Friday, May 29, 2009

A vintage Russian Lulu - at last

Following up on my May 9th posting, I put in a request for microfilm issues of the Moscow Daily News from 1932. My interlibrary loan request arrived, and today I spent the afternoon scrolling through three months of that English-language paper published in the fledgling Soviet Union. 

Fortunately, I found a number of advertisement for the showing of Lulu (aka Pandora's Box) at the Hermitage Garden Movie Theatre in June of 1932. Here is the sort of thing I uncovered. 

Unfortunately, I didn't find much else. The film ran for two weeks. I wasn't able to find any editorial comments about Lulu - beyond a listing under "Cinema Program." After it closed, Lulu was replaced by Aelita: Queen of Mars. A quick Google search of the venue - the Hermitage Garden Movie Theatre (at Karetni Ryad 3) - reveals that Anton Chekov mentioned a similarly named place in one of his earlier stories. As did the 20th century Russian writer Konstantin Paustovsky. (The venue may still be in use today, as an opera house?)

Interestingly, the advertisements - which ran every day during the film's two week run - mention neither Pandora's Box nor G.W. Pabst - only that it was a "German Art Film" "Featuring Louise Brooks." Each ad featured the same drawing of the actress, along with the notice that there was a "Continual showing from 12 noon. Last performance at 11:45. All tickets for last show at 1 ruble." 

Can anyone tell me anything more about this showing of Lulu ? Or the venue? Do any Russians read this blog?

Next, now that I have a date, I plan to put in some requests for Russian language newspapers from Moscow from the time. (This 1932 screening of Pandora's Box was not the first Louise Brooks film to be shown in the Soviet Union. The writer Ayn Rand reported having seen the 1926 film American Venus in the Soviet capital before she left the country.)

[Other interesting tidbits I came across in by scroll through the Moscow Daily News included an article on Richard Barthelmess, advertisements for a couple of Harold Lloyd films, one for Buster Keaton's The General, lots for various Soviet films unknown to me, and a report on a visit to Moscow by the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, who criticized a German film then playing in the Soviet city, Kuhle Vampe.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Of related interest

Of related interest to my previous post is this article about silent film accompanist Dennis James at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Silent Cinema in Song

There is a new book out on the many songs of the silent film era which were inspired by, or are about, either movies or movie stars. 

As it turns out, there are so many that author Ken Wlaschin has easily filled a 388 page book documenting the sheet music, films and recordings through which these songs found their way into the world. The book is The Silent Cinema in Song, 1896 - 1929. It was recently released by McFarland.

And of course, the one and only Louise Brooks is including in this recommended new book. To find out more, check out my own just published article on The Silent Cinema in Song, 1896 - 1929 at I write on silent film topics for the website. The book itself is available on-line and at better bookstores.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A double general alarm, indeed

Having trouble waking-up? What you need is a double general alarm - in the form of Louise Brooks!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wings takes flight - my take

I just posted an article on Wings (1927), which will be shown Saturday May 16th at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California. The film was directed by William Wellman, and so of course, I worked in a mention of Beggars of Life (1928), the Louise Brooks film Wellman made shortly after the WWI epic, which starred Clara Bow.

My article can be found at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

For fun: "Sunnyside" by Glen David Gold

Tonight, I heading over to Books Inc in San Francisco's Civic Center to see and hear Glen David Gold read from his new novel, Sunnyside. In it, the bestselling author of Carter Beat the Devil turns his literary attention to a brief period in the life of silent film star Charlie Chaplin. No mention of Louise Brooks, unfortunately, as the author focuses on the mid to late teens.

Gold’s connection to Chaplin is personal. According to the author, Gold’s great aunt - a journalist, was Chaplin’s neighbor in Switzerland. And family legend has it that the silent film star dictated parts of his 1964 autobiography to the author's relation.

Booklovers will have the chance to hear Gold read from Sunnyside at one of a number of upcoming events around the Bay Area. The author will be at Books Inc in San Francisco on May 12th at 7 pm, Rakestraw Books in Danville on May 21st at 7 pm, Keplers in Menlo Park on June 3rd at 7:30 pm, M is for Mystery in San Mateo on June 4th at 7 pm, and Book Passage in Corte Madera on June 9th at 7 pm. Each of the links embedded here contains further details on each event.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A remarkable 1932 reference to Louise Brooks

Just tonight, I came across this remarkable 1932 newspaper clipping from Billings, Montana. (Only part of the article is shown here.) As you will notice, Louise Brooks is mentioned in the top paragraph in the right hand column! 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Louise Brooks via a new Chaplin biography

There is a new book on Charlie Chaplin called Chaplin: A Life (Arcade). The book is by Stephen Weissman, M.D. What sets it apart from the many other Chaplin books is that this new work is a psychoanalytical study of the Little Tramp. And as with all new books on silent film subjects, the first thing I check is whether or not Louise Brooks is included. I think of it as a "Lulu-litmus test."

Chaplin: A Life passed the test. Some two or three paragraphs are given over to the Summer long affair Chaplin and Brooks had in 1925. And of course, Weissman recounts the iodine penis painting incident, something also detailed in the Barry Paris biography. [ The incident, and mention of Louise Brooks, are also referenced on an archived radio interview with Weissman on the Diane Rehm show, which can be heard That show originally aired on January 12, 2009. ]

Well, anyways, its a book worth checking out. I wrote a piece about it and the author's upcoming appearance in San Francisco for My article can be found at  Please give it a read as well. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seattle street art

I just came across this image on Flickr. It depicts street art in Seattle, Washington (I believe), and is part of an image set depicting other works posted around town. I think it is pretty cool. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Douglas Messerli article

Publisher and editor Douglas Messerli has posted an article on the website on two films by G.W. Pabst, Pandora's Box and The Threepenny Opera. His piece is a kind of meditation on the films. It is interesting, and provocative. It's a piece that is well worth reading. Check it out here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Louise Brooks stars in Los Angeles series

My illustrated article on Louise Brooks and the upcoming film series devoted to her is now online. 

Los Angeles has long had a love affair with Louise Brooks. That relationship continues with a series of Wednesday night screenings at the Silent Movie Theatre on North Fairfax Avenue. Throughout May, the quirky cinema showcase will screen four films featuring the legendary silent film star.
Check it my article at

Friday, May 1, 2009

Prix de beaute on TV

At this very moment, I am watching the closing scene of  Prix de Beaute on the ARTS channel. How thrilling it is to see Louise Brooks on television. Feelings of discovery, wonder, happiness. . . Are others watching?

[In the United States, the ARTS Channel shows musical clips from old movies intermixed with classical music video.]
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