Thursday, July 31, 2014

Truus van Aalten - a Dutch actress with a Dutch bob

Tomorrow's blog will feature a write up about Truus van Aalten (1910-1999), a once popular Dutch actress with a Dutch bob. Here are some picture postcard portraits featuring this charming actress.

Truus van Aalten was so popular that there was even a song about her, sung by Lou Bundy (follow the link to listen). Otherwise, here she is filming Jenny's Bummel durch die Männer on Scheveningen Pier in Holland in 1929.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks in a snappy outfit

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks in a snappy outfit....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Giorgio Moroder - The Fading Image (short film about silent film)

A dated but interesting little film.... Giorgio Moroder's short documentary about the German silent films of F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang. Moroder also talks about his long ago search for Metropolis footage, and how he created his own score.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kylie Minogue as Louise Brooks

Found online: Singer Kylie Minogue as Louise Brooks as "The Canary" from The Canary Murder Case . . . . can anyone say when this portrait of Kylie was taken? I haven't been able to find much online.

And here is another image, Kylie Minogue adorned with feathers, continueing the Canary theme.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks on TCM July 27

Turner Classic Movies will air Pandora's Box on Sunday, July 27th at 12:15 ET.

The TCM website 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. Based on the plays of F. Wedekind."

Visit the TCM page to watch movie clips and learn more.

Friday, July 25, 2014

New book - Pola Negri: Hollywood's First Femme Fatale

Recently released by the University Press of Kentucky is Pola Negri: Hollywood's First Femme Fatale, by Mariusz Kotowski. This 320 page book is, I believe, the first English language biography of Polish-born silent film superstar. I am about half-way through it, and am enjoying it well enough. I hope to write a fuller eeview at a later time. [BTW: A few vintage recordings by Pola Negri can be heard on RadioLulu.]

From the publisher: "Pola Negri (1897–1987) rose from an impoverished childhood in Warsaw, Poland, to become one of early Hollywood’s greatest stars. After tuberculosis ended her career as a ballerina in 1912, she turned to acting and worked under legendary directors Max Reinhardt and Ernst Lubitsch in Germany. Negri preceded Lubitsch to Hollywood, where she quickly became a fan favorite thanks to her beauty, talent, and diva personality. Known for her alluring sexuality and biting artistic edge, she starred in more than sixty films and defined the image of the cinematic femme fatale.

Author Mariusz Kotowski brings the screen siren’s story to English-speaking audiences for the first time in this fascinating biography. At the height of her fame, Negri often portrayed exotic and mysterious temptresses, headlining in such successes as The Spanish Dancer (1923) and Forbidden Paradise (1924), before returning to Europe in the 1930s. The devastating effects of World War II soon drove her back to the United States, where she starred in Hi Diddle Diddle (1943) and pursued her vaudeville career before retiring from the entertainment industry.

Kotowski also illuminates Negri’s dramatic personal life, detailing her numerous love affairs—including her engagement to Charlie Chaplin and her romance with Rudolph Valentino—as well as her multiple marriages. This long-overdue biography not only paints a detailed portrait of one classic Hollywood’s most intriguing stars and the film industry’s original Jezebel, but also explores the link between Hollywood and European cinema during the interwar years."


By and large, this is a full account of the Negri legend. It’s all here—from the jewels, the husbands, and the misadventures in Nazi Germany to the trumped-up feuds, the adoring fans, and the pet cheetah that, allegedly, was Negri’s companion at home, on the streets, and inside the studios. Kotowski tells the story with finesse. -- Leonard J. Leff, author of Hemingway and His Conspirators

"This is a very special book written on a very special movie star--the kind they don't make any more, and actually, the kind they never did make except for her. Mariusz Kotowski has done a fantastic job of bringing to life the full story, both on and off screen, of a wonderfully talented, colorful, and fascinating woman. His dedication to Negri's career deserves everyone's respect. Pola Negri deserves attention, and this book brings it in just the right way. Highly recommended."-- Jeanine Basinger, author of I Do and I Don't: A History of Marriage in the Movies

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Every picture postcard tells a story....

Every picture postcard tells a story.... For example, this French postcard was used in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1931. The stamp, from 1926, depicts King Alexander I, also known as Alexander the Unifier, who was a prince regent of the Kingdom of Serbia and later King of Yugoslavia from 1921–34.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Did Ronald Colman have a thing for Louise Brooks?

"Louise Brooks' eyes are marvelous. They are large and dark brown in color. They fascinate me." So, supposedly, stated Ronald Colman in the November, 1929 issue of Screen Secrets in an article by Bob Moak entitled "Ronald Colman's Dream Girl." What a couple they would have made. For more on this dashing actor, see

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Desperately Seeking Marie Prevost

I like to listen to music while blogging, crawling the web, or working on the LBS website. Today, I listened to Basher: The Best of Nick Lowe. I hadn't listened to it in long time. This Nick Lowe CD contains such great songs as "Cracking Up" and "Cruel to Be Kind" - as well as "Marie Provost." 

The song is about Marie Prevost (Nick Lowe misspells her name). It's lyrics read in part: "Marie Provost was a movie queen / mysterious angel of the silent screen / And run like the wind the nation's young men steamed / When Marie crossed the silent screen." 

It should be noted that Lowe's lyrics inaccurately recount the circumstances around Prevost's premature death, as gleamed from Kenneth Anger's flawed Hollywood Babylon. Don't know why this English pop musician wrote a song about a forgotten movie star, but he did. . . .

Marie Prevost was a Canadian-born film actress. Prevost began her career during the silent film era, and came to fame as a member of Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties. By all accounts, she was a fine comedic and dramatic actress. During her twenty-year career, she made approximately 120 silent and talking pictures.

 . . . . Speaking of Marie Prevost, there is a new book out on the actress, Desperately Seeking Marie Prevost (BearManor), by Richard Kirby. I recently finished reading it. This slim (104 page), poorly written book takes a look at the life and work of a beautiful, talented and ill-fated actress who was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1920s. Its unfortunate, because Prevost deserves better.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Exploring the Library of Congress photo collections


The Library of Congress has an extraordinary collection of images available on-line through its Prints and Photographs division. This database is searchable by keyword, and some of the images are available in high-resolution scans. A search for "Louise Brooks" only turned up one (rather unusual) result. Nevertheless, fans of silent film, theater, dance, etc.... will certainly find other fascinating and seldom seen images. There are thousands of scans available from more than four dozen collections. Try searching under keywords or names such as "actress," "Ziegfeld," "Ruth St. Denis," "Rudolph Valentino," "Charlie Chaplin," etc....


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suicide or Lulu and Me in a World Made for Two

Presented here is the trailer for the feature film Suicide or Lulu and Me in a World Made for Two - a black comedy science fiction story about obsession, madness and what one man will do to attain perceived happiness. The film stars Adeline Thery, Christian Carroll and Brian Shoop. The cinematography was done by Alexander Drecun. The trailer is set to the music of Margaret Leng Tan.

From the filmmakers: "Loosely inspired by the Argentinean sci-fi novella, 'The Invention of Morel', by Adolfo Boy Casares, this is the story of a young loner named Jorge who has created two inventions: Pandora's Camera, which can duplicate and preserve reality, and a pair of glasses that can inject memories into the viewer's mind."

"Using the camera, Jorge attempts to capture and preserve a perfect moment of happiness between him and his lover in Paris. The story is told through the eyes of Louise, Jorge's lover, as she begins to question the true nature of their relationship and reality. Ultimately it is a film about obsession, in the guise of a sci-fi black comedy. The boyish 'american in paris pursuing his sweet amour' mood at the film's outset is thrown on its head as the movie's big surprise takes you on a dark journey indeed!"

Suicide or Lulu and Me in a World Made for Two was written, directed, edited, scored and produced by Christian Carroll, who also plays the inventor Jorge, it is a work of imagination shot in a black and white Nouvelle Vague style with nods to the silent movies of Louise Brooks. More info at

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Come on - let's do this! Nominate the Louise Brooks' film Beggars of Life for the National Film Registry

The United States Congress established the National Film Registry in 1988. Along with mandating the continuing implementation of a plan to save America's film heritage, the law authorizes the Librarian of Congress to select up to 25 films each year for inclusion in the Registry. The 625 films chosen to date illustrate the vibrant diversity of American film-making.

The Library of Congress is currently seeking nominations from the public - meaning you! Public nominations play a key role when the Librarian of Congress and Film Board are considering their selections. To be eligible for the Registry, a film must be at least 10 years old and be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Recommendations are due in September. New selections are usually announced at the end of December.

Attention Louise Brooks fans. Attention silent film fans. Attention William Wellman fans. Attention Jim Tully fans. The  Louise Brooks Society thinks its time a Louise Brooks film be added to the list. The LBS suggests you recommend these Louise Brooks films. Each are worthy of inclusion in the registry:

Beggars of Life (1928)

The Street of Forgotten Men (1925)

The Show Off (1926)

A Girl in Every Port (1928)

Looking for other films to nominate? Check here for hundreds of titles not yet selected to the National Film Registry. Please include the date of the film nominated, and number your recommendations. And if you would, tell how you learned of the Registry. Please forward your recommendations via email to  Email is preferred; to submit via postal mail, send your nominations to:

National Film Registry
Library of Congress
Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation
19053 Mt. Pony Road
Culpeper, VA 22701
Attn: Donna Ross

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cool pic of the Day: Louise Brooks in a bathing suite

Cool pic of the Day: Louise Brooks in a bathing suite

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Ghosts of Hollywood

This short documentary titled "The Ghosts of Hollywood" shows the sad condition of many of the silent movie studios in Hollywood as they appeared in the 1930s. Included are the Keystone and Metro Studio locations. You see Mabel Normand and Rudolph Valentino's dressing rooms among other locations.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A gathering of silent film articles, part two

I've been writing for for 5 years. In that time, I've written hundreds of pieces about film and film culture culture in the silent and early sound era. To mark my fifth anniversary as the San Francisco Bay Area silent film correspondent, I've put together this checklist of some of my favorite pieces. Hopefully, you'll like them too. Here is a selection published from 2019 through 2010.

Early films selected for National Film Registry
December 28, 2010

Sherlock Holmes vs Herlock Sholmes, etc….
December 24, 2010

Revamped website celebrates Nita Naldi
December 17, 2010

Local film preservationist does his bit, and more
December 15, 2010

Two new books offer portraits of early film stars
December 9, 2010

Silent film DVDs: Best new releases of the year
December 8, 2010

Ten best silent film books in 2010
December 6, 2010

Early film star Baby Marie dies at age 99
November 17, 2010

A Century Ago: The Films of 1910
November 11, 2010

Vernon Dent shines with new book, screenings in Niles in November
November 4, 2010

Mystery of the Charlie Chaplin cell phone user, solved?
October 28, 2010

Once lost Northern California film now found
October 26, 2010

Early Warner Bros. Studios
October 12, 2010

Evelyn Brent: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Lady Crook
October 4, 2010

Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol, His Life in Photographs
September 16, 2010

Six questions with novelist Glen David Gold
September 13, 2010

First Ever Oscar to a Film Historian Goes to Kevin Brownlow
August 27, 2010

Chaplin, Chaplin, and more Chaplin
August 19, 2010

Some of the many facets of Polish cinema
August 3, 2010

The art and history of coming attraction slides
July 28, 2010

Six questions with Donna Hill, author of a new book on Rudolph Valentino
July 13, 2010

George O'Brien - a man's man in Hollywood
July 10, 2010

The return of Norma Talmadge
July 5, 2010

Major discovery of silent films announced
June 7, 2010

New encyclopedia of German Cinema
May 19, 2010

Six Questions with . . . now silent film composer Stephin Merritt (of the Magnetic Fields)
April 27, 2010

Georges Méliès - Cinemagician of the early movies
April 23, 2010

Starstruck stunning
April 21, 2010

New book on silent mystery and detective movies
March 23, 2010

Edison's Frankenstein - It's Alive
March 18, 2010

Silent-era actress Dorothy Janis dies at age 100
March 12, 2010

Mack Sennett's fun factory
March 9, 2010

Robert Birchard's universal history
February 23, 2010

Silent film star Karl Dane revealed in new book
February 15, 2010

Kevin Brownlow's Photoplay Productions now online
February 9, 2010

Early Western films featured in new book
January 21, 2010

New book on Portland theaters joins illustrated series
January 1, 2010

Best DVDs of 2009
December 21, 2009

Best film books of 2009
December 15, 2009

Francis X. Bushman - King of the Movies revealed in new book
November 6, 2009

Celebrating Carla Laemmle and early Universal
October 28, 2009

Sad tale of Oakland comedian told in new book
October 8, 2009

Six silent films not on DVD that should be
August 27, 2009

Silent films among new Warner Archive offerings
August 23, 2009

Six questions with . . . film historian Jeffrey Vance
July 9, 2009

Reviving the art of silent film, one note at a time
May 25, 2009

The Silent Cinema in Song
May 19, 2009

Cinematic new novel depicts Charlie Chaplin and silent film era
May 12, 2009

Chaplin biographer to speak in San Francisco
May 8, 2009

When Hollywood came to town
April 28, 2009

Father of JFK recalled as Hollywood mogul
April 10, 2009

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A gathering of silent film articles, part one

I've been writing for for 5 years. In that time, I've written hundreds of pieces about film and film culture culture in the silent and early sound era. To mark my fifth anniversary as the San Francisco Bay Area silent film correspondent, I've put together this checklist of some of my favorite pieces. Hopefully, you'll like them too. Here is a selection published from 2011 through 2014.

Ramona at San Francisco Silent Film Festival
May 24, 2014

Best Silent Film Books of 2013
December 30, 2013

Mary Pickford Scholar Speaks about New Book
January 29, 2013

Best Film Books of 2012
December 28, 2012

Jim Tully takes Hollywood, again
October 10, 2012

Ty Burr on Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame
September 27, 2012

An interview with Baby Peggy: The once and future darling of New York
September 5, 2012

Baby Peggy makes a comeback
September 2, 2012

Frank Thompson's The Commentary Track reveals film history 
August 19, 2012

Silent era screenwriter Frederica Sagor Maas dies at age 111
January 8, 2012

Scrapbook novel depicts 1920s story
December 26, 2011

Best silent film books of 2011
December 11, 2011

Theaters of the San Francisco Peninsula highlighted in new book
November 19, 2011

Walt in Wonderland
August 11, 2011

David Thomson’s New Biographical Dictionary of Film
March 10, 2011

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sometimes I'm Happy - Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (and Louise Brooks too)

Here is "Sometimes I'm Happy" with Red Nichols & His Five Pennies. This video makes me happy all the time because it features Louise Brooks. The song was recorded in New York City on January 24, 1930 and features Red Nichols, c / Ruby Weinstein, t / Glenn Miller, tb, arr / Tommy Dorsey, tb / Fud Livingston, cl, as / Babe Russin, ts / Adrian Rollini, bsx / Jack Russin, p / Treg Brown, g / Gene Krupa, d.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Louise Brooks teenage dancer and choreographer

It is known that prior to joining the Denishawn Dance Company, a young Louise Brooks danced at local events in Kansas. These events were held at clubs, churches, and meeting halls. What has not been known until now is that Louise Brooks, still a teen, also choreographed a dance. The dance was titled "The Little Tin Soldier and the Little Rag Doll." This article appeared in the Wichita newspaper in March, 1922.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Louise Brooks & Anna Pavlova

As is known, Louise Brooks was a member of the Denishawn Dance Company (then the leading modern dance troupe in America). She joined the company at age 15, and danced with them as a junior member for two seasons while they toured the United States and Canada. Notably, Brooks' time with Denishawn brought her into close contact with a handful of the key figures in modern American dance, namely company founders Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, and dancers Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weideman.

Brooks had other encounters with other noted dancers. While touring with Denishawn, for instance, the company took the opportunity to see a performance by Isadora Duncan, an occasion Brooks later wrote about (commenting on Duncan's wardrobe malfunction at the time).

What hasn't been known till know is that Brooks saw a performance by Anna Pavlova, another great dancer. Pavlova (sometimes spelled Pavolwa) was a Russian prima ballerina of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was a principal artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet as well as the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev. Pavlova is most recognized for the creation of the role "The Dying Swan" and, with her own company, became the first ballerina to tour ballet around the world. One of Pavlova's tours brought her to Kansas.

Abd that's when Brooks saw her dance. Prior to joining Denishawn, in January of 1922, Brooks and groups of Wichita dance students ventured to nearby Hutchinson, Kansas to see the famous touring prima ballerina. Here is a small article from the Wichita news paper noting the occassion, followed by an advertisement for the event.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Denishawn: Ruth St. Denis documentary & interview

Denishawn founder Ruth St. Denis speaks in five part video documentary, embedded below. Originally compiled for a presentation at the National Museum of Dance in 2006.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Denishawn dance, what did it look like?

For two seasons, a teenage Louise Brooks was a junior member of the Denishawn Dance Company - then the leading modern dance troupe in America. During the 1922-1923 and 1923-1924 seasons, Brooks regularly performed alongside Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn, Martha Graham, Charles Weideman and others.

There is no film of Louise Brooks during her two seasons with Denishawn. And, as far as I know, there was little or no footage of the Denishawn Dance Company shot during the 1920s. All of which leads one to wonder what Denishawn dances looked like. Here is a video which give us something of an idea. Bonus points to those who spot Louise brooks in the still images in the second video.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On this day in 1928: Two Louise Brooks films show in Oil City, Pennsylvania

Break out the time machine. . . . on this day in 1928, not just one but TWO films featuring Louise Brooks were showing in Oil City, Pennsylvania. The local newspaper, the Oil City Derrick, advertised both A Girl in Every Port (1928) and Rolled Stockings (1927), each of which were enjoying short runs in the small town in Venango County which came to prominence after the first oil wells were drilled nearby in the 1850s. This page dates from July of 1928. Rolled Stockings had been out more than a year, A Girl in Every Port less than half a year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

November 14th + Google doodle = Louise Brooks

Why not suggest Louise Brooks become a Google doodle on her birthday, November 14th. 

Send a suggestion to

Monday, July 7, 2014

Louise Brooks, Wichita Kansas girl scout

In the early 1920s, Louise Brooks was a member of the Girl Scouts. In fact, according to this 1921 article in the Wichita Eagle newspaper, she was a member of one of the first girl scout troops in Wichita, Kansas. Brooks is pictured in the article below, top row, fourth from the left.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Louise Brooks shoots marbles

Louise Brooks, far left, shoots marble with other junior Paramount stars, 1927

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Report from Glastonbury: Louise Brooks and the Dodge Brothers

On Saturday, June 28, the Dodge Brothers became the first band to accompany a silent film at the Glastonbury Festival. The film they accompanied was Beggars of Life (1928), starring Louise Brooks.

The Dodge Brothers are Mike Hammond (lead guitar, lead vocals, banjo), Mark Kermode (bass, harmonica, vocals), Aly Hirji (rhythm guitar, mandolin, vocals), and Alex Hammond (washboard, snare drum, percussion). Joining the band at Glastonbury and elsewhere when they accompany silent films is composer and silent film accompanist Neil Brand, a regular at London's National Film Theatre.

Band member Mark Kermode has written about the experience for the Guardian newspaper. He reported, "the audience are terrifically responsive." You can read his entire write-up at "Diary of a Dodge Brother skiffling at Glastonbury." Kermode also posted a video blog which can be viewed below.

Friday, July 4, 2014

New book - Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century

All interested in silent film will want to know . . . . Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century is just out from the University of Mississippi Press. It looks great. The 384 page book, by John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh, includes a foreword by Kevin Brownlow and greeting by Vera Fairbanks. The book is a critical study of Fairbank' acting career and "his brand" as the ultimate American.

From the publisher: "Douglas Fairbanks and the American Century brings to life the most popular movie star of his day, the personification of the Golden Age of Hollywood. At his peak, in the teens and twenties, the swashbuckling adventurer embodied the new American Century of speed, opportunity, and aggressive optimism. The essays and interviews in this volume bring fresh perspectives to his life and work, including analyses of films never before examined.

Also published here for the first time in English is a first-hand production account of the making of Fairbanks's last silent film, The Iron Mask.

Fairbanks (1883-1939) was the most vivid and strenuous exponent of the American Century, whose dominant mode after 1900 was the mass marketing of a burgeoning democratic optimism, at home and abroad. During those first decades of the twentieth century, his satiric comedy-adventures shadow-boxed with the illusions of class and custom. His characters managed to combine the American Easterner's experience and pretension and the Westerner's promise and expansion. As the masculine personification of the Old World aristocrat and the New World self-made man--tied to tradition yet emancipated from history--he constructed a uniquely American aristocrat striding into a new age and sensibility.

This is the most complete account yet written of the film career of Douglas Fairbanks, one of the first great stars of the silent American cinema and one of the original United Artists (comprising Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith). John C. Tibbetts and James M. Welsh's text is especially rich in its coverage of the early years of the star's career from 1915 to 1920 and covers in detail several films previously considered lost.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's the Old Army Game with Louise Brooks screens in Chicago July 17

It's the Old Army Game will be shown in Chicago on July 17th, as part of the 2014 Silent Summer Film Festival. The film stars W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks, and the screening will take place at the historic Pickwick Theatre, 5 Prospect Ave (Touhy & NW Hwy), in nearby Park Ridge, Illinois. According to the Chicagoist website
The festival kicks off July 17 with a screening of “It’s the Old Army Game,” a 1926 film starring W.C. Fields as a put-upon pharmacist and Louise Brooks as Louise Brooks as his employee in the pharmacy. After being talked by a con man into selling bogus New York City lots from the drugstore, Fields feels compelled to return the money stolen from townsfolk by the con man after he’s caught. Fields would later remake this film as the talkie “It’s a Gift” but it’s Brooks who steals the film every time she’s on screen. The Great Lakes Trio, a regular fixture at the festival, provides pre-show music. SFSC executive director Dennis Wolkowicz accompanies the film on the Wurlitzer in his guise as “Jay Warren.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Louise Brooks: At the Beach

It's summer. So here are a few images of Louise Brooks at the beach.

As a member of Denishawn, in 1923. Louise Brooks is second from right.
Martha Graham is center. Picture taken on the Atlantic Coast.

As a Paramount actress, in 1927. Louise Brooks is center, with
Sally Blane (left) and Nancy Phillips (right). Pacific Coast.

Southern California in 1927, with Nancy Phillips.

At the Cavilier Beach Club, Virginia Beach, in 1929.

In a scene from Prix de beaute, filmed in France in 1929.
I would guess this was taken on the Mediterranean.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Louise Brooks: Modelling a bathing suit

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks models a bathing suit, circa 1927.

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