Monday, September 30, 2013

Beggars of Life to screen at 2013 Pordenone Silent Film Festival

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto has announced the line-up of films at this year's event, which will be held in Pordenone, Italy from October 5 through the 12th. Among the works to be screened is the 1928 William Wellman-directed film, Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks. It will be shown as part of the Festival's "Canon Revisited" series on Sunday, October 6th at 8:30 pm. Günter Buchwald will provide live musical accompaniment.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time Lost Never Returns

Pictured here is an ink blotter from the late 1920s, featuring future writer Louise Brooks. I did a quick search on the Crown Optical Company from Toronto, Canada but did not find anything.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

louise brooks - berlin berlin

The song "Berlin" by Gosta Berling was inspired by the life of Louise Brooks. Her story and iconic image have inspired many tributes - songs, books, plays and movies. The fascinating and frustrating saga of her life is captured in the biography Louise Brooks by Barry Paris - which the songwriter says they devoured while writing the words to this song. The images for this video were all scanned from the book Lulu Forever by Peter Cowie. This song is from the band's first EP, Everybody's Sweetheart (2007).

Monday, September 23, 2013

Louise Brooks Society marks Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, the book community's annual celebration of the freedom to read. Throughout the week, hundreds of libraries and bookstores and readers and writers around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting events.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a rise in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Since 1982, more than 11,300 books have been challenged. According to the American Library Association, there were 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012. Many more go unreported. For more information on Banned Books Week, click here

The Louise Brooks Society marks Banned Books Week by displaying this page about a frequently challenged book closely associated with the career of Louise Brooks. (Not only was the book challenged, so was the German stage play based on the book, as were the two silent film adaptions.)

The Diary of a Lost Girl was first published in Germany in 1905 under the title Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. By the end of the Twenties, it had been translated into 14 languages, published around the world, and sold more than 1,200,000 copies. It is counted among the best-selling books of its time.

Today, however, it is little known.

Was it, as was claimed, the real-life diary of a young woman forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution? A veiled feminist critique of the treatment of women? Or a sensational and clever fake, one of the first novels of its kind? Debate swirled around its authorship for years.

The bestselling book
that shocked a nation!

Described by one contemporary scholar as “Perhaps the most notorious and certainly the commercially most successful autobiographical narrative of the early twentieth century,” the book was nothing less than a literary phenomenon. The New York Times described it as "shocking." A newspaper in New Zealand called it "The saddest of modern books."

Widely discussed, it was written about by critic Walter Benjamin, by the followers of Freud, and by novelist Henry Miller (who claimed it a favorite). Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, thought it should be banned. Censored in some countries, the book was barred entry into others. Eventually, after more than 25 years of acclaim and criticism, as well as controversy over its true authorship, the book was driven out of print in the early days of Nazi Germany.

This contested book – a work of unusual historical significance and literary sophistication – inspired not only a cult following but also a sequel, a play, a parody, a genre's worth of imitators, and two silent movies. The best remembered of these is Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), the G.W. Pabst film starring screen legend Louise Brooks.

This new edition, featuring the original English language translation, brings a notable work back into print after more than a century. The "Louise Brooks Edition" includes some three dozen illustrations, numerous annotations, and an essay by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society, detailing the book's remarkable history and relationship to the acclaimed 1929 silent film. 

Learn more about The Diary of a Lost Girl at

Praise for the original edition of THE DIARY OF A LOST GIRL:

The “poignant story of a great-hearted girl who kept her soul alive amidst all the mire that surrounded her poor body.” – Hall Caine

“The fact that one German critic asserted the impossibility of a woman herself immune from vice having written such a book, is proof that besides truth of matter there was compelling art in Margarete Böhme’s book.” – Percival Pollard 

“The moral justification of such a publication is to be found in the fact that it shrivels up sentimentality; the weak thing cannot stand and look at such stark degradation.” – Manchester Guardian

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sunday Event for Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone in Kansas

An article in the Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that author Laura Moriarty will talk about her recent novel, The Chaperone, at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Pittsburg (KS) Public Library. Preceding her talk, the library is hosting a Louise Brooks look-alike contest. No prior registration is required to enter.

The Chaperone focusses on the woman who accompanied a teenage Louise Brooks the summer she left Kansas for New York City, where Brooks hoped to join the Denishawn Dance Company. Two years later, Brooks performed in Pittsburg (a Kansas town) as a member of the dance company.

The article also noted: 
There’s a good chance that “The Chaperone” will be turned into movie. Actress Elizabeth McGovern, who narrated the audiobook and plays the Duchess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey,” would play Cora.

“Julian Fellowes, ‘Downton Abbey’s’ creator is writing the screenplay, and Simon Curtis, who did ‘My Week with Marilyn’, will be the director for Fox Searchlight,” Moriarty said.

Not every book optioned for a movie doesn’t actually make it onto the screen, and Moriarty is well aware of that. Still, she thinks “The Chaperone” has a good chance.

“It looks like it might make it,” she said. “A lot of incredibly talented people are interested.”
Read the Pittsburg Morning Sun article here. And if you haven't already read it, go out and get yourself a copy of The Chaperone.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A scene from A Girl in Every Port with Marie Casajuana

Here is a scene from the 1928 film, A Girl in Every Port, directed by Howard Hawks. This short scene features the lovely, Spanish-born beauty queen and actress Marie Casajuana. Shortly after making this film, she changed her name to Maria Alba.

Maria Alba (19 March 1910, in Barcelona, Cataluña, Spain – 26 October 1999, in San Diego, California), appeared in 25 feature films, starting with A Girl in Every Port in 1928 and ending with La morena de mi copla in 1946. Her most notable appearance was as "Saturday" in the 1932 Douglas Fairbanks film Mr. Robinson Crusoe. She also appeared in Hell's Heroes (1929), directed by William Wyler, and The Return of Chandu (1934), with Bela Lugosi.

Just recently, the New Yorker wrote-up A Girl in Every Port. Read the piece by Richard Brody.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Louise Brooks' film A Girl in Every Port screens today in NYC at Museum of the Moving Image

As part of its multi-film Howard Hawks retrospective, the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City will screen A Girl in Every Port. The 1928 film, by consensus the best of the director's silent efforts, is set to screen on Sunday, September 15, at 6:00 p.m. Renowned pianist Donald Sosin will accompany the film.

A Girl in Every Port is a buddy film which tells the story of two sailors (Victor McLaglen and Robert Armstrong) and their encounters with various women in various ports of call. Louise Brooks, under contract to Paramount, was loaned to Fox for the film. She plays the girl from Marseille, France. The other girls in other ports include Myrna Loy, Sally Rand, and Leila Hyams.

Brooks is cast as a vamp, a circus high-diver known as Marie (Mam’selle Godiva). After her act, McLaglen and Armstrong, each suitors, offer a towel - and more. 'Mlle Godiva' handles each with Lulu-like aplomb.

When A Girl in Every Port premiered in February of 1928 at the massive Roxy Theater in New York City, it played to a packed house. At the time, advertisements placed by Fox claimed the film set a “New House Record – and a World Record – with Daily Receipts on February 22nd of $29,463.” Considering admission was likely less than a dollar, that’s a lot of movie-goers in a single day – then or now.

Popular as well as critically applauded, the film received good reviews in New York’s many daily newspapers. The New York Times described it as "A rollicking comedy,” while the New York Telegram called it “a hit picture.” The Morning Telegraph pronounced it a “winner.”

Irene Thirer, writing in the Daily News, noted “Director Howard Hawks has injected several devilish touches in the piece, which surprisingly enough, got by the censors. His treatment of the snappy scenario is smooth and at all times interesting. Victor’s great, Armstrong’s certainly appreciable, and Louise Brooks is at her loveliest. The rest of the gals from other ports are good to look at, too.”

Reviewing the Roxy premiere, TIME magazine noted, “There are two rollicking sailors in this fractious and excellent comedy. . . . A Girl in Every Port is really What Price Glory? translated from arid and terrestrial irony to marine gaiety of the most salty and miscellaneous nature. Nobody could be more charming than Louise Brooks, that clinging and tender little barnacle from the docks of Marseilles. Director Howard Hawks and his entire cast, especially Robert Armstrong, deserve bouquets and kudos.”

Critics singled out Brooks, with some describing her as “pert.” Regina Cannon, writing in New York American, stated “Then comes THE woman. She is Louise Brooks, pert, fascinating young creature, who does high and fancy diving for a living. . . . Miss Brooks ‘takes’ our hero in somewhat the manner that Grant took Richmond. . . . Louise Brooks has a way of making a junior vamp and infantile scarlet lady seem most attractive.”

Nearly 90 years later, Brooks remains a magnet of meaning. Just recently, the New Yorker wrote-up the film all these years after its debut. Read the New Yorker piece by Richard Brody.

More info: A Girl in Every Port screens on Sunday, September 15, at 6:00 p.m as part of the Howard Hawks retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. Details on the Museum website.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

One Nordic fan's love of Louise Brooks

Varja Linnea Askeland Hellesø is a big fan of Louise Brooks. So much so, she has styled her hair like Brooks and set up a small display of some of her treasured possessions in her home in Nässjö, Sweden. Here is one of her displays.

She has a great collection, don't you think. And here are snapshots of a couple of others displays.

Varja Linnea Askeland Hellesø  has also drawn portraits of Louise Brooks, a few of which she has posted to Twitter and Facebook pages. That's where we noticed them. Here is an example of her work.

And lastly, her is a portrait of Varja Linnea Askeland Hellesø herself, posing as Lulu in the courtroom scene from Pandora's Box (1929).

photo by Malin Hellesø

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Girl in Every Port screens in NYC

The 1928 Louise Brooks film, A Girl in Every Port, will be shown in New York city on Sunday at the Museum of the Moving Image. The screening led the New Yorker magazine to write-up the film nearly 90 years after its debut. Read the New Yorker piece by Richard Brody here.

Screening & Live Event
A Girl in Every Port
Part of The Complete Howard Hawks
Sunday, September 15, 6:00 p.m.
With live music by Donald Sosin

Dir. Howard Hawks. 1928, 64 mins. 35mm print from the collection of George Eastman House. With Victor McLaglen, Louise Brooks, Robert Armstrong. This cynical sex farce about two globetrotting sailors (McLaglen and Armstrong) who fight over a woman (Brooks) and then become best friends was described by Hawks as “a love story between two men.” The film is notable for bringing cult screen icon-to-be Louise Brooks to the attention of director G.W. Pabst for his upcoming Pandora’s Box.

Free with Museum admission on a first-come, first-served basis. Museum members may reserve tickets in advance by calling 718 777 6800.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Barry Paris book on Stella Adler

Barry Paris, author of the biography of Louise Brooks, has just had a new book released in softcover. It is titled Stella Adler on America's Master Playwrights (Vintage), and it's a look at the work of  Eugene O'Neill, Thornton Wilder, Clifford Odets, William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, Arthur Miller, and Edward Albee.

Stella Adler was one of the most influential acting teachers of all time. Her generations of students include Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Anthony Quinn, Diana Ross, Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, Annette Benning, and Mark Ruffalo, among others.

According to the publisher, "This long-awaited companion to her book on the master European playwrights brings to life America’s most revered playwrights, whom she knew, loved, and worked with. Brilliantly edited by Barry Paris, Adler’s lectures on the giants of twentieth-century theater feature her indispensable insights into such classic plays as Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Skin of Our Teeth, A Streetcar Named Desire, Come Back, Little Sheba, The Glass Menagerie,  and Death of a Salesman, while shedding new light on such lesser known gems as Tennessee Williams’s The Lady of Larkspur Lotion and Arthur Miller’s After the Fall. Illuminating, revelatory, inspiring—this is Stella Adler at her electrifying best."

Barry Paris is the author of biographies of not only Louise Brooks, but also Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn, as well as the editor of Stella Adler on Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekov. His new book looks well worth checking out.

“An essential text . . . Adler worked to bring a greater understanding of the human condition to the American stage.” — The New Yorker

“Intoxicating . . . Paris has done a magnificent job. . . Every sentence is a treasure. . . . For actors and actresses this rich material is essential. For those interested in the American theater, it is a must. For cultured people everywhere, this book belongs in their personal canon. . . . It is about so much more than simply bringing to life the work of major artists; it is really the expression of a way of life, and of looking at art as something larger than life."  — Peter Bogdanovich, The New York Times Book Review

“[The book is] about so much more than simply bringing to life the work of major artists; it is really the expression of a way of life, and of looking at art as something larger than life. . . . Stella had a marvelous way of mixing erudition with down-to-earth realities, show business know-how with a few Yiddishisms, all combined with a vivid sense of what she called a theater of ‘heightened reality’. . . . This book brings her voice back quite viscerally. It’s Stella talking, taking you on her particular roller-coaster ride through the playwrights and their characters.” — Peter Bogdanovich, The New York Times Book Review

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Must see: the first LULU twerking in a 1910 film

Asta Nielsen (born on this day in 1881) was a Danish silent film actress who was one of the most popular leading ladies of the 1910s - and one of the first international movie stars. Her most acclaimed role is likely Hamlet (1921). In 1925, she starred in the German film Die freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street), directed by G. W. Pabst. It also featured a new Scandinavian actress, Greta Garbo, months before Garbo left for Hollywood and MGM.

In 1921, some eight years before Louise Brooks, Nielsen starred as Lulu in the first feature-length film adaption of Frank Wedekind's  Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box). That version was directed by Arzén von Cserépy. All together, seventy of Nielsen's 74 films were made in Germany, where she was known simply as Die Asta (The Asta).

Like Louise Brooks, Nielsen was noted for her large dark eyes, mask-like face and boyish figure, Nielsen most often portrayed strong-willed passionate women trapped by tragic consequences. Due to the erotic nature of her performances, Nielsen's films were heavily censored in the United States, and her work has remained relatively obscure to American audiences. Nielsen is credited with transforming movie acting from overt theatricality to a more subtle naturalistic style.

Nielsen founded her own film studio in Berlin during the 1920s, but returned to Denmark in 1937 after the rise of Nazism in Germany. A private figure in her later years, Nielsen became a collage artist and, like Brooks, an author.

Nielsen's erotic "twerk" dance caused an uproar when Afgrunden (directed by Peter Urban Gad) was released in 1910. This role made her a star. After that, she remained popular because of her sex appeal, sense of style, and androgynous looks. This is pretty hot stuff, then and now.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ever read This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the great chronicler of the Jazz Age in America? It is a terrific novel by the author of The Great Gatsby.

First published in 1920, This Side of Paradise has been described as perhaps the best debut novel by any author in American literary history.

For those who aren't aware, Louise Brooks was acquainted with Fitzgerald, and wrote of having seen him on a couple of occasions.

Sign up for Simon & Schuster's mailing list and you can read the definitive authorized edition of This Side of Paradise as a free eBook! (Or choose from some other great titles.) Use code fitzfb at the following webpage to redeem your free book

Attention fans of the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. You are invited  to visit a new website,, to see an illustrated timeline of their lives and find other resources related to the the leading literary couple of the Roaring Twenties.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Book by Jack Garner - From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories

Today's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has an article about Jack Garner, the syndicated Rochester film critic and friend of Louise Brooks. Garner has a new book out called From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories (RIT Press).

Garner, who retired as the chief film critic for both the Democrat and Chronicle and the Gannett newspaper chain in 2007, spent 30 years working a film critic. His new book collects some of his interviews, reviews, profiles, obits, and reflections on the movie industry. From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories compiles the best of Garner's journalism, including interviews with many Hollywood celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Jimmy Stewart, Woody Allen, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Garner perspective is humorous, anecdotal, and insightful.

Now retired, Garner continues to write weekly film reviews as well as jazz and classic film critiques. Garner is a recipient of the prestigious George Eastman Medal of Honor and contributor to the Eastman House academic journal, Image. He is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Eastman House Council, and recipient of the 2013 Impact Award from the Rochester Media Association. Garner also wrote the introduction to Peter Cowie's 2006 book, Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever.

As the Democrat and Chronicle article notes, Garner's interest and interaction Hollywood extended to the stars of the silent era:
But while his job involved lots of travel, there were times when Garner could just walk from his home in Rochester to the George Eastman House to interview visiting film dignitaries.

“I can’t get over the fact that I got to interview Lillian Gish, arguably the first movie star,” Garner writes of his Eastman House-connected interviewees. “I did Audrey Hepburn’s last interview. I did Spike Lee at the Eastman House, where we both sat around watching the Knicks in a playoff.”

Louise Brooks, the silent film star, was close by, as well.

Her film career over, but her interest in film history still strong, Brooks moved to Rochester in 1956 so she could be near the Eastman House archive.

Garner first met Brooks in 1979 when he was writing an obituary of John Wayne. (Brooks and Wayne had acted together in Overland Stage Raiders.)

Eventually, Garner and his wife, Bonnie, became friends with the famously reclusive Brooks. They would visit her apartment on North Goodman Street in the city, bringing her food, helping out, listening.

“She loved to talk about sex,” Garner writes. “... She speculated endlessly about the sex appeal and/or sexual preferences of any number of folks.”

I am looking forward to reading From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories. The book is available directly from the RIT Press at

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cool Pic of the Day: Deco Louise Brooks

Cool Pic of the Day: A very elegant and very Deco Louise Brooks. This studio portrait is by Eugene R. Richee - the one photographer who pictured the actress most often and best.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jim Tully's Beggars of Life adopted for classroom use

According to the Jim Tully Facebook page, the recent Kent State University edition of Beggars of Life by Jim Tully has been named assigned reading for students. The book has also gone into a 2nd printing.

Beggars of Life was the inspiration for the 1928 William Wellman film of the same name starring Louise Brooks. 

Hopefully, this interest in the source material for the film will spur its eventual release on DVD or BluRay.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hand colored Louise Brooks postcard

Hand colored Louise Brooks postcard

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Louise Brooks Society on Twitter

 Be sure and check out the Louise Brooks Society on twitter @LB_Society

Join the conversation.

To date, the LBS has posted more than 2,350 tweets to its now 1,865 followers.
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