Sunday, January 31, 2016

Louise Brooks "I listen to the radio."

Today is the last day to listen to RadioLulu. I am looking for a new home for the hundreds of Louise Brooks and silent film related audio tracks I have collected over the years. Where they will end up I don't know. Over the last few days, I have been looking into finding a new home where I could affordably and legally stream the station. When and if I find a solution, I will let everyone know. Stay tuned.

I certainly appreciate all the positive feedback I have received after first posting an article on Huffington Post. I appreciate the comments the article has received, the emails I have received, and the "likes" the stattion has received in its last days.

In a little known 1968 interview, Louise Brooks declared, "I can't sit and watch TV all the time; I'd go insane. But I read and read and read; and I write; and I listen to the radio..." I don't know what model of radio Brooks had, but perhaps it was something like whjat is pictured below. I can imagine her listening to RadioLulu, remembering.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

RadioLulu in Dead, Long Live RadioLulu

Like others, I’ve long had the fantasy of being a disc jockey. As a DJ, I would share favorite music with listeners, introducing songs and artists with the occasional anecdote or bit of trivia only I might know. “Have you heard this rare recording by …?” or “Did you know that this singer also performed on …?” As a DJ, I imagined the pleasure others might take in hearing a performer or recording they, like me, especially enjoyed.

In 2002, I was able to turn my fantasy into reality thanks to, the streaming radio service provider. A pioneer in the field since 1999, Live365 enables individuals like me the chance to program music which plays over the internet. It was simple. I paid a small annual fee, around $120.00, to cover music licensing fees and other costs associated with streaming content over the web.

But now, it’s all over.

Recently, Live365 announced that as of January 31, 2016 it will cease operations. As I understand it, it’s shutting down is largely a result of actions by the Copyright Royalty Board, which raised rates for net broadcasters while special lower rates for smaller broadcasters (like me) were phased out. With the writing on the wall, Live365 laid off staff and investors pulled out.

As radio news sites have reported, the loss of Live365 is a tremendous blow to the diversity of internet radio—diversity made possible by thousands of niche broadcasters running their stations more as hobbies than businesses.

I was one of those hobbyists. And the station I created was called RadioLulu. It  was named after Lulu, the character played by Louise Brooks in the 1929 silent film, Pandora’s Box. RadioLulu plays Louise Brooks inspired and silent film themed music of the Twenties, Thirties and today. I think it is unique.

The station features rare recordings by early film stars (who knew Rudolph Valentino or Charlie Chaplin cut records?), as well as theme songs from silent films (“silent films were never silent”), early show tunes, dance bands, Jazz Age jazz, European rarities, novelty numbers, and more. There are hotel orchestras, crooners, torch singers and even a bit of contemporary rock and pop, the latter mostly tributes to Brooks by the likes of Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark (OMD), Natalie Merchant, Rufus Wainwright, and even avant-jazz instrumentalist John Zorn.

Back in 1995, I launched the Louise Brooks Society, a website which serves as home to an on-line archive and international fan club devoted to this singular silent film star. She is my passion. I have been collecting material, including recordings, related to the actress ever since. With Brooks, one thing would lead to another....

RadioLulu is a place where I was able to share my audio collection with others. Here, fans could hear all manner of rare recordings by Brooks’ co-stars (Adolphe Menjou, Frank Fay, Joan Blondell, etc…) as well as her contemporaries (Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Barbara Stanwyck and others). RadioLulu also features music from five of Brooks’ films — including the haunting themes from Beggars of Life (1928) and Prix de Beauté (1930), as well as fan favorites like Maurice Chevalier’s “Louise.”

To give the music context, I added tracks from the times. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell can be heard singing the poignant 1929 hit, “If I Had a Talking Picture of You,” one of a number of movie-related numbers on RadioLulu.

There are also numbers like “Hooray for Hollywood,” “Take Your Girlie to the Movies,” and “At the Moving Picture Ball,” as well their downbeat flip-side, like Constance Bennett’s rendition of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and the Alice White & Blanche Sweet number “There’s A Tear for Every Smile in Hollywood” (from the soundtrack to Showgirl in Hollywood). Along with spoken word intros and miscellaneous snippets of dialogue, RadioLulu even featured regulations explaining proper radio station identification given by none other than by Cary Grant, co-star of the 1937 romantic musical, When You’re in Love (in which Brooks had an uncredited role). Grace Moore, Grant's co-star, is also featured.

It would be hard to list all the odd, interesting, and notable recordings on RadioLulu. Among the 432 tracks and nearly 23 hours of programming, I also included a few rare vintage songs about movie stars—Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Buster Keaton, Zasu Pitts, and Mickey Maus among them.

I am especially proud of having tracked down four different vintage recordings of the haunting theme from Brooks’ only French film, Prix de Beauté. She didn’t sing it—her role in this early talkie was dubbed; but who did has long been a matter of debate among fans. Some have even suggested Edith Piaf, but she isn’t it. My four different vintage recordings solve the mystery. Each can be heard on RadioLulu along with the 2006 cover version they inspired, “Chanson pour Louise Brooks,” by the French group Les Primitifs Du Futur, featuring the famed cartoonist Robert Crumb on mandolin.

My obsession with tracking down little known related recordings has even led to a discovery or two. One such discovery was figuring out who the jazz combo is seen playing at the wedding party in Pandora’s Box. It turns out they were Sid Kay's Fellows, a popular dance band in Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They accompanied Sidney Bechet during his concerts in the German capitol, and during their heyday, released a number of 78 rpm recordings. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the group–which included Jewish musicians—were forbidden to perform publicly. I managed to track down some of their early recordings, and today Sid Kay's Fellows can be heard once again on RadioLulu.

I also tracked down the musical group seen in Brooks’ other great G.W. Pabst directed film, Diary of a Lost Girl (1929). That small combo was lead by the Spanish-born musician Juan Llossas, who would soon find fame for his Tangos. Did you know the Tango was once all the rage in Weimar Germany? RadioLulu features a few such recordings. One RadioLulu track I especially like is Marek Weber’s “A media luz.”

RadioLulu also features an unusual recording by Jaroslav Jezek, the “George Gershwin of Czechoslovakia.” In 1929, the year that Brooks played Lulu in Pandora’s Box and was suddenly famous all over Europe, Jezek wrote and recorded “Zasu,” a memorable song whose sheet music depicts the actress! Coincidence? Not likely.

And speaking of Gershwin, my station also features a handful of songs penned by Gershwin, with whom Brooks had a flirtatious acquaintanceship. By the way, Brooks’ favorite Gershwin song, “Somebody Love Me,” can be heard on RadioLulu.

Though I know I will never reach a mass audience, I love programming RadioLulu. It’s the few listeners I reach that I aim to please. According to my monthly listener reports, at any one time dozens and sometimes even hundreds of individuals from around the world tune into RadioLulu. Over the years, a few thousand individuals have “liked” the station.

Occasionally, I do receive an email or a listener posted comment praising the station and saying how much they loved the Roaring Twenties or early jazz or old movies. On New Year’s Eve, a woman named Theresa emailed. She wrote, “Wish I had discovered you earlier. Best station I've ever heard for old, unique style music of the 20's and 30's. Love hearing people I have only heard of but never actually heard like Josephine Baker, Ruth Etting, and so many movie stars not known for singing.  So fabulous! Will you be able to keep going with licensing changes?  This music and your station is a treasure.”

That made me feel good. And so did film critic Leonard Maltin, who wrote a short piece about the Louise Brooks Society and pointed out my website even had its own radio station “that allows you to listen to music of the 1920s. Wow!”

Sometimes, recognition has come from unlikely places. There is a contemporary Spanish group named Rädio Lulú who play swing and retro pop music and may have even taken their name from my station.

And sometimes, recognition comes from unlikely sources. A few years ago, I had the chance to meet the English actor Paul McGann, who starred in With Nail and I and played the eighth Doctor Who. Like me, he too is a devotee of early film. When we met, McGann had a quizzical look on his face before saying, “You’re the guy that does RadioLulu. It’s incredible. I listen all the time.” The Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman has told me he tunes-in, as has the award-winning science fiction writer Richard Kadrey.

Last November, I received an email from a listener named Nick. He is employed at the Vito Russo Library at the Gay Center in New York City; he wrote to say that RadioLulu is played at the library every Saturday, and that "Everybody loves it." That was gratifying as well. And that is why since 2002 I have pursued this labor of love called RadioLulu.

There is a lot of great music on Live365, as well as a lot of passion behind its many stations. I will miss all the niche stations like mine and like those that play only Tiki music. I will miss the chance to discover new music. I will miss the opportunity to listen to favorites like Radio Dismuke (an amazing station featuring popular music of the 1920s & 1930s), Radiola! (another station featuring popular music of the 1920s & 1930s “guaranteed to wake up the mind and make it smile”), and Weimar Rundfunk (European Dance Orchestras and Hot Dance Bands). Each are longtime broadcasters. I am sure each will find a new home, if they haven’t already.

There is a lot of great music on RadioLulu. Along with such famous names as Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallee, Benny Goodman, Tallulah Bankhead, Django Rheinhart, and Fred Astaire, there are as many less well known but just as deserving artists like the Eskimo Pie Orchestra, Scrappy Lambert, Hanka Ordonówna, Annette Hanshaw, Lee Wiley, Kiki of Montparnasse (Man Ray's muse), and Sidney Torch (the great British cinema organist). There is even a 1929 recording of the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht singing “Mack the Knife.”

In 1940, Brooks self-published a now extremely rare booklet titled Fundamentals of Good Ballroom Dancing. I have a copy, and in it, the actress turned dancer recommended a few recordings with which to practice one's steps. I tracked down those recordings, and that's why you'll hear Xavier Cugat’s “Siboney” and Wayne King's "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles."

Here are some tracks you won’t want to miss: “You Oughta be In Pictures” by Little Jack Little & His Orchestra, “Makin’ Whoopee” by B.A. Rolfe & His Lucky Strike Orchestra, “Puttin on the Ritz” by Harry Richman, “The Vamp” by the Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orchestra, “Flapperette” by Nate Shilkret, and “I’m a Jazz Vampire” by Marion Harris. Oh, and don’t miss “Lulu” by Twiggy (the 1960’s supermodel). It is one of a couple dozen songs with “Lulu” or “LouLou” in the title.

I am not sure what will happen with RadioLulu. I am looking around for new streaming sites. I hope to continue sharing my collection of Louise Brooks inspired and silent film themed music with the world. How can I not?

a slightly different version of this article appeared on the Huffington Post

Friday, January 29, 2016

Diary of a Lost Girl: Louise Brooks' film with accompaniment by Ben Model Jan 31

Don't miss Diary of a Lost Girl, the sensational Louise Brooks' film with live organ accompaniment by Ben Model.

Sunday, January 31st at 2:00pm
Schimmel Center
3 Spruce St, New York, New York 10038
Ticket Prices
Adults $12 | Students $8
Call the box office at (212) 346-1715

Louise Brooks in DIARY OF A LOST GIRL (1929) - with André Roanne, Josef Rovenský, Fritz Rasp; directed by G.W. Pabst. released October 1929 by Pabst-Film. German film, with English intertitles. 116 mins.

"After playing supporting roles in a string of light comedies at Paramount, Louise Brooks went to Germany and made two iconic and darkly dramatic films directed by G.W. Pabst. Her bobbed hair, charm and smoldering screen presence in the midst of the dark stories of PANDORA'S BOX and DIARY OF A LOST GIRL have made Brooks an icon of '20s culture. Her character in DIARY goes from one situation to another attempting to better her life, finding adversity, love, and tragedy."

Live accompaniment by Ben Model, seen here prepping for the event by checking out the Louise Brooks edition of Margarete Bohme's book, The Diary of a Lost Girl (the book that was the basis for the film).

Ben Model, curator of the silent films series, is one of the nation's leading silent film accompanists, performing on both piano and theatre organ. Over the past 30+ years he has created and performed several hundred live scores for silent films on piano and theatre organ, for films lasting anywhere from one minute to five hours. Ben is a resident film accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art (NY) and at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus Theatre. His recorded scores can be heard on numerous DVD/Blu-Ray releases, on TCM and on his YouTube channel. Ben is a regular accompanist at classic film festivals around the U.S.A. and in Norway, and performs at universities, museums, and historic theaters. Ben is the producer and co-founder of The Silent Clowns Film Series, now in its 17th season in NYC. Ben's composed ensemble scores for films by Chaplin and Keaton are performed around the U.S. every year by orchestras and by concert bands. Ben has co-curated a number of film series for MoMA, and also programmed two recent DVD box sets of Ernie Kovacs television shows.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Film Forum in NYC Announces "It" Girls Series, includes Louise Brooks

The Film Forum in New York City has announced a forthcoming series, "It Girls: Flappers, Jazz Babies and Vamps." The two week series, running March 11-24, includes a Saturday, March 19th screening of Pandora's Box (1929), with Louise Brooks in the role of Lulu. Other actresses featured in the series include Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich and others. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tonight: Buffalo Film Seminars opens with ‘Pandora’s Box’

Tonight, the Buffalo Film Seminars in Buffalo, New York opens its annual film series with Pandora’s Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks. More information about the season long series can be found HERE (pdf).

This is not the first time the Buffalo Film Seminars have screened this classic German silent directed by G.W. Pabst. Many consider Pandora's Box not only Brooks' finest film, but one of the greatest silent films of the late silent era.  More information about this film can be found on the Louise Brooks Society filmography page devoted to it.

The local Buffalo News ran a piece about the event.

The Buffalo Film Seminars take place Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. promptly at the Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main Street, in the University Plaza, directly across the street from UB's Main St Campus.

Each week Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson introduce the film, the film is screened, and then have an open discussion with students in a University at Buffalo film class and anyone else who cares to join us.

Tickets for the seminars are adults $9.50, students $7.50, seniors $7.00. Season tickets are available any time at a 15% reduction for the cost of the remaining films. There is ample free parking, with a disabled parking zone close to the theatre.

Handouts with production details, anecdotes and critical comments about each week's film on goldenrod paper are available in the theatre lobby 45 minutes before each session. The Goldenrod handouts are posted online one day before the screening. (All previous handouts are also online.)

The Buffalo Film Seminars are presented by the Dipson's Amherest Theatre and the University at Buffalo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What a trippple bill of classic silent films!

Over the years, I have found hundreds if not thousands of newspaper advertisements for Louise Brooks' films. Many of them are of little interest beyond the record of a Brooks' film having shown in a particular place on a particular date. But some stand out, especially if they note a premiere, an usual opening live act (like dancer George Raft, or pianist Art Tatum), or include unusual graphics.

Others stand out if they promote a Brooks' double bill - a somewhat rare occurance. Over the years, I have found a few vintage advertisements promoting Love Em and Leave Em with Just Another Blonde, or Now We're in the Air together with The City Gone Wild. In both instances, these paired films were likely shown together because they were released around the same time (not because Brooks was in both films).

Another double bill I once came across, dating from 1931, featured the Brooks' talkie It Pays to Advertise (1931) with G.W. Pabst's The White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929), starring Leni Reifenstahl. What did the movie patrons think of that odd pairing?

Here is one of the most distinguished advertisements I have ever found, a rather brilliant trippple bill.

From the Louise Brooks Society archive, a November 1930 newspaper advertisement for the Ursulines theater in Paris. The evening's program begins with G.W. Pabst's Joyless Street (1925), followed by Howard Hawk's A Girl in Every Port (1928) starring Louise Brooks, followed by G.W. Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) starring Louise Brooks. Wow, what a line-up!

I wish I could have been there. . . . and, through the magic of the internet, I can, at least in my imagination. Here is an exterior and an interior view of what turns out to be a rather famous venue.

If I am not mistaken, this Ursulines theater survives, and thrives. In fact, it has an illustrious history as well as it's own Wikipedia page.

According to Wikipedia, Hawk's A Girl in Every Port premiered in Paris at the Ursulines. Also, "It is one of the oldest cinemas in Paris to have kept its facade and founder's vision" as a "venue for art and experimental cinema. The cinema opened January 21, 1926. Films by André Breton, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, René Clair and Robert Desnos were shown. In 1928, it premiered the first film of Germaine Dulac, taken from a story by Antonin Artaud, The Seashell and the Clergyman. The film was heckled by the surrealists, leading to a fight that stopped the screening."

Between 1926 and 1957, a range of now-classic films premiered at the theater, such as René Clair's Le Voyage Imaginaire and Erich Von Stroheim’s Greed." According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures website, "This little theatre with a balcony has a very charming facade looking like a romantic country house. At the beginning of talking movies, the premiere of Sternberg’s Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich took place here, and ran 14 months."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Video tribute to the films of G.W. Pabst

Found on YouTube, a video tribute to the films of G.W. Pabst. Check out his IMDb page as well.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Universal Lulu : Το Κουτί της Πανδώρας - G.W. Pabst

In the continuing series Universal Lulu: Το Κουτί της Πανδώρας - G.W. Pabst, starring Louise Brooks. I believe this is Greek, just like the myth of the Box of Pandora.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Musical Movie Marathon at LACMA

Imagine having to improvise a musical score for a full length silent film lasting nearly two hours. Imagine having to do that for four films, one of which you've never seen before. Now, imagine having to play for those films one after another for a period of more than eight hours. And imagine being allowed only the shortest of breaks in between each film.

That's the very real challenge facing pianist Michael Mortilla, who on Sunday, January 17 will improvise live scores for five silent films (one will be repeated) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Mortilla's musical movie marathon will take place in one of the galleries devoted to "New Objectivity: Modern German Art In The Weimar Republic, 1919-1933."

Both challenging and celebratory, Mortilla's extra-ordinary performance is a noteworthy send-off to this remarkable LACMA exhibit, which closes the following day. It is also a fitting send-off, as music (think Kurt Weill, Otto Stenzel, etc...) was a key part of the cultural ferment of the Weimar era.

The Weimar Republic marked a period of uneasy transition. Tucked between the end of WWI and Nazi rise to power, Germany experienced economic, political and social turmoil along with an explosion of art and culture. As the country came to endure yet another upheaval, many artists came to reject florid Expressionism (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) in favor of a sober, skeptical, always unsentimental and sometimes even brutal "realism."

Video walk through of "New Objectivity: Modern German Art from the
Weimar Republic, 1919–1933." Be sure to notice the fleeting image of
film star Gloria Swanson.

Dubbed Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity, Weimar artists turned a cold eye toward society. Mirroring many of the themes and motifs found in the exhibit, the films Mortilla will accompany depict the social realities of the German Republic. These range from the misery of the lower class--as portrayed in Gerhard Lamprecht's Slums of Berlin (1925)--to new forms of consumer culture and a fascination with new technologies and architecture, as brilliantly assembled and edited in Walter Ruttmann's non-narrative Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927).

A renewed interest in the everyday is depicted in Robert Siodmak's tender People on Sunday (1930 - with contributions from Edgar Ulmer, Fred Zinnemann, and Billy Wilder, among others), while G. W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1929) reflects a shift away from traditional societal roles; in the latter film, directed by the one cinema artist most associated with New Objectivity, Louise Brooks plays Lulu, a personification of the era's New Woman.

Mortilla's accompaniment to these moving pictures provides an audio landscape, or a kind-of soundtrack, to the still images on display. According to Mortilla, "LACMA wanted to do something special for the last weekend of the exhibition," and the musician "enthusiastically embraced the challenge." It is a challenge, Mortilla remarked, that he has been preparing for all his life as a musician.

"As I always do when playing as a soloist, I will be completely improvising. Improvisation in classical styles has been my primary focus for over four decades, and I use it as a method of developing more formal compositions. When I was a dance accompanist in New York City, I would sometimes play from 8 am to 9 pm, so I am prepared for that kind of a workout. The real challenge is to stay within a musical sensibility that supports the exhibit and, of course, the films."

"I accompanied Pandora's Box several times, most recently in early December of last year at UC Santa Barbara. I've played People on Sunday a few times, and I've played Berlin: Symphony of a Great City once before "cold" (not having seen it beforehand) and have not seen it since. Slums of Berlin is completely unknown to me. I hope to spend an entire day in the exhibit and watch all the films prior to the performance. If not, I'll play that film cold as well."

Mortilla added "Artistically, the best preparation for this kind of event is knowing the plot, characters and their motivations, the action, and director's intent in the films. These won't be watered down performances. I'll play each film full out."

Mortilla also noted that he's spoken with fellow accompanists and none are aware of anyone having played as long in a silent marathon. For more on Mortilla and this special event, check out this LACMA blog.

At this time, the film schedule begins with Berlin: Symphony of a Great City from 10:30 - 11:38 am, followed by Slums of Berlin from 11:45 am - 1:40 pm, People on Sunday from 1:50 - 3 pm, Pandora's Box from 3:15 - 5:30 pm, and following the conceit of the film, closes with Berlin: Symphony of a Great City from 5:40 - 6:50 pm.

A variant of this post appeared on the Huffington Post

Friday, January 15, 2016

Light Reading Nearly Spoiled Flapper Scene, by Louise Brooks

"Light Reading Nearly Spoiled Flapper Scene", a 1926 article supposedly by Louise Brooks. It appeared in other newspapers under different titles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Screen Snapshots

Here, for fun, are a few examples of "Screen Snapshots" by Hortense Schorr. Each tie in with a particular motion picture, and each date from the very early 1930s. They are something a little unusual which I came across. The films they tie into are Rain or Shine (1930), Sweethearts on Parade (1930), The Squealer (1930), and For the Love o' Lil (1930). Each are from Colombia.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Are you a fan of Louise Brooks? Take the test.

Are you a fan of Louise Brooks? Are you a BIG fan of Louise Brooks? Take this quiz and find out. Give yourself a point in answer to "yes" for each part of each question. Record your number for each, and tally a total.

1) How many of the following films have you seen in a theater or at a festival?

The Street of Forgotten Men (1925)
It’s the Old Army Game (1926)
The Show-Off (1926)
Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em (1926)
A Girl in Every Port (1928)
Beggars of Life (1928)
Pandora’s Box (1929)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
Prix de Beauté (1930)

2) How many of the following films have you seen on VHS / DVD / Blu-ray or even LaserDisc?

It’s the Old Army Game (1926)
The Show-Off (1926)
Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em (1926)
A Girl in Every Port (1928)
Beggars of Life (1928)
The Canary Murder Case (1929)
Pandora’s Box (1929)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
Prix de Beauté (1930)
Windy Riley Goes Hollywood (1931)
God’s Gift to Women (1931)
Empty Saddles (1936)
Overland Stage Raiders (1938)

3) How many of the following documentary films have you seen?

Film Firsts: Louise Brooks (1960) – USA television short
Memories of Berlin: Twilight of Weimar Culture (1976)
Lulu in Berlin (1985)
Arena: Louise Brooks (1986) - UK television
Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu (1998)
E! Mysteries & Scandals: Louise Brooks (1999) – television

4) How many of the following books have you read? (Give yourself one bonus point if you own different editions of any book.)

Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, by Roland Jaccard
Lulu in Hollywood, by Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks, by Barry Paris
Louise Brooks: Lulu Forever, by Peter Cowie
Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks, by Jan Wahl

5) How many of the following books or plays have you read?

The Show-Off, by George Kelly
Beggars of Life, by Jim Tully
The Canary Murder Case, by S.S. van Dine
Pandora's Box, by Frank Wedekind
Diary of a Lost Girl, by Margarete Bohme

6) How many of the following have you done?

Bought a piece of vintage memorabilia
Attended an exhibit or event
Bought a postcard, photograph, or poster
Dressed-up or cut your hair like Louise Brooks
Collected articles on the actress

Visited a Louise Brooks website (within the last 3 months) not including Facebook

If you scored 26+ points, consider yourself devoted.

If you scored 25 points, consider yourself a BIG fan.

If you scored 15+ points, consider yourself a fan.

If your scored 14 or few points, time to get serious.

Bonus question: name the photographer
of this magazine portrait of Louise Brooks.

7) A few more bonus questions. Give yourself a point if. . . .

You have read The Parades Gone By by Kevin Brownlow.
You have read some other book about the history of silent film.
You have watched Kevin Brownlow's Hollywood documentary series more than once.
You have read a book about either Clara Bow or Colleen Moore.
You have watched a Clara Bow or Colleen Moore film.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Guinness World Record Piano Improvisation for Film

On Sunday, January 17th, acclaimed musical accompanist Michael Mortilla will perform improvised live scores for five silent films, including Pandora's Box (1929) starring Louise Brooks, in the galleries of New Objectivity: Modern German Art In The Weimar Republic, 1919–1933 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The special event will last for the duration of the museum’s opening hours on Sunday, January 17.

Very recently, LACMA invited Mortilla to play for nine hours as "an exhibit  in and of itself, accompanying four silent films, with one being repeated. It's thought that such a feat has never been documented for a world's record.

The Guinness World's Record will review and register the performance. More info about the event can be found here: 

If the Guinness folks don't approve the application, Mortilla will be taking short breaks of 5-7 minutes each. If they do approve the application, he will play through the breaks to set a new world's record for improvisation and for accompanying 9 hours of silent films in a single sitting. Lulu will be a small part of this historic event.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Art, sensuality, and the everyday: A silent film era Denishawn dance film

From the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library, a short 7:00 minute film showing life at the Denishawn house in Los Angeles in the early 1920's. Unfortunately, it does not include Louise Brooks, who was a member of Denishawn from the Fall of 1922 through the Spring of 1924. As there is little footage of Denishawn from this time, this provides a valuable glimpse of the kind of dance Brooks studied and performed, along with vintage glimpses of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn.

NYPL description: "Brief scenes of Denishawn house, Los Angeles, Ruth St. Denis teaching class, leading students in a dance, and in Oriental costume with a peacock; Ted Shawn auditioning small girl wearing pointe shoes; informal shots of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn; Denishawn students at play. The compilation concludes with a 1913 Thomas Alva Edison Company special effects film, The Dance of the Ages, in which Norma Gould, Ted Shawn and dancers perform miniaturized on a banquet table top; Shawn's scenario of brief dances evokes historical eras from the Stone Age to the early twentieth century."

Recognize the kneeling bobbed young woman to the right of a seated Ruth St. Denis. This photo, taken in the summer of 1923 in  Petersburgh, New Hampshire, depicts St. Denis and her students in Mariarden, at the Summer Theatre and School of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Currier of Boston.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Second hand copies of Lulu in Holywood by Louise Brooks selling for $2600.00

Wowza! Second hand copies of Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks are selling for $2600.00 on Amazon. The books do not stand out in any way - they are not signed by Brooks, are not first editions or even in pristine condition. Undoubtedly, these have been priced by computer algorithms.  Heck, if any of these sellers would want a second copy for half as much, let's say $1300.00, I would be happy to sell them one.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

PSA: Baby Peggy moving movie weekend

The last silent film star is moving to Hollywood....

Friday, January 1, 2016

Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays, including New Years Day

There is a swell new book out from Schiffer, Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970, by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory. Fans of silent film, of early Hollywood, and the studio era will all want to get a copy. At nearly 200 pages, this pictorial is chock-full of images you'll delight in looking at again and again. That's not a cliche, it's just the plain and simple truth.

The book description: "Marvelously illustrated with more than 200 rare images from the silent era through the 1970s, this joyous treasure trove features film and television’s most famous actors and actresses celebrating the holidays, big and small, in lavishly produced photographs. Join the stars for festive fun in celebrating a variety of holidays, from New Year’s to Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas and everything in between. Legends such as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Audrey Hepburn spread holiday cheer throughout the calendar year in iconic, ironic, and illustrious style. These images, taken by legendary stills photographers, hearken back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when motion picture studios devised elaborate publicity campaigns to promote their stars and to keep their names and faces in front of the movie-going public all year round."

Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 includes Louise Brooks in a Christmas themed pic. The book also includes many of Brooks' contemporaries and co-stars on various pages, including these Christmas themed pics. The LBS recommends this new book.

About the Authors: Film historian and photo archivist Mary Mallory is the author of Hollywoodland and the eBook Hollywoodland: Tales Lost and Found. She writes on Los Angeles and film history for the blog The Daily Mirror and serves on the board of Hollywood Heritage. Karie Bible is the official tour guide at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and co-author of Location Filming in Los Angeles. She has lectured at numerous venues, including the RMS Queen Mary and the Homestead Museum, and has appeared on Turner Classic Movies.
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