Thursday, September 30, 2010

She is everywhere, and she is "fearless"

This collage image featuring the one and only Louise Brooks seems to be showing up everywhere. 

Last week, a friend who lives in Portland, Oregon sent me snapshot of it taken in a local store window. And yesterday, my wife brought me home a postcard with the image which she bought in a store in Petaluma, California. 

Earlier, I also noticed it on a handbag or some such item in a store window not far from where I live in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.

The image, which is copyrighted 2010, is the work of a design collective known as Papayaart. And in fact, if you visit their stylish website at you will see that they use a variant of this image on their homepage. It's an effective image - and one easily applied to various products. According to their website, their designs and products are distributed all around the world.

I like the image. I also noticed a collaged image of Ruth St. Denis on their website.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kevin Brownlow: "My Life in Archives"

Back in May, the eminent and now Academy Award winning British film historian Kevin Brownlow gave a talk at the London Television Centre. His talk, part of series called the Jane Mercer Memorial Lecture, was titled "My Life in Archives."

As fans of Louise Brooks are likely aware, Brownlow has been a longtime champion of the actress. He befriended her in the late 1960’s, they corresponded for many years (reportedly some 200 letters), and she was included (a bit prominently) in three of Brownlow’s most significant works - the groundbreaking book The Parade’s Gone By (1968), the seminal 13 part filmed history of the American silent cinema, Hollywood (1979), and the also remarkable 3 part history of European silent film, Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (TV series, 1996).

The Parade’s Gone By is widely considered the single most import history of silent film. And thus, it’s a bit notable that the book contains a note of thanks by Brownlow which reads, “I owe an especial debt to Louise Brooks for acting as a prime mover in this book’s publication.”

2010 Jane Mercer Lecture part 1 from Gerry Lewis Productions on Vimeo.

During Brownlow’s talk, the British film historian speaks about the actress on two occasions. He claims at one point that his actions led to the destruction of the last remaining print of the James Cruze gangster film, The City Gone Wild (1927), which featured Brooks.

2010 Jane Mercer Lecture part 2 from Gerry Lewis Productions on Vimeo.

And, at a later point, he talks about the time he slept in Brooks’ bed. Watch the clips of this truly fascinating lecture to find out exactly what Brownlow meant by each claim.  

2010 Jane Mercer Lecture part 3 Q&A from Gerry Lewis Productions on Vimeo.

And, if you haven't already done so, go out and get yourself a copy of The Parade's Gone By, which is available either through or through independent booksellers. I can't recommend either Hollywood or Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood, as each is out-of-print and sells for hundreds of dollars. (Each also includes brief clips of Louise Brooks.)

A little more on Kevin Brownlow and his many activities as an author, documentary filmmaker, and archivist can be found on his production company website, Photoplay Productions. There is also a Wikipedia page for the film historian which contains links to other online biographies, articles and links. [ A bit more at ]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The World Encyclopedia of the Film

I love old reference books, for they have a tale to tell.. . . .

This past weekend, I went to the BIG book sale sponsored by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. I go every year, and always make a point of hitting the last day of the sale when every book is $1.00. I always find something - especially on the table of film books. One of the books I found this year was The World Encyclopedia of the Film by Tim Cawkwell and John M. Smith. This over-sized 444 page tome was published in 1972 by the A & W Visual Library. Seeminlgy, this book originated in Great Britian.

I hadn't ever seen this book before, which I guess was why it caught my eye among the numerous celebrity biographies and old works of "film history" published by Barnes, Citadel, Castle, etc.... So, at one dollar, I figured I would take a chance. Text on the back cover claimed it was by far the "most-complete" work of its kind.

What interests me about old reference works is the way in which they reflect the accepted facts and opinions of the time. Take, for example, this brief entry on Louise Brooks. 

Brooks was born in 1906, not 1900. Three of her films from 1927 are not listed, as isn't Empty Saddles from 1936. An emphasis is given to her work as a writer - which is interesting, as the emphasis would shift to her European films within the next decade. And Brooks' German films are listed with their German names, not the more familiar English-language titles. Within the context of this book, Brooks' entry is brief - but at least she is included. Most every film reference work from earlier decades did not include her.

The entry on G.W. Pabst is interesting in a similar way. Now-a-days, most every piece on Pabst begins with his work with Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. Here, those two films - which would soon under-go a revival - are only listed. 

What old reference works tell us is the ever developing history of a thing. I also picked up an early 1980's encyclopedia  of rock music. I noticed right off a near full page entry on Rick Springfield, a performer now not as big as he once was. (I did see him in concert while in college!) Lesson learned: times change, and so do reference works.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Beggars of Life revival redux

Beggars of Life, the 1928 silent film featuring Louise Brooks, is undergoing a revival – and in more ways and more instances than even I had been aware.

On September 19, Beggars of Life was screened at the 30th Cambridge Film Festival in Cambridge, England. The live musical accompaniment for the event was provided by the Dodge Brothers.

In April, as readers of this blog may remember, the British roots music combo had accompanied the film at a screening which was part of the British Silent Film Festival.

AND now, reports the Daily Echo, a UK newspaper, the Dodge Brothers were at it again. “The band was back in action at Brockenhurst College last night when eight bicycles were used to power a projector for a screening of Beggars of Life, a 1928 silent movie starring Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen. Music was by The Dodge Brothers and silent film pianist Neil Brand.”

Bicycle powered projectors! Who woulda thunk? (more at

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Diary of a Lost Girl: A brief history of a banned book

Every September since 1982, the American reading public observes Banned Books Week. This year, as in years past, hundreds of libraries and bookstores draw attention to the problem of censorship by hosting events and by creating displays of challenged works. It about creating awareness. The 2010 Banned Books Week runs September 25th through October 2nd.

Recently, I did my small part by helping bring a once censored work back into print. The book is called The Diary of a Lost Girl. It's by a turn of the last century German writer few today have heard of. Her name is Margarete Böhme. Her book, a once controversial bestseller, had been out of print in the United States for more than 100 years.

What I did was to publish a reprint of the original English-language translation. I also wrote a long introduction detailing the book’s remarkable history. As there is little in English about this book and its author, my introduction breaks ground. More importantly, it gives voice once again to a story which critics had long tried to silence.

Though little known today, The Diary of a Lost Girl was nothing less than a literary phenomenon in the early 20th century. It's considered by scholars of German literature to be one of the best-selling books of its time.

The book tells the story of Thymian, a young woman forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution. Her story goes something like this. Seduced by her Father’s business associate, the teenage Thymian conceives a child which she is forced to give up; she is then cast out of her home, scorned by society, and ends up in a reform school – from which she escapes and by twists of fate hesitantly turns to life as a high-class escort. Prostitution is her only means of survival.

In 1907, the English writer Hall Caine described the book as the "poignant story of a great-hearted girl who kept her soul alive amidst all the mire that surrounded her poor body." Many years later, a contemporary scholar called it “Perhaps the most notorious and certainly the commercially most successful autobiographical narrative of the early twentieth century.”

The author of The Diary of a Lost Girl, Margarete Böhme (1867-1939), was a progressive minded writer who meant to expose the hypocrisy of society and the very un-Christian behavior of some of its leading members. She also meant to show-up the double standards by which women of all ages suffer. Böhme’s frank treatment of sexuality (by the standards of the day) only added fuel to the fire of outrage which greeted the book in some quarters.

The Diary of a Lost Girl is an unlikely work of social protest. It’s also a tragedy – in 1909, a newspaper in New Zealand called it “the saddest of modern books.”

First published in Germany in 1905 as Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, Böhme’s book proved an enduring work – at least for a while and despite attacks by critics and social groups. The book was translated into 14 languages, and was reviewed and discussed across Europe. It inspired a popular sequel brought about by a flood of letters to the author, a controversial stage play banned in some German cities, a parody, lawsuits (Böhme herself was accused of being a prostitute – how else could a woman have written such a book?), two silent films - each of which were in turn censored, and a score of imitators.

The book confronts readers with the story of a likeable young women forced into a life of degradation. The complicity of her family – and by extension society – in her downward turn is provocative. However, Thymian – a truly endearing character and a heroine till the end, refuses to be coarsened by her experiences. She also refuses to let others define her - she defines herself. At the time, Böhme’s book helped open a dialogue on issues around the treatment of women.

In 1907, when the book was translated into English, its British publisher placed an advertisement in newspapers. The ads proclaimed Böhme’s work “The Book that Has Stirred the Hearts of the German People,” but somewhat defensively added “It is outspoken to a degree, but the great moral lesson it conveys is the publishers’ apology for venturing to reproduce this human document.”

In response to a review of the book in the Manchester Guardian, the Rev. J.K. Maconachie of the Manchester Association Against State Regulation of Vice wrote a surprising letter to the editor. He stated, “The appearance in Germany of this remarkable book, together with the stir it has made there and the fact that its author is a woman, betoken the uprising which has taken place in recent years amongst German women against the evils and injustice which the book reveals. . . . It may be hoped that discriminating circulation of The Diary of a Lost One will help many here to realize, in the forceful words of your reviewer, ‘the horror of setting aside one section of human beings for the use of another.’”

Back in Germany, the same sorts of groups which objected to the book also objected to the two films made from it. The first, from 1918, is considered lost, but we know from articles of the time that it was withdrawn from circulation. The second film, which starred Louise Brooks, has only come down in a heavily censored form.

As the second film's 1929 censorship records show, various groups including a German morality association, a national organization for young women, a national organization of Protestant girl’s boarding schools, and even the governor in Lower Silesia all voiced their objections to aspects of the film. As with the book, these groups objected to key scenes. Each found the overall work to be demoralizing.

By the end of the Twenties when G.W. Pabst released his version, The Diary of a Lost Girl was still in print and was still being reissued across Europe. It had by then sold more than 1,200,000 copies – ranking it among the 15 bestselling books of the era. Twenty five years after it was first published, Böhme's “terribly impressive book, full of accusations against society” was still considered a provocation. That’s why, just a very few years later at the beginning of the Nazi era, conservative groups still unsettled by its damning indictment of society deliberately drove it out-of-print.

In 1988, after decades of obscurity, a facsimile of the special 1907 edition (picture above) was published in Germany. It was followed in 1995 by a small paperback which featured Louise Brooks as Thymian on the cover. My illustrated reprint (picture above), also with Brooks on the cover and with some 40 pages of introductory and related material, appeared in late July.

Why did I do it? I was motivated, initially, by the remarkable history of the book. (Not discussed here is the lingering controversy behind its authorship. The book was first published as the actual diary of a real girl – and Böhme claimed only to be its editor.) Also, I feel now more than ever that The Diary of a Lost Girl is a worthwhile work of literature - one with a still relevant message. For me, it’s about creating awareness.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Beggars of Life revival

The 1928 Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life, seems to be undergoing a revival. (More at

On Sunday, September 19, Beggars of Life was screened at the 30th Cambridge Film Festival in Cambridge, England. Live musical accompaniment was provided by the Dodge Brothers, a contemporary skiffle / rockabilly band out of England who play American-style “roots music.” The Cambridge screening was the second time in recent months that the Dodge Brothers have accompanied the film.

In August, Beggars of Life was screened as part of The Hollywood Heritage "Silents Under the Stars" series at the Paramount Ranch near Los Angeles, California. 

It will be screened next in Seattle, Washington as part of the "Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays" series at the Paramount Theatre on October 11th at 7:00 pm.

And again, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Saturday, October 23 at 7:30 pm. This screening, a 20th Anniversary Tribute to The Film Foundation, honors the institution which helped fund the George Eastman House restoration which has helped spur the current revival.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love em and Leave em screening

JUST ADDED: I'll be introducing the 1926 Louise Brooks film, Love Em and Leave Em, at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California on Oct. 9th at 7:30 pm. It's a rare 16mm screening of a seldom seen film - one of Brooks' best American silents IMHO. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have never been to Niles, here is the perfect opportunity to check things out.

Before hand (from about 7:00 pm), I'll be signing copies of my new edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl. And what's more, I am giving away a free Louise Brooks button to everyone who buys a book!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A different look

Paramount didn't quite know what to do with Louise Brooks. Perhaps that is why they gave her a different look in Evening Clothes, a 1927 romantic comedy starring Adolphe Menjou and Virginia Valli.That's Brooks - without her signature bob - on the far right. This image is for sale on eBay.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Love em and Leave em

This battered publicity still from the 1926 Louise Brooks film, Love Em and Leave Em, is currently for sale on eBay. Its a charming image from what I think is one of Brooks' best American silent films.

This now rarely screened film will be shown at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, California on October 9th.

This delightful Frank Tuttle-directed film tells the story of two sisters - one good (Evelyn Brent) and one bad (Louise Brooks) - who share a boyfriend (Lawrence Gray) while both are employed at a department store. Trouble ensues. . . . 

According to my records, the last time Love Em and Leave Em was publicly screened in the Bay Area was on November 21, 2006 in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Public Library. The first time is was screened in the Bay Area was at the California Theater in Pittsburg on December 14, 1926.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reading her diary

Cine-Miroir was a French film magazine which often ran near full page images of actors and actresses on their back cover. Here is one of Louise Brooks on the back of the December 5, 1930 issue. It depicts Brooks as Thymain in a scene from Diary of a Lost Girl (1929).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Valeska Gert (Diary of a Lost Girl) helped inspire punks

Valeska Gert, the dancer and actress who gave a memorable performance as a sadistic reform school disciplinarian in the 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, was not only a precursor of performance art, but helped inspire punks in Germany (especially Nina Hagen). That's according to a new article in Deutsche Welle.

That must-read article, "Germany's forgotten performer Valeska Gert helped inspire punk," is occasioned by a new biography of Gert, as well as a first ever exhibit about the actress and dancer at the National Gallery's Hamburger Bahnhof.

Besides her appearance in Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl, she also appeared in his Joyless Street (1925) and Threepenny Opera (1931) - as well as later on in films by the likes of Fellini and Fassbinder.

In the late 1920's, Gert unveiled one of her most enduring works of "performance art" (though it wasn't called that then). Entitled "Pause," it was an interpretative anti-dance piece performed between reels in cinemas; it was designed to draw attention to stillness and serenity. It reminds me of John Cage's 1952 composition 4′33″, the three movements of which are performed without a single note being played.

Valeska Gert's transdisciplinary art is paid tribute to for the first time in the National Gallery's Hamburger Bahnhof. Gert (1892-1978) is one of this city's great figures, albeit one who remains vastly underestimated to this day. Her art, according to the gallery, "probes the structures and effects of perception" - where it is placed alongside others that also tackle the phenomenon of perception, such as Marcel Duchamp. Even as far back as the 1920s, Valeska Gert's conceptual works anticipated happenings, current trends in performance art, popular, small-stage entertaining arts, free improvisation and many other developments in contemporary art and modern music.

In exile in the United States in the 1940's, she opened the Beggar Bar in New York, where Julian Beck, Judith Malina, and Jackson Pollock worked for her. Tennessee Williams also worked for her for a short time as a busboy.

If Louise Brooks is the secret muse of the 20th century, is Valeska Gert the great missing link in 20th century culture?

[ Here is a link to Gert's Wikipedia entry, which contains additional details. And here is a link to a German language page which includes an interview with Wolfgang Müller, the author of the new book on Gert. Use your web translation function to get the gist of it. ]

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Encounter with F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

In June, the 59 year old writer F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre took his own life. He set his book and paper-filled New York City apartment on fire and died in the resulting blaze. It was an ugly ending to what was certainly a sad, even tormented life. On Sunday, the New York Times ran a long article on the enigmatic, Scottish-born author.

Little is known about him, except that at one point, in order to escape his troubled past, he changed his name to "Fergus MacIntyre." According to Wikipedia, the allusive author acknowledged he took the middle-name of "Gwynplaine" from the protagonist of The Man Who Laughs, the memorable novel by Victor Hugo turned into an equally memorable 1928 film starring Conrad Veidt. In those works, Gwynplaine was the disfigured, always smiling malcontent who later inspired “The Joker” character in Batman.

MacIntyre was best known as a genre author whose sporadic output included science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery stories as well as a science fiction novel and a book of light verse and humorous pieces once praised by Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. Reportedly, a number of unpublished manuscripts were burned in his apartment fire.

MacIntyre also authored newspaper articles and book reviews, and ghost authored and contributed to other works. According to Wikipedia, MacIntyre “contributed substantial script material” to a 2006 documentary on the silent film actress Theda Bara, The Woman with the Hungry Eyes. It was directed by Hugh Munro Neely, who also directed Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu.

MacIntyre’s reputation in the film community (which is curiously not addressed in the New York Times article) rests on his having written reviews of lost films which he sometimes claimed to have only recently seen. These reviews appeared on IMDb and film message boards, where they live-on to this day.

Such claims, made convincing through MacIntyre’s skills as a writer, drove film historians to distraction. To many in the online film community, he was little more than a prankster playing with the facts while playing a joke on serious film enthusiasts. MacIntyre's claim to have seen various lost films included at least one featuring Louise Brooks, A Social Celebrity (1926).

In the spring of 2006, I emailed MacIntyre regarding his 2002 IMDb review of that lost Brooks film. Not then knowing his reputation, I wrote “I am preparing a book on the films of Louise Brooks, and noticed your thoughtful comments on A Social Celebrity on the IMDB website. I am wondering if you ever saw the film? (The last known copy of A Social Celebrity was lost in a disastrous nitrate fire at the Cinémathèque Française in the late 1950s.) If you have in fact seen the film, I would be very curious to know when and where.”

MacIntyre responded the next day.
Greetings to Thomas Gladysz (do you pronounce it Gladdish?) from Fergus (F. Gwynplaine) MacIntyre, whom you contacted regarding the film A Social Celebrity.

Although I've read your IMDb review of Looking for Lulu, and your email address is an obvious tribute to Brooks, I'm surprised to learn that you're writing a book about her. Surely every possible fact about Louise Brooks has long since been unearthed?

I wish you good luck with your book, and I encourage you to avoid the cliche which several other authors (including Brooks herself) have perpetrated when writing about her: please do not refer to Brooks as 'Lulu'. Lulu was one of the characters she played onscreen. Louise Brooks was a far more fascinating and complex person than Lulu was.

To answer your question: yes, I have seen a print of A Social Celebrity. It was a 'flash print', meaning that it possessed the original (Paramount) intertitles, but they ran for only a few frames each; the print was intended for distribution in a non-Anglophone market, and the local exhibitor was supposed to use the flash titles as a guide for translations, which would occupy more footage than the flash versions and be onscreen longer. I viewed this print more than ten years ago, and it was already slightly deteriorated due to nitrate instability.

This print is (or was) in the personal collection of a private film collector in Europe, who does not wish to be publicly identified. He owns several original nitrate prints of films that were released in the 1930s and earlier. I was given some limited access to some of the films in his collection, solely in order to examine their physical deterioration, and to advise him as to which reels of film in his collection were most urgently in need of restoration or duplication to acetate safety stock.

Normally, when a reel of film has deteriorated to the point where I'm unwilling to subject it to the vagaries of a motorised projector, I will inspect the footage through a hand-held Steenbeck viewer. Several reels of the Social Celebrity print had begun to decompose, so I Steenbecked them rather than running them through a projector.

I have offered to put this collector into contact with several professional film restorers in Europe and Britain, and it is my understanding that he will eventually have most of the nitrate films in his collection converted to acetate stock. I have very little ability to influence his actions in this matter.

This collector is a private individual who only very rarely grants access to his film collection. I was given very limited access to his collection, solely in order to inspect his films as physical artefacts in need of restoration. I do not have direct contact with this gentleman; I contact him only through his attorneys, who are strongly inclined to refuse all requests for access to his collection. He has made it clear that he will not grant public access to his collection. As this gentleman has been helpful to me in my own business endeavours, I must respect his privacy.

Thank you for reading my IMDb reviews. I'm not an employee of IMDb, and they don't pay me for my reviews. I'm a full-time journalist and author. If you log onto and go to their Books section, then key a search for my by-line "F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre", you'll see the covers of two books that I wrote and illustrated. One of these is my Victorian erotic horror/romance novel: The Woman Between the Worlds, featuring Conan Doyle, Aleister Crowley, GB Shaw, WB Yeats, Arthur Machen, Sir William Crookes and several other eminent Victorians united to aid an invisible she-alien during an invasion of London by alien shape-changers. This novel got rave reviews from Harlan Ellison on his Stateside cable-tv show. I'm also the author and illustrator of a humour anthology which was praised by Ray Bradbury and other authors: MacIntyre's Improbable Bestiary, likewise available on Amazon, which contains some original material I wrote about Lon Chaney and silent films.

To whet your appetite, here's the cover (my artwork and typography) of my anthology:

I took some notes while I was Steenbecking A Social Celebrity. If you have any specific questions about the content of this film, I will gladly try to answer them for you, but I must decline any request to give you access to the print.

Straight on till mourning, Fergus (F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre)
Could it be true? I wondered. In my naiveté, I hoped it would be. I responded immediately and pressed MacIntyre for details, sent him specific questions, but didn’t hear back. I am sure I came off as too eager, and MacIntyre wasn’t willing to go extra innings.

A few days later, I wrote MacIntyre again. “I am not sure you received my email. I am glad to know that a copy of A Social Celebrity still exists in some form - even if that copy is unattainable - and may one day be given to a public archive. I shall await that day!” I never heard from him again. And as time passed, I began to feel this curious character with unsubstantiated claims had been pulling my leg.

The New York Times noted MacIntyre worked night jobs in order to spend his days at the New York Public Library researching things which interested him. Those subjects included early film, of which he was by all accounts knowledgeable. Undoubtedly, he relished their depictions of days gone by – and of a world, made safe through the passage of time, which no longer existed.

MacIntyre was something of a pastiche artist - witness his own description of his sole published novel. To me, his reviews of silent films he couldn’t have seen read like a kind-of critical pastiche of reviews found in the old film periodicals housed at the New York Public Library. That occurs to me now when I reread his IMDb review of A Social Celebrity. Its last line, “Louise Brooks is as seductive as usual, but she has very little to do here,” echoes the kind of observation made by a number of film critics in the 1920’s.

It’s hard to know why MacIntyre claimed to have seen A Social Celebrity and other lost films – and thereby muddied the historical record. He must have known it irritated others. Perhaps it was a game. Perhaps it was one way of getting attention. Perhaps it was his way of asserting control over a world in which he felt increasingly out-of-sorts. We’ll never know.

MacIntyre was an enigmatic, intellectual loner. He once wrote, “I collect the fragments of time that other people throw away, and I put these to good use.” Not everyone agreed.

Louise Brooks is the obvious #1 crush for any thinking human being

"Louise Brooks is the obvious #1 crush for any thinking human being," stated novelist Glenn David Gold in a short interview about Charlie Chaplin and silent film at

Gold is not only a fan of Louise Brooks, but an acclaimed writer and film enthusiast as well. 

His 2001 novel, Carter Beats the Devil - inspired by the early 20th century magician Charles Carter, was a national bestseller. It’s in development as a feature film for possible release in 2013.

His second novel, Sunnyside, was published to great acclaim in 2009. It’s based on incidents in the life of the "Little Tramp." Sunnyside was released by Vintage in softcover in May.

Each are recommended.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Diary of a Lost Girl in Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

My new edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl got a nice write up in today's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. The article is by Jack Garner, the newspaper's longtime film critic (he also knew Louise Brooks, and wrote the foreword to the Peter Cowie book, Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu). Garner wrote:
A RARE BOOK tie-in. The idea of book tie-ins to movies is well known. But it's not every day that a 1929 film generates the reissue of a book. Yet that's the case with Margarete Bohme's The Diary of a Lost Girl, which was originally published in 1905.

The surprising reissue in 2010 is the brainchild of Thomas Gladysz, a San Francisco journalist and director of the Louise Brooks Society. Fans of Brooks, the beautiful silent film star who finished out her years in Rochester, may recognize the title. The Diary of a Lost Girl was the second of two masterpieces she filmed with Germany's G. W. Pabst in the late '20s. It followed the legendary Pandora's Box into theaters. (Both films are available on DVD — and highly recommended.)

Bohme's book caused a sensation at the early part of the last century, telling in diary fashion the story of an abused young woman who ends up a prostitute. It sold 1.2 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books of its time.

Read today, it's a fascinating time-trip back to another age, and yet remains compelling. As a bonus, Gladysz richly illustrates the text with stills of Brooks from the famous film, and also includes an introduction. The book's available at,, or at the Eastman House gift shop.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New restoration of Pandora's Box announced

A new restoration of Pandora's Box has been announced. The BFI London Film Festival has announced the line-up for its October event, and among the highlights is a new restoration of the famous Louise Brooks film.

Pandora’s Box is set to screen at 6pm on October 14th at the National Film Theater 1 in London. The new restoration is listed at 143 minutes, ten minutes longer than a “restored version” released by Criterion on DVD in 2008. A bit more info at

The Festival, run by the British Film Institute, is in its 54th year. It will include 197 feature films, and 112 shorts. Other restorations are also on the calendar. I sure wish I could be there, but alas . . . .

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Canary Murder Case lobby card

This lovely lobby card (11x14) for The Canary Murder Case (1929) is for sale on eBay. Bidding starts at $2,500. It depicts Gustav von Seyffertitz and Louise Brooks. I likes it. Don't you?
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