Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New book with Brooks on the cover

There is a new book coming out this fall which includes Louise Brooks on the cover. The book is titled Hollywood Movie Stills: The Golden Age, by Joel Finler. It looks like the book is being released in England, but it should be available in the United States as well. I plan on getting a copy.

The author, Joel Finler, was the first film critic for London's Time Out magazine. He is the author of numerous books on cinema, including Alfred Hitchcockand Silent Cinema (which I own and like). I don't know much else about it except for what's included on its page. That text reads

Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe . . . it is through the eye of the stills camera that we experience and recall some of the cinema's most memorable events and faces. Still images are so powerful that they can easily pass for actual scenes from the movies they represent—rather than separately posed, lighted, and photographed shots that may not even find their way into the finished film. This classic study traces the origin of stills photography during the silent era and the early development of the star system, to the rise of the giant studios in the 1930s and their eventual decline. Finler focuses on the photographers, on the stars they photographed, and on many key films and filmmakers. Hollywood Movie Stills is illustrated by hundreds of rare and unusual stills from the author's own collection, including not only portraits and scene stills but production shots, behind-the-scenes photos, poster art, calendar art, leg shots, photo collages, and trick shots. There are also photos showing the stars' private lives and special events in Hollywood, all produced in vast numbers by the great studios in their heyday.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Diary of a Lost Girl screened in KC

Diary of a Lost Girl will be shown tomorrow at the Kansas City Central Library (Plaza Branch, 4801 Main Street) in Kansas City, Missouri. Here is a link to thelibrary website, followed by the event description. An image of Louise Brooks was even featured on the Library's homepage.

DIARY OF A LOST GIRL Kansas native Louise Brooks endures degradation in this silent classic shown with live music. 3:30 p.m. Saturday, KC Central Library.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cyd Charisse Dies at Age 86

Cyd Charisse, the leggy beauty whose balletic grace made her a memorable dance partner for Gene Kelly in classic MGM musicals like Singin’ in the Rain, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. [Here is a link to various news articles.] For fans of Louise Brooks and early film, it was her role in Singin’ in the Rain (a musical look at Hollywood during the transition from silent to sound films) that stands out. In that classic film, Charisse plays a dancer who affects the look of a flapper - intentionally with a "Louise Brooks" bob. In memorium, here is a clip from that 1952 film featuring Charisse.

If you haven't seen Singin’ in the Rain, go out and get it today. It is a wonderful film!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Matthew J. Bruccoli

The Louise Brooks Society notes the passing of literary scholar Matthew Bruccoli. He is considered the world's leading scholar on F. Scott Fitzgerald, and was expert on many of the writer's of the Jazz Age and the inter-war period. His 1981 biography of Fitzgerald, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, is recommended. I have read that book, as well as other Bruccoli authored or edited books like The Romantic Egoists, as well as various volumes of Fitzgerald's fiction, letters and notebooks. To me, Bruccoli was a hero.

Besides being a scholar, teacher, writer, and publisher, Bruccoli was also a collector. He and his wife accumulated books, manuscripts, letters and other materials by and about writers. His Fitzgerald collection, valued at more than 2 million dollars, was donated to the University of South Carolina. Bruccoli collected not out of greed or the compulsion to own something (like some collectors), but for the love of the subject. “It was collecting in order to contribute to future scholarship,” is the way one fellow academic put it.

I never met Bruccoli, but was able to pass along a few questions to him about Louise Brooks through my late friend, the book dealer Allen Milkerit. Whenever Bruccolli would come to the San Francisco  Bay Area (one of his children lived here), he would visit Allen's bookshop. On my behalf, Allen asked him if he knew anything more about Fitzgerald's and Brooks' encounter. (He did not.) Nevertheless, Allen was able to get a bunch of my Bruccolli books signed for me. Thank you Allen. I will always treasure those. [And thank you Matthew Bruccoli for all of your great work.]

I have included a link above to the New York Times obituary. Here is a link to the Washington Post obit. And here is a link to the obit in The State. And lastly, here is a link to a page detailing his academic accomplishments from the University of South Carolina, where he taught for many years.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What About Bob's

There is an article in today's St. Louis Post Dispatch about bobs - the history and "meaning" of the hairstyle. The article was written because a touring version of Thoroughly Modern Millie is showing in town. (I remember seeing a portrait of Louise Brooks on the set of the play's New York production some years back.) If anyone sees the St. Louis production, please let me know.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anna May Wong

Did anyone see the documentary about Anna May Wong on TCM ? Did anyone notice a portrait of Louise Brooks on the wall behind Philip Leibfried as Leibfried spoke and the credits rolled? Was it Brooks, or Wong ?

Wong was incredibly beautiful. It too bad her acting talent was wasted in so many dismal films. I do like Piccadilly, and Shanghai Express, though.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Lulu in Ottawa

The Ottawa Citizen reports that a new play, based on Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays, is now playing at the National Arts Centre in the Canadian capital. The play, titled "Ce qui meurt en dernier," was written by Normand Chaurette.  According to the Ottawa Citizen

Now Normand Chaurette has revived Wedekind's characters for Ce qui meurt en dernier (That which dies last), his first new play since 2001. Last year, Chaurette's friend and longtime collaborator Denis Marleau suggested that Chaurette write something for the actress Christiane Pasquier. The author was inspired by Pasquier's electrifying performance as Countess Martha von Geschwitz in a Lulu staging Marleau had directed a dozen years ago. The result is essentially a one-hour, virtuoso monologue for one of Canada's greatest stage actresses.
A passing reference to Louise Brooks is made in the article. I would be interested to know if any reader of this blog has seen the production. [More on the play can be found here and here.]

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chance favors the prepared mind

There is a saying, "Chance favors the prepared mind."

The other day I was organizing my past and future interlibrary loan requests. I am nearly through with my research, and would say that I have requested about 98% of the material I had hoped to examine. Among the items I was planning to look at was Shinko eiga, a Japanese film journal dating from the late 1920's. [I have looked at a few years worth of Movie Times, another Japanese movie magazine dating from the silent film era. It was a mostly Japanese language fan type publication, which included bits of English-language text and lots of pictures. The University of Chicago library has a long run of the publication. And the University of California, Davis has a shorter run. I have been to each library to examine copies.]

I figured I had better do a little research about Shinko eiga, to find out exactly when it started, what it covered, and most importantly, who might have copies which I might be able to borrow. And so, I googled the title. And came to a page on the University of Michigan's website devoted to the school's Center for Japanese Studies and it's prewar proletarian film movements collection. It is an amazing page, full of scans of Japanese film magazines dating from the late 1920's and early 1930's. I downloaded a few issues in order to check them out - to get a feel for what these publications were like.

I don't read the language, and can't tell what they are about. But I do understand pictures. And while skimming through the April 1930 issue of Shinko eiga I came across this page. I downloaded this particular issue because the web page synopsis stated the issue contained a "Special section on women, with several essays written by women. Opinions of filmmakers whose work was cut by the censors." That sounded intrigueing!

The picture of Louise Brooks - which I was so delighted to find (chance favors the prepared mind) - is from Pandora's Box. Perhaps this is some sort of review or article about the film, which was released in Europe just a years before ? Or perhaps it is about Brooks' role in the film? I just don't know. What also intrigued me was the fact that this publication was founded by the Proletarian Film League of Japan, a decidedly left leaning group. And the director of Pandora's Box, G.W. Pabst, was a known to have left leaning sympathies. [I once came across an article about Pabst in a similar German publication from the period.]

If anyone can tell me what this page is about, I would be very grateful. The image included above can be found on page 58 of the pdf of Shinko Eiga 2.4 (April 1930). Interested individuals or translators can check out the entire article. Whatever it turns out to be, it's a nice find.

[Individuals interested in world film history will want to check out the University of Michigan web page noted above. There is an issue of Eiga No Eiga (January 1928) which is devoted to Charlie Chaplin! Other issues and articles can be found devoted to Eisenstein and Pudovkin, etc....]
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