Monday, April 28, 2008

In soft focus

Sunday, April 27, 2008

From archiv nega

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another article about an accompaniest

The Bangor Daily News ran an article yesterday about film pianist Harry Weiss, who as it turns out, has accompanied such "darker classics" as Pandora's Box. Check out the article here.

Weiss now lives in Bangor, Maine where he will be playing tonight for a screening of The Battleship Potemkin at the Bangor Opera House.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Beggars tonight in NYC

This short write-up appeared in today's New York Times.  I wish I could be there for this special screening . . . . 

THE MONT ALTO MOTION PICTURE ORCHESTRA We are lucky enough in New York City to have a handful of highly talented pianists who are experts in the subtle, self-effacing art of providing accompaniment to silent films. But it’s a particular pleasure to hear silent-film music as it was actually performed in most of the first-run theaters of that era — which is to say, by an orchestra.

The five-member Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, based in Louisville, Colo., and led by Rodney Sauer, can be heard on several silent-film DVDs, but the group will offer its first live performance in Manhattan on Friday at Lincoln Center, accompanying two films of high interest in themselves: Harold Lloyd’s 1927 comedy “The Kid Brother” (6 p.m.) and William A. Wellman’s rarely screened 1928 social drama “Beggars of Life” (9 p.m.), with Louise Brooks (above, with Richard Arlen) as a young woman who kills her abusive stepfather and, to escape the police, disguises herself as a boy and joins a group of tramps.

Mr. Sauer specializes in compiling scores from the authentic photoplay music of the period, drawing on the work of neglected composers like Gaston Borch and J. S. Zamecnik; the results are often breathtakingly beautiful and always in the strict service of the film on the screen. (Friday at 6 and 9 p.m., Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Lincoln Center, 212-975-5600,; $20.) DAVE KEHR

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A new book

There is a new book out about silent film - and what's more, in mentions Louise Brooks (and the Louise Brooks Society). Sounds like a good read to me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beggars of Life in NYC

Beggars of Life (1928) will be shown at the Film Society at Lincoln Center theater this Friday (that's April 25th). The print to be screened is the newly restored version from the George Eastman House - so don't miss it. More information can be found here.

Golden Silents: The Kid Brother and Beggars of Life
Friday, April 25, 2008 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra onstage accompanying screenings of two silent film greats: Harold Lloyd at 6pm in The Kid Brother and Louise Brooks at 9pm in Beggars of Life.

The Kid Brother
Ted Wilde, US, 1927; 83m
Harold Lloyd was the most successful comedian of the silent era, more popular than Buster Keaton and in more films than Charlie Chaplin. In his comic masterpiece The Kid Brother, Lloyd plays Harold Hickory, the youngest son in a family of burly mountain lawmen. When Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston) arrives in town with a medicine show, it sets brother against brother in one of the finest––and funniest––of all the silent comedies. Guaranteed fun for the whole family. Fri Apr 25: 6 

Beggars of Life
William A. Wellman, US, 1928; 82m
Louise Brooks plays an abused orphan on the run from the police. She dresses as a man, befriends hobo Richard Arlen, hops a freight train and hides in a hobo camp run by Wallace Beery. But which man is helping her escape to Canada, and which is after the $1000 reward? Beggars of Life is a well-crafted thriller with a straightforward look at 1920s hobo life. Special thanks to The Film Foundation for their funding of the George Eastman House restoration of this film. Fri Apr 25: 9

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra creates film scores in the same way it was done in the silent film era, selecting music for each scene from their large library of historic “photoplay music.” With five-piece orchestration typical of smaller movie houses of the day, Mont Alto has scored over 50 films since 1994, performing at historic theaters and film festivals around the country.

The year-round Golden Silents series is made possible through the generosity of the Ira M. Resnick Foundation. Golden Silents is programmed by Sayre Maxfield.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Louise Brooks blog theme

Looking for a Louise Brooks blog theme? Look no further than here. It's nice!            

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stuart Oderman

There is a wonderful article about Stuart Oderman in the April 20th issue of Newark Star-Ledger. The article, "Silents Are Golden Pianist carves a career out of the era before the talkies," can be accessed here

Who is Stuart Oderman? Not only is he one of the great silent film accompanists, as well as an author of books of interest to silent film buffs - but he is also the performer of my very, very, very favorite score / musical accompaniment to Pandora's Box. That score can be found on 2000 VHS release by Homevisions. That was the first Louise Brooks film I ever saw - and the first version of Pabst's Pandora's Box I ever saw. Not only did I fall in love with Louise Brooks, but I also came under the spell of the musical atmosphere created by Oderman. So much so, that I recorded the score on my tape recorder so I could listen to it whenever ever I wanted. I still have that tape.

Oderman's score led me to discover Debussy, Satie, Chopin, and others. And late 19th century and early 20th century piano music is a favorite. (Brooks was fond of Debussy, was she not?)

I once spoke to Oderman on the phone. He was a gracious man, and was patient with my questions. [He did meet Louise Brooks.] He is one of last living links to the films and stars of the silent film era. Read the article about him to find out more.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Louise Brooks in London exhibit

A portrait of Louise Brooks is included in the Edward Steichen exhibit currently on display at the National Portrait gallery in London, England.  For more about the exhibit, see

Thursday, April 17, 2008

French radioprogram on Louise Brooks

Thank you Pascal, who pointed me to this webpage for a radiofrance program on Louise Brooks. The program, "Louise Brooks, l'insoumise d'Hollywood par Véra Feyder," can be accessed by the headphone link on the top right of the page. (The RealMedia program, which aired on April 13th, starts with a pop song.) The program is in French, of course, and seems to be some sort of dramatization. The cast includes

LOUISE BROOKS : Béatrice Agénin
UN REPORTER : Stéphane Valensi
MARY BROOKS : Evelyne Guimmara
PABST : Georges Claise
JAMES CARD : Patrice Bornan
GENINA : Lucciano Travaglino
Présentation : Stéphanie Duncan
Prise de son et mixage : Olivier Dupré
Montage : Adrien Roch
Assistante : Virginie Mourthé
REALISATION : Jacques Taroni
Can any of the many French speaking fans of Louise Brooks give a sense of what this program is all about?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Midnight Palace

The Midnight Palace website has a long new article about Louise Brooks. Read it here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mike Doughty, Musician

Mike Doughty should be familiar to fans of Louise Brooks. The alt-rock singer-songwriter fronted the great alt-rock ("deep slacker jazz") group Soul Coughing in the 1990's. In 1998, they released El Oso, which contained "St. Louise is Listening," a musical homage to Louise Brooks. It's also well known that Doughty sports a tattoo of the actress on his arm. 

Doughty is now a solo musician, and as I understand it, on tour promoting his new album, Golden Delicious. There was an interview with the musician on the Gothamist website. In the interview, the musician is asked

On the album El Oso, there’s a song called "St. Louise is Listening." Who is St. Louise?

Louise Brooks, the silent film star. 'The Eskimo' mentioned in the second verse is a real character from her life, a Parisian faux-aristocrat.
If you have a chance, check him out on tour. Or check out his website at  [I have never met the musician, though I did communicate with him via email a number of years ago while Soul Coughing was around. He seems like a fine fellow. And I like his music. The Louise Brooks Society was even one of his top friends on his Myspace page.]

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Silent Film Fest 2008

Here's what's coming up this July at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. . . . I hope to be there.

SAN FRANCISCO, March 31, 2008 - Harold Lloyd, Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, Colleen Moore, Teinosuke Kinugasa and Carl Theodor Dreyer are just a few of the legendary stars and directors who will return to the big screen, all accompanied by live music, at The 13th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, July 11-13. “Many of the filmmakers and actors whose films were featuring this year were groundbreaking artists and stars of the first magnitude in the 1920s,” said Artistic Director Stephen Salmons.

The enduring vitality of their movies will be given added emphasis at this years festival with the debut of a new program: Directors Pick, at which a contemporary filmmaker will present a favorite silent film. To inaugurate the series, Guy Maddin director of The Saddest Music in the WorldBrand Upon the Brain! and My Winnipeg will preside over a late-night screening of Tod Brownings horror-ode to unrequited love, THE UNKNOWN (1927), starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford. It’s practically my favorite silent film, Guy Maddin said. I lead off my syllabus with that film every year, I love it so.

Also appearing at this year’s event to share his enthusiasm for the silent era will be famed movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin, who said of the festival, “(Its) a shining example of how to present great films, rarities, and informational conversations about film preservation for a large and appreciative audience.”

Other highlights of this year’s three-day, thirteen-program celebration of silent film include the Opening Night Presentation of Harold Lloyds comedy THE KID BROTHER (1927), to be shown in a beautiful tinted print from the UCLA Film & Television Archive. “It’s the perfect opener because it has everything: a great story, characters we genuinely care about, romance, action and, of course, non-stop laughs,” Salmons said. Lloyd considered it to be his best film, and its hailed as his masterpiece.

The number one box-office attraction of 1926 will make her debut appearance at the festival: Colleen Moore, star of HER WILD OAT (1927), a fast-paced, wise-cracking romantic comedy. Few of Colleen Moores films survive in any form, and HER WILD OAT was among the lost until two years ago, when a 35mm print was located in the Czech National Film Archive and given a major restoration by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Archive. “We’re excited to present this film because it’s both a wonderful showcase for Colleen Moore’s effervescent comedic skills, and it’s a first-rate example of what we all gain from film preservation,” said Salmons.

Several directors of major significance will be featured at the festival for the first time, including Japanese innovator Teinosuke Kinugasa, represented by the expressionist tour-de-force JUJIRO (CROSSWAYS, 1928), and Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer, whose profoundly powerful drama MIKA’ (1924) - a landmark in the history of gay cinema - will be presented.

“In the thirteen years that we’ve produced the festival, we’ve screened more than 100 films,” Salmons said. “But there are still many legendary names whose films we have yet to show.”

“Even those making return appearances at the festival, such as Harold Lloyd and Lon Chaney, are familiar to us today mostly through DVD,” Salmons added. But you really can’t know just how fresh, exciting and masterful these pictures are until you experience them on the big screen with live music and an attentive, revved-up crowd - the way they were originally seen.

The 13th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival opens on Friday, July 11 and runs through Sunday, July 13 at the Castro Theatre, located at 429 Castro Street in San Francisco. Complete program details and information on how to purchase tickets will be announced in late 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 record.
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