to the roots of Cubism.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In Memorium

And advertisement for the Vonnegut family store in Indianapolis found while researching Louise Brooks films in that Indiana town. God Bless you, Mr. Kurt Vonnegut.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Beggars of Life screening in 35mm !

Speaking of Beggars of Life, a newly struck 35mm print of the film will be shown this summer as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. And what's more, actor William Wellman Jr., the son of the film's famous director, will be on hand to speak about the film. The press release announcing the festival was just released:

Special Programs and Classic Films Take To the Screen at 12th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival

    SAN FRANCISCO, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The art of silent film will be 
restored to its original brilliance when The 12th Annual San Francisco
Silent Film Festival brings a classic love story, a dramatic portrayal of
hobo life, a British suspense-thriller and other great silent films back to
the big screen, all with live musical accompaniment, on July 13-15.
    "The majestic Castro Theatre in San Francisco will once again be the
site for a weekend-long celebration of silent film, so we can continue to
raise awareness of the need to protect, preserve and restore these precious
movies," said Artistic Director Stephen Salmons.
    "The movies that Hollywood produces today owe their inspiration and
their soul to the pioneering geniuses of the silent era, many of whom we
will salute at this year's festival," Salmons said.
    Among the special programs that will highlight the 2007 festival is an
Opening Night Presentation of Ernst Lubitsch's THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD
HEIDELBERG (1927), starring Norma Shearer and Ramon Novarro. "This is one
of the all-time great love stories, full of wit, zest and heart," Salmons
said. The festival also will screen William A. Wellman's BEGGARS OF LIFE
(1928), a gritty, unsentimental portrait of hobo life starring Richard
Arlen, Louise Brooks and Wallace Beery.
    "BEGGARS OF LIFE is a film we have hoped to show for years," Salmons
said. "It depicts homelessness in the pre-crash 1920s - something rarely
seen in mainstream cinema. Thanks to George Eastman House, the sole
surviving 16mm print has now been returned to 35mm, so we can finally show
the film again in its original format." Live musical accompaniment will be
provided by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, a chamber ensemble that
performs period- authentic photoplay music.
    The festival will highlight the work of an early master of British
cinema "- and no, it isn't Alfred Hitchcock," Salmons said, "even though
the film we are showing is a real nail-biter, every bit as suspenseful and
surprising as anything Hitchcock dreamt up." A COTTAGE ON DARTMOOR (1929),
directed by Anthony Asquith, is a psychological thriller which relates the
story of a love triangle between a barber's assistant, a manicurist, and
one of their clients. The musical accompaniment also will be "the work of a
British master," Salmons noted. "We are importing pianist Stephen Horne
from London to perform his acclaimed solo score for this film."
    The festival's tribute to Turner Classic Movies will feature a rare
screening of the infamous 1921 version of CAMILLE, starring Rudolph
Valentino and Alla Nazimova.
    "It holds a unique position in film history as one of the most
flamboyant art films ever to come out of a Hollywood studio, "Salmons said.
"The costumes, the sets, and above all the extraordinary stylized acting of
Nazimova, a notorious figure of the silent era, make it a
once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will absolutely light up the big screen."
    The 12th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival opens on Friday,
July 13 and runs through Sunday, July 15, at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro
Street in San Francisco. Complete program details and information on how to
purchase tickets will be announced in May at The San
Francisco Silent Film Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
promoting silent film as an art form and as a cultural and historical

Monday, April 9, 2007

Scrappy Lambert

A new-to-me vintage version of "Beggars of Life" has turned up on (Thanx to Belgian LBS member Patrick Mathay for pointing this out.) This newly discovered recording of the Beggars of Life theme song is by Scrappy Lambert, and was released as a 78 rpm on the Bruswick label. Check it out at

Does anyone know anything about this recording, or anything about Scrappy Lambert ?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Two announcements: Jack Garner & Kevin Brownlow

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has announced that long-time film critic Jack Garner will retire. The nationally syndicated journalist was a friend to all those interested in Louise Brooks. Not only had Garner known the actress in Rochester (where he had worked since the early 1970's), he had also interviewed her and her fellow silent film star, Lillian Gish. Garner had also introduced a recent centennial celebration screening of Pandora's Box, and contributed the forward to the recent book by Peter Cowie, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever. And, way back in 2000, Garner praised the Louise Brooks Society website in the pages of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. According to the article announcing his retirement, Garner will continue to contribute occassional articles and columns. Good luck Jack !


I am very excited to learn that Kevin Brownlow - film historian extraordinaire and friend of Louise Brooks - will be coming to San Francisco at the end of the month. Brownlow will be given the Mel Novikoff Award from the San Francisco Film Society. Brownlow will also be participating in two programs as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. I am excitied because Kevin Brownlow - the author of The Parade's Gone By - is a legend among those who love silent film. (I had the pleasure of seeing Brownlow once before - at Cinecon in Los Angeles - and even got him to sign a few books for me then.)

Here is San Francisco Film Society press release:
Kevin Brownlow To Receive Mel Novikoff Award At 50th San Francisco International Film Festival
Archivist, Historian, Author, Documentarian and Director Honored for His Extensive and Peerless Body of Work
April 3, 2007
San Francisco, CA – Kevin Brownlow will receive the Mel Novikoff Award at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 26–May 10). Named for the pioneering San Francisco art and repertory film exhibitor Mel Novikoff (1922–1987), the Award acknowledges an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the filmgoing public’s knowledge and appreciation of world cinema. The Novikoff Award will be presented at An Afternoon with Kevin Brownlow on Saturday, April 28 at 2:00 pm at the Castro Theatre, preceding an onstage interview with film scholar Russell Merritt. Afterwards Brownlow will introduce the screening of his selection, The Iron Mask (1929). The gallant Douglas Fairbanks must save the French crown from black-hearted schemers in Alan Dwan’s lavish version of The Three Musketeers, filled with chivalry, derring-do and impressive pre–special effects stuntwork. Mask was made at the end of the silent era and is considered the summation of the swashbuckling genre.
As it is impossible to do justice to Brownlow’s body of work in just one afternoon or even one day, Cecil B. De Mille – An American Epic (2004), directed by Brownlow and produced by his colleague Patrick Stanbury, will play at 9:15 pm on Saturday, April 28 at the Sundance Cinemas Kabuki. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh and featuring music by Elmer Bernstein, Cecil B. De Mille follows the career of one of Hollywood’s original pioneers. Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Charlton Heston and Angela Lansbury are some of the many well-known names that appear, while De Mille’s surviving kin also lend insight into his personal and family life. His (and by extension, Hollywood’s) greatest hits are covered in detail, including later historical and Biblical epics like Cleopatra (1934), Samson and Delilah (1949) and The Ten Commandments (1956). The documentary includes never-before-seen footage of the parting of the Red Sea, which Spielberg declares “the best special-effects sequence of all time.”
Finally Brownlow will present the lecture Kevin Brownlow: Introduction to Silents on the pre-talkie era and screen excerpts from silent gems including Bronco Billy’s Adventure (1911),Scaramouche (1924), The Chess Player (1926) and Fire Brigade (1926) at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley on Sunday, April 29, at 5:30 pm. PFA pianist Judith F. Rosenberg will provide accompaniment. This program is presented in association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
Born in Sussex, England in 1938, Kevin Brownlow is the godfather of modern film archiving practices. He is the preeminent film historian and documentarian of the silent era. He is also one of the most accomplished British directors of his era, having made the masterpieces It Happened Here (1966) and Winstanley (1975).
How It Happened Here, a warts-and-all account of the making of his first feature, is an important book on the difficulties and triumphs of making an indie film. Brownlow’s collection of interviews with silent-film stars, The Parade’s Gone By (1968), and his ensuing 12-part television documentary Hollywood (made with David Gill) have inspired numerous film archivists, critics and professors.
Brownlow’s magnificent restoration of Abel Gance’s 1927 classic Napoleon wasn’t just the film preservation event of the decade when it was rereleased in a gloriously restored version in 1981, but a cultural phenomenon. For nearly 40 years, he assembled every scrap of celluloid he could find, searching flea markets and the world’s archives. He championed the film and Gance at every opportunity. And he is still restoring the film. Like the Flying Dutchman, the film is his curse—and the world’s blessing.
Most of all, there are the films he has salvaged and dusted off for Photoplay Productions, the company he founded to focus on important restorations like The EagleThe Phantom of the OperaThe Thief of Bagdad and The Gold Rush to name just a few. To see a film bearing the Brownlow touch is to go back to a magical time when the silent movies glowed on the silver screen and cinema was a physical experience.
Brownlow’s intense passion is something to emulate. His utter tenacity to present the best restorations and orchestral scores has always been about the value of the film itself. And his writings make the reader want to see every movie he mentions because he loves them so much. 
Previous recipients of the Mel Novikoff Award are Anita Monga (2005), Paolo Cherchi Usai (2004), Manny Farber (2003), David Francis (2002), Cahiers du Cinéma (2001), San Francisco Cinematheque (2001), Donald Krim (2000), David Shepard (2000), Enno Patalas (1999), Adrienne Mancia (1998), Judy Stone (1997), Film Arts Foundation (1997), David Robinson (1996), Institut Lumière (1995), Naum Kleiman (1994), Andrew Sarris (1993), Jonas Mekas (1992), Pauline Kael (1991), Donald Richie (1990), USSR Filmmakers Association (1989) and Dan Talbot (1988). The Mel Novikoff Award Committee members are Francis J. Rigney (chairman), Linda Blackaby (ex officio), Helena R. Foster, George Gund III, Maurice Kanbar, Philip Kaufman, Edith Kramer, Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer, Anita Monga, Janis Plotkin and Peter Scarlet.
Here is a link to the Iron Mask screening, which I believe Brownlow will be attending. And here is a link to the screening of the new Brownlow documentary on Cecil B. DeMille at the Kabuki. And here is a link to the Kevin Brownlow: Introduction to Silents program at the PFA.

Friday, April 6, 2007


I just came across this piece on Peter Cowie's Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever. It appeared in the September 2006 issue of Out, a gay men's magazine.

In case you haven't already gotten a copy of Peter Cowie's book, now is the time to do so! It contains a thoughtful text on Brooks (who Cowie knew), as well as dozens and dozens of lovely and rare images of the actress.

If you can't afford a copy, perhaps you local library  has one on the shelves. If they don't, suggest they purchase a copy for their collection. Many local library websites have a  "make a suggestion" page where patrons can suggest  new books.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

William Wellman Jr

Today, I had a very pleasant telephone chat with William Wellman Jr. We spoke about many things, including an upcoming screening of Beggars of Life. (More on that at a later date.) 

Along with Beggars of Life - the excellent 1928 film starring Louise Brooks, Wellman Sr directed many other notable films, including WingsPublic EnemyCall of the WildBeau Geste, the original A Star Is Born, and The Ox-Bow Incident. He is certainly one of the great directors of his time. His son, with whom I spoke, has recently authored a book.

I haven't yet seen the book, but Wellman Jr told me the book does discuss Louise Brooks. I am looking forward to getting a copy, and all interested should check it out. More about the book and its subject and the author at

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Lulu in KC today

From today's Kansas City Star newspaper

Who knows what will come out of “Pandora’s Box” when the classic silent film is accompanied by a live score performed by the Gillham Park Orchtet at 2 p.m. today at the Kansas City Central Library, 1410 10th St.

My guess: A mesmerizing experience.

German director G.W. Pabst’s ahead-of-its-time psycho-sexual melodrama from 1928 stars bangs-wearing beauty Louise Brooks (a Kansas native), whose party-girl character Lulu expects a bang out of life — until her luck runs out.

“She looks modern,” wrote film guru Roger Ebert about Brooks as Lulu. “She doesn’t have the dated makeup of many silent stars. … She wants to party, she wants to make love, she wants to drink, she wants to tell men what she wants and she wants to get it.”

Orchtet leader Jeffery Ruckman wrote the all-acoustic score for “Pandora’s Box.” The group’s inventive soundscapes have also been featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

Consider this: Brooks’ career faded with the advent of talkies, but her legacy is right up there with Greta Garbo and Marlena Dietrich. Be seduced by it in this free screening.
I would love to hear from anyone who attends this screening, and know their impressions of the soundtrack.
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