Sunday, March 31, 2013

Louise Brooks - Valentina exhibit in Italy

As fans and followers of Louise Brooks know, the actress was the inspiration behind Guido Crepax's internationally celebrated Valentina comix / graphic novels. A show currently on display at the Cart Gallery in Rome, Italy celebrates the artist and his best known work. Be sure and visit the page for "Ciak: Valentina," which contains descriptive text and examples of Crepax's art. Here are a few examples. The first references Diary of a Lost Girl, the celebrated 1929 Brooks film directed by G.W. Pabst.

Here is the Italian text from the gallery website.Use Google Chrome or a web translation feature to read its meaning in your language of choice.
Apparsa per la prima volta sulla rivista Linus nel 1965, Valentina è uno dei personaggi femminili dei fumetti più noto in tutto il mondo: l’unica capace di brillare di luce propria senza bisogno di un protagonista maschile. Per questo, oltre che dagli uomini, per i quali incarna un sogno erotico elegante e sofisticato, essa è molto apprezzata dalle donne come simbolo di indipendenza, fascino e seduzione.

Personaggio simbolo degli anni Sessanta e Settanta, ha continuato a riflettere modi e mode anche nei due decenni successivi. Il suo stile, innovativo e anticipatore, la rende ancora oggi incredibilmente attuale. La complessità del carattere, ricco di sfaccettature e contraddizioni, è una delle chiavi del suo successo, tanto che molte donne hanno finito con l’identificarsi in lei.

Crepax si è sempre preoccupato di costruirle intorno un mondo credibile. La data di nascita, la carta d’identità, il naturale e costante invecchiamento (unico caso nel mondo dei fumetti), le relazioni, il figlio, il lavoro, la macchina, i vestiti, gli oggetti: tutto è reale, fedele riproduzione di un quotidiano possibile. Anche i sogni svolgono un ruolo importante nelle sue storie non solo per evadere, ma per fornire una chiave interpretativa dei fatti. Talvolta inventati, altre fedelmente riportati da sogni veri, essi hanno dato ulteriore spessore al personaggio avvicinandolo alla psicologia di una donna reale.

Spesso il cinema e la fotografia hanno caratterizzato l’opera di Crepax, non solo sotto il profilo dell’impostazione grafica della pagina. Montaggio, inquadratura, sequenza, stacco, particolare: nei fumetti di Valentina tutto è cinema, tutto è immagine. Crepax dimostra una particolare passione per tutto ciò che è dettaglio, accessorio: diversi punti di vista dai quali ricostruire la scena.

Da ciò nasce la volontà di proporre, con la preziosa collaborazione dell’Archivio Crepax ed approfittando anche di alcuni Pezzi proposti nella Mostra Valentina Movie, un’Esposizione che ci presenta lo strettissimo legame ultratrentennale che Valentina ha avuto con il mondo del Cinema: oltre 30 Opere Originali in grado di calarci in una realtà parallela, nella quale veniamo accompagnati dalla fotografa milanese – moderno, raffinato e sexy Virgilio – in un percorso a volte onirico ma sempre fonte di forti emozioni.

E allora … Ciak: Valentina … si gira !!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Valeska Gert street sign

Continuing our series of streets named after Louise Brooks and other individuals associated with her films . . . here is a German street sign which bears the name of Valeska Gert, the avant-garde dancer who played the wife of the reformatory director in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929).

For more on this fascinating individual, check out "The Remarkable Life of Valeska Gert," an article I contributed to the Huffington Post. Here is a videoclip to the (in)famous scene featuring Gert in Diary of a Lost Girl.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Louise Brooks Society blog nominated for a LAMMY Award

The Louise Brooks Society has been nominated for a LAMMY Award by the Large Association of Movie Blogs. The nomination came in the Best Movie Element Blog category. 

The award is "given for outstanding achievement by a blog, podcast or vlog that specializes in a specific element of the movie experience. Examples include sites dedicated to a specific actor, actress or director; sites dedicated to a particular filmmaking craft like cinematography, costume design, film editing, or set decoration; sites chronicling one’s own experiences as a scriptwriter, producer, projectionist, movie theater employee or Hollywood assistant; sites dedicated to the technology of film preservation or 3-D innovations; sites that focus on food in the movies, or musical scores, or movie posters and paraphernalia, or reading the books that movies have been adapted from."

The All-Important Link to the Ballot is here:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cool pic of the day - Louise Brooks

Cool pic of the day: the one and only Louise Brooks, circa 1925.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock silent films

If you ever seen an early Alfred Hitchcock film, especially his silent efforts, than you may be aware his movies were influenced by German filmmaker of the 1920's - notably Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst. From June 14 through June 16, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents the "Hitchcock 9" - the filmmaker's 9 silent films. It is a special event, without a doubt. More information at

Pictured above: Czech actress Anny Ondra, who appeared in a number of German films in the 1920's, starred in Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929).
Nine silent films by Alfred Hitchcock, newly and beautifully restored by the BFI, presented with live musical accompaniment over three incredible days at the Castro Theater in San Francisco!

Friday, June 14

Saturday, June 15

Sunday, June 16

The Hitchcock 9 is a joint venture of the BFI, Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal, and Park Circus/ITV Studios. Presented in association with BAMcinématek and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Louise Brooks and the Missouri Review

Seemingly, The Missouri Review has a thing for Louise Brooks. . . .  My writer friend, Lisa K. Buchanan, was kind enough to give me her copy of the Fall 2012 issue of The Missouri Review. She did so because, unbeknownst to me, there was a BIG article about Louise Brooks in this distinguished literary journal. The article, an illustrated essay which runs 25 pages, is titled "The Thoroughly Modern World of Louise Brooks." It is by Kristine Sommerville.

The theme of this particular issue of The Missouri Review is "risk." Here is how the journal introduces Sommerville's essay: "Finally, the life and career of dancer and silent screen star Louise Brooks is a paradigm of risk, especially in art. As a young girl in Kansas, Brooks fearlessly pursued modern dance. When she was barely out her teens, her obvious talent and unique good looks caught the attention of Hollywood. Paramount put her under contract before the other studios could get their hands on her and cast her as the prototypical flapper. The risk she’s most remembered for and that ultimately made her career is her flight to Weimar Germany to work with G.W. Pabst in silent films—most notably his adaptation of Pandora’s Box—while Hollywood studios were racing to make talkies. Later in life, forgotten or ignored by the film industry, Brooks bravely made a second successful career as a film historian."

I like the use of the quote by Tennessee Williams on the first page of the piece, "People who are beautiful make their own laws."

Interestingly, this is not the first time The Missouri Review has run a major piece about Louise Brooks. Back in 1983, the journal ran "Lulu in Rochester: Self-Portrait of an Anti-Star" by Robert McNamara. "In 1928 — at the age of 22 — Louise Brooks gave one of the best performances in the silent cinema as Lulu, an amoral woman of pleasure whose character had fascinated German artists since the 1890s. Director G.W. Pabst had searched for his star all over Europe, and he was ready to sign Marlene Dietrich when he heard that Louise Brooks, a refugee from Cherryvale, Kansas, a former Ziegfield girl and rising Paramount star, was willing to take the role. As Brooks recalls, contemporary critics complained that her performance was an utter blank: 'Louise Brooks cannot act. She does not suffer. She does nothing.' But, this was precisely the point."

The Missouri Review is, quite simply, one of the best literary journals in the world,” says Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and Louise Brooks devotee Robert Olen Butler. Copies of The Missouri Review may be ordered through the journal's website at

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Diary of a Lost Girl book signing

A reminder that I will be signing copies of my "Louise Brooks edition" of Margarete Bohme's The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press) today, Saturday, March 23 from 2 to 5 pm at the first annual Noe Valley Authors Festival. Please join me an other local authors at this special event.

The event takes place at St. Philip the Apostle Parish Hall, 725 Diamond Street, between 24th and Elizabeth Streets, in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. A bit more about the event can be found on the San Francisco Chronicle website or below

Friday, March 22, 2013

Louise Brooks exercise video

Here it is, the original Louise Brooks exercise video . . . .

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tagebuch einer Verlorenen poster

Speaking of Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, or The Diary of a Lost Girl (see my earlier post), I recently came across this image of an early 20th century German poster and would like to more about it. Anyone got a clue? I might hazard a guess and mention that this might be a poster for the stage play adaption of Bohme's novel, or possibly the lost first film adaption, from 1912, of the book, or something else all together. This is the highest resolution scan I have. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book signing for the Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl

I will be signing copies of my "Louise Brooks edition" of Margarete Bohme's The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press) on Saturday, March 23 from 2 to 5 pm at the first annual Noe Valley Authors Festival. Please join me an other local authors at this special event.

The event takes place at St. Philip the Apostle Parish Hall, 725 Diamond Street, between 24th and Elizabeth Streets, in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. A bit more about the event can be found on the San Francisco Chronicle website at

I will be happy to speak about the book and my continuing research into the amazing life of this lost classic. Feel free to ask me about the book being banned from coming into Canada, about it being written about in Sigmund Freud's journal of psychoanalysis, or about what I think is its very earliest American newspaper review - in a San Francisco newspaper! Here, for example, is one of my other new finds - a newspaper article about a lawsuit filed by Bohme in the wake of the torrents of negative publicity she received as a result of having published this controversial and contested bestseller. Variations of this article ran in newspapers around the world. This particular clipping is from a newspaper in Perth, Australia. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Silent film star bookplates

Buzzfeed ran a rather swell piece featuring the bookplates of a number of famous individuals, including authors and a few early film stars. Be sure and check it out.

Included are the bookplates of H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Dickens, Sigmund Freud, Lewis Carroll and others, including silent film stars such as Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and a joint bookplate belonging to Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. There is also a Paulette Goddard bookplate seemingly designed by Chaplin.

Above are a couple of examples from the Buzzfeed piece. Below is Louise Brooks' bookplate, which was not included in the Buzzfeed piece.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Another Brooks related street name

A while back, this blog ran a post about a street in the suburbs of Paris named after actress Louise Brooks. More recently, we have also noticed that a street in the German town of Husum was named after Margarete Böhme, the German author who penned The Diary of a Lost Girl. Louise Brooks starred in the 1929 film made from the book.

Böhme was born and raised in Husum, a small town in Northern Germany dubbed “the grey town by the grey sea” by its best known resident, the novelist and poet Theodor Storm. The house in which she was raised in Husum bears a commemorative plaque. And in 2009, a street in a new housing development in the north of the city was named after the author. More about Böhme and her connections with Husum can be found here in a local article from January 2013. (I wasn't able to use Google maps / street view to acquire an image of the street sign, as I had with the Paris sign.)

But what's more, earlier this month a stage play adaption of The Diary of a Lost Girl was once again put on in Husum by a group of women who have been regularly staging the work. Read more about that in another local article from Nordfriesen. Pictured below, the theater group 5plus1, performing Diary.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Actress Louise Brooks & Admiral Richard E. Byrd

Here is something you don't see everyday, a picture of silent film actress Louise Brooks & and famed explorer Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957). The picture was found on eBay. It was most likely taken in January 1927, while Brooks was making Evening Clothes and was sporting a hairstyle different from her usual bob with bangs.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Diary of a Lost Girl, the research continues

Lately, I have been working on a revised 2nd edition of my Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl, by Margarete Bohme. (Bohme's book was the basis for the 1929 film by G.W. Pabst.) I plan on incorporating much of my new research into an expanded e-book. Notably, I have uncovered a bunch of interesting new material, including, even, a connection to Sigmund Freud! I also uncovered what I think was the very first newspaper review of The Diary of a Lost One in the United States, while finding out that the book was banned in Canada.

One of the things I have also been tracking is the influence Bohme's book had on subsequent literature. In Germany, it brought about not only a popular sequel, a controversial stage play, a parody, and two or three silent films – but a score of imitators as well. There was also a movie made from the book’s sequel; and in France, a novelization of the 1929 film with Louise Brooks was issued. (Imagine that, a novelization of a film which was based on a book.)

In England, Bohme's book lingered in the British imagination for some time. It went through at least three printings. And  was referenced in a few literary works from the time - one in 1909, another in 1917. It also inspired another. That latter book, from 1931, was titled No Bed of Roses: A Pathetically Realistic Story of a Woman of the Underworld

When No Bed of Roses was advertised in England it was described as “The Diary of a Lost Soul” (which also happened to be the original advertised English-language title of The Diary of a Lost One). In not unfamiliar language, an ad for No Bed of Roses stated “These are the actual diaries of a prostitute and dope fiend. They form one of the most important human documents uncovered in our time.” 
No Bed of Roses was followed by God Have Mercy on Me. Like The Diary of a Lost One, the sequel was edited from the reportedly real life diaries of a wayward, nearly anonymous woman (named O.W.) Here is the cover for that book as well. Both covers are more than a bit lurid.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New book with Louise Brooks on the cover

There is a new book forthcoming which features Louise Brooks on the cover. It's called Art Deco Hair: Hairstyles from the 1920s & 1930s. It is by Daniela Turudich, and is due in May from Streamline Press. (If you love vintage fashion and style, be sure and explore this website.)

2004 edition
Turudich is an expert on re-creating period beauty styles and techniques. She is the author of the Vintage Living series, which has been relied upon as source books by film and television costume designers, professional stylists, academics, and historians. She lives in Long Beach, California. This book may or may not be related to the now rare, similarly titled book by Turudich from 2004, which also featured Brooks on the cover. (See image right).

According to the publisher: "Art deco has long been associated with uncompromising style and sophistication, and this guide to re-creating the sassy, controversial styles of the 1920s and 1930s offers a glimpse back at the hairstyles of this era. The instructions needed to replicate these fashions on the modern woman—from the controversial bob of the Roaring Twenties flapper to the luxurious finger waves of Hollywood’s early screen stars—are provided, and the techniques behind Marcel and water waves, the simple bob, Eton and shingle cuts, and many more are also included. Hundreds of vintage illustrations, photographs, step-by-step instructions, and diagrams illuminate the history of the hairstyles that laid the groundwork of style for the modern American woman." Here is the new cover for the 2013 edition.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What the Pennsylvania Farmer says

The Pennsylvania Farmer says "A Theater is Known by the Pictures it Shows." We agree, especially when those theaters show films featuring Louise Brooks. This Paramount advertisement dates from 1926.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Louise Brooks postcard

Wowza, what a lovely vintage Louise Brooks postcard, from Italy. The portrait is by M.I. Boris.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Louise Brooks mentioned in Nazi era publication

I recently came across this short piece in a German magazine. It caught my attention because it referenced Louise Brooks and G.W. Pabst and Pandora's Box. I ran it through a couple of translation programs (see the results below), but its meaning escapes me. I am guessing that it is meant to be a joke, or perhaps to ridicule the Pabst film. I think the meaning of this brief piece is found between the lines.

Der Jagdfilm (original text)
Lange bevor man beschloss, Wedekinds "Buchse der Pandora", mit Louise Brooks zu drehen, kam ein Schriftsteller zu einem Munchner Filmproduzenten und sagte: "Herr Direktor, ich habe eine ausgezeichnete  Idee. Konnte man nicht mal "Buchse der Pandora" verfilmen?"
Des grosse Filmmann sah ihn an, wiegte den Kopf hin und her, dann meinte er: "Buchse der Pandora? Gar nicht schlecht. Jagdfilme gehen bei uns in Baiern immer!"

The Film Search (approximate translation)
Long before it was decided to shoot Wedekind's "Pandora's Box" with Louise Brooks, a writer came to a Munich film producer and said, "Sir, I have an excellent idea. Could you not make a movie of Pandora's Box?"
The great movie man looked at him, shook his head back and forth, then said: "
Pandora's Box? Not bad at all. Hunting movies are always welcome in Bavaria!"


What's interesting about this otherwise ephemeral piece of filler is that it is from 1943. That's during the second World War, and at a time when Wedekind's and Pabst's works were viewed with a suspect eye and Brooks herself had fallen far into obscurity both in Germany and in America.

"Der Jagdfilm," attributed to S.S., was published in Kladderadatsch, a satirical humor publication begun in 1848. With the rise of the Nazi Party, it's politics turned conservative. It was a favorite of Berlin, and supported the Nazi ideology. For something like this to run in a German periodical in 1943 suggests to me that Pandora's Box, with Louise Brooks, was still a familiar work in Nazi Germany.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who could shed some light or parse the meaning of this bit of text. Please post your comments or translation in the comments field to this post. Thank you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Louise Brooks artwork featured in UK exhibit

Louise Brooks and other silent film and stage stars are included in a just opened exhibit in England. The exhibit features the work of Ian Beck, the popular author and illustrator. The exhibit, "Limelight Pictures," includes new images by Beck created specially for the Nightingale Project, a charitable project which seeks to brighten up the environment in mental health services through art and music. The exhibition opened on February 27 at the South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre in London, and remains on display until May 31, 2013.

Beck is well known as a children’s writer and illustrator. He got his start in the 1970's doing commercial work, including drawings for the recording industry. He designed and illustrated album covers, most notably the triple gate-fold album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, for Elton John. In the 1980's, he began illustrating and writing books for young readers. Beck wrote his first novel for children, The Secret History of Tom Trueheart, Boy Adventurer, which was published in June 2006 and went on to be translated into more than twenty foreign languages. His novels include other works in the Tom Trueheart series, as well as Pastworld, and The Haunting of Charity Delafield.

The "Limelight Pictures" exhibit comprises portraits of stars of music hall and early cinema. They include Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Max Miller, Josephine Baker, Little Tich, Anna May Wong, Jean-Louis Barrault, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and others. Purchases of signed prints from the show will support the Nightingale Project’s work.

Via email to the Louise Brooks Society, Beck wrote, "I am an ENORMOUS fan of Miss Brooks and have been since I saw Pandora’s Box on a 16mm print while at Art School back in the 1960s. My own wife is forced to have her hair cut in the preferred Brooks Bob style. To me Louise is the epitome of grace glamour charm and the frankly erotic, I feel as helpless as any of her movie ‘victims’ when confronted by any image of her moving or still. I have drawn a number of other silent stars for the exhibition."
I like Ian Beck's work, and encourage you to check out his exhibit (if you are lucky enough to live in London) or his webpage at

Friday, March 1, 2013

LOST COMET: New Louise Brooks Film in Development

Might there be a film about Louise Brooks? Let's hope so....

BASICMAGIC Reveals LOST COMET: New Louise Brooks Film in Development
BUFFALO, March 1, 2013

BASICMAGIC announced today the development of LOST COMET, a new feature film about acclaimed actress and author Louise Brooks. The announcement was made by BASICMAGIC principal Vincent Lesh.

"I was lucky to discover Louise Brooks' story years ago," said Lesh. He described LOST COMET as an incredible opportunity to portray Ms. Brooks' own brief but brilliant film career.

In his words, "It has been a dream of mine to invite the world to see the art and passion of a woman who was a star at the height of the Roaring Twenties but who chose to live life on her own terms."

BASICMAGIC recently launched to allow the public to preview a glimpse of the story and screenplay for LOST COMET- including a graphic treatment and selected scenes.

BASICMAGIC has also acquired an exclusive film rights option agreement for the internationally acclaimed "Louise Brooks: A Biography" by Barry Paris.

"I'm excited about this movie," said Lesh, "and look forward to filming in Toronto, the ideal location for Louise Brooks' milieu throughout LOST COMET: New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Paris."

LOST COMET tells the story of the silent film star Louise Brooks, who rebels against Hollywood in the 1920s but makes a few great films in Europe before disappearing forever.


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