Thursday, January 31, 2008

Secrets of a Soul

Secrets of a Soul, a G.W. Pabst film made just three years before Pandora's Box, is coming to DVD in February. Kino will release the film around mid-month. Here is the product description:

A Psychoanalytic Thriller Restored by the Munich Film Museum and the F.W. Murnau Foundation. In the 1920s, film studios around the world sought to capitalize on the public s curiosity about the newborn science of psychoanalysis. In 1925, Hans Neumann (of Ufa s Kulturfilm office) contacted members of Sigmund Freud s inner circle with a plan to make a dramatic film that explores the mystifying process of the interpretation of dreams. With the help of noted psychologists Karl Abraham and Hanns Sachs, and under the direction of G.W. Pabst (Pandora s Box), SECRETS OF A SOUL was completed. Werner Krauss, who had played the deranged Dr. Caligari six years earlier, stars as a scientist who is tormented by an irrational fear of knives and the irresistible compulsion to murder his wife. Driven to the brink of madness by fantastic nightmares (designed by Ernö Metzner and photographed by Guido Seeber in a brilliant mix of expressionism and surrealism), he encounters a psychoanalyst who offers to treat the perplexing malady.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lulu in Dublin

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, will be screened at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on February 24th. This page contains additional information on the film and screening.

Pandora's Box
24th Feb 2008 at 14:30
133 mins / Savoy theatre

"It’s hard to say quite how much one of the great, late masterpieces of the silent era, G.W. Pabst’s extraordinary, erotic and tragic adaptation/conflation of two Wedekind plays, Pandora’s Box, owes to the electrifying, photogenic and iconic presence of the Kansas-born actress Louise Brooks. It’s an Expressionist-Realist walk with love and death, as the sensual and erotic charge of a Berlin prostitute and Kurfürstendamm revue artist sets herself and all who come in contact with her into a destructive social, emotional and physical spiral, ending with her swooning embrace of Thanatos in the person of a mythical, murderous Jack the Ripper. But it may not have seemed quite so modern, vital and powerful, had Pabst chosen, say, Dietrich, or any of the rumoured 2,000 others who the German director screen-tested for the role of the arch femme-fatale, Lulu. In the words of German critic Lotte Eisner, Wedekind’s Lulu was endowed with an ‘animal beauty, but lacking all moral sense, and doing evil unconsciously’. Brooks had the animal beauty alright – and a modicum of self-destructiveness, as her biographical writings testify – but it is her qualities of intelligence and sheer vitality as Lulu, not her putative ‘reflective passivity’, that ensures that her performance seems as exciting and fresh, as well as disturbingly enigmatic, transgressive and deeply moving, today as it did in 1928. That does not diminish, however, the importance of Pabst’s artistry: his psychological insights, atmospheric use of chiaroscuro lighting and thrilling mise-en-scène, not to mention his taboobreaking audacity in flaunting this ‘corn-fed Hollywood flapper’ and exposing the dark appetites and hypocrisies found in the dank, pansexually decadent salons of Weimar Berlin. All offer a perfect context in which Lulu can dazzle and entice, if not – to borrow the line Nic Ray coined in 1949’s Knock on Any Door’ – ‘to live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse’. - Wally Hammond, Time Out London"

"*3EPKANO are a Dublin based, seven piece band/ensemble who specialise in producing original and innovative soundtracks for films from the silent movie era. The band were formed in early 2004 by Matthew Nolan and Cameron Doyle. The line-up includes 2 electric guitars, bass guitar, keyboards/ organ, drums/percussion, cello and viola – the music is minimalist, guitar based, and almost entirely instrumental."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Something I found

While cruising around the world wide web, I came across a Greek CD released last year (I think) which has everything to do with Louise Brooks. From  what I have been able to find, the song cycle is based on Pandora's Box, the film by G.W. Pabst. Or perhaps, it is somesort of "sound track" or musical accompaniment to the film.  This page has some information on the composer, Sakis Papadimitriou, who has released a few discs inspired by silent films. While this page has additional information on the disc. I haven't yet heard The Song of Lulu, but hope to soon. Might anyone know anything more about this recording?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Fat Man

I thought you all would like to know that The Fat Man graphic novel project has a brand new web site which features a 50 page preview of this forthcoming work. I mention it because this graphic novel - which features time travel, secret agents, Nazi's and more - even includes Louise Brooks as a character. I have already pre-ordered a copy. More information, sample pages, and more can be found at

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Withnail and I

Steve, a Facebook friend, alerted me to this clip from Withnail and I, a 1987 British comedy starring Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann. Perhaps it is because McGann is a well-known Louise Brooks fan that her picture pops up in the kitchen scene in this short clip. Check it out. [The film is at the top of my Netflix cue.]

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another chance

Another website I have been looking through lately is a directory of newspaper archives from across the United States and the world. From this page, you can find digital newspaper archives from the British Isles, Canada, Greece, Germany, Austria, and various Nordic countries, Pacific islands, and the Middle East. And elsewhere! Here is a nice page from France from Le Figaro, which dates from 1929. Included are two images from Beggars of Life, including one which features Louise Brooks.

This multi-page directory also includes archives of small town American newspapers and even a few collegiate newspapers. One amusing item I found was the weekly questionnaire from The Student Weekly from Franklin and Marshall College (in Lancaster, PA.). Along with "who is your favorite professor" and "should there be classes on Saturday," one of the questions asked in the May 4, 1927 issue was "Who is your favorite movie actress?" Well, Louise Brooks got one vote. Here are the results, which I have transcribed from the article.

"Who is your favorite movie actress?" Who ever handed Miss Vernier 's name in as, the answer to this question takes the original asbestos lined gravy bowl. And yet, the above mentioned is not lonesome in his present .state oC mind since answers of "Prep school question, " "Never saw a movie," 'Not interested," and "Clara Bow—Sex Appeal," were much in evidence. Again exception must be made for the. unquenchable wit of the modern college student. Hold your ears, boys ; here are the finals as recorded in the files of the Weekly —Lillian Gish, 9; Lois Moran, 7; Clara Bow, 37 ; (It must be sex appeal) Norma Shearer, 12; Louise Brookes, 1; Vilma Banky, 4 , Corrinne Griffith , 9 ; Greta Garbo, 12 ; Renee Adoree, 2 ; Alice Terry, 2; Pauline Frederick, 1 ; Miss Ferkiter, 1; Bebe Daniels, 1; Constance Talmadge, 1; Norma Talmadge, 1; Carol Dempster, 2 ; Betty Bronson , 4 ; Laura La Plante, 3 ; Mary Pickford , 1; Esther Ealston , 6; Marian Davies, 1; Florence Vidor, 2 ; Gloria Swanson , 3; Betty Compson , 1 ; Lois Wilson , 1; and Coleen Moore, 3 Guess who has "It ?"

There is lots and lots of material link to from this site. I would encourage anyone who has the inclination to check it out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Die Zeit archive

Die Zeit, a German newspaper, has launched an online archive dating back to 1946. The archive contains over 250,000 stories, and can be searched at It looks like you can browse the contents by year, do a full text search, or do field searching, including title, author, and year.

I did a search for "Louise Brooks," and found a few artricles I hadn't known about. (Search results include the title and author of the article as well as a snippet. Click on the title and you’ll go to the article. It looks like just the text is available — I didn’t see digitized images.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bill Berkson

Happy new year one and all!

There is an interesting book review in today's San Francisco Bay Guardian which mentions Louise Brooks. The piece, "Initials B.B.," by Johnny Ray Houston, discusses a new book by the poet Bill Berkson - hence the initials in the title. The poet is the author of a new book titled Sudden Address.

Berkson, an art critic and poet sometimes associated with the "New York School" and friend and champion of the New York poet Frank O'Hara, is also known to followers of Louise Brooks as the author of "Bubbles," a poem collaged from the writings of the actress.
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