Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm in Love with a German Film Star

Here is a 1981 clip of The Passions performing their hit song "I'm in Love with a German Film Star" on the UK TV show Top of the Pops. A few years back, I exchanged emails with the Passion's lead singer. Though a longtime fan of Louise Brooks, she said this song wasn't written about the actress, who appeared in two German films. Nevertheless, we like it a lot. The song can also be heard on RadioLulu.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché

A Kickstarter campaign has just launched to fund the making of a documentary about the film director Alice Guy-Blaché. Check it out, and consider donating at Be Natural: The untold story of Alice Guy-Blaché.

The Louise Brooks Society endorses and has donated to this worthwhile campaign to tell the story of a pioneering and influential female figure in the film industry.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prisoner of Paradise: The story of Kurt Gerron

This weekend, I finally had the chance to see Prisoner of Paradise (2002). "The documentary tells the true story of Kurt Gerron, a successful German-Jewish actor and director, who after being sent to a concentration camp, was forced by his captors to direct the pro-Nazi propaganda film, "The Fuhrer Gives a City to the Jews." In addition to exploring his life, it details the remarkable detective story in which Gerron's film, lost for decades after World War II, was tracked down and painstakingly put back together." I streamed it over Netflix, and noticed it can also be streamed over Amazon.

Kurt Gerron was one of the great German actors of the 1920s and 1930s. He appeared in many films and stage productions. Today, he is best remembered for a key supporting role in The Blue Angel (1930), with Marlene Dietrich. Gerron also had a part in the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, a few scenes from which are included in Prisoner of Paradise

 I recommend Prisoner of Paradise. It is a moving documentary well worth watching.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New book of poems based on Louise Brooks

Hazard Press in Wales has published LULU REFLECTS: A BIOPOEMOGRAPHY OF LOUISE BROOKS, a sequence of fourteen poems forming an imagined autobiography of the silent film star Louise Brooks. This hand-made book is 24 pages (105mm x 148.5mm) including card cover with patterned endpapers and Japanese binding. Edition of 100, with the number hand-stamped on the reverse.

More information and ability to order at

Friday, July 26, 2013

Still: Louise Brooks in Los Angeles Times

Today's Los Angeles Times reports on David S. Shields new book, Still: American Silent Motion Picture Photography, which examines the work of early cinematographers and still photographers who helped create celebrity in the 20th century. It is an excellent book which I have only had a chance to glance at - I want to get a copy soon. Louise Brooks, as well as the photographers who photographed her - like Eugene Richee and M.I. Boris, are featured in the book.

The Los Angeles Times story can be found here. The review begins: "Shields is both scholarly and deeply passionate about the pictures (some from his own collection), gathering rare images from the sets of epic costume dramas and the kind of celebrity portraiture that would reach its ultimate expression generations later in Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone."

The article also includes a slideshow, which begins with an image of Louise Brooks (the famous Richee portrait of Brooks wearing a string of pearls). It's caption reads, "One of the most lasting images of the silent era is actress Louise Brooks wearing black against a black background, photographed by Eugene Robert Richee. In Still, David S. Shields calls it a "'minimalist masterpiece'." 

From the publisher: "The success of movies like The Artist and Hugo recreated the wonder and magic of silent film for modern audiences, many of whom might never have experienced a movie without sound. But while the American silent movie was one of the most significant popular art forms of the modern age, it is also one that is largely lost to us, as more than eighty percent of silent films have disappeared, the victims of age, disaster, and neglect. We now know about many of these cinematic masterpieces only from the collections of still portraits and production photographs that were originally created for publicity and reference. Capturing the beauty, horror, and moodiness of silent motion pictures, these images are remarkable pieces of art in their own right. In the first history of still camera work generated by the American silent motion picture industry, David S. Shields chronicles the evolution of silent film aesthetics, glamour, and publicity, and provides unparalleled insight into this influential body of popular imagery.
Exploring the work of over sixty camera artists, Still recovers the stories of the photographers who descended on early Hollywood and the stars and starlets who sat for them between 1908 and 1928. Focusing on the most culturally influential types of photographs—the performer portrait and the scene still—Shields follows photographers such as Albert Witzel and W. F. Seely as they devised the poses that newspapers and magazines would bring to Americans, who mimicked the sultry stares and dangerous glances of silent stars. He uncovers scene shots of unprecedented splendor—visions that would ignite the popular imagination. And he details how still photographs changed the film industry, whose growing preoccupation with artistry in imagery caused directors and stars to hire celebrated stage photographers and transformed cameramen into bankable names.
Reproducing over one hundred and fifty of these gorgeous black-and-white photographs, Still brings to life an entire long-lost visual culture that a century later still has the power to enchant."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

And more on the Jim Tully documentary

This second video, "How Jim Tully's Beggars Abroad Came to Be," is a four minute outtake from the new Jim Tully documentary From Road Kid to Writer. Here author Paul Bauer tells an entertaining story about how one of Tully's best books came to be. Attention fans of James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw!

From Road Kid to Writer is from StoryWorks.TV. This documentary is based on Jim Tully, the first biography of the vagabond, boxer and hard-boiled writer who rocked Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties. He also authored Beggars of Life, the 1928 William Wellman directed film starring Wallace Beery and Louise Brooks. To learn more, check out this article in the local press. Or, follow the documentary on its Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More on the Jim Tully documentary

From Road Kid to Writer, a new documentary about Jim Tully, recently premiered in the author's hometown of St. Marys, Ohio. To learn more, check out this article in the local press. Or, follow the documentary on its Facebook page.

From Road Kid to Writer is from StoryWorks.TV. This documentary is based on Jim Tully, the first biography of the vagabond, boxer and hard-boiled writer who rocked Hollywood during the Roaring Twenties. As has been noted, Tully is the most famous writer you've never heard of. He also authored Beggars of Life, the 1928 William Wellman directed film starring Wallace Beery and Louise Brooks.

Here is a related video. It is a musical short by Eric Taylor. It is called "Tully's Titles." Taylor is an American singer-songwriter from Texas. He is known for his anecdotal songs which often take the form of short stories. In addition to Taylor's seven solo releases, his songs have been recorded by Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and others. "Tully's Titles" contains a Louise Brooks sighting! [I will post another video excerpt tomorrow.]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jim Tully documentary premiered July 22

Jim Tully should be well known to fans of Louise Brooks as the author of Beggars of Life, the book on which Brooks' 1928 film is based. A new Jim Tully documentary, From Road Kid to Writer, premiered in Tully’s hometown of St. Marys, Ohio, on Monday, July 22, 2013. Read an article in the local press here. Or, follow the documentary on Facebook.I will try and post more throughout the week as this story develops.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Not for Nothin' (1996) [excerpt] by Cathy Lee Crane

This sensualist's dream follows Louise Brooks look-alike Rodney O'Neal Austin on his search for the Beloved. From the cabaret to opium dens and dancing graces this homage to early sound film explores a world teeming with the mysteries of longing and death. Winner of Best Black-and-White Cinematography in a Short Film (Cork International Film Festival 1996). Here is a brief excerpt. If it doesn't show, follow the link below to watch on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New song: Bob Your Head (Like Louise Brooks) by Javolenus

I recently came across a terrific remix of a new song called "Bob Your Head (Like Louise Brooks)." Check it out on the ccMixter website: "Bob Your Head (Like Louise Brooks)" remixed by unreal_dm, 2013 - Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0)

The song was composed by an artist who goes under the handle of Javolenus. His original stripped down version from April of this year can be found at or on Soundcloud. Their player widget is embedded below. The ccMixter version linked to above was remixed by unreal_dm and posted only a few days ago.

Javolenus, who's real name is Christopher Summerville, is a singer / songwriter based in England. According to his profile, he is interested in song-writing, guitar impro, film/video music, and promoting Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque music. 

Also on ccMixter is a song called "April Is In My Mistress' Face." It is an adaption, as the artist explained. "Thought I’d update this Renaissance madgrigal by Thomas Morley (c. 1600) by adding some of my own lyrics and giving it a punky/fuzztone treatment." Those added lyrics once again reference Louise Brooks! Give it a listen.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Prix de Beauté at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The house was packed at yesterday's historic screening of Prix de Beauté at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. The Festival screened the rarely shown silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks film, which was restored in 2012 by the Cineteca di Bologna in Italy. My guess is that at least 1200 people were in the attendance. Acclaimed British musician Stephen Horne accompanied the film on piano (mostly), as well as flute, accordion, and guitar.

The film was very well received. During the beauty pageant in San Sebastian, the audience in the Castro starting clapping along with the audience in the film (to ensure Brooks' victory). Another memoriable moment occurred at the end of the film, when Stephen Horne's live accompaniment gave way to the the recorded song heard in the sound version of Prix de Beauté, before Horne resumed playing the close the film.

Here are a few snapshots from inside the theater during the pre-film slideshow.

After the screening, I had the honor of being part of a three-person signing along with fellow Louise Brooks fans Hugh Munro Neely, the Emmy nominated filmmaker whose documentary Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu is widely acclaimed, and comix artist amd early film enthuisiast Kim Deitch. As a teenager in 1957, Deitch said, he was in the audience along with his father, Gene Deitch, of a screening of Diary of a Lost Girl at the Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Also in the audience was Louise Brooks! Kim never met her, though his father did. Gene Deitch also had his picture taken with her. Below is a snapshot of myself (right) and Kim Deitch (left).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Highlights of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Silent films can transport us back in time. Movies from the early years of the 20th century are filled with details which reveals the way people used to live, work, think, fall in love, solve problems, act silly, and get by on a daily basis. The way people lived then and the way people live now is different, and that's interesting. 

Silent films, as well, are filled with all manner of objects from the past, like hand-crank telephones, automobiles with rumble seats, and acoustic record players known as Victrolas. And too, there are fashions and hairstyles, especially in films from the Twenties, which depicted the glamorous Gatsby side of the Jazz Age. City skylines and city streets have also changed over the years. How many buildings in a scene shot on the streets of Los Angeles or San Francisco or New York or Paris in the 1920s are still extant? At this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival, you'll have a chance to see for yourself. 

courtesy San Francisco Silent Film Festival

There is a lot of detail to watch for at this year's Silent Film Festival, which takes place July 18 - 21 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. For example, two of the most anticipated films at this year's event, Prix de Beauté and The Last Edition, feature extended scenes shot inside the composing and press rooms of newspapers from the time--back when metal type was set by hand and newspapers were printed on broadsheet. Imagine that.

There is also a quasi-documentary filmed entirely on location in Bali in 1935 by the ex-husband of Gloria Swanson. The film, Legong: Dance of the Virgins, is a late silent and one of the last features shot in two-strip Technicolor. It's gorgeous. And what's more, this special screening will feature live musical accompaniment by a Balinese gamelan ensemble. All the films at the Festival feature live musical accompaniment of one kind or another.

Don't miss The Weavers, a German film with striking intertitles designed by the radical artist George Grosz. Another not-to-be-missed presentation, a late addition to the Festival, is a newly discovered two-minute trailer for Dziga Vertov's The Eleventh Year (1928). It's believed to be animated and directed by Aleksander Rodchenko, one of the founders of the Constructivist art movement in the Soviet Union.

For Downton Abbey fans, there's The First Born, a rarely scene British drama set among the upper class. It was co-scripted by Alfred Hitchcock's future wife and production partner, Alma Reville. There's also a delicately composed Japanese silent, Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Chorus, whose themes of parental love and middle-class dreams are set against a backdrop of urban realities. As well, there are comedy shorts starring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Felix the Cat, and a Russian film described as the "Best Soviet Silent Comedy ever." Hmmm.... here's what else shouldn't be missed.

courtesy San Francisco Silent Film Festival
 1) Prix de Beauté is the masterpiece that almost was. Based on a story idea by G.W. Pabst and Rene Clair, Prix de Beauté is screen legend Louise Brooks' last starring role. It was also intended to be Clair's first sound film. The financing fell apart, and the legendary French director withdrew. The Italian Augusto Genina (Cyrano de Bergerac) stepped in and shot it more-or-less as a silent but with dubbed dialogue and sound effects. The result is a awkward hybrid effort, at times effective, at times clumsy. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the rarely seen, recently restored silent version which is not only longer, but in most regards, superior--an almost masterpiece. The film's climax, familiar to those who have seen the sound version on DVD, has sent critics into rapture. It may be one of the great endings of all time. Musician Stephen Horne, who will be accompanying the film on piano, is promising something special.

courtesy San Francisco Silent Film Festival
2) Along with Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau, Pabst (Pandora's Box, Diary of a Lost Girl) ranks among the great directors of the German silent cinema. One of his early works is The Joyless Street. Today, it is considered one of the most important films of the Weimar-era, and not just because it was Greta Garbo's second feature. The Joyless Street is a masterpiece of cinematic storytelling, and one of the first films of the "New Objectivity" movement. Its realism and juxtaposition of the haves and have nots--as well as its frank sexuality, proved provocative for censors of the time. The Joyless Street was cut wherever it was shown, and sometimes banned outright. This painstaking new restoration has reconstructed the film as close as possible to Pabst's intention. [For decades there's been speculation that Marlene Dietrich played a minor role in The Joyless Street. Dietrich is thought by some to be the dark-haired woman waiting in line (with Garbo and Asta Nielsen) in a scene at the butcher shop. In fact, it's the German actress Hertha von Walther, one of the actresses featured in The Weavers.]

3) As Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animator Chuck Jones put it, "The two most important people in animation are Winsor McCay and Walt Disney." Today, everyone knows about Disney. Few know of McCay, a once celebrated newspaper cartoonist who almost single-handedly pioneered animated motion pictures. Academy Award winning filmmaker and McCay biographer John Canemaker (Winsor McCay: His Life and Art) screens four of McCay's short films and celebrates the many achievements of this early-Twentieth-century genius who gave the world Little Nemo in Slumberland and other works. [If McCay's style seem familiar, it may be because he influenced a wide array of today's leading cartoonists, graphic novelists, and illustrators--notably Art Spiegelman, Maurice Sendak, William Joyce, Chris Ware, Bill Watterson, and Kim Deitch, whose The Boulevard of Broken Dreams revolves around a character named Winsor. Deitch, a legendary underground cartoonist and silent film enthusiast, will be on hand signing copies of just released The Amazing, Enlightening and Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley (Fantagraphics), a full-length graphic novel with a silent film sub-plot created in a striking "widescreen" format.]

courtesy San Francisco Silent Film Festival

4) The received wisdom is that Marion Davies wasn't much of an actress. And, hadn't media tycoon William Randolph Hearst made her a star, Davies' career would not have amounted to much. The Patsy proves the received wisdom wrong. Don't miss this film. It's perfect in every way.

5) It is an iconic image. A bespectacled man hanging off the hands of a clock on the side of a skyscraper high above a city street. This scene from Safety Last! is all the more thrilling because star Harold Lloyd didn't employ special effects to make it happen. But why he is up there in the first place? Safety Last! takes the familiar story of boy meets girl and turns it into high-art. This brilliant 1923 film, the Festival closer, inspired Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Agee to later write of Lloyd's climb: "Each new floor is like a stanza in a poem."

courtesy San Francisco Silent Film Festival
More than 10,000 people are expected to attend this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which is now in its 18th year. It's grown to become the largest silent film festival in North America--and one of the largest in the world. The Silent Film Festival takes place July 18 through July 21 at the historic Castro Theater. Additional information, including the complete schedule of films, can be found at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Louise Brooks song "St. Louise Is Listening!" by Mike Doughty Live / acoustic / video'd

Check this out. The old Soul Coughing song "St. Louise Is Listening!" performed anew by its composer, Mike Doughty - performed Live / acoustic / video'd at  

And be sure not to miss the portrait of Louise Brooks (taken when she was in Pairs, making Prix de Beauté) on the back wall of Doughty's studio. (It's partly obscured by the microphone stand.)

Mike Doughty, as readers of this blog will recall, is a fan of the actress and wrote this song as a kind of homage to her. He also sports a Brooks tattoo!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More on Prix de Beauté


On Thursday, July 18th the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the rarely shown silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks' film, Prix de Beauté. The Festival will screen the silent version  restored in 2012 by the Cineteca di Bologna in Italy. The film's running time is given as approximately 108 minutes. (By comparison, the running time found on the KINO DVD released a few years back is 93 minutes.) Accompanying the July 18th screening is acclaimed British musician Stephen Horne

Pictured here are two vintage promotional pages. Come to the Festival!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Louise Brooks booksigning at San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Thomas Gladysz, the director of the Louise Brooks Society, will be signing copies of his "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl (PandorasBox Press) at the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco on Thursday, July 18th. Gladysz is one of three taking part in this special Louise Brooks themed book signing, which is set to start around 9:00 pm, following the screening of the recently restored 1930 Louise Brooks' film, Prix de Beaute, the opening film of the 18th annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Admission to this book signing is by Festival ticket.

The Festival will screen the silent version of Prix de Beaute, which was  restored in 2012 by the Cineteca di Bologna in Italy. The film's running time is given as approximately 108 minutes. Accompanying the July 18th screening is British musician Stephen Horne.

Also signing is the celebrated legendary cartoonist and comix artist Kim Deitch, whose new book, The Amazing, Enlightening And Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whale (Fantagraphics) includes a silent film storyline. Little known is the fact that Deitch's father, the Academy Award winning animator Gene Deitch, once met Louise Brooks. Kim himself almost did! Attend this special event to find out the story.

Also signing on this Louise Brooks themed triple bill is the Emmy nominated filmmaker Hugh Munro Neely, whose documentary Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu is widely acclaimed and much loved by silent film fans far and wide. Produced in 1998 for Turner Classic Movies, this documentary is nearly as exceptional as its subject and just as fascinating.The narration for this must see film was scripted by Barry Paris.

Additional information about this upcoming event can be found on the San Francisco Chronicle / SFGate website at

Excitement is building, and word has been getting around. Here are listings for this signing on SF Station and, as well as on the Lodi News Sentinel and the Riverside Press Democrat (in Southern California).

UPDATE: Listings have also shown up in the Vacaville Reporter and Sacramento Bee and even in the Akron Beacon-Journal (Ohio) and Charlotte Observer (North Carolina).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Get social with the Louise Brooks Society

We hope you like all the new refinements to the Louise Brooks Society blog, including the Disqus commenting system embedded in every post. Ask a question, post a link, or leave a comment.

If you enjoy this blog, don't forget to join with Google friend connect. Already, 190 individuals have done so! It would be great to have more than 200 friends following this blog. Google friend connect is located in the right hand column ----------->

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Don't miss Prix de Beauté

On Thursday, July 18th the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the rarely shown silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks' film, Prix de Beauté. Made as the European cinema was converting to sound, the film marks Louise Brooks' last starring role in a feature film.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the silent version recently restored by the Cineteca di Bologna in Italy. The film's running time is given as approximately 108 minutes. (By comparison, the running time found on the KINO DVD is 93 minutes.) Accompanying the July 18th screening is British musician Stephen Horne. The LBS interview with Horne ran earlier on this blog.

In the July 11th New York Times there was a fantastic article about musician John Zorn. He is best known to fans of Louise Brooks for his mid-1990's collaborative CDs News for Lulu and More News for Lulu, each with musicians Bill Frisell and George Lewis. Just recently, I noticed this video clip from the end of Prix de Beauté which features music-sound by Zorn. It is kinda-out there, but it also works. Spoiler alert if you haven't seen the film.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Musician Stephen Horne interviewed about Louise Brooks film, Prix de Beauté

On Thursday, July 18th the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the rarely shown silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks' film, Prix de Beauté. Made as the European cinema was converting to sound, the film marks Louise Brooks' last starring role in a feature.

Less well known than her work with G.W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl), Prix de Beauté is an otherwise very good film marred, in ways, by its foray into sound. Brooks' voice was dubbed, not always effectively, and sound effects were added.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the silent version recently restored by the Cineteca di Bologna in Italy. The film's running time is given as approximately 108 minutes. (By comparison, the running time found on the KINO DVD is 93 minutes.) Accompanying the July 18th screening is British musician Stephen Horne.

Stephen has long been considered one of the leading silent film accompanists. Based at London's BFI Southbank, he has performed at all the major UK venues including the Barbican Centre and the Imperial War Museum; he has also recorded music for DVDs, BBC TV screenings, and museum installations of silent films. Although principally a pianist, he often incorporates flute, accordion and keyboards into his performances, sometimes simultaneously. Stephen performs internationally, and in recent years his accompaniments have met with acclaim at film festivals in Pordenone, Telluride, San Francisco, Cannes, Bologna and Berlin. Most recently, he accompanied some of the Hitchcock 9 silent films which have played around the United States.

Via email, Stephen answered a few questions about his upcoming accompaniment to Prix de Beauté.


THOMAS GLADYSZ: How did the assignment to accompany Prix de Beauté come about?

STEPHEN HORNE: I think the film was already in the minds of the festival team, because of the amazing response to Louise Brooks' films at earlier festivals. I mentioned to [SFSFF Director] Anita Monga that I'd played for the film a couple of times, so maybe that's why I was asked to accompany it.

THOMAS GLADYSZ: What were your impressions of the film ?

STEPHEN HORNE: I did watch the sound version before the silent screenings that I accompanied. Normally I wouldn't consider this necessary, but on this occasion it was invaluable. I'm not sure that this restoration is truly the original silent version - I suspect that this doesn't actually survive intact and what we have is a recreation, using the sound version as a starting point and working backwards, so to speak. I think that both versions have their problems - they're imperfect gems - but for me the silent version works much better. And there are certain sequences that are sublime.

THOMAS GLADYSZ: What is your approach to composing for a silent film?

STEPHEN HORNE: My approach varies from event to event, depending on many variables - some of them quite prosaic, such as how much time I have! On occasion I'll be commissioned to compose a fully notated score, either to perform solo or with other musicians. Most often my approach is improvisatory, but 'planned'. By which I mean that I'll watch the film and prepare certain musical elements, along with certain specific effects, such as when I'll switch between instruments (for those that don't know, I'm something of an instrumental multi-tasker). I like the elastic quality of an improvised performance, which I think can sometimes respond from moment-to-moment in a way that is hard to do with a fixed score. But equally I recognize that people like a good tune! So I try to thread melodic elements throughout, which I guess creates something of a hybrid: an improvised score.

THOMAS GLADYSZ: Were there any special challenges in composing the score for a silent film that is today best known as a sound film?

STEPHEN HORNE: I think it's simplest to assume that the audience hasn't seen the sound version. Obviously several people will have done, but the event should ideally stand on its own terms, as a silent film / live music event. However, there are some challenges that this silent version presents, particularly all the images that specifically reference sound effects: the repeated close-ups of loudspeakers, etc. One has to make a decision about whether to acknowledge them musically, or 'play through' them instead.

THOMAS GLADYSZ: Music, song and sound are integral to certain passages in the film, especially the film's climatic ending. Did that prove a challenge?

STEPHEN HORNE: Unless you're playing an instrument that can produce comparable sound 'effects', I think it's best to approach these things in a slightly abstract way. In the tango song scene I've chosen to focus on a couple of specific elements within the scene - rather than trying to create an impression of vocalizing, for instance. However, the song in the final scene is inescapably important, so I think that I have come up with a rather clever solution to the problem. But you'll have to wait to find out what that will be!

This sheet music and 78rpm recording were issued in France to tie in
with the 1930 Louise Brooks' film Prix de Beauté

THOMAS GLADYSZ: Were you able to integrate the two songs used in the sound version into your score? If so, how?

STEPHEN HORNE: See above! But again, I'm largely gearing the performance to people who are coming to this film without having seen the sound version. The songs are not generally known now, so while it's important that I play a tango when they're dancing / singing a tango, I don't think that it has to be the one sung in the sound version. But just wait until the climax...

THOMAS GLADYSZ: What can those who attend the Festival screening look forward to?

STEPHEN HORNE: A lovely but flawed film, elevated to near-classic status by the transcendence of Louise Brooks. On a musical note, I've noticed that the music I'm preparing often starts in a major key, before resolving to the minor. I think this is the influence of the Brooks persona: full of joy, but with a lingering note of melancholy.

THOMAS GLADYSZ: Louise Brooks fans will want to know.... Is there any chance the silent version and your score will be released on DVD?

STEPHEN HORNE: I would imagine that there's a good chance a DVD will be released, unless there are some copyright issues of which I'm unaware. But whether my music will be included is a question that is in the laps of the Gods of film restoration!


For more on this superb musician's approach to accompanying silent film, here is a video interview from 2009. Stephen Horne spoke to Marek Bogacki at the Killruddery Silent Film Festival about his career in silent film music.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Press reviews of Prix de Beauté from 1930

On Thursday, July 18th the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen the rarely shown silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks' film, Prix de Beauté. I believe this special events marks the film's West Coast premiere, and certainly one of its very first showings in North America. It is an event not to be missed.

When the sound version of Prix de Beauté debuted in Paris in 1930, it was not all that well received by the public. Other Brooks' films like Beggars of Life and Diary of a Lost Girl enjoyed longer runs at the box office. Nevertheless, Prix de Beauté generated a good deal of press. Here is a advertisement from the trades which samples the critical response.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Check out the new & improved Louise Brooks Society blog!

I've been hard at work on the Louise Brooks Society blog, cleaning things up and adding little refinements here and there. . . . A couple of newest refinements are the addition of the "ShareThis" social media bar and the Disqus commenting platform. So, by all means, spread the word. Leave a comment or "Like" or tweet about an LBS blog post.

I've also added acurated Amazon store fully stocked with Louise Brooks related books, DVD's, CDs and mp3 singles. More items will be added over time. There are also more blogs and website links in the right hand column.

The Louise Brooks Society blog here on Blogger began in June, 2009. Slowly, I am also in the process of transferring many of the posts from the old blog at LiveJournal (which started in 2002) over to Blogger. 

The Louise Brooks Society is a pioneer. In two years, when this blog finally becomes a teenager, the Louise Brooks Society website will celebrate 20 years on the web.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Audio version of Frank Wedekind's Lulu Play, Pandora's Box

New on LibriVox and the Internet Archive is an audio recording of Frank Wedekind's famous play, Pandora's Box. This LibriVox recording is based on the English-language translation by Samuel Atkins Eliot, Jr. Readers of this blog can follow the two prior links to listen to the recording, or listen via the embedded player shown below.

Tragedies of Sex, by Frank Wedekind,
in translation by Samuel Eliot, Jr.
First American Edition (collection of the
Louise Brooks Society).

Pandora's Box / Die Büchse der Pandora (1904) is the second half of the German dramatist's two 'Lulu' plays. The first is Earth Spirit (1895). Both depict a society "riven by the demands of lust and greed."

In 1929, G.W. Pabst directed the second silent film version Pandora's Box, which was loosely based on Wedekind's play. Pabst's version starred Louise Brooks. Both Wedekind plays also served as the basis for the 1935 opera, Lulu, by Alban Berg, which premiered posthumously in 1937.

Following the events of Earth Spirit, Pandora's Box charts the downward spiral of Lulu and her companions. Here, Lulu once again plays the role of unwitting temptress (or femme fatale), a siren-like libertine who seals the destruction of her friends and lovers.

The premiere of Pandora's Box, a restricted performance due to difficulties with the censor, took place in Nuremberg on February 1, 1904. The 1905 Viennese premiere, again restricted, was instigated by the satirist Karl Kraus.

Cast of the LibriVox recording (Audio edited by Chuck Williamson)

Lulu: Amanda Friday
Alva Schon: Chuck Williamson
Schigolch: Alan Mapstone
Rodrigo Quast/Kungu Poti: Wupperhippo
Alfred Hugenberg: Charlotte Duckett
Countess Geschwitz: Caprisha Page
Bianetta/Kadidia: Sally Mc
Ludmilla Steinherz/Narrator: Elizabeth Klett
Magelone: Margaret Espaillat
Count Casti Piani: Algy Pug
Puntschu: Alan Weyman
Heilmann/Dr. Hilti: bala
Bob: rookieblue
Detective: Grendel B. Lightyear
Jack: Bob Gonzalez

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Brooksie "The Girl in Tutu" by Fabienne Feketelaere

Video tribute to silent film star Louise Brooks. Clip video with coloured pics made by Fabienne Deketelaere. Pics by Eugène R. Richee. Music by Duke Ellington, "Blues in Orbit".

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hilton Als' new book, White Girls, features Louise Brooks

White Girls (McSweeney's) is one of two new books coming from renown critic Hilton Als. It and The Group (Farrar Straus & Giroux) are both due in November, right around Louise Brooks' birthday on November 14th.

I haven't yet seen a copy, and only learned of it recently. In an email, Als wrote "She was the greatest and appears in my new book coming out in November from McSweeney's."

Here is the publisher description: "White Girls, Hilton Als’ first book since The Women fourteen years ago, finds one of The New Yorker's boldest cultural critics deftly weaving together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of “white girls,” as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Malcolm X and Flannery O’Connor. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time."

Hilton Als (born 1960) is an American writer and theater critic who writes for The New Yorker magazine. Als is a former staff writer for The Village Voice and former editor-at-large at Vibe magazine.

His 1996 book, The Women, focuses on his mother, who raised him in Brooklyn, Dorothy Dean, and Owen Dodson, who was a mentor and lover of Als. In the book, Als explores his identification of the confluence of his ethnicity, gender and sexuality, moving from identifying as a "Negress" and then an "Auntie Man", a Barbadian term for homosexuals.

Als received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2000 for creative writing and the 2002–03 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. In 2004 he won the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin. He has taught at Smith College, Wesleyan, and Yale University, and his work has also appeared in The Nation, The Believer, and the New York Review of Books.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer is here - Happy 4th of July

Looking for a great read? Take The Chaperone with you on your summer getaway. The Louise Brooks Society recommends it!

"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

“When silent film star Louise Brooks was a sexually provocative and headstrong 15-year-old from Kansas, she traveled with a chaperone to new York City to attend dance school.  In this fascinating historical novel, her minder, Cora, struggles to keep her charge within the bounds of propriety but finds herself questioning the confines of her own life. Thorough Cora the world of early 20th-century America comes alive, and her personal triumphs become cause for celebration.”People

"Captivating and wise . . . In The Chaperone, Moriarty gives us a historically detailed and nuanced portrayal of the social upheaval that spilled into every corner of American life by 1922. . . . [An] inventive and lovely Jazz Age story."Washington Post

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Booksigning for The Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl

Louise Brooks in Prix de Beaute
Thomas Gladysz, editor of the Louise Brooks edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl, will be signing copies of his book on July 18 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. The signing takes place following the screening of the 1930 Louise Brooks film, Prix de Beaute, which is being presented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

About the book, Leonard Maltin said: "Gladysz provides an authoritative series of essays that tell us about the author, the notoriety of her work (which was first published in 1905), and its translation to the screen. Production stills, advertisements, and other ephemera illustrate these introductory chapters. In today’s parlance this would be called a 'movie tie-in edition,' but that seems a rather glib way to describe yet another privately published work that reveals an enormous amount of research — and passion."

Also signing is the celebrated comix artist Kim Deitch, whose new book is The Amazing, Enlightening And Absolutely True Adventures of Katherine Whaley. It includes a silent film storyline. Little known is the fact that Deitch's father, the Academy Award winning animator Gene Deitch, once met Louise Brooks. Kim himself almost did! Also signing his DVDs, including Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu, is the Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker Hugh Neely. It's a "Louise Brooks event" not to be missed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Louise Brooks film screens in Los Angeles on August 7

The Silent Treatment and the Cinefamily Theater will screen the classic 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, on August 7 in Los Angeles, California. More information here. Showtime is 7:30 - tickets are $12.00.

"There’s a reason the name Louise Brooks elicits sighs every time it’s mentioned at the Cinefamily: her ferocious charisma and otherworldly beauty cemented her status as an icon well before she retired from the silver screen, at the age of 32. From her comic role opposite W.C. Fields to multiple turns as troubled, willful heroines in the films of legendary German Expressionist auteur G.W. Pabst, Brooks shines as an actress capable of endless nuance and versatility — as she understood the impact both her inner and outer beauty could bring to the screen. Here, in her second and final collaboration with Pabst, Brooks gives a delicately restrained performance as the naive daughter of a prosperous pharmacist who stuns her clan by becoming pregnant. After being put through the repressive reform school ringer, she escapes to a brothel where she becomes liberated and lives for the moment with radiant physical abandon. Pabst’s escalating nightmares are heightened by Brooks’ sensitive portrayal of a truly lost girl whose hard-earned redemption is as beautiful a vision as the star herself. Dir. G.W. Pabst, 1929, 35mm, 116 min. - See more at:"

Inside the Cinefamily Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Notice the portrait on the wall!

See the movie? Read the book. Check out the "Louise Brooks edition" of Margarete Bohme's controversial bestseller, The Diary of a Lost Girl - available through Indiebound and Amazon.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Nitrate Dreams by Colette Saint Yves

Nitrate Dreams from Colette Saint Yves on Vimeo.

Colette Saint Yves (born Hortense Lagrange in 1987) is a French photographer, video artist, and collage artist. Saint Yves is a descendent of the mathematician and astronomer, Joseph-Louis Lagrange. She has said in an interview that she chose her pseudonym in tribute to the French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, because she read Sido when she was a teenager and was impressed by the book.

Saint Yves is known for taking her inspiration from early cinema and especially from actors and actresses such as Louise Brooks, Theda Bara, Lillian Gish, Musidora, Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. Her work is inspired by the artist Joseph Cornell.

Her photography has been featured in the magazines Petits Points and We Are Selecters, as well as on the blogs. Her video piece entitled "Nitrate Dreams," a tribute to Louise Brooks, was featured on Eva Truffaut's blog, "Archives & Mythologie des Lucille."
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