Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pandora's Box screens tonight at Price Charles Theater

Pandora's Box screens tonight at the Price Charles Theater in London, England with live piano accompaniment. The film, starring Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, and Franz Lederer, is listed at 132 minutes.  More info at this page.

 The theater listing reads: "G.W. Pabst's film that catapulted Louise Brooks to international acclaim and made her 'the' icon of the Jazz Age tells the tragic story of Lulu, the hedonistic dancer and prostitute. The rise and inevitable fall of an amoral but naive young woman whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Laura Moriarty's tour dates for The Chaperone

Here are Laura Moriarty's tour dates for The Chaperone. If you're in any of these cities, come by and show your support of Laura and your love of literature and Louise Brooks!  The Chaperone publishes June 5th.

Thursday, June 7
7 p.m.: Talk, Q&A & Signing
St. Louis Public Library – Schlafly Branch
225 N. Euclid
St. Louis, MO 63108
sponsored by Left Bank Books

Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10
Printer’s Row Lit Fest
Talk location & time TBD
Monday, June 11
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093

Tuesday, June 12
6 p.m.: Talk, Q&A & Signing
The Bookworm
8702 Pacific Street
Omaha, NE 68114

Thursday, June 14
6 p.m.: Talk, Q&A & Signing
Watermark Books
4701 E. Douglas
Wichita, KS 67218

Tuesday, June 19
Unity Temple on the Plaza
707 W 47th St
Kansas City, MO 64112
Sponsored by Rainy Day Books

Friday, June 22
5:30 p.m.: Cocktail Reception, Talk, Q&A & Signing
7812 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

Monday, June 25
7 p.m.: Talk, Q&A & Signing (intro by Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society)
A Great Good Place for Books
6120 La Salle Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

Tuesday, June 26
7 p.m.: Talk, Q&A & Signing
140 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Wednesday, June 27
2 p.m.: Tea Reception, Talk, Q&A & Signing
Towne Center Books
555 Main Street
Pleasanton, CA 94566

7 p.m.: Talk, Q&A & Signing
Rakestraw Books
522 Hartz Avenue
Danville, CA 94526

Friday, July 13 to Sunday, July 15
Iowa City Book Festival
University of Iowa
Talk location & time TBD

"The Chaperone is the enthralling story of two women . . . and how their unlikely relationship changed their lives. . . . In this layered and inventive story, Moriarty raises profound questions about family, sexuality, history, and whether it is luck or will—or a sturdy combination of the two—that makes for a wonderful life."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"In her new novel, The Chaperone, Laura Morirty treats this golden age with an evocative look at the early life of silent-film icon Louise Brooks, who in 1922 leaves Wichita, Kansas, for New York City in the company of 36-year-old chaperone, Cora Carlisle. . . . A mesmerizing take on women in this piviotal era."—Vogue

"Laura Moriarty weaves a compelling story."—The Christian Science Monitor

“It’s impossible not to be completely drawn in by The Chaperone. Laura Moriarty has delivered the richest and realest possible heroine in Cora Carlisle, a Wichita housewife who has her mind and heart blown wide open, and steps—with uncommon courage—into the fullness of her life. What a beautiful book. I loved every page.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“What a charming, mesmerizing, transporting novel! The characters are so fully realized that I felt I was right there alongside them. A beautiful clarity marks both the style and structure of The Chaperone.”—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and Adam & Eve

The Chaperone is the best kind of historical fiction, transporting you to another time and place, but even more importantly delivering a poignant story about people so real, you'll miss and remember them long after you close the book.”—Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Louise Brooks "Rediscovered Silent Film Star"

A rather nice video tribute to Louise Brooks. From YouTube, and titled
"Louise Brooks 'Rediscovered Silent Film Star'."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Louise Brooks - Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema

Some excerpts featuring Louise Brooks from the documentary Why Be Good? Sexuality and Censorship in Early Cinema (2008). These clips features biographer Barry Paris and William Wellman Jr, the son of the director of Beggars of Life. This excellent documentary can be found on Amazon or rented from Netflix.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cool pic of the day: When Pandora's Box opened Jean Cocteau in Santa Fe

Cool pic of the day

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, was the first film to play
at the Jean Cocteau theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The above advertisement,
from 1984, indicates that the film was scheduled to run only one week. However,
it was still running at the end of May, when advertisements indicate it was showing
as part of a double bill with Diary of a Lost Girl, also starring Louise Brooks.
And yes, the films got good reviews.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Zooey Deschanel: "I love a Louise Brooks bob!"

US Weekly reported that popular New Girl actress Zooey Deschanel, known for sporting bangs, declared in a recent interview, "If I could cut my hair today I totally would. I love a Louise Brooks bob!" Deschanel's shout-out to the silent film star has been all over the web.

According to BellaSugar, where the story first ran, Deschanel is known for her love of "all things vintage." And now, according to US Weekly, "For her hair inspiration, Zooey Deschanel is looking to the past -- rather than the latest trends.

We here at the Louise Brooks Society would love to see Deschanel in a Louise Brooks bob. Who wouldn't? She would look smashing. The idea of Deschanel as a Louise Brooks type as come up before, even in the pages of the Los Angeles Times. But really, Deschanel seems more the Clara Bow type. Don't you think? And a bob on Deschanel might just turn this New Girl into today's "It Girl."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Five days of Louise Brooks in Montreal

Twice in the coming two weeks, the Cinéma du Parc in Montreal is screening a movie starring Louise Brooks as part of its 17 film salute to early film, "The Artists" (thru June 3).

The two films, both made in Germany and directed by G.W. Pabst at the end of the silent era, are Pandora’s Box (or Loulou, as it is titled in France) and Diary of a Lost Girl. Both date from 1929, and each will be shown variously with German, French or English subtitles. Pandora’s Box screens May 22-24, and Diary of a Lost Girl screens May 28-29. It is a great opportunity to see Brooks, a screen legend, at the height of her career and in her best work.

As the Cinéma du Parc states on its bilingual website, the idea for the series originated came about with the success of The Artist, when just about everybody was caught by surprise over the media frenzy around the film. An unlikely contender, The Artist was a French production shot in Los Angeles which became the first silent film since 1929 to win the Best Picture Oscar, and that after gaining numerous awards at Cannes, the BAFTA and the Césars.

Jean Dujardin, who won nearly every Best Actor award around the world for his portrayal of fading star George Valentin, prepared for his role by watching classic silent films and by studying silent era actors, notably Douglas Fairbanks. In fact, the film Valentin views (as his own) in his apartment is Fairbanks’ first swashbuckler, The Mark of Zorro (1920). He had also, reportedly, read Jeffrey Vance's superb 2008 book on the actor.

Described as virtuosic, unique, poetic, touching and unforgettable, The Artist generated considerable public interest in silent film in 2011. That interest has carried through to today.

Some of the other films set to be screened as part of “The Artists” include Fairbanks’ The Black Pirate (1926) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924), as well as Wings (1927), the first silent film (and until The Artist the last silent film) to win an Academy Award. F.W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh (1924), with the great Emil Jannings as the pathetic doorman, is also on the schedule, as is a newly restored print of Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925), and two swell Buster Keaton Films, Seven Chances (1925) and Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928). Another early masterpiece, Sunrise (1927), will also be shown.

Also on the schedule is a third G.W. Pabst film, The Threepenny Opera (1931), which will be screened in both their German and French versions. As the Cinéma du Parc website explains, "The French version of The Threepenny Opera was filmed simultaneously to the German version, a practice that was common at the beginning sound in the movies, before dubbing became the norm. Pabst directed both films, alternating between the two different casts on the same sets, with the same shots and the same compositions. But the two films are still very distinct, with the styles and the sensibilities that are intrinsic to each language."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Line-up of films at 2012 Silent Film Fest

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has announced the line-up of films for their annual July event at the Castro Theater. And once again, they've has put together a varied and interesting program. The Festival opens with a special presentation of the air war epic, Wings, the first film to win an Academy Award — and ends with The Cameraman, Buster Keaton's brilliant comedy about the business of making movies. In between, there is an international assortment of films from Sweden, Germany, Russia and China, as well as a couple of American-made films set in foreign locales.

The Festival's "centerpiece film" is a not-on-DVD and never-shown-in-San Francisco restoration of Pandora's Box, starring the legendary Louise Brooks. I, for one, am looking forward to that. 

Among the other stars set to grace the Festival screen are Douglas Fairbanks in his first swashbuckler, dapper Ronald Colman in a tearjerker, and sultry Brigitte Helm in The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna. A few years back, she wowed audiences as the sexy robot in Metropolis. Others making early-in-their-career appearances include Gary Cooper, George Bancroft and Lois Moran, while "It Girl" Clara Bow and Prague-born leading man Francis Lederer both do double duty while appearing in two films over the course of the four day event.

Sure to appeal to kids is a Saturday morning program featuring the irrepressible Felix the Cat. The all-women Bay Area musical group known as Toychestra is teaming up with pianist Donald Sosin to accompany this program of rare silent cartoons. More adult orientated fare includes three not-to-be-missed small masterpieces, Mauritz Stiller's Erotikon, Josef von Sternberg's decadent The Docks of New York, and Henry King's revelatory Stella Dallas. Legendary directors Ernst Lubitsch and Victor Fleming helm others.

Perhaps the most unusual offering is South, the 1919 documentary of Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition to Antarctica. Now restored by the British Film Institute with its original tints and toning, the film will be narrated by English actor and Louise Brooks fan Paul McGann (Withnail and I, Doctor Who) reading excerpts from Shackleton’s moving letters in conjunction with Stephen Horne’s haunting piano score.

Here is the line-up for the 2012 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which is set to take place July 12-15. Many of the prints set to be screened are restorations. All programs feature live musical accompaniment.

Wings (USA, 1927)
Thursday, July 12 at 7:00 pm

Director William A. Wellman’s now restored WWI epic is both a rousing action film and a tender romance. The scenes of air combat, featuring spectacular aerial photography, are breathtaking. Also breathtaking is Clara Bow's brief nudity, which caused something of a furor at the time. But that's not what got the film it's recent PG-13 rating more than 80 years later. / Introduced by William Wellman Jr. Accompanied by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, with Foley sound effects by Academy Award winner Ben Burtt (whose credits include the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series).

"Amazing Tales from the Archives"
Friday, July 13 at 10:30 am

Archivists and film historians (to be announced) shed light on their ongoing efforts  to find, rescue, and preserve cinematic treasures for generations to come. Admission to this event is free. 

Little Toys (China, 1933)
Friday, July 13 at 1:00 pm

A blend of romance and social commentary was a trademark of director Sun Yu, who is considered one of the great filmmakers in Chinese history. Voted one of the hundred best Chinese films, Little Toys stars the beautiful Ruan Lingyu, who is considered one of the great icons of Chinese cinema. / Accompanied by Donald Sosin on the piano.

The Loves of Pharaoh (Germany, 1922)
Friday, July 13 at 4:00 pm

This was Ernst Lubitsch’s last big film before he left Europe, and with its cast of thousands and spectacular sets, it was meant to show Hollywood he could make epics. One of the great screen actors of the time, Emil Jannings, stars as the powerful Egyptian Pharaoh who must marry the daughter of an Ethiopian king to avert war. / Accompanied by Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Mantrap (USA, 1926)
Friday, July 13 at 7:00 pm

This sparkling comedy was based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis but considerably humanized by director Victor Fleming, who saw Clara Bow’s character as more of a flirt than a femme fatale. Under his direction, the story of the big city gal who marries a backwoods lunk (Ernest Torrence) became not only a love and adventure story, but a sex comedy as well. / Accompanied by Stephen Horne on the piano.

The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna (Germany, 1929)
Friday, July 13 at 9:15 pm

Before film director Max Ophüls lent his name to a distinctive style of elegantly smooth camera work, there was Hanns Schwarz. This is his masterpiece, superb in every way and often referenced with the adjective “Ophulsian.” Set in Czarist Russia, The Wonderful Lie is the story of the mistress (Brigitte Helm) of an upper class general who gives up her pampered life for the love of a lowly lieutenant. / Accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

"Irrepressible Felix the Cat!" (USA, 1925–1929)
Saturday, July 14 at 10:00 am

This all Felix the Cat program features archival 35mm prints of Otto Mesmer and Pat Sullivan’s fabulous feline, including Felix the Cat in Blunderland, Felix the Cat Weathers the Weather, Felix Loses Out, Felix Gets Revenge, Felix Flirts with Fate and others. / Accompanied by Donald Sosin and Toychestra.

The Spanish Dancer (USA, 1923)
Saturday, July 14 at 12:00 noon

This splendid costume drama directed by Herbert Brenon tells the story of a Spanish gypsy (Pola Negri) in love with the penniless nobleman (Antonio Moreno). The lovers become involved in court intrigue involving the King (Wallace Beery) and his French wife. / Accompanied by Donald Sosin on the piano.

The Canadian (USA, 1926)
Saturday, July 14 at 2:30 pm

Directed by William Beaudine and based on a Somerset Maugham play, The Canadian is a beautifully realized film as well as an intimate study of relationships between a recently impoverished Londoner who emigrates to her brother’s farm in Calgary, her brother’s wife, and the homesteader (Thomas Meighan) she marries in desperation. / Accompanied by Stephen Horne on the piano.

South (United Kingdom, 1919)
Saturday, July 14 at 5:00 pm

Frank Hurley’s extraordinary documentary of Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 expedition to Antarctica is a stunning visual record of one of the great epics in the history of exploration. / Accompanied by Stephen Horne on the piano, with Paul McGann narrating.

Pandora's Box (Germany, 1929)
Saturday, July 14 at 7:00 pm
Director G.W. Pabst cast the luminous Louise Brooks as Lulu, a femme fatale of a kind who bewitches everyone who comes within her sphere—men and women alike. Adapted from the Frank Wedekind’s plays, Pandora’s Box features what may well be the first lesbian character in film history. The print to be screened is a new restoration by San Francisco-based Big Sound. / Accompanied by the Matti Bye Ensemble from Sweden.

The Overcoat (USSR 1926)
Saturday, July 14 at 10:00 pm

This fourth film production by the avant-garde company FEKS (Factory of the Eccentric Actor) was crafted as "a cinematographic novel in the manner of Gogol." Criticized at the time for taking too many liberties with classic literature, The Overcoat stands today as a superb piece of modernism. Andrei Kostrichkin gives a brilliant performance as the meek bureaucrat whose greatest ambition is for a new overcoat. / Accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra.

The Mark of Zorro (USA, 1920)
Sunday, July 15 at 10:00 am

As a masked champion of the people named Zorro, Douglas Fairbanks displays the athletic prowess, humor, and rakish charm that would propel him to superstardom in this, his first-ever swashbuckler.  Cinéaste know the matinée idol depicted in The Artist owes more than a little to Fairbanks. And in fact, the film George Valentin views (as his own) in his apartment is The Mark of Zorro. / Accompanied by Dennis James on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

The Docks of New York (USA, 1928)
Sunday, July 15 at 12:00 noon

Josef von Sternberg’s atmospheric, shadowy, silent presages film noir in its depiction of hapless souls straight out of a police blotter. In a seedy bar, a sailor (George Bancroft) and a good-time girl (Betty Compson) create a bond out of animal attraction and commiseration. Their romance is unsentimental and von Sternberg’s characteristic camerawork and framing imbue the story with depth and courage. / Accompanied by Donald Sosin on the piano.

Erotikon (Sweden, 1920)
Sunday, July 15 at 2:00 pm

This sparkling comedy by Swedish director Mauritz Stiller takes a waggish look at high society in the story of an entomology professor obsessed with the sexual life of insects while his bored wife entertains suitors. The Swedish Film Institute’s beautiful tinted and toned restoration shows off the lavish production design of this small masterpiece, a film that inspired Jean Renoir’s Rules of the Game. / Accompanied by the Matti Bye Ensemble.

Stella Dallas (USA, 1925)
Sunday, July 15 at 4:30 pm

Those familiar with the 1937 version with Barbara Stanwyck know the story — a mother sacrifices her happiness for the good of her beloved daughter — but few will be prepared for Belle Bennett’s extraordinary performance as the coarse, frowsy Stella. Directed by Henry King, the uniformly excellent cast (including Ronald Colman, Alice Joyce, Jean Hersholt, a very young Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Lois Moran in her breakout role) brings Frances Marion’s script to believable, emotionally wrenching life. / Accompanied by Stephen Horne on the piano.

The Cameraman (USA, 1928)
Sunday, July 15 at 7:30 pm

The genius of Buster Keaton is on full display in this wonderful film, which  follows Keaton, a sidewalk photographer, as he tries to break into newsreels in order to win the girl of his dreams. Keaton famously did his own stunts, and The Cameraman is a showcase for his physical virtuosity as well as an enchanting and goofy love story. / Accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

More information about the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and their upcoming festival at

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Various Louise Brooks film clips set to the song "Louise," as sung by Maurice Chevalier.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cool pic of the day: poster for Valentina art exhibit

Cool pic of the day

This, apparently, will be the poster image for the upcoming Guido Crepax
"Valentina Movie" exhibit in Rome.
See the prior blog for details.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New art exhibit inspired by Louise Brooks

If I am reading it right, this Italian webpage notes that a new exhibit titled "Valentina Movie" about Guido Crepax's Valentina artwork (which was directly inspired by Louise Brooks) will be on display in Rome, Italy starting in late May and running through September. The exhibit is curated by the Archivio Crepax and Vincenzo Mollica.

According to LBS member and Italian friend Gianluca Chiovelli, Mollica was "an incredible Louise Brooks’ fan, "who wrote one book on the actress and participated in the 1983 interview in Rochester together with Hugo Pratt." Here is the text of the Italian announcement.

Roma, Palazzo Incontro
30 maggio – 30 settembre 2012
Martedì 29 maggio ore 12.00
VALENTINA MOVIE, curata da Archivio Crepax e Vincenzo Mollica, è la prima mostra romana dedicata a Valentina. Promossa dalla Provincia di Roma nell’ambito del Progetto ABC Arte Bellezza Cultura ed organizzata da Civita, apre al pubblico dal 30 maggio al 30 settembre, a Palazzo Incontro.

Nata nel 1965 dalla penna di Guido Crepax, la donna più complessa e sensuale del fumetto italiano si presenta in un'esposizione "anarchica" ed emozionale, costituita da sale tematiche che avvolgono il pubblico in un'atmosfera sempre in bilico tra sogno e realtà.

Sagome di Valentina a grandezza naturale guidano gli spettatori lungo il percorso, raccontando il mondo di Crepax e fornendo spunti dal ricco bagaglio culturale che caratterizza le storie della saga. Il tutto, amplificato da ambientazioni e spettacolarizzazioni di grandi dimensioni tratte dai disegni, animato da installazioni e contributi video e valorizzato da 120 tavole originali scelte tra le circa 2.600 che quest'Autore ha dedicato a Valentina.

I am curious to find out if there will be a catalog or any related screenings? And of course, should you find yourself in Rome this Summer do check out this exhibit and post something about what you see.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone gets reviewed

Laura Moriarty's upcoming novel, The Chaperone, got a glorious review in the June issue of O Magazine. Due out June 5th, The Chaperone, tells the story of the woman who chaperoned Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both. The reviewer, Nell Casey, concludes, "In this layered and inventive story, Moriarty raises profound questions about family, sexuality, history, and whether it is luck or will - or a sturdy combination of the two - that makes for a wonderful life."

And what's more, the magazine features a splendid Brooks' illustration to accompany the review. The new issue of O Magazine (O as in Oprah) just hit newsstands. Go out and get a copy today.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Restored version of Pandora's Box to screen in July

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival just announced the line-up of films for their annual event in July. And among the works to be shown is the recently restored version of G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks. This special event is set to take place July 14 at 7:00 pm.

This is big news, because this restored version, which clocks in at 143 minutes (that is 10 minutes longer than the Criterion DVD release of 2006), has reportedly only been shown twice before - once in Los Angeles and once at the BFI in London. 

So, in other words, this is a very rare opportunity to see one of the great silent films in a stunning new restoration. And I do mean stunning. Those who have seen it say so, like film historian Jeffrey Vance, like Looking for Lulu director Hugh Munro Neely, and others. I recently did an interview with the person who did the restoration work - it took a year - and she told me about all the refinements and improvements and corrections that went into this new version.

I, for one, will be there! As a matter of fact, I am writing the program essay about Pandora's Box for the Festival booklet, and, I will be signing copies of my "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl following the film.

The film will be accompanied by the acclaimed Matti Bye Ensemble, from Sweden, who will be performing an original score. And no doubt somewhere in the audience will be acclaimed British actor / Eighth Doctor Who / Louise Brooks fan Paul McGann, who is narrating the Festival's prior selection. All of this take place in the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco, the city where the German writer Frank Wedekind was conceived.

Don't miss this rare opportunity to see the "true" restored version of this classic film. In 2006, the last time the San Francisco Silent Film Festival showed Pandora's Box, it became the first film in the Festival's history to sell out in advance. That's more than 1500 tickets! Don't hesitate to get your tickets today.

Francis Lederer, who co-stars with Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box, will also be seen in another film set to be screened at the 2012 Festival. Lederer stars in The Wonderful Lie of Nina Petrovna (1929). 

Other Brooks' co-stars appearing in films at the July Festival include Richard Arlen in Wings (Arlen  appeared in the Brooks' films Rolled Stockings and Beggars of Life), Thomas Meighan in The Canadian (Meighan starred in The City Gone Wild), Percy Marmont and Eugene Pallette in Manhandled (Marmont starred in The Street of Forgotten Men and Pallette appeared in The Canary Murder Case), and Wallace Berry and Adolph Menjou in The Spanish Dancer (both Berry and Menjou appeared in two Brooks' films, Berry in Now We're in the Air and Beggars of Life - and Menjou in A Social Celebrity and Evening Clothes).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Louise Brooks film Prix de Beauté to screen in Bologna

I don't yet know many details, but it looks like the 1930 Louise Brooks film, Prix de Beauté, will be screened on June 23rd as part of the 26th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy. That is according to the website. The prestigious international festival is put on by the Mostra Internazionale del Cinema Libero and Cineteca di Bologna. Their website is here.

I don't know for sure, but suspect, that the festival will screen the silent version of Augusto Genina's Prix de Beauté. It is considered superior to the more commonly seen sound version, which has added sound effects, dialogue and a couple of songs. Genina was an Italian director working in France when he came to make the film, which was based on a story idea by the German director G.W. Pabst (who made Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl) and the French director Rene Clair. Brooks' voice was dubbed in the sound version (she didn't speak French), and a professional singer sang the lovely theme song Brooks is shown singing.

Prix de Beauté has great charm, and its ending scene is considered one of the most remarkable passages in film history. A clip is embedded below. If you haven't seen Prix de Beauté, please note that this fragment contains spoilers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Louise Brooks - Unfinished speed drawing

 "Louise Brooks - Unfinished speed drawing"
via YouTube. Her chin might be a bit pronounced, but I likes it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks in a monogramed blouse

Cool pic of the day

NYC showgirl Louise Brooks in a monogrammed blouse or pajama top, circa 1925.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone

Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone publishes in the United States on June 5th. Elizabeth McGovern (of Downton Abbey fame) has optioned the screen rights.

Here is the publisher-supplied descriptive text for the book, "A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both.

Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she’s in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever.

For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Louise Brooks as a high school sophomore

The above image comes from the 1922 edition of The Wichitan, the high school year book of Wichita High School in Witchita, Kansas. This particular image depicts "Sophomore A Girls," in which Louise Brooks can be seen as the eighth girl from the left in the front row. Brooks (then only 14 or 15 years old - can't be sure when this pic was taken) is nicely dressed and is holding a purse. Her hands are clasped, and her arms are interlocked with the girls on either side of her. Perhaps they were close friends? Here is a closeup of the future actress.

As this 1922 yearbook is largely devoted to the senior class, there is only one other image of Brooks found in the annual. Brooks is shown as a member of that year's student council. (She can be found on the second row from the bottom, in the middle.) According to the yearbook, 48 boys and girls were chosen from the school's three classes to constitute the Student Council. Their work was carried on by committee, with their big project being the management of the high school bond issue parade.

I would guess this image of Brooks was taken near the beginning of the school year, perhaps around the time the student council was formed. Whenever it was taken, the dramatic flair found in Brooks hair was subdued by the time the Sophomore class picture was taken outside the school.

Speaking of hair, there is also an amusing pictorial feature in the yearbook of students who wore their hair bobbed and those who didn't. It was a big issue then, just as in the 1960's students wore their hair long or short. Brooks is not included among the "Bobbies," who are subdivided into "Buster Browns," "Cherubs," and "Baby Blondes."

One other interesting and amusing picture found in the yearbook depicts a male student dressed up as Charlie Chaplin - complete with cane, bowler and mustache.... Some three years later, Brooks would enter into a summer long affair with the actual actor. There are other interesting bits to gleam from the yearbook, like the comedic depictions of flappers, and the advertising section in the back with an advertisement for the Palace Theater - "Wichita's Most Popular Photoplay House."

By the time the 1922 edition of The Wichitan was issued, Brooks along with a chaperone would leave for New York City where she joined the Denishawn Dance Company, then America's leading dance troupe. Her journey to NYC is told in fictionalized form in a swell new novel by Kansas writer Laura Moriarty. Her book, which comes out in June, is called The Chaperone.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Louise Brooks performed for the last time with Denishawn

On this day in 1924, Louise Brooks performed for the last time as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company. That evening performance, the last of the 1923-1924 season, took place at the Palace Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey. [There are two theaters in Trenton named the Palace, and off hand, I am not sure which Denishawn performed at. There is this one and this one. The first, which is the more likely venue at which the group appeared, is no longer standing.]

Pictured below are two pages from a 1923-1924 season program. Can you spot Brooks below?

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