Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not forgotten

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle

I've just posted a review of Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle, a new book by Eric Flom. I recommend it. My article can be found at  This new book is film history seen through the lens of the local.

Louise Brooks never visited Seattle, but many of her contemporaries and co-stars did - everyone from Ted Shawn to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton and Rudolph Valentino. Their stories are told in Silent Film Stars on the Stages of Seattle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dance inspired by Louise Brooks

The silent film star Louise Brooks, a one time member of Denishawn and an exhibition dancer later in life, is the inspiration behind a dance piece in Spain. The piece is called "Sono Silente," or "Silent Dream."

Dolores Mayan, artistic director and choreographer of the company, sent me an email about the performance. More information, including images, text and video can be found at the dance company's website at Additional information can be found at

According to her email, her choreography was "inspired by the actress Louise Brooks" and her still "potent image" - and in particular two of her movies, The Canary Murder Case and Pandora's Box. Bangs, black bobs, expressive physical behavior and cages which echo those seen in The Canary Murder Case can be seen in the video clip seen below.

From the Bstudiodanza website: "La compañía Bstudiodanza estrena su último espectáculo, Sono Silente de la directora Dolores Mayán que nos acerca una reflexión teórica sobre el sistema sexo-género. Y lo hace a través de dos filmes de Louise Brooks, la actriz norteamericana e icono del cine mudo de los años 30. La pieza evidencia el devenir preformativo de la feminidad y ‘la mascarada’ teorizada por Joan Riviere en un trabajo de gran carga simbólica y poética.

Tomando como referente dos de sus filmes más conocidos, ‘The Canary Murder Case’ y ‘Pandora’s Box’, Sono Silente trata de analizar los estereotipos que rodean a la feminidad en el discurso cinematográfico de la época, para describir y clasificar los roles asignados en función del género.

La relación entre el concepto y la coreografía conforma una plataforma a partir de la cual los cuerpos se apropian del movimiento de una forma reflexiva, recontextualizando los patrones establecidos y abriendo campos de búsqueda.

Con este espectáculo al igual que con los dos anteriores, ‘De Meu’ y ‘Corpos Reflexivos’, BStudiodanza pretende contar historias cercanas que despierten la curiosidad del público y la reflexión dentro de una plástica más sensorial que racional. La historia adquiere importancia, al igual que el guión y el trabajo de las bailarinas Emilia Pardo, Natalia Iglesias, Vanesa Otero y Celia Mayer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Louise Brooks screenings in LA

Four Louise Brooks films will be shown in May at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles, California. If I lived in Southern California, I would not miss these screening. For more information, see

5/6 @ 8pm / SERIES: Louise Brooks
Pandora's Box
Description coming soon...
Tickets - $10
5/13 @ 8pm / SERIES: Louise Brooks
Diary Of A Lost Girl
Tickets - $10
5/20 @ 8pm / SERIES: Louise Brooks
It's The Old Army Game
Tickets - $10
5/27 @ 8pm / SERIES: Louise Brooks 
Beggars Of Life 
Tickets - $10

Friday, April 24, 2009

Meredith from the UK

Yesterday, my wife and I had lunch with Meredith Lawrence, longtime member of the LBS from Nottingham, England who was here in San Francisco on a visit. Meredith brought me some Louise Brooks goodies from across the pond. Thank you Meredith. it was a pleasure to see you again!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Shakespearean Lulu

Today's edition of the Columbia Missourian carries an article about a local Shakespearean production whose characters are composed of silent film stars, including Louise Brooks. Check out the article here. The article reads in part:
He has taken a meta-theatrical approach — that is, the use of theater as a metaphor for life — to the direction of "Twelfth Night," which begins Thursday. The characters on stage play archetypal figures from the era of silent film.

“I chose actors from the silent film era who crafted on-screen personas that resemble the characters found in 'Twelfth Night,'” Johnson said. For example, Orsino, the Duke of Illyria in "Twelfth Night," is Rudolph Valentino as he appeared in the classic "Son of the Sheik."

Johnson said that in Shakespeare’s play, Orsino becomes trapped in the role of a lover who is narcissistic and immobilized by his vision of true love. Similar to Orsino’s character, Valentino was inextricably linked to his image as "The Great Lover." "Women are not in love with me but with the picture of me on the screen," he was reported to have said. "I am merely the canvas on which women paint their dreams.”  

Other "Twelfth Night" re-imaginings include Malvolio as Lon Chaney, Olivia as Louise Brooks, Sir Toby as Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Feste as Charlie Chaplin. 

For audience members unfamiliar with silent film stars and stories, lobby displays and program notes will help fill in the context. Johnson hopes the production will work on a few levels.  

“Audience members who see the parallels between the two will have additional layers to contemplate," Johnson said. "Lovers of Shakespeare can hear his beautifully crafted story and poetry, and everyone can enjoy the physical humor, the music and the dancing."
I would love to hear from anyone who attends this production!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Friday, April 17, 2009

Lulu spotted in Second Life

Yesterday, a blogger and Second Life participant named taryngartner411 spotted a reference to Louise Brooks and her famous hairstyle in the Second Life game-world. I am a little uncertain how to write about this, as to who gets credit for what, but the blogger's entry and an image of the Brooks-Lulu-Lola reference can be found here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alan Moore on " the delectable Louise Brooks"

In an interview on the Previewsworld website, English writer Alan Moore (most famous for the WatchmenV for Vendetta, and other works of the imagination), mentions the appearance of Louise Brooks in a forthcoming work!

PREVIEWS: What can you tell us about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III #1 — Century: 1910?

Alan Moore: It’s a departure from the previous books, the first of three which will comprise the first volume. The overall title of the volume is Century, and the first part which will be out in March is called “What Keeps Mankind Alive.” We kick off in 1910 where we have, as usual, characters and situations drawn from the literature of that era. We’re relying heavily on Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, which was set originally in 1910.

We’re also working in references to films made in or around that period, including Lulu, the film by Pabst, which features the delectable Louise Brooks, so someone that looks a bit like Louise Brooks turns up briefly.

We’re referring to some of the odder Jack the Ripper films in the story, working those into the general narrative
I can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Bay Area screenings

A couple of blogs ago, I wrote about a recent project - a record of screenings of Louise Brooks films in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the last few days, I got some additional work done, and am posting what I have so far found regardings Brooks' three European films. I would appreciate knowing from anyone who might know of screenings not noted here.

Pandora’s Box
Bay Area screenings:  Surf Theater in San Francisco (Jan. 22-23, 1974 with The Last Laugh); KTEH Channel 54 television broadcast (Dec. 17, 1977 and Dec. 24, 1977 and Dec. 25, 1977); KQEC Channel 32 television broadcast (Dec. 24, 1977 and Dec. 25, 1977); Wheeler Auditorium in Berkeley (Feb. 10, 1978 withL’Age D’Or); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Mar. 7, 1981 as part of the series Organ Accompaniment By Robert Vaughn”); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Dec. 7, 1983); U.C. Theater in Berkeley (Sept. 18, 1985); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 13, 1985 as part of the series A Tribute to Louise Brooks (1906-1985),” accompanied on piano by Jon Mirsalis); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 29, 1986); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Nov. 17, 1988); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Dec. 4, 1990 as part of the series Surrealism and Cinema”);  Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Apr. 5, 1992 as part of the series Silent Film Classics”);  Castro in San Francisco (May 11, 1992 with Diary of a Lost Girl); Castro in San Francisco (May 5-8, 1995 accompanied by the Club Foot Orchestra, as part of the San Francisco Film Festival); Castro in San Francisco (Dec. 16-17, 1995 accompanied by the Club Foot Orchestra);Castro in San Francisco (Apr. 2, 1996 with Wingsaccompanied on organ by Robert Vaughn); Towne Theatre in San Jose (June 28, 1996 accompanied on organ by Robert Vaughn); Castro in San Francisco (May 18, 1998 as part of Femme Fatale Festival); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (May 28, 2000);Jezebel’s Joint in San Francisco (Feb. 10, 2003); Castro in San Francisco (July 15, 2006 as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, with introductions by Thomas Gladysz and Bruce Conner); Rafael Film Center in San Rafael (Nov. 11, 2006 introduced by Peter Cowie); California Theatre in San Jose (Mar. 9, 2007 as part of Cinequest).
Diary of a Lost Girl
Bay Area screenings:  Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Apr. 12, 1981); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 12, 1983); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 5, 1985 as part of the series “A Tribute to Louise Brooks (1906-1985)” with Lulu in Berlin); Castro in San Francisco (Jan 22, 1987 with Sadie Thompsonas part of Vamps); Castro in San Francisco (May 11, 1992 with Pandora’s Box); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Nov. 5, 1999 as part of film seriesRevivals & Restorations”); Castro in San Francisco (Jan. 14, 2002 American premiere of restored print, as part of the Berlin & Beyond Festival); Jezebel’s Joint in San Francisco (Dec. 8, 2002 as part of SF IndieFest Microcinema)
Prix de Beaute
Bay Area screenings:   Palace Hotel in San Francisco (July 26, 1974 as part of Art Deco Film Festival ***); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (May 16, 1982 and June 12, 1982 as part of the series “Rediscovering French Film”); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 10, 1985 as part of the series “A Tribute to Louise Brooks (1906-1985)”); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (May 21, 2000).

I also included a few local television broadcasts. All in all, I think this is a remarkable record. The Bay Area certainly loves Lulu.

*** the film series was curated by then San Francisco resident Kenneth Anger. The series was adjunct to a major Art Deco exhibition on display at a local museum.

Monday, April 13, 2009

World Digital Library

The Library of Congress posted the following announcement on their website. On April 21st, they and other institutions will launch a new world digital library. I wonder what Louise Brooks material might be found. 

April 7, 2009 

Library of Congress, UNESCO and Partners To Launch World Digital Library
The Library of Congress, UNESCO and 32 partner institutions on April 21 will launch the World Digital Library, a website that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world.

The site will include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, and prints and photographs – available unrestricted to the public and free of charge. The browseable, searchable site will function in seven languages and offer content in dozens of languages.

The launch will take place at a reception at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington. Directors of numerous partner institutions will also be on hand to present the project to ambassadors, ministers, delegates, and special guests attending the semi-annual meeting of UNESCO’s executive board.
Dr. Billington first proposed the creation of a World Digital Library (WDL) to UNESCO in 2005, remarking that such a project could "have the salutary effect of bringing people together by celebrating the depth and uniqueness of different cultures in a single global undertaking."

In addition to promoting international understanding, the project aims to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences, and narrow the digital divide within and between countries by building capacity in partner countries.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich international resources will be available through the World Digital Library. Other resources can be found at the Library’s main website,, and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at

Sunday, April 12, 2009

San Francisco Bay Area screenings

One of my projects of late has been to compile as complete a record as possible of the screenings of Louise Brooks' films in the San Francisco Bay Area. Admittedly, its a kind of trainspotting exercise. But as far as exercise goes, it coincides nicely with the fact that I am deeply interested in Louise Brooks and I live in San Francisco = film history meets local history.

I have a great deal of work done on this project. However, I am sure I have missed some screenings. Some of the newspapers which listed such events have not been archived or no longer exist (like the Ashbury Heights Advocate - the neighborhood newspaper serving the Haight Ashbury district in the 1920's). And sometimes, local and small town theaters in the area didn't bother to advertise their showings.

Nevertheless, here are my results so far for one of Brooks' films, The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), the first film in which Brooks had a part (uncredited). Given is the theater and locale, (followed by the date on which the film was shown). As I found out, a week long run was typical for the big cities - San Francisco and Oakland. Elsewhere, films were shown only for a day or two or three at a time.

Granada Theatre in San Francisco (Aug. 8-14, 1925); New Stanford in Palo Alto (Aug. 21?-24, 1925); Sequoia Theatre in Redwood City (Aug. 26-27, 1925); Strand Theatre in Los Gatos (Aug. 27-28, 1925); American in Oakland (Sept. 5-11, 1925); Tamalpais Theatre in San Anselmo (Sept. 12, 1925); Orpheus in San Rafael (Sept. 12, 1925); Liberty in San Jose (Sept. 23-26, 1925); California Theatre in Berkeley (Sept. 23-26, 1925); Garden Theatre in Burlingame (Sept. 27, 1925); New Livermore Theatre in Livermore (late Sept. 1925 announced but no record found); Regent Theatre in San Mateo (Oct. 10, 1925); Chimes in Oakland (Oct. 23-24, 1925); Coliseum in San Francisco (Nov. 2-4, 1925); Glen Theatre in Mountain View (Nov. 3-4, 1925); Royal Theatre in South San Francisco (Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, 1925); New Piedmont in Oakland (Dec. 25, 1925); Liberty in Oakland (Jan. 10, 1926); Palace Theatre in San Leandro (Jan. 11-12, 1926); Palace Theatre in Alameda (Feb. 1-2, 1926).

I have more work to do on this project. I need to confirm some dates by going over some newspapers once again, and I also need to poke around through some of the newspapers serving others cities by the bay, like Alameda, Niles, Los Gatos, and San Leandro. This project is actually a lot of fun, actually. And I have learned alot of interesting things about Louise Brooks and her history in the Bay Area. For example, which film featuring Louise Brooks  had the single longest run at a movie theater in the Bay Area?

The answer is Now We're in the Air, which played for a month at the St Francis in San Francisco in late 1927. That four week run, reportedly, broke house records. My research has also uncovered the curious fact that Pandora's Box (1929) along with three of Brooks' later films, When You're in Love (1937), King of Gamblers (1937), and Overland Stage Raiders (1938) were each shown on Bay Area television starting in 1959!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Film historian Cari Beauchamp upcoming Bay Area events

Cari Beauchamp, the acclaimed film historian and author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood, will be speaking about her new book, Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Year, at three events in the Bay Area next week. 

Beauchamp will be at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Wednesday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m., at Le Petit Trianon Theatre in San Jose on Thursday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m., and at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Friday, April 17 at noon. The last two events are ticketed. For details, see the links above.

I plan to attend the Book Passage event. Anyone interested in the Kennedy family or film history should take in one of Beauchamp’s upcoming events. She is an entertaining and informative speaker. And what's more, Louise Brooks is referenced a few times in Beauchamp’s latest work. Here is a link to an article I wrote about the author and her new book.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pandora's Box to screen in Los Angeles, July 1

Pandora's Box will be shown in Los Angeles on July 1st. Here are the details. 

Wednesday, July 1
Orpheum Theatre 
842 S. Broadway
Pandora's Box (Germany, 1929, 109 minutes, black/white)
Considered one of the greatest silent films ever made, Pandora’s Box tells the story of Lulu, a basically sweet-natured but amoral woman whose flirtations and affairs with a number of men (and at least one woman) lead to devastation. Beautiful and mesmerizing, Louise Brooks gives a complex and iconic performance as Lulu. Lushly photographed, with compelling performances from the entire cast, the film was directed by German master G. W. Pabst based on plays by Frank Wedekind. Co-starring Francis Lederer.

Special Program: Acclaimed organist Robert Israel will accompany the film on the Orpheum’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Hosting the evening is Hugh Munro Neely, film historian and director of the documentary Louise Brooks, Looking for Lulu.

For more information, visit
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