Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The gaze of admiration always lingers on that which is beautiful and distinctive

Here's an interesting clipping I came across at the library. It is a 1926 advertisement from an English-language newspaper from Havana, Cuba. The figure in the ad is a Louise Brooks look-alike. I especially like the text - "the gaze of admiration always lingers on that which is beautiful and distinctive . . . ." Truth is beauty.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Louise Brooks: An invitation to the Commonwealth of Happiness

Check out this rare promotional card from the 1924 George White Scandals. Louise Brooks is not named - she really wasn't important or famous enough to be named - but there she is.

I am not sure what the purpose of the card might have been, except promotional. On the back of the card it reads "Commonwealth of Happiness - G.W.S. - PERMIT.” 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Overland Stage Raiders - A round-up of reviews

Overland Stage Raiders, Louise Brooks' last film, was officially released on this day in 1938. The film, part of the "Three Mesquiteers" series, is a western with a 20th century setting involving hijacked gold shipments, cowboys, and airplanes.

The film stars John Wayne as Stony Brooke, Ray Corrigan as Tucson Smith, Max Terhune as Lullaby Joslin, Louise Brooks as Beth Hoyt, and Anthony Marsh as Ned Hoyt. 

The 55 minute Republic Pictures film is drawn from a screenplay by Luci Ward, adapted from a story by Bernard McConville and Edmond Kelso, based on characters by William Colt McDonald. The director was George Sherman. The film was not as widely shown as other Brooks films. Here is a round up of a few magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

Parson, Louella. "Hedy is Excited Over Next Film." August 5, 1938.
--- "Louise Brooks, who used to get glamour girl publicity about her famous legs, is starting all over again as a leading lady in a Western with John Wayne."

anonymous. "Reviews of the New Films." Film Daily, September 28, 1938.
--- "Fast-moving cowboy and bandit story will entertain the western fans. . . . Louise Brooks makes an appearance as the female attraction."

anonymous. "Overland Stage Raiders." Variety, September 28, 1938.
--- "This series improves with each new adventure. . . . Should please juveniles and elders alike."

East Coast Preview Committee. Fox West Coast Bulletin, October 15, 1938.
--- "The production is wellacted and directed and presents several novel touches, as well as excellent photography."

East Coast Preview Committee. "Overland Stage Raiders (Republic)." Selected Motion Pictures, November 1, 1938.
--- capsule review; "The production is well acted and directed and presents several novel touches, as well as excellent photography."

anonymous. "Movie Guide." St. Lawrence Plain Dealer, January 24, 1939.
--- "Fast moving cowboy and bandit story will entertain the western fans. Children, exciting." 

Friday, September 26, 2014

London Symphony of a City - a new silent film

Louise Brooks went to Berlin in 1928 to film G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box. The look and pulse of the city she encountered may be seen in Walter Ruttman's Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, released the year before.

Berlin: Symphony of a Great City is an example of the "city symphony film" genre. As such, it portrays the daily life of a city through imagery in a semi-documentary style, though without the narrative thrust of mainstream films; sometimes, the sequencing of visual impressions and events can imply a kind of loose theme. If you haven't seen Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, you should. It is a terrific piece of experimental film-making. 

On Kickstarter, there is a campaign to make a new silent film in the "city symphony film" tradition. Filmmaker Alex Barrett has written to the Louise Brooks Society asking that we help spread the word. And the LBS is happy to do so.

According to its Kickstarter page, "London Symphony is a poetic journey through the city of London, exploring its vast diversity of culture, religion and design via its various modes of transportation. It is both a cultural snapshot and a creative record of London as it stands today. The point is not only to immortalise the city, but also to celebrate its community and diversity."

"The feature-length film is being made in the style of a silent City Symphony, but it is not a pastiche. We believe that by looking at the present through recourse to the past, we can learn something new about life today. We will not parody the style, but be true to the spirit of the filmmakers that came before us, and the theories that fuelled them. We hope to capture the rhythm, the motion and the experimentation that made their films so wonderful, while simultaneously reimagining the City Symphony for the 21st Century."

"In the early days of the cinema, there were several great City Symphonies – for Berlin, Paris, Rotterdam, but never for London. Alex Barrett is going to put that right, and his plans suggest a remarkable picture." – Kevin Brownlow, Film Historian

"The City Symphony is the only art form capable of capturing the music of such a complex entity. It must be done in images that move - you need to see it - you need to feel its tempo. It's time to turn the Kino-eye on London" – Bryony Dixon, curator of silent film at the BFI National Archive 

Here is short, a bit of what to look forward to.

The Louise Brooks Society encourages you to check out this worthwhile project and consider making a donation. The London Symphony Kickstarter page can be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/760643006/london-symphony

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Look at me now - Electric Light Orchestra - Louise Brooks

Here is a video for "Look at me now" by Electric Light Orchestra. I don't think this is any sort of official video, just a fan made issue. It's here because it features Louise Brooks. (As a kid, I loved the Beatles' music. Still do. And this video reminded me of how much I like the early work by ELO, whose music was indebted to the Fab Four.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mentions of Beggars of Life

A while back, I came across this cartoon history of James Cagney. I noticed it because it  mentions Beggars of Life. Cagney starred in the stage production of Jim Tully's book which played in New York City in 1925. Louise Brooks, together with Charlie Chaplin, attended a performance.

I noticed this piece as well because it also mentions Beggars of Life. Tully's book was well known in the 1920's

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beggars of Life - A round-up of reviews

Beggars of Life, Louise Brooks' thirteenth film, was officially released on this day in 1928. The film is the story of a girl who - after killing her step-father - tries to escape the law with a young vagabond. She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, and encounter a group of hobos in their attempt to reach safety.

The film stars Wallace Beery as Oklahoma Red, Louise Brooks as Nancy (The Girl), Richard Arlen as Jim (The Boy), Edgar "Blue" Washington as Black Mose, and  Roscoe Karns as Lame Hoppy. The writing credits for this William A. Wellman directed Paramount film go to Benjamin Glazer and Jim Tully (screenplay), adapted from the book by Jim Tully, with titles by Julian Johnson.

Beggars of Life was both popular and well reviewed, though some critics including Louella Parsons were put-off by Brooks' gender switching attire. Even families were divided. The Beatons, father and son critics associated with the Film Spectator, thought differently about the film. Here is a round up of magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

Allen, Kelcey. "The Screen." Women's Wear Daily, September 22, 1928.
--- "Wallace Beery plays the lead, with Richard Arlen and Louise Brooks. All of these stars outdo themselves in this picture. Wallace Beery talks in this picture, sings a hobo song and ends with an observation about jungle rats in general."

M., J. C. "The Current Cinema." New Yorker, September 22, 1928.
--- "Of these three pictures it is the only one weakened by a conventional plot, a plot for which I see no reason except that it gives Louise Brooks a chance to wear boy's clothes and to jump a freight, both of which she always does, however, with an imperturbable maidenliness, generally to the synchronized accompaniment of sentimental music."

G., P. "Beery Scores in Character Role in Beggars of Life." Morning Telegraph, September 23, 1928.
--- "Louise Brooks, in a complete departure from the pert flapper that it has been her wont to portray, here definitely places herself on the map as a fine actress."

anonymous. "Week's Offerings at Buffalo's Playhouses." Buffalo Courier-Express, September 24, 1928.
--- "And then there are those two capable and good-looking youngsters, Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen, who make the most of splendid parts and excellent casting and achieve enviable performances."

Cohen Jr., John S. "The New Photoplays." New York Sun, September 24, 1928.
--- "The acting, especially that of the principals, Richard Arlen, Louise Brooks, Robert Perry (who plays Snake) and I suppose Wallace Beery, as Red, is especially fine."

Hall, Mordaunt. "The Freight Hoppers." New York Times, September 24, 1928.
--- "Louise Brooks figures as Nancy. She is seen for the greater part of this subject in male attire, having decided to wear these clothes to avoid being apprehended. Miss Brooks really acts well, better than she has in most of her other pictures."

Johaneson, Bland. "Wallace Beery Comes Into His Own." Daily Mirror, September 24, 1928.
--- "Louise Brooks does the best work of her career as the stolid little murderess, fugitive among the hobos."

Watts Jr., Richard. "On the Screen." New York Herald Tribune, September 24, 1928.
--- "Incidentally, Richard Arlen's juvenile vagrant, so delightfully played on the stage by James Cagney, is an excellent piece of work, while Louise Brooks's delineation of the girl fugutive is so good as to indicate that Miss Brooks is a real actress, as well as an alluring personality."

Zimmerman, Katherine "Beery Scores in Character Role in Beggars of Life." New York Telegram, September 24, 1928.
--- "The handsome Louise Brooks is cast as the maiden in the case and performs this part with her usual composure and talent for expressing starry eyed wonder."

Sid. "Beggars of Life." Variety, September 26, 1928.
--- "Miss Brooks looks attractive, even in men's clothes, and scores in the two or three scenes where she is placed on defensive against male attackers."

anonymous. "Music and the Movies." Musical Courier, September 27, 1928.
--- " . . . one of the most entertaining films of the littered season."

anonymous. "Wallace Beery in Startling Tully Drama at the Imperial." Ottawa Citizen, September 29, 1928.
--- "Intriguing, interesting, with a cold, half-insolent beauty of face and figure masking a hidden fire, Louise Brooks is here allowed to flame on the screen for the first time. In Beggars of Life, a new Louise Brooks bursts forth to grasp the first big chance of her career."

Mueller, Anita. "Screen in Review." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1928.
--- "Tully has woven his story around a girl murderess (Louise Brooks) seeking to evade the law who joins a band of tramps."

Nie. "The Week's New Films" St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 8, 1928.
--- brief review; ". . . and Louise Brooks, the latter showing considerable talent in the role of the girl who wasn't done right by until the eighth reel."

Marsh, W. Ward. "Beggars of Life. State." Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 15, 1928.
--- "The picture is a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life . . . . Both Arlen and Miss Brooks appear as effectively as I have ever seen either of them. . . . Miss Brooks, considering her record, does surprisingly well."

Heffernan, Harold. "The New Movies in Review." Detroit News, October 22, 1928.
--- "Louise Brooks, who always looks gorgeous in beautiful clothes, suffers a bit from the man's garments called for by the role, but she does well."

Patton, Peggy. "Wisconsin Film is Different." Wisconsin News, October 22, 1928.
--- "Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen (also playing in Wings) and Louise Brooks play the featured roles. All do praiseworthy work. By the way it is a sound picture and Wallace Beery speaks a few lines and sings a song. His speaking voice is splendid."

Beaton, Donald. "As They Appeal to a Youth." Film Spectator, October 27, 1928.
--- "Another good bit was a scene where Louise Brooks describes a murder. It is much the same way in which Victor Seastrom showed thoughts in Masks of the Devil. Miss Brooks' face was superimposed upon the action which took place during the murder, and thus the audience got her reaction to everything. It was very interesting."

Beaton, Welford. "It All Depends Upon How Interested We Are in Hoboes." Film Spectator, October 27, 1928.
--- "Wellman handled the romance between Louise Brooks and Dick Arlen with sympathy and good taste, but I could take no great sentimental interest in it, but whether the fault is mine or the picture's I don't know. Perhaps it was because Miss Brooks was not equal to the demands of the romantic scenes, which made Arlen's splendid work greatly overshadow hers."

Parsons, Louella O. "Story of Hoboes Offered at 'Met'." Los Angeles Examiner, October 27, 1928.
--- "I was a little disappointed in Louise Brooks. She is so much more the modern flapper type, the Ziegfeld Follies girl, who wears clothes and is always gay and flippant. This girl is somber, worried to distraction and in no comedy mood. Miss Brook is infinitely better when she has her lighter moments."

McNulty, John. "Mr Beery Burst Into Song." Columbus Citizen, October 29, 1928.
--- "Miss Brooks only needs remain as warm to look upon, and she can have any role she wants as far as we're concerned."

anonymous. "Beggars of Life Scores at New Tudor." New Orleans Item, November 12, 1928.
--- "Vitaphone helps the story along with music that is fitting and well arranged. The Hallelujah I'm a Bum rhythm helps the story's speed."

Hanifin, Ada. "Charlie Murray Hit at Warfield." San Francisco Examiner, November 12, 1928.
--- "Louise Brooks, as the girl who murdered her guardian to save herself, and turns hobo to escape the vengeance of the law, is an actress who will bear watching. She has a vivid personality. Her attempts to walk like her 'adopted' pal, Jim, so her masculine disguise will not be discovered: her emotional reactions finely restrained as she lies beneath the stars with a haystack as a roof, and knows 'that all she wants is peace and a home,' give her opportunity to disclose some very effective acting in a subtle manner."

C., J. O. "Palace." Memphis Commercial Appeal, November 27, 1928.
--- "Louise Brooks essays the difficult role of a girl tramp escaping from police who seek her for murder. She is a star of no little amount of personality - the sort she would have to have to enable her to carry the type of role she has in this picture through successfully and that she does. If her career in pictures is further enhanced through her work in Beggars of Life, it will not be underserved."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Max Ferguson's Louise Brooks' painting "Lulu in New York"

On Thursday, I had the chance to meet artist New York Max Ferguson (see earlier entry) at a San Francisco gallery opening which featured his newest work. I was especially interested in seeing his new painting, "Lulu in New York." Though small, it measures only 12" by 12", the painting delivers a significant punch. It resonates, like a held musical chord. Here are a few snapshots from Thursday's opening. (I'm on the left, Max Ferguson is on the right)

Earlier, via email, the artist had sent me a statement as to what led him to painting Louise Brooks. "I was a film major at NYU Film School. I was doing primarily animation when it was all done in pre-computer days. At that time I would often go to the Museum of Modern Art to see films,  especially silent films. I always loved that they were accompanied by a live pianist.... Music has always been my other great passion and I am currently working on a series of paintings
incorporating music as subject matter. I recently had the idea to paint a silent film with a pianist at MoMA. I wanted a film on the screen that would not be too cliché, or too obscure. A friend of mine suggested Pandora's Box. I am most definitely a fan of Louise Brooks, as any sane person would be. It was fun painting her and studying her as a still image versus a passing moment on the screen."

Also on display was a second image featuring Louise Brooks, this one a slightly larger watercolor. It is a little less taught that the first image, but still appeals.

Both works are for sale, and can be seen on the West Coast this month and next. Be sure and check them out at the following venues.

September 18 - October 6
478 Jackson Street

October 13 - November 3
Opening Reception October 14
9478 West Olympic

Friday, September 19, 2014

Celebrate Silent Film in San Francisco

Tomorrow's San Francisco Silent Film Festival is a mixed bag. And that's perfectly okay, because the event's eclectic programming makes for a good point.

The popular perception of movies of the Teens and Twenties being either stagey costume drama, silly slapstick, or something to do with flappers betrays the rich tapestry of film-making during the pre-sound era. Sure, there were plenty of historical romances, damsels in distress, and pie fights -- but there were also the glories of German Expressionism, moving dramas of everyday life (think King Vidor's The Crowd), exciting crime stories, riveting documentaries, and epic war films (including Wings, the first movie to win the Academy Award for best picture).

Still remembered unique personalities like Mary Pickford and Clara Bow and Louise Brooks lit up screens everywhere. And, remarkably, the era was leavened by the simultaneous work of arguably the three greatest comedians, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. No wonder audiences were spellbound in darkness.

Now in its 19th year, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has shifted its annual Winter event to the Fall. "Silent Autumn," as it has been rechristened, takes place Saturday, September 20th at the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco. It's an all day affair featuring five varied programs.

(Produced by Hal Roach, total running time approximately 70 minutes)
11:00 AM

Depending on your age, Laurel and Hardy may be something you remember from having seen on television (their Babes in Toyland from 1934 is a holiday classic), or perhaps they were one of your Father's or Grandfather's favorites. Whatever the case, they are one of finest comedy teams in film history. Stan Laurel (the thin Briton with the elastic face) and Oliver Hardy (the rotund American with the baby-face) were each successful comedians early on, but once this odd couple joined together, they were legend.

The opening program includes two of their early shorts, Two Tars (1928) and Big Business (1929), and a promised surprise or two. Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

(Directed by George Fitzmaurice, 81 minutes)
1:00 PM

The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (1921), which the Silent Film Festival screened in May, made Rudolph Valentino a star. The Sheik, released the same year, made him a superstar. Handsome, sexy, swarthy--Valentino was the original Latin lover. He was both sex symbol and pop icon, and until then, few had enjoyed such acclaim. Five years later, this Leonardo DiCaprio + Johnny Depp + George Clooney rolled into one was dead at age 31. Women around the world mourned; there were reported suicides, and an estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City to pay their respects. Among those who attended his funeral in NYC was Louise Brooks.

The Son of the Sheik (1926), released shortly before his death, continues the story of what was the actor's biggest hit, if not his finest film. This desert romance, being presented in a new restoration by Ken Winokur and Jane Gillooly from excellent 35mm negative material, will be introduced by San Francisco resident and leading Valentino authority Donna Hill. Live musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra, who will premiere their new score (heard in the video clip below).

(1914, 85 minutes)
3:30 PM

To mark the beginning of World War I, the British Film Institute has put together an eclectic program of comedies, adventure films, travelogues, and newsreels which recreate a typical night at the cinema in 1914. With full length feature films still rare, an evening's entertainment 100 years ago was largely an ever-changing line-up of short films with live musical accompaniment.

Among the highlights of this special program is an episode of the sensational American serial The Perils of Pauline, scenes of suffragettes protesting at Buckingham Palace, footage of early aviation, a quirky piece about a face-pulling competition, and Allied troops celebrating Christmas at the Front. There is also an animated anti-German short, and an early appearance by one of the above-mentioned three greatest comedians. Live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

(Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 75 minutes)
7:00 PM

What motion picture did Orson Welles call "the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made"? The answer is Buster Keaton's The General (1926), a film largely unsung in its day but heaped with critical acclaim since. In the film, Keaton plays Johnnie Gray, whose two loves are his fiancée Annabelle Lee and his locomotive, named "The General." The General is a tour-de-force and one of the most expensive films of its time, and as Roger Ebert described it, "an epic of silent comedy."

The film will be introduced by Bay Area resident and leading Keaton authority John Bengtson. Live musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra.

Buster Keaton, about who Louise Brooks said:
"Since childhood I have thought Buster Keaton's the most beautiful face of any man I have ever seen."

(Directed by Robert Wiene, 75 minutes)
9:00 PM

When the German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) first played in the United States, it overturned the applecart of American cinema. No one had seen anything like it. In fact, both the film world and the general public didn't know what to make of its bizarre story of Dr. Caligari, a hypnotist, and his somnambulist Césare. The movie, which some have deemed a horror film, employed stylized sets, with jagged shadows painted on unrealistic buildings which make up an unreal city. To add to the strange visual style, the actors used expressive movements and gestures. In fact, some even thought the film so weird as to be necessarily immoral.

In 1922, writer Upton Sinclair penned They Call Me Carpenter, a novel in which a crowd of people try to keep Americans from seeing Caligari because it's story of a madman didn't serve the purpose of art. Saturday's Silent Film Festival presentation marks the United States premiere of the restoration of this Expressionist masterpiece--restored using the original camera negative resulting in a print quality worthy of its classic status. Not to be missed, with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.

Conrad Veidt, who starred in the first version of The Diary of a Lost Girl,
as Cesare (the sonambulist) in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Youth perspective: Flapper Flare of Today

Here is another amusing item, a 1926 cartoon titled "Fay King Explains Flapper Flare of Today."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Collegiate perspective from the Jazz Age

Collegiate perspective on the Jazz Age from the newspaper from Penn State University.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Louise Brooks: An embroidered portrait

Some time ago, Erika, a friend of the Louise Brooks Society, sent this image of an embroidered portrait of Louise Brooks. It is from The American Venus. It's kinda cool.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dorothy Knapp: American Venus Discloses Her Beauty Secrets

Here is another nifty article I came across a while back. It is from 1922. I think it nifty because it refers to Dorothy Knapp (Louise Brooks' later friend in the 1925 Ziegfeld Follies) as "The American Venus."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

1924 article: Decent Girls Plea for Chance Against Flappers

Came across this clipping while looking through microfilm and thought everyone might enjoy it. The article dates from 1924.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Row, row, row your boat Louise Brooks

A publicity still for Rolled Stockings (1927), in which two colleges face off in a rowing competition. This image was likely taken in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the film was shot.

Friday, September 12, 2014

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Silent Autumn

Celebrate the Fall Season with 
Five Silent Film Programs with
Live Musical Accompaniment at 
September 20 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre
True art transcends time.
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival follows its successful 19th annual Festival (May, 2014) with Silent Autumn on September 20th at the historic Castro Theatre.  For information, please visit www.silentfilm.org
(USA, 1928-1929, Produced by Hal Roach, total running time is approximately 70 minutes)
11:00 AM
This program features the splendid anarchy of the finest comedy team to grace the silver screen. Both Stan Laurel (the thin Briton with the elastic face) and Oliver Hardy (the rotund baby-faced American) were successful comedians before they met, but together they were genius! Many people know the duo from their later feature career which included SONS OF THE DESERT (1933), BABES IN TOYLAND (1934), and OUR RELATIONS (1936), and these rare short silents are sure to be a revelation! Included in the program: TWO TARS (1928), BIG BUSINESS (1929) and a surprise or two! Musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin
(USA, 1926, Directed by George Fitzmaurice, 81 minutes)
1:00 PM
Rudolph Valentino's last film picks up on the story of his extraordinarily successful THE SHEIK. THE SON OF THE SHEIKresumes about 25 years later, and Valentino again stars, this time as the son! Like his father, he's charismatic, athletic, and a ladies man. This wonderful swashbuckling romance is being presented in a new restoration by Ken Winokur and Jane Gillooly from excellent 35mm negative material. Musical accompaniment by Alloy with the World Premiere of their new score!
(USA/UK, 1914, 85 minutes)
3:30 PM
Marking the centenary of the start of World War I, the British Film Institute has put together this glorious miscellany of comedies, adventure films, travelogues and newsreels recreates a typical night out at the cinema in 1914. Cinema a century ago was a new, exciting and highly democratic form of entertainment. Picture houses across the country offered a sociable, lively environment in which to relax and escape from the daily grind. With feature films still rare, the program was an entertaining, ever-changing roster of short items with live musical accompaniment. Among the highlights of this program of 14 short films are a quirky comic short about a face-pulling competition, a sensational episode of the American film serial The Perils of Pauline, an early aviation display, scenes of suffragettes protesting at Buckingham Palace and Allied troops celebrating Christmas at the Front. There is also an anti-German animation film and an early sighting of one of cinema’s greatest icons.
Musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.
(USA, 1926, Directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 75 minutes)
7:00 PM
Consistently listed as one of the finest films of all time, The General was one of Keaton’s favorites as well. In the film, Buster plays Johnnie Gray who falls into the Confederacy through love of his locomotive and his beautiful Annabelle Lee. Orson Welles said: “The greatest comedy ever, made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made.” Musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra.
(Germany, 1920, Directed by Robert Wiene, 75 minutes) 
9:00 PM
The story of the hypnotist Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist Cesare is one of the earliest examples of a "psychological thriller" and one of the best known German films of all time. SFSFF’s presentation will be the US premiere of the restoration of this brilliant German Expressionist film—restored using the original camera negative resulting in a print quality worthy of its classic status. With Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Fehér, Lil Dagover. Musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.
Tickets Information
Silent Autumn at the historic Castro Theatre will take place on September 20. For more information and to purchase tickets and passes, go to www.silentfilm.org.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New musical about Louise Brooks

There is a new musical loosely inspired by Louise Brooks called Hi Alba! The musical was created in June 2014 by the students and staff of the Lovewell Institute in partnership with the Short North Stage in Columbus, Ohio. [ Here is a link to its original production in June by high school students at the Garden Theater in Columbus: http://vimeo.com/101574804.]

Hi Alba! A New Musical tells a story of Louise Brooks’ rise to fame and the stagehand who saw her and never forgot her. The inspiration for the musical was a drawing found on the backstage wall of the Garden Theater in Columbus. The drawing, by a stagehand named Alba Cummings, is thought by some to be of Louise Brooks. Shown below is a photo of the drawing.

According to the Short North Stage website, Alba was a stage hand at the Garden Theatre in the 1920's, "and a man smitten." A World War I veteran and a lifelong bachelor, he returned home after the war and took a job at the theater, where in 1924 a young dancer caught his eye. On December 19, 1924, "Alba was so inspired by his muse that he drew an elegantly simple, but nonetheless beautiful sketch of her on a wall backstage." The drawing was discovered some 87 years later.

One of the most compelling songs from the musical, "Capture Me," imagines the the circumstances around the drawing of the picture. A rather charming clip can be seen below.

Though a sweet story, the facts don't align with Brooks' life. The Garden Theater opened in 1920, but  was not the venue in Columbus where Brooks and the Denishawn Dance Company performed while touring the country. That was Memorial Hall on March 8th and November 24th in 1923.  Nevertheless, there is a charming poetry to this musical story which suggests Louise Brooks continuing appeal in the 21st century.. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Max Ferguson painting features Louise Brooks

Max Ferguson is a contemporary artist of considerable talent. His realistic style, described as hyper-detailed and grounded in Old Master techniques, is both objective and poignant. It has great appeal.

Ferguson's work has been written up in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, Art & Antiques and elsewhere, and is held in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The British Museum in London, The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, and The Museum of the City of New York.

An exhibit of Ferguson's new work is touring three cities in the United States. And what's more, one of the artist's new, almost photo-realist paintings, depicts Louise Brooks. "Lulu in New York" (oil on panel, 2014) is shown below: it depicts pianist Ben Model at the Museum of Modern Art in New York during a screening of Pandora's Box. The painting measures 12 x 12 inches, and the artist told me he expects to paint a larger version. I like it. I like it a lot. Be sure and check out one of the shows listed below.

September 2 - September 10
445 Park Avenue 15th floor

September 18 - October 6
Opening Reception September 18
478 Jackson Street

October 13 - November 3
Opening Reception October 14
9478 West Olympic


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Art of Time Travel Act I Louise in the Late Afternoon Pt. 1

The Art of Time Travel Act I Louise in the Late Afternoon Pt. 1. I think you will recognize the song.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Any Way the Wind Blows - The Green Pajamas - tribute to Louise Brooks

The Green Pajamas performing "Any Way the Wind Blows" in this tribute to the film, PANDORA'S BOX, and it's star, Louise Brooks. I love it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Louise Brooks - Digital painting by Jeff Stahl

Time lapse digital speed painting of Louise Brooks by Jeff Stahl done in Photoshop CS5 with Wacom tablets Cintiq 12wx and Intuos 4L. Real time: 1h16min. Music: "The Russian Princess" by Jeff Stahl, track available here: http://on.fb.me/1fnzNSH

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Intrigue and Comedy Abound (in case of mistaken identity)

One of the curious items I've run across over the years is this incorrectly captioned pair of photographs. This one - pictured below - confuses Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore and their respective co-stars. As it happened, films starring each actress were playing at the same time in Tacoma, Washington.

This is not the first time I have come across a Louise Brooks-Colleen Moore mix-up: I think, because the two actresses wore their hair in a similar fashion (and perhaps resembled one another slightly), and because at times they played the same sorts of roles, newspapers editors and the public sometimes mistook one actress for the other. Or was it that they thought of them in similar terms?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Silent film star Colleen Moore

Colleen Moore (1899-1988) was one of the most popular and beloved stars of the American silent screen. Remembered primarily as a comedienne in such films as Ella Cinders (1926) and Orchids and Ermine (1927), Moore's career was also filled with dramatic roles that often reflected societal trends. A trailblazing performer, her legacy was somewhat overshadowed by the female stars that followed.


Jeff Codori - author and Colleen Moore researcher extraordinaire - maintains an impressive website devoted to the actress. Jeff's site can be found at http://www.colleenmoore.org/  He has put a lot of work into the site, and it contains lots of pictures and lots of interesting text. I would encourage everyone to check it out.

Also, well worth checking out is Jeff's biography of the actress, Colleen Moore: A Biography of the Silent Film Star (McFarland). The book is available in soft-bound and Kindle editions.

Ten years of research went into the creation of this book, giving the most complete account of her childhood and film career to date, including a look behind the scenes of many of her films, as well as a look at the evolution of her studio First National, and how it's fortunes were affected by the actress'. Many never-before seen photos, including family photographs and candids, are included. It is a must-have for silent film and Colleen Moore enthusiasts.

I have seen only a few of Colleen Moore's films, and they are delightful! I think they compare favorably to those of Marion Davies, another undervalued performer. I wish more Colleen Moore films were in circulation. Like Louise Brooks, she is something extra special.

Speaking of Colleen Moore films, on Saturday September 6th at 7:30 pm, Why Be Good? (1929) will be screened in Los Angeles. In this, her final silent film, Colleen Moore plays a wild flapper with a dubious reputation, who, after a vivacious night of dancing, finds herself romantically linked to her boss’s son. Why Be Good? contains a Vitaphone soundtrack with sound effects and synchronized music, chiefly hot jazz and Twenties dance music played by such period greats as Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang. The big-budgeted film, filled with beautiful art deco sets, features a young Jean Harlow as a prominent dress extra.

Long believed to be a lost film, it was rediscovered though the perseverance of film historian Joseph Yranski and Ron Hutchinson, the founder of the Vitaphone Project. The search began when Yranski interviewed Moore, who told him that a copy of the film survived in an Italian film archive. Hutchinson was able to find the 16” Vitaphone discs containing the soundtrack, and the task of locating the missing picture began. Gian Luca Farinelli of Cineteca di Bologna contacted Matteo Pavesi of Cineteca Italiana di Milano, who graciously allowed access to the 35mm nitrate dupe negative for the restoration at L’Immagine Ritrovata in conjunction with Warner Bros.

Be sure and check back tomorrow for another Colleen Moore related blog . . .  about how Moore and Louise Brooks were sometimes confused.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Follow Louise Brooks on Twitter

The Louise Brooks Society is on Twitter @LB_Society. As of today, the LBS is followed by more than 2,700 individuals. Are you one of them? Why not join the conversation? Be sure and visit the official LBS Twitter profile, and check out the more than 3,465 LBS tweets so far!
The LBS twitter stream can also be found in the right hand column of this blog.
And that's not all.

RadioLulu ♪♫♬♪

also has a Twitter account at @Radio_Lulu.
This account tweets about Louise Brooks and music as well as additions to
RadioLulu - the long running online radio station of the Louise Brooks Society
at live365.com/stations/298896 Check it out today!

Monday, September 1, 2014

John Philip Sousa and Louise Brooks

A while back, I purchased a CD of John Philip Sousa's music for wind bands. The disc contains a track of some interest, The Atlantic City Pageant March (1927). According to the linear notes, "During Sousa's final years, beginning in 1926, the band often played summer engagements at Atlantic City's Steel Pier. The Atlantic City Pageant March was written at the request of the city's mayor, and honoured the famous Atlantic City Beauty Pageant." That's a little less then two years after Louise Brooks and Famous Players-Lasky were in Atlantic City (during the first week of September in 1925) filming The American Venus, whose story centered on the pageant.

Curiously, this is not the first time I have come across an instance of Sousa "shadowing" Brooks . . . . I noticed 
- while looking in the Independence Daily Reporter - that Sousa and his band performed in Independence, Kansas just a week or so after Brooks and Denishawn had danced there in January, 1924. (The paper reported that the band concert was the next big happening in town after the dance recital.) Another time, I came across a screening of Evening Clothes in Chicago. At that 1927 event, Sousa's band performed onstage prior to the film being shown!
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