Saturday, August 30, 2014

Homage to Louise Brooks: Teatro della Lulu

Mars Toyko is a visual artist working in miniature 3-D diorama who has created "Teatro della Lulu (Homage to Louise Brooks)." The artist sent an email to alert me to her work. She wrote, "I have been a fan of Louise Brooks for years and have created an Homage to her."

This photo was taken with a macro lens attachment. The original diorama is only 3" wide, 4.5" deep, and 4" high. For me, this piece evokes the work of the American surrealist Joseph Cornell - one of my favorite artists and an inspiration to Mars Toyko. (Cornell was famously obsessed with certain ballerinas and actresses - most notably Hedy Lamarr - and he created elaborate shadow boxes in their honor.) Toyko's collage and constructions also bring the work of Betye Saar to mind. Those wishing to see more of the artist's efforts should visit

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bobbed hair as a mask

I came across this striking 1924 photo of a stage actress sporting a rather exaggerated bob. I have never seen such stylized cut - especially in the way the points of the bob reach across Jean Bodine's face. And look at her eyebrows, extended to touch the hairline. The effect quite nearly looks like a kind of disquise, or mask. I thought "a haircut performing as a mask." Or is this image a kind of masque?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Louise Brooks Society celebrates 19 years online

The Louise Brooks Society celebrates 19 years on the internet. Since its launch in August of 1995, more than two million people have visited this pioneering website. The New York Times said, "The Louise Brooks Society is an excellent homage to the art of the silent film as well as one of its most luminous stars." The LBS has also been praised in the pages of USA Today and other newspapers and magazines.

The LBS was founded as a fan-site, and over the years has evolved into a comprehensive on-line archive and hub for "all things Lulu." This 250-page site features an array of information about the actress including a filmography, commentary, links, bibliographies, vintage articles and memorabilia, portrait galleries, and contributions from fans from around the world. The LBS has a long-running blog (with 2000+ posts), Facebook page, new YouTube presence, active Twitter account, as well as its own Louise Brooks themed radio station, aptly named RadioLulu.

The mission of the Louise Brooks Society is to honor the actress by stimulating interest in her life and films; by fostering and coordinating research on her life, films and writings; by serving as a repository for related material; and by advocating for the preservation and restoration of Brooks' films. To date, the LBS has co-sponsored screenings and events (including one with Barry Paris), mounted exhibits, "inspired" a documentary, published a book (The "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl), and generated wide spread media interest in the actress.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Louise Brooks' first film review on this day in 1925

On this day in 1925, Louise Brooks received her first notice as an actress.

Though not listed in the film’s credits, the Los Angeles Times took note of Brooks' brief appearance in The Street of Forgotten Men when its anonymous critic wrote, "And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the 'blind' man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed." The paper was referring to Brooks, who’s brief appearance in the Herbert Brenon-directed film was uncredited. It was Brooks’ first role, and she played the part of a moll (the girlfriend of a gangster). Her screen time lasted just a few minutes.

Prior to August 31, 1925 - Brooks had only been mentioned in newspapers and magazines in connection with her appearances as a Denishawn dancer and as showgirl with the George White Scandals and Ziegfeld Follies. She also had a knack for showing up in various New York City gossip columns. The Los Angeles Times review was her first notice in connection with a film.

The article, titled “Marmont Metropolitan Star,” stands out not only as the first review to reference Brooks but as the only review for The Street of Forgotten Men to note her appearance in the film. One wonders who that anonymous critic might have been?

The Street of Forgotten Men is an underworld romance set among professional beggars in New York’s Bowery. It is a singular film, and received uniformly superb reviews when first released. Leading man Percy Marmont was singled out for his exceptional performance and director Brenon was praised for his realistic depiction of Bowery life.

The National Board of Review named it one of the 40 best pictures of 1925, and it was picked as one of the best films of the year by the Houston Chronicle, Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Tacoma Times, and Topeka Daily Capital. In many reviews and advertisements, The Street of Forgotten Men was compared to The Miracle Man, a similarly themed 1919 Lon Chaney film about a gang of criminals.

The Street of Forgotten Men
was long thought lost. However, six of seven reels were later found at the Library of Congress (which is where I saw it). Among the surviving footage (the second reel is missing) is the scene that includes Brooks. Part of that scene is excerpted in the outstanding documentary, Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Street of Forgotten Men - a round-up of reviews

The Street of Forgotten Men, Louise Brooks' first film, was officially released on this day in 1925. The film is a drama, an underworld romance set among professional beggars in the Bowery of New York City. 

The film stars Percy Marmont as Easy Money Charlie, Mary Brian as Fancy Vanhern, Neil Hamilton as Philip Peyton, John Harrington as Bridgeport White-Eye, Juliet Brenon (the director's niece) as Portland Fancy, and Louise Brooks in an uncredited role as a Moll. Also uncredited in the film is Lassie, a dog.

The film is based on a short story by George Kibbe Turner which appeared in Liberty magazine only a few months earlier, on February 14, 1925. The Street of Forgotten Men was quite well regarded upon release, and Percy Marmont was singled out for his dramatic performance. Director Herbert Brenon was also praised for his realistic depiction of Bowery life. Brenon, who the year before had directed Peter Pan (1924), would go on to direct such classics as Beau Geste (1926), The Great Gatsby (1926), and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928).

The Street of Forgotten Men was long thought lost, but six of its seven reels were found at the Library of Congress. Among the surviving footage is a scene which includes Brooks. I've seen it. The film is very good, and deserves to be widely released. Here is a round up of magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive. [Here is the movie herald for that 1925 film. The front and back and the interior are pictured.]

Day, Dorothy. "Herbert Brenon Contributes Absorbing Film at Rivoli." Morning Telegraph, July 20, 1925.
--- "An absorbing story, done by a cast of people who really know how to act and directed in a skillful manner by Herbert Brenon."

Spain, Mildred. "Marmont Wears High Hat and Tin Cup in Rivoli Film." Daily News, July 21, 1925.
--- "The Street of Forgotten Men dips into the dark pools of life. It shows you the beggars of life - apologies to Jim Tully - and in showing them it shows them up."

Miles, Connie. "Reel Reviews." New York Evening World, July 21, 1925.
--- "A gripping story of the sordid side of life up to Broadway's Forties . . . one of those too rare offerings that have everything to be desired in a film production."

Nangle, Roberta. "You'll Like This Tale of Bowery Underworld." Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1925.
--- "It is a startling tale of Bowery life, of the soiled, tawdry ladies and broken men of the underworld. . . . Direction and photography are splendid, making the movie decidedly worth seeing."

Sewell, C. S. "Paramount Offers Very Out-of-the-Ordinary Story of the Underworld That Should Please Majority." Moving Picture World, August 1, 1925.
--- "This story is decidely impressive, out-of-the-ordinary and interesting and we believe that it will be quite generally liked."

anonymous. "The Street of Forgotten Men." Film Daily, August 2, 1925.
--- "Percy Marmont as a fake cripple beggar adds a choice one to the select list of outstanding character-creations of the screen."

Burrows, Dudley. "Granada's New Feature Tops Unholy Three." San Francisco Call and Post, August 10, 1925.
--- "Perhaps it is because The Street of Forgotten Men is more legitimately dramatic, and less frankly melodramatic than The Unholy Three."

Gillaspey, A. F. "Marmont Gives Wonderful Performances in Granada Film." San Francisco Bulletin, August 10, 1925. (United States) *
--- "For fine dramatic detail, for unusualness, for giving us a glimpse into a world we never see and into the other sides of characters we simply pass in pity on the streets, The Street of Forgotten Men is a photoplay revelation."

Warren, George C. "Best Available Films Offered Screen Fans - Greater Movie Season." San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 1925.
--- "The Street of Forgotten Men, to which Herbert Brenon has lent the magic of his skill at direction, his ability to poeticize even the most sordid theme."

Carroll, Carroll. "The Reel Stuff." Judge, August 15, 1925.
--- "The Street of Forgotten Men is to a certain extent a de-hokumized Miracle Man."

anonymous. "Palace - The Street of Forgotten Men." Washington Star, August 17, 1925.
--- "Percy Marmont, as a bogus crippled beggar . . . has a role that is more closely akin to his great interpretation of Mark Sabre in If Winter Comes than any since the Hutchinson novel was put upon the screen. All of which means that this artist again has an excellent role for the display of his rare genius."

Talley, Alma. "The Street of Forgotten Men." Movie Weekly, August 22, 1925.
--- " . . . a film of real artistic merit, but it is sordid."

anonymous. "Marmont Metropolitan Star." Los Angeles Times, August 31, 1925. 
--- "And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the 'blind' man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed."

Boyd, Leonard. "Old Bowery Seen at Metropolitan." Los Angeles Examiner, August 31, 1925.
--- "Herbert Brenon has striven for realism but not morbidness. His interpretation throughout is sincere even to avoiding a sugar-coated ending."

Feldkamp, Frances V. "Movie Reviews." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 7, 1925.
--- "Personally, it is depressing."

anonymous. "Underworld is Theme for Film at The Liberty." San Jose Mercury Herald, September 25, 1925. (United States) *
--- " . . . there is a series of smashing scenes that reveal the genius of Herbert Brenon."

K., K. T. "Asbestos." New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 25, 1925.
--- "Others in the cast are thoroughly competent. Neil Hamilton is quite charming."

B., M. "The Street of Forgotten Men - Paramount." Photoplay, October, 1925.
--- "Herbert Brenon, with the aid of a fine cast, headed by Percy Marmont, has made a gripping and entertaining picture."

anonymous. "Famous Screen Dog." New York Times, January 16, 1927.
--- "Lassie has acted with Percy Marmont in The Street of Forgotten Men. . . . It is said that the death of Lassie in The Street of Forgotten Men was so impressive that person were convinced that she must have been cruelly beaten. Her master, Emery Bronte, said that the dog seemed to enjoy acting in the scenes, and that after each 'take' she went over to Mr. Brenon and cocked her head on the side, as if asking for a pat or two." 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Valentino Is Dead

It was 88 years ago that Rudolph Valentino died. His passing made headlines across the United States and the world. Here is but one example. 

Louise Brooks - then a young actress - was acquainted with the "Latin Lover." They had met at a party. At a funeral mass in New York City - held just a few days after Valentino's death, one newspaper reported that Brooks was seen crying. Film buffs and the world shared her grief.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Miss Europe postcards

The 1930 French film, Prix de beauté (also known as Miss Europa), tells the story of a typist named  Lucienne (played by Louise Brooks) stuck in a dull job whose life changes when she wins a beauty contest. The film was based on a screenplay by Augusto Genina, René Clair, Bernard Zimmer, and Alessandro de Stefani from an original story idea by René Clair and G.W. Pabst.

The story plays out against the backdrop of a "Miss Europe" beauty contest, an actual event just beginning to take hold in the European consciousness. According to its Wikipedia entry, "Miss Europe" was a beauty pageant among female contestants from European nations established in February 1929 by Maurice de Waleffe. It was first held at the Paris Opera where delegates from 18 countries participated. Here is another page about the history of the contest. And this page has a lot of images of vintage postcards. More images will show up on a Google image search.

For many years, "Miss Europe" proved a popular event. And picture postcards depicting the various participants were issued on annual basis. (A handful of cards from around the time of Prix de beauté are shown below). RadioLulu even features a Polish song from the 1930's celebrating "Miss Polonia" (Miss Poland).

Miss Denmark, 1929
Miss Poland, 1929
Miss Greece, 1930
also Miss Europe, 1930

Miss France, 1931
also Miss Europe, 1931

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A musical homage to Miss Europe, featuring Suzy Solidor

Louise Brooks starred in the 1930 French film, Prix de beauté, which is sometimes called Beauty Prize or Miss Europe, in English speaking countries. Since the late 1920s, a European beauty pageant proved popular, and the Brooks' film ties in to it. RadioLulu even features a song by a male vocalist titled "Miss Polonia" (Miss Poland).

Here is a video tribute to some of the women named Miss Europe. They include:

-1929: Erzsébet Simon (Hungary)
-1930: Aliki Diplarakou (Greece)
-1931: Jeanne Juilla (France)
-1933: Tatiana Maslow (Soviet Union)
-1937: Britta Wikström (Finland)

The music is by Suzy Solidor, herself a beauty and a woman sometimes referred to as the “most painted woman in the world”. She was photographed by Man Ray (famously in the nude), and she posed for some of the most celebrated artists of her day including Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy, Tamara de Lempicka, Marie Laurencin, Jean Cocteau, Francis Picabia, and Kees van Dongen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prix de beauté - A round up of reviews

Prix de beauté was officially released in France on this day in 1930. The film was shot as a silent, and then adapted for sound. The sound version is available on DVD. On rare occasions, the silent version is screened, as it was in New Zealand earlier this month.

The film stars Louise Brooks as Lucienne, Georges Charlia as André, H. Bandini as Antonin, and Jean Bradin as Prince de Grabovsky. The film was based on the screenplay by Augusto Genina, René Clair, Bernard Zimmer, and Alessandro de Stefani from an original story idea by René Clair (and G.W. Pabst). The film was directed by Augusto Genina and released by SOFAR Film (La Societe des Films Artistiques).Notably, Louise Brooks' costume design was by Jean Patou.

Prix de beauté was very popular in France, where it was made,and it was screened all around Europe. The Louise Brooks Society archive contains reviews and advertisements from Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland, and The Netherlands. The film wasn't shown in the United States until the late 1950s. Here are a few multinational reviews from the LBS archive.

anonymous. Le Journal des Débats Politiques et Littéraires, March 30, 1929. 
 --- "René Clair, le brillant réalisateur de Chapeau de paille d'Italie, travaille actuellement au découpage de son nouveau: Prix de Beauté, qu'il va tourner pour la Sofar. Il compte prendre les premières prises de vues au début d'avril. On sait que la vedette féminine de cette production sera Louise Brooks, l'étonnant interprète de A girl in every port."

anonymous. "Miss Europa." Corriere della Sera, April 13, 1930. 
 --- "II film è pregevole specialmente nelle parti descrittive più adatte alle particolari qualità dello stile geniniano: le scene del concorso di bellezza, la fiera, certe notazioni d’ambiente e d’officina, sentono tutto il suo tipico realismo spontaneo e pulito. . . . Bisogna menzionare Ia trovata finale, esempio di ingegnosa applicazione dci metodi sonori."

anonymous. "Prix de Beauté." Le Figaro, May 18, 1930.
 --- " . . . Une très jolie femme - Louise Brooks - et une tr&ès jolie idée: l'artiste qu'une balle de revolver abat landis qu'elle chante sur l'écran, et vit, et sóurit, et que, truvée, sanglante, morte, continue, à trois mètres de là, sur l'écran, à chanter, à sourire, à vivre"

Vincent, Carl. "Prix de beauté." L’Indépendance Belge, June 13, 1930.
--- article; "C’est Louise Brooks qui interprète le rôle de Lucienne. Elle le fait avec intelligence et le talent dont elle a fait preuve à travers plus d’un film américain et plus récemment dans deux oeuvres de Pabst: Loulou et Trois pages d’un journal."

Gilbert, Morris. "Paris Cinema Chatter." New York Times, June 15, 1930. 
 --- Brooks is mentioned as appearing in Prix de Beauté in article in New York City newspaper  

H., H. "Miss Europa." Lichtbild-Bühne, August 12, 1930.
--- "Louise Brooks' Spiel ist erfüllt von Anmut und Innerlichkeit . . . . Eine Meisterleistung der Regiekunst."

n. "Miss Europa." Film Kurier, August 12, 1930.
--- "Und Louise Brooks, die bei jeder Geste auf den Regisseur angewiesen bleibt, vermag ihn gerade in diesen Momenten nicht zu unterstützen."

Magnus. Variety, September 3, 1930. 
 --- "The acting is very good. Louise Brooks looks charming and she knows how to move."

anonymous. "Premio de Belleza." Popular Film, July 16, 1931. 
 --- illustrated feature; "Dos escenas de Premio de belleza, el film ablado en francés con fragmentos y canciones en español, del programa Gaumont, estrenado con buen éxito en el elegante cinema Fantasio. Los principales intérpretes de Premio de belleza, son la gentil y bonita Louise Brooks y el excente galán George Charlia. La realización es de Augusto Genina".

Palma, A. "Prix de Beauté." La Rivista Cinématografica, March 30, 1932. 
 --- "Augusto Genina . . . da valoroso artista quale egli è, ha saputo intessere una appassionante trama per lo schermo dallo spunto offerto dall'annuale concorso di bellezza muliebre, e prescegliendo a protagonista Louise Brooks, la quale oltre a campione di bellezza si è dimostrata anche una valida interprete cinematografica . . . Ottima la recitazione della Brooks"

Kennedy, James. "National Film Theater Anthology." Guardian, July 24, 1964. 
--- "Augusto Genina's Prix de Beaute (1930), remarkable for the performance of Louise Brooks."

Lundegaard, Bob. "Prix de Beauté offers quintessential Brooks." Minneapolis Tribune, October 21, 1983.
--- "But we don't go to a Brooks film for plausible character studies. We go to see la Brooks, and for that purpose Prix de Beaute doesn't dissapoint."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Prix de beauté - early American newspaper reference

This newspaper clipping, from September 13, 1929 may represent one of the earliest, if not the earliest, American newspaper reference to Prix de beauté, the 1930 film starring Louise Brooks. This article references the film as it was being shot in 1929 (the film was in production from August 29 to September 27), but before it was released almost a year later, on August 20, 1930. It also claims that Prix de beauté was the first French talkie. Had it's release not been delayed, it could have been the first or second.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seeking expert in French Musette

I wonder if an expert in early French popular music could offer any clues as to the name of the small orchestra playing a Tango in this scene from Prix de beauté (1930).

Please email the Louise Brooks Society directly (at LouiseBrooksSociety AT gmail DOT com) or post something in the comments section. I hope to include this song on RadioLulu at Thank you.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Prix de Beauté burlesque performer - Homage to Louise Brooks

Prix de Beauté is a Los Angeles-based burlesque performer and producer who takes her name from the 1930 French film, Prix de beauté, starring Louise Brooks. She performs solo and in groups, and specializes in dances of the Jazz Age, as well as numbers inspired by different themes. As this performer's website states, she takes her inspiration and her look from Louise Brooks.

One of Prix de Beauté's acts is called "My Canary has Circles Under his Eyes," based on the song of the same title by Janet Klein. The concept revolves around classic feather fan dance in tribute to the Louise Brooks’ movie Canary Murder Case.

Prix de Beauté also appears in Chromataphore (embedded below), a Louise Brooks / Busby Berkeley inspired music video by Princess Pangolin. Check out Prix de Beauté's website for more burlesque fun.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Show-Off - a round-up of reviews

The Show-Off, Louise Brooks' fifth film, was officially released on this day in 1926. The film is a comedy-drama about an insufferable braggart who disrupts the lives of a middle-class family. We all know the type, don't we?

The film stars Ford Sterling as Audrey Piper (the braggart), Lois Wilson as Amy Fisher Piper, Louise Brooks as Clara-Joe's Girl, Gregory Kelly as Joe Fisher, Claire McDowell as Mom Fisher, and C.W. Goodrich as Pop Fisher. The film, adapted from the stage play by George Kelly, was directed by Malcolm St. Clair. The screenplay is by Pierre Collings.

The film is very good, and is one of Brooks' best roles in a light drama. The Show-Off received many positive notices - as well as negative reviews, as did Brooks, whose part was somewhat limited. Here is a round up of magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

Tinee, Mae. "Ford Sterling Almost a Perfect Bumptious, Bombastic Show Off." Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1926.
--- " . . . splendidly cast and acted."

Reel, Rob. "You'll Remember and Like Ford Sterling as Show Off." Chicago Evening American, July 27, 1926.
--- " . . . is well done, and a lot of fun. You ought to like it."

anonymous. "A Hit on the Stage; as Good on the Screen." Chicago Evening Post, July 30, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks and George Kelly also handle their parts most effectively."

anonymous. "Two New Films Hold Fans Interest." Los Angeles Evening Herald, August 7, 1926.
--- "The cast includes Louise Brooks, who does a bit of excellent acting."

Harrison, P. S. "The Show Off - with Ford Sterling, Lois Wilson, Louise Brooks and Gregory Kelly." Harrison's Reports, August 7, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks makes a good sweetheart of the heroine's brother; in the scenes where she is shown upbraiding the hero for having brought misery upon the heroine's family, she is very good."

Moulton, Herbert. "Sterling Shines in Show-Off." Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1926.
--- "The sweetheart of the brother is played by Louise Brooks, who does well in a negligible role."

anonymous. "The Show-Off at Metropolitan." Boston Herald, August 10, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks is the Clara. The movie people decided that the unhappily married sister of the play was not suited to Louise, so the movie Clara turns up as a next-door neighbor, Joe's girl friend. Miss Brooks has little to do but wear form-revealing gowns and ever so often uteer a 'wise crack,' for all titles of this nature are put right in her mouth."

anonymous. "The Show-Off Less Interesting as Photoplay Than on Stage." New York Post, August 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks as Clara has very little to do, but she made a charming picture."

Cohen Jr., John S. "Picture Plays and Players." New York Sun, August 23, 1926.
--- "Directed by Malcolm St. Clair, the film boasts of exceptional naturalistic acting on the part of Ford Sterling, Lois Wilson, Claire McDowell, C. W. Goodrich, Gregory Kelly and - in one sequence - Louise Brooks. . . . Miss Brooks is best in the scene where she burlesques the pantomime employed by Mr. Sterling to describe his automobile experience."

Hall, Mordaunt. "The Braggart." New York Times, August 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, an emphatic type, with her dark hair and eyes and straight eyebrows, is bound to be noticed. Her histrionic efforts in this picture, however, are negligible."

Herzog, Dorothy. "The Show Off." Daily Mirror, August 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks spitfires, prisses, oogles and calls it a day of heavy emoting. Miss Brooks is a distinct type, but she seems to suffer from inefficient direction and miscasting. She also appears a trifle rounded, for and aft, in this opera, but this may be due to her skin-tight dresses."

anonymous. "Show-Off at California." San Francisco Bulletin, August 30, 1926.
--- " . . . one of the best comedies of the American screen."

Swint, Curran D. "The Show Off at California." San Francisco News, August 30, 1926.
--- "A romance has been developed between Joe Fisher, the inventor son, given a distinctive performance by Gregory Kelly, and girl next door, fetchingly portrayed by Louise Brooks."

Aston, Frank. "Comedy of Home Seen in Show-Off." Cincinnati Post, September 6, 1926.
--- "And henceforth and forever when we think of The Show-Off we shall picture Louise Brooks and her display of hosiery."

Sargent, Epes W. "Ford Sterling Scores Heavily in Stage Success That Makes Thoroughly Enjoyable Audience Film." Moving Picture World, September 11, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, Gregory Kelly and C.W. Goodrich form the remaining members of the essential cast."

Sherwood, Robert E. "The Silent Drama." Life, September 16, 1926.
--- "He has taken a simple play of average American life and made a genuinely tender, touching, sympathetic picture of it. . . . a worthy reproduction of a great comedy."

O., H. H. "Stage and Screen." Ann Arbor Times News, September 28, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks as Clara, her sister, almost runs away with the picture."

anonymous. "Stage and Screen." Kalamazoo Gazette, November 8, 1926.
--- "The Show Off has caught the fancy of the town."

Lusk, Norbert. "The Screen in Review: We All Know Him." Picture-Play, December, 1926.
-- "Lois Wilson tossed aside opportunities for shrewd characterization by wearing Paris frocks as a daughter of the Philadelphia poor. Louise Brooks, another little sister of poverty, likewise offended."
O., H. H. "Stage and Screen." Ann Arbor Times News, September 28, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks as Clara, her sister, almost runs away with the picture."

anonymous. "Stage and Screen." Kalamazoo Gazette, November 8, 1926.
--- "The Show Off has caught the fancy of the town."

Lusk, Norbert. "The Screen in Review: We All Know Him." Picture-Play, December, 1926.
-- "Lois Wilson tossed aside opportunities for shrewd characterization by wearing Paris frocks as a daughter of the Philadelphia poor. Louise Brooks, another little sister of poverty, likewise offended."

Sherwood, Robert. "The Film of the Month." McCall's, December, 1926.
--- named a recommended film

Lane, Tamar. "Best Pictures and Performances of 1926." Film Mercury, December 10, 1926.
--- named one of the best eight films of the year in film trade journal

Friday, August 15, 2014


(Homenagem a Antonio Carlos Jobim e Louise Brooks).
Créditos no final do clip. Acervo: Rádio Educativa Mensagem (REM).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Louise Brooks - two moderne / art deco backgrounds

Louise Brooks - moderne / art deco backgrounds

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New York Review of Books subscription card

This 2007 subscription card for the New York Review of Books features a caricature of Louise Brooks by David Levine. Its swell.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Windy Riley Goes Hollywood - A round up of reviews

Windy Riley Goes Hollywood, Louise Brooks' one short film, was officially released on this day in 1931. The 21 minute film follows cocky Windy Riley as he tries to revamp the publicity department of a Hollywood studio and mucks it all up.

The film stars Jack Shutta (brother of Ethel Shutta, who appeared in the Follies with Brooks) as Windy Riley, and Louise Brooks as Betty Grey. Also in the cast are William B. Davidson, Dell Henderson (a frequent associate of film pioneer D.W. Griffith and, on a less prolific basis, Mack Sennett), Wilbur Mack, and Walter Merrill. This Educational Pictures film, based on the screenplay by Ernest Pagano and Jack Townley, was adapted from the cartoon strip character by Ken Kling. The film was directed by Roscoe Arbuckle under the name William B. Goodrich.

The film received very few reviews, and in fact, they are very few documented showings of the film following its initial release. Here are a few of its reviews drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

anonymous. "Riley Comic Strip Short Rather Dull." Hollywood Reporter, January 22, 1931.
--- "Louise Brooks is the star and brings forth the fact that she has an excellent speaking voice, looks very well, and that her forte is not short-reel comedies."

anonymous. Film Daily, April 5, 1931.
--- review

anonymous. "Shorts." Motion Picture Herald, April 11, 1931.
--- "The auto record of Windy Riley from New York to Hollywood and the subsequent excitement at a studio when he works a fake publicity stunt, cannot be rated more than fair. The story by Ken Kling is not at all unusal. Jack Shutta, Louise Brooks, William Davidson, Dell Henderson, Wilbur Mack and Walter Merrill do their best but not very successfully."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dixie Dugan - reader of books

Here is a multi-panel Dixie Dugan Sunday strip from 1932. (By comparison, the daily strip was usually three or four panels.) By this time in the evolution of the Dixie Dugan comic strip, Dixie's hair had evolved away from the Brooks-influenced shingled bob depicted in the 1929 / 1930 strips to something a little longer and more Thirties style. I like this particular strip because it suggests Dixie/Louise was something more than just a "dumb showgirl" = she read books!

Friday, August 8, 2014

In Memoriam: Louise Brooks

In Memoriam: Louise Brooks

Born: November 14, 1906, Cherryvale, KS

Died: August 8, 1985, Rochester, NY

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Louise Brooks appearance in Walter Winchell column mentioning Libby Holman word game

This item appeared in a Walter Winchell column back in the early 1930's. Louise Brooks, who was friendly with Libby Holman, makes an appearance . . . . Brooks Atkinson was a famous theater critic of the time. Other film stars who are also mentioned include Jack (John) Gilbert, Nancy Carroll, Kay Francis, Edward G. Robinson, Frank Fay and the still living Baby Peggy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

First Silent Film Festival in Thailand features Louise Brooks

Thailand's first ever silent film festival takes place August 7-12, 2014 at the Lido cinema, and on August 13 at the Scala Theatre.

There will be 7 silent films shown, including three by Alfred Hitchcock (The Pleasure Garden, The Ring and The Lodger). Also scheduled are two screenings of Prix de beaute, starring Louise Brooks. One Asian film which will be screened, The Little Toys, was made in China.

Pianists Maud Nelissen from the Netherlands and Mie Yanashita from Japan will provide musical accompaniment. World renowned Thai musician and conductor Trisdee na Pattalung will also be performing music in accompaniment to The Lodger, which ends the festival.

Lido 2 Theatre (Ticket Price 100 THB)
 Thu 7 August
 20.00  The Pleasure Garden*  (UK / 1926 / 90 mins)
 Fri 8 August
 20.00   The Ring**  (UK / 1927 / 108 mins)
 Sat  9 August
 12.00  The Water Magician**  ( Japan / 1933 / 100 mins)
 14.00  Conversation with Mie Yanashita and  Maud Nelissen
 (Free Event with Thai translation)
 16.00  Prix de Beaute * (France / 1930 / 93 mins)
 18.00  Little Toys ** (China / 1933 / 104 mins)
 20.00  Nerven * (Germany / 1919 / 109 mins)
 Sun 10 August
 12.00  The Pleasure Garden ** (UK / 1926 / 90 mins)
 14.00  Public Lecture “The Silent Hitchcock” by Prof. Charles Barr
 (Free Event with Thai translation)
 16.00   The Ring * (UK / 1927 / 108 mins)
 18.00  Nerven ** (Germany / 1919 / 109 mins)
 20.00  Little Toys * (China / 1933 / 104 mins)
    Mon 11 August
 20.00  Prix de Beauté** (France / 1930 / 93 mins)
 Tue 12 August
 20.00  The Water Magician * ( Japan / 1933 / 100 mins)

Scala Theatre  ( Ticket Price  500 THB)

         Wed 13 August
         The Lodger  (UK / 1926 / 90 mins)   Accompanied by Trisdee na Patalung

*   Accompanied by Maud Nelissen
** Accompanied by Mie Yanashita
Film screenings with Thai and English Intertitles

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks without bangs

Cool pic of the day: Louise Brooks without bangs, taken in 1927.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Prix de beauté screens in New Zealand

Tonight, the New Zealand International Film Festival screens the rarely shown silent version of Prix de beauté, a 1930 French drama starring Louise Brooks. The film, initially shot as a silent, was quickly adapted as a sound film.

The sound version, with dubbed dialogue and music, was released at the time "talkies" were beginning to dominate the French film market. The silent version quietly faded away. This special screening features Marc Taddei conducting the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in a single performance of Timothy Brock’s original score. More information on this event can be found at  Here is what the NZIFF says about the event.

Prix de beauté 1930

Miss Europe
Directed by
Augusto Genina

"Our popular annual engagement with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra showcases the last major film to star the dazzling Louise Brooks. Timothy Brock’s score for this rarely seen jazz-age classic is conducted by Marc Taddei.

Our popular annual engagement with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra showcases one of the few icons of silent-era eroticism whose allure can still be felt 90 years later. Marc Taddei conducts a single performance of Timothy Brock’s original score to accompany Prix de beauté. This rarely seen jazz age classic was the last major film to star the dazzling Louise Brooks.

Famously contemptuous of what Hollywood had to offer her, Brooks is best remembered for three films she made when she headed for Europe: Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl, and this French film, long unavailable in its original silent-era version. Like the two better known German films, Prix de beauté puts her at the centre of a trenchant and perversely seductive depiction of social decadence. Venturing an early critique of celebrity culture, the rags to riches tale of a vivacious young office worker who enters a beauty competition packs a surprising punch.

Displaying all the mobility and visual invention of late-20s silent cinema at its height, the film’s location shooting brings documentary immediacy to beaches and fun-fairs jostling with holidaymakers, or the clamorous crowd sizing up Miss Europe of 1928. While these scenes resound with echoes of long forgotten good times, the energy of the woman at their centre feels enduringly present. As much as her piercing beauty and the dramatic bob that forever carries her name, it’s Brooks’ capacity to suggest a dangerous mind that still strikes sparks.

Like many films of the late 20s, Prix de beauté was made first in both sound and silent versions. To the best of our knowledge this will be the New Zealand premiere of the original silent version. We have a recent DCP restoration from an Italian print by the Cinetecas of Bologna and Milan and the Cinémathèque Française. We will provide surtitle translation of the original Italian intertitles.

“This is a photographer’s movie, from the fluid location shooting at the start to the strikingly lit finale… Most beguiling is the camera’s love affair with the face of Louise Brooks, whose eyes retain their sparkle no matter how faded the print. Although beset by a possessive lover, by showbiz exploiters and, in a remarkable funfair scene, by humanity generally, Brooks is so sheerly, dominatingly vivacious that oppression hardly seems an issue.” — Time Out Film Guide

Marc Taddei is currently Music Director of Orchestra Wellington. His several Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema engagements have included The Wind in 2006, Nosferatu in 2011, and the Buster Keaton titles Sherlock Jr in 2010 and The Cameraman in 2013.

Timothy Brock is a leading interpreter and composer of orchestral music for silent cinema and has been a regular visitor to the Festival, most recently conducting his restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s score for The Gold Rush in 2009. His original scores have become a regular feature of our Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema programme."

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Two more of Truus

Just because.... Two more of Truus van Aalten, just because.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Truus van Aalten

Truus van Aalten, a Dutch actress who appeared in many German films in the 1920s and 1930s, was born on this day in 1910. A popular actress, Truus sported bobbed hair which was reportedly modeled after the cut worn by the American actress Colleen Moore. (Which was slightly different from that worn by Louise Brooks. See the previous LBS blog for some postcard images.)

And like Colleen Moore, comedy was what Truus did best. She was the bright spark in what were considered uninspired films. The German film-making community adored her, and referred to her affectionately as "die kleine Hollandische Käse" ("The Little Dutch Cheese").

Truus' popularity went beyond Germany and The Netherlands, spreading throughout Europe. Some of her German films were even shown in the United States. On October 14, 1933, the New York Times reviewed Truus' film Der Bettelstudent, then showing at the 79th St. Theatre in New York City. The movie, the newspaper said, had "a certain amount of charm", but didn't measure up to other operetta films of its type. However, the reviewer noted Truus was "excellent in her leading comedy role."

With the rise of the Nazi party, roles in German films for the Dutch-born actress began to dry up. In 1940, she returned to The Netherlands. According to her Wikipedia page, "Now she found herself being offered film work - to appear in Dutch films controlled and censored by the occupying power. She refused, realising that they only wanted to use her for propaganda - but as she turned the repeated requests down, she knew she was destroying any hope of rekindling her movie career."

After WWII, Truus hoped to find acting work in the Netherlands, in England, and even in Hollywood, but in the depressed atmosphere of the post-war world, few were interested in a forgotten actress with a foreign accent. Truus never acted again. As her reputation faded, she was seldom mentioned in the various film histories published in 1960s and 1970s. Truus died at age 88 in 1999. For more on the actress, see her Dutch Wikipedia page.

Truus' career, which ran from 1926 to 1939, paralleled that of Brooks, which ran from 1925 to 1938. Like Brooks, Truus portrait was taken at the Atelier Binder, a leading celebrity portrait photographer (who also shot Garbo, Lya di Putti, and others). Truus appeared on postcards issued by the Ross, as had Brooks, and the Dutch-born actress even appeared in a Lux soap advertisement, as had Brooks.

Few of Truus van Aalten's films have been released for home viewing. According to Wikipedia, "One possible reason is that the Russian Army seized the Ufa studios in April 1945 and appropriated the contents - including copies of a huge number of German films that have never been seen since." That's unfortunate, as Truss is pretty, charming, expressive, and appears to have real screen presence.

For more on Truus van Aalten, be sure and check out Roger Mitchell's excellent website (at devoted to the actress. It is the source for all of the images used in this blog.

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