Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Louise Brooks shines in Starstruck

If you haven't already seen it or heard about it, the big new film book of the year is Ira M. Resnick's Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood (Abbeville).

This gorgeous, over-sized, full color, heavily illustrated, beautifully printed, weighs-a-ton, hardback coffee table book spans the years 1912 to 1962. It includes many rare and wonderful examples of silent era movie art within its 272 pages. All together, the book features vivid reproductions of 250 posters and forty stills. To see some examples, follow the various links contained at the end of this blog. Each of the linked-to pages contains a slide show, picture gallery, or nice selection of images!.

Starstruck includes rare posters and lobby cards featuring the likes of Lillian Gish, Greta Garbo, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich and many others. AND, I'm also pleased to report, Louise Brooks - whom the author describes as "one of my all-time favorite actresses."

Resnick, who made his name as a photographer and the owner of the Motion Picture Arts Gallery (the first gallery devoted exclusively to the art of the movies) writes about his "passion" for Brooks and relays a couple of anecdotes behind his acquisition of some truly marvelous lobby cards, posters, one sheets, and stills. For those keeping count, there are ten drop-dead gorgeous Brooks-related images in the book. And, courtesy of the publisher, a few of them are included here. I plan on including a couple more in future blogs.

One of the centerpieces of the book and of Resnick's self-described "Louise Brooks collection" was a 1929 Austrian film poster for Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. This unique object promotes the opening The Diary of a Lost Girl in Vienna on September 27, 1929 - prior to its better known debut in Berlin in October of the same year.

Resnick found the poster in California, and writes about its exceptional draftsmanship and Brooks' "confrontational and submissive" pose. Resnick adds, "For years it was the centerpiece of my collection, the first thing that a visitor would see upon entering the gallery. It was one of my most precious possessions."

However, after ten years and the pleasure of having owned it for so long, Resnick sold it to a private collector for the record setting sum of $80,000. (A modern poster adapting Brooks' provocative image and issued by the Motion Picture Arts Gallery in the 1980's is also included in this new book. The poster reproduced in Starstruck is signed by the actress with the inscription, "To Ira Resnick love Louise Brooks, June 16, 83.")

To learn more about this exceptional title, visit the publisher's page at www.abbeville.com. Or, check out these informative reviews of the book at Women's Wear Daily (WWD) and Today'sVintage. Also, DON'T MISS this short BBC video which includes Resnick and others. (Louise Brooks is its secret star.)

Upcoming events with the Ira Resnick will take place at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles on May 21st at 6 pm, and at the George Eastman House Dryden Theatre in Rochester, New York on June 11th at 8:00 pm. For those in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ira Resnick will be attending this summers' San Francisco Silent Film Festival. (Their blog also has a write-up on the book.) Copies of Starstruck will be on sale at the Festival, and Resnick will be signing books on Saturday, July 17th.

If you can't wait till then, or can't make one of these events, Starstruck: Vintage Movie Posters from Classic Hollywood is available on-line or through independent bookstores.

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