Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Denver Silent Film Festival April 28 - 30

This year's annual Denver Silent Film Festival is set to take place April 28, 29, 30 in Denver, Colorado - of all places! This year's line-up of films has not yet been set, but what is known can be found below. Otherwise, find out more about the 7th annual event HERE.

The 7th Denver Silent Film Festival will open on Friday evening, April 27, 2018 with the 1927 CHICAGO. The movie tells a lurid story, based on actual events, of boozy flapper Roxy Hart (Phyllis Haver) on trial for killing her gangster lover (Eugene Pallette), and defended by her (temporarily) moral husband and a thoroughly dishonest lawyer.  It's a corrupt world -- and a delicious film. (I've seen it, and it's true, it is a riotously enjoyable movies.)

The 2018 David Shepard Career Achievement Award Recipient

The Denver Silent Film Festival's David Shepard Career Achievement Award for 2018 will go to Russell Merritt, who teaches film studies at the University of California-Berkeley. Russell Merritt has co-written (with J.B. Kaufman) two books on Walt Disney’s early films – the award-winning Walt in Wonderland (1993) and Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies (2016). He has also authored articles on D.W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, animation, Sherlock Holmes, color aesthetics, and early film.  Merritt produces and directs the Great Nickelodeon Show, a recreation of a turn-of-the-century nickelodeon program which has played at the Telluride Film Festival, The TCM Classic Film Festival, Il Giornate del Cinema Muto, the Los Angeles Film Festival, The Pacific Film Archive, and assorted university campuses. (I'm acquainted with Russell Merritt. He is a fine fellow, and a bit of a Louise Brooks fan to boot.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Dance With Me. Nouvelle Vague, Louise Brooks & Anna Karina

Here is something cool I found on YouTube, the song "Dance With Me" by Nouvelle Vague put to video clips of GW Pabst's Tagebuch einer Verlorenen or Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) and Jean-Luc Godard's Bande à part or Band of Outsiders (1964).

And for fun, here is an another video remix of the Nouvelle Vague song and actress Anna Karina in Godard's film. As Brooks' devotees know, Karina has long been associated with Brooks. There are other video remixes of the Nouvelle Vague song out there as well. These two caught my attention.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Crowdsource question: Help identify the Tango artist in the Louise Brooks' film Prix de beaute

Can you help identify the musical artist/band seen in the Louise Brooks' film Prix de beaute (1930). They are shown in this brief film clip, with the small musical group entering the scene around the 50 second mark.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Louise Brooks seminar at Kansas State University on Feb 24

Announcing an important event: "Spotlighting Louise Brooks: From the Kansas Prairie to the German Silver Screen"

The German Program in the Department of Modern Languages is proud to present: "Spotlighting Louise Brooks: From the Kansas Prairie to the German Silver Screen" on Saturday, February 24th, from 10am-4pm.

This event is free, open to all, and appropriate for all ages. It will take place on the K-State campus in Justin Hall, room 109. Free parking is available in the lot behind the building.

Throughout the day, participants will examine the unique role Louise Brooks, a silent film star and native Kansan, had in shaping ideas about women’s roles in society through her work in silent film, particularly in Weimar Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

 Please contact Nichole Neuman ( with any questions. Principal funding for this program is provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization connecting communities with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life. Additional funding provided by DOW Center for Multicultural and Community Studies at K-State Libraries.

 Event schedule:

    10:00-10:45: Welcome and presentation of silent student films

    11:00-1:30: Diary of a Lost Girl (GW Pabst, 1929) with live accompaniment by Matthew De Gennaro and a reception with light hors d'oeuvres to follow

    1:30-2:15: Moderated panel 2:30-4:00: Talk and Q+A session with Dr. Richard McCormick (University of Minnesota)

Want to  learn more about Louise Brooks and Diary of a Lost Girl? Check out this 2010 Louise Brooks Society publication, the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl, available wherever fine books are sold. Not long after this book was published, noted UK scholar Elizabeth Boa (University of Nottingham) said "It was such a pleasure to come upon your well documented and beautifully presented edition. "

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

News about Pamela Hutchinson's Book on the Louise Brooks' Film, Pandora's Box

Speaking of Pandora's Box (see yesterday's post about the film's upcoming showing in Paris, which we were alerted to by the one-and-only Pamela Hutchinson).... there is a new book out on the film from BFI Film Classics. The book, by the same Pamela Hutchinson, is highly recommended.

I read it and loved it. This book is smart, detailed, incisive, and gracefully written. And at 106 pages, it is a quick, enjoyable read. And a must have for every Louise Brooks devotee, not to mention anyone interested in early German film.

If you haven't already gotten a copy, do so today. Follow THIS LINK to order a copy. And after you've read it, be sure and leave a review. That's important in getting the word out about the things we care about: authors, silent film, and anything to do with Louise Brooks needs your support. (If you can't afford a copy, why not ask your local library to acquire a copy. Many local libraries have "suggest a purchase" forms.)

If you hang out on the silent film and Louise Brooks groups on Facebook, then you may recognize the author's name. She is the Editor of Silent London, and writes on early and silent film for the Guardian newspaper and Sight & Sound. The book has been in the news of late. Sight & Sound ran a great review of the book in its February 2018 issue by David Thompson, who called Hutchinson's book a
highly sympathetic and well researched book … a welcome and long overdue addition to the BFI Film Classics series … particularly valuable in detailing the origins of the film, how it came to be made at all and the striking personalities involved …

As this book makes very clear, rarely has the blurring of a screen role and real life been so fruitful for a creator and so tantalising for the audience.

Pamela was also a recent guest on the Nitrateville Radio podcast. She chatted about Pandora's Box, both the film and her new book. It is well worth listening to. Check it out below.

Have you ordered your copy? The book is available on amazon UK, USA and around the world) as well as where ever better books are sold.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pandora's Box (LouLou) starring Louise Brooks screens in Paris on March 11

Pandora's Box (under the title LouLou) will be shown in Paris, France on March 11 in a special event put on by La cinémathèque française. More information about this event can be found HERE. The French language information about the vent is presented below, followed by a Google translation.

Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Allemagne / 1929 / 134 min
D'après Die Büchse der Pandora et Erdgeist de Frank Wedekind.

Avec Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Franz Lederer, Alice Roberts.

Loulou, orpheline perverse et manipulatrice, devient la maîtresse d'un directeur de journal, le docteur Schön, mais son autre amant voudrait qu'elle soit à lui seul. [Loulou, a perverted and manipulative orphan, becomes the mistress of a newspaper editor, Dr. Schön, but her other lover wants her to be alone.]
Version restaurée en 2009 par la Deutsche Kinemathek (Berlin) et la George Eastman House (Rochester) aux laboratoires Haghefilm. Numérisation par la Deutsche Kinemathek. Ressortie en salles par Tamasa à l'automne 2018. [Version restored in 2009 by Deutsche Kinemathek (Berlin) and George Eastman House (Rochester) at Haghefilm Laboratories. Digitization by the Deutsche Kinemathek. Released in theaters by Tamasa in autumn 2018.]

La Cinémathèque française et le Red Bull Studios Paris proposent une performance unique autour du film, dont la musique sera jouée en direct par la musicienne française Irène Dresel. [The Cinémathèque française and the Red Bull Studios Paris offer a unique performance around the film, whose music will be played live by the French musician Irène Dresel.]

Avec Loulou, Georg Wilhelm Pabst adapte L’Esprit de la terre et La Boîte de Pandore, deux pièces écrites par Frank Wedekind, toutes deux inspirées de sa rencontre douloureuse avec Lou-Andreas Salomé. De ces récits, toutefois, Pabst ne conservera qu’un souvenir lointain. Grand découvreur d’actrices (il donne, en 1925, l’un de ses premiers grands rôles à Greta Garbo dans La Rue sans joie), Pabst songe d’abord pour incarner Loulou à Marlene Dietrich, qui a déjà gagné une certaine notoriété en Allemagne. Il lui préfère finalement une actrice américaine de vingt-deux ans au jeu très physique, découverte dans Une Femme dans chaque port de Howard Hawks (1928) : Louise Brooks. [With Loulou , Georg Wilhelm Pabst adapts The Spirit of the Earth and The Pandora's Box , two pieces written by Frank Wedekind, both inspired by his painful encounter with Lou-Andreas Salomé. From these stories, however, Pabst will only keep a distant memory. Big discoverer of actresses (he gives, in 1925, one of his first great roles in Greta Garbo in Joyless Street), Pabst thinks first to embody Loulou to Marlene Dietrich, who has already gained some notoriety in Germany. He finally prefers a twenty-two-year-old American actress in the very physical game, discovered in A Girl in Every Port of Howard Hawks (1928): Louise Brooks.]

De Pabst, Brooks disait qu’il connaissait les réactions humaines comme personne. Il pouvait ainsi tourner « une scène avec peu de répétitions et de prises ». Cette faculté lui permet de façonner le jeu naturaliste et déconcertant de Loulou. Le metteur en scène et l’actrice travailleront beaucoup à partir des costumes du personnage qui jalonnent la tragédie : tenue de cabaret, déshabillés, robe de mariée, vêtements de veuve ou haillons – autant de tenues qui nourrissent le jeu de l’actrice, et marquent les étapes de la chute du personnage. [ From Pabst, Brooks said he knew human reactions as a person. He could thus shoot "a scene with few repetitions and shots". This faculty allows him to shape the naturalistic and disconcerting game of Loulou. The director and the actress will work a lot from the costumes of the character who punctuate the tragedy: cabaret outfit, stripped naked, wedding dress, widow clothes or rags - all outfits that nourish the actress's game, and mark the stages of the fall of the character. ]

Si Loulou s’offre aux hommes, elle reste insaisissable. Profondément amorale, il émane d’elle une innocence inaliénable. Elle évolue toujours libre, intacte et candide. Pourtant, Loulou est aussi un conte moral. Dans ses aspirations libertaires et son allant, la jeune femme se heurte à la société, à ses jeux de fausseté, de trahisons et d’humiliations. Loulou est le dévoilement cruel de l’abjection sociale qui dicte bien des aspects de la vie de l’héroïne : carrière, amours, mariage, justice, jeux ou prédation. [ If Loulou offers herself to men, she remains elusive. Deeply amoral, it emanates from her an inalienable innocence. She evolves always free, intact and candid. Yet, Loulouis also a moral tale. In her libertarian aspirations and her going, the young woman comes up against society, its games of falsehood, betrayal and humiliation. Loulou is the cruel disclosure of social abjection that dictates many aspects of the heroine's life: career, love, marriage, justice, games or predation. ]

Pauline de Raymond

Monday, February 19, 2018

Support Louise Brooks and Silent Film by Supporting PBS, NPR and the NEH

Why should you care that Trump's budget eliminates funding for PBS (Public Broadcasting System), NPR (National Public Radio) and the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) ? Not to mention support for research libraries and education in general.]

The answer is simple. Because these institutions support American culture in general and silent film in particular through their coverage of the arts and through modest financial support in the form of grants.

A few specific examples.... On a handful of occasions, National Public Radio stations have broadcast stories about Louise Brooks and her films, and on a couple of occasions, I have been a guest on various NPR stations around the country talking about the actress. Would that happen on mainstream media? Unlikely. (Or in other words, would a media/entertainment landscape dominated by asinine shows like "The Apprentice" and their ilk ever consider anything like silent film. The answer is again NO.)

It's patriotic to support PBS, NPR, the NEH and the arts.

Here are a couple instances when NPR covered Louise Brooks:

Cone, Nathan. "After Wings, Hollywood's Wellman Rode The Rails For Beggars Of Life." Texas Public Radio, August 16, 2017.
-- a review of the Louise Brooks' film

Mack, Megan. "Connections: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Louise Brooks." WXXI, December 2, 2015.
-- hour long program with film critic Jack Garner, documentary filmmaker Charlotte Siller, and Thomas Gladysz, director of the Louise Brooks Society

Later this year, PBS Masterpiece will broadcast a film version of Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone, the story of the summer Louise Brooks' left home to study dance in New York City in the company of a chaperone. Would mainstream media make a film about such an "obscure" subject? Again, it's very unlikely.

Not convinced on the need to act? Be sure and check out this Publisher's Weekly article, "Trump Renews Bid to Eliminate Library Funding, NEA, and NEH".

Show your support of these institutions by speaking out against budget cuts. Learn more at Protect My Public Media. And act. Sign a petition. Send an email. I did. Let your voice be heard.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Upcoming Kansas Silent Film Festival, February 23 & 24

This year's Kansas Silent Film Festival is set to take place February 23 & 24 in Topeka, Kansas. Along with a special guest appearance by film historian Cari Beauchamp, another highlight of this year's festival is a screening of the terrific 1929 Colleen Moore film, Why Be Good? If you like Louise Brooks' films, you love this Colleen Moore film. Find out more about the festival HERE.

We've wanted to do a ‘Women in Silent Film’ theme for some years now, but the timing was never right. The opportunity to introduce our audience to some wonderful female artists, many of whom they may not have heard of before, worked out perfectly this year with the acceptance of our invitation by Cari Beauchamp, author of the seminal work on screenwriter Frances Marion. Women have always had an important place in film history, most particularly in the early years when everything was new and untested. Women could carve out a career in just about any area of film work they wanted and not just in front of the cameras. Then came Steve Massa's fine book, Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy, published in 2017 which really brought home the idea of just how far away we are from this era of strong women. It's time to celebrate Women in Silent Film!

Fri. & Sat., February 23 & 24, 2018
White Concert Hall, Washburn University
17th and Jewell, Topeka, Kansas

Denise Morrison, film commentator
Live Musical Accompaniment by:
Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Marvin Faulwell, organ
Bob Keckeisen, percussion
Jeff Rapsis, piano
Bill Beningfield, organ

Special Guest:
Cari Beauchamp, author specializing in Women in Silent Movies

Thursday, February 15, 2018

CMBA Profiles Louise Brooks Society Blog

The Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA) is a group of blogs dedicated to the celebration of classic cinema.  And every month or so, the CMBA profiles one of its member blogs. This month, the CMBA profiled the Louise Brooks Society. The profile began by stating, "The Louise Brooks Society is one of the most prolific and professional of the blogs in CMBA. Almost every day, there are updates on the site, and the writing and information is top-notch." It is an honor.

The LBS blog began back in 2002 (on LiveJournal), and has been going ever since. The LBS blog moved to Blogger in 2009, and sometime later this year, it will post its 3000th combined entry. (I managed to move most of the old LiveJournal entries over to Blogger.) Thanks to everyone who has posted a comment or subscribed to the blog or is reading this very entry. Thank you!

To mark this special occasion, I have revamped and updated the blog, adding new links and functionality. I hope you like what I have done.

The Louise Brooks Society has been a member of the CMBA for a few years. I encourage everyone to check out the CMBA website as well as its member blogs and other profiles. It's a great way to explore the web of classic cinema.

The CMBA profile of the LBS blog can be found HERE.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Film Censorship in America, including the silent era

There are a couple of new books out on film censorship. Both look at the history of film censorship in the United States, including the silent era. (Read more about film censorship at Wikipedia)

Monitoring the Movies: The Fight over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth-Century Urban America by Jennifer Fronc
University of Texas Press

From the publisher: "As movies took the country by storm in the early twentieth century, Americans argued fiercely about whether municipal or state authorities should step in to control what people could watch when they went to movie theaters, which seemed to be springing up on every corner. Many who opposed the governmental regulation of film conceded that some entity—boards populated by trusted civic leaders, for example—needed to safeguard the public good. The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (NB), a civic group founded in New York City in 1909, emerged as a national cultural chaperon well suited to protect this emerging form of expression from state incursions.

Using the National Board's extensive files, Monitoring the Movies offers the first full-length study of the NB and its campaign against motion-picture censorship. Jennifer Fronc traces the NB's Progressive-era founding in New York; its evolving set of "standards" for directors, producers, municipal officers, and citizens; its "city plan," which called on citizens to report screenings of condemned movies to local officials; and the spread of the NB's influence into the urban South. Ultimately, Monitoring the Movies shows how Americans grappled with the issues that arose alongside the powerful new medium of film: the extent of the right to produce and consume images and the proper scope of government control over what citizens can see and show."

Reviews: "This is an extremely important book, a major, highly readable, well-researched contribution to the scholarship on the history of movie censorship and regulation in the Progressive era. Fronc provides a rich and diverse portrait of the social matrix that informed the shape, success, and limits of the National Board of Review’s efforts to encourage better films and defeat censorship laws." — Matthew H. Bernstein, Emory University, author of Screening a Lynching: The Leo Frank Case on Film and Television

"A terrific, well-argued, and engaging book that will appeal to readers in American history and film history. By mining primary sources from institutional records, Jennifer Fronc is able to provide the first account that really gets inside the workings of the National Board of Review." — Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, University of Texas at Austin, author of At the Picture Show: Small Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture


Film Censorship in America: A State-by-State History
by Jeremy Geltzer

I am currently reading this book, and find it to be an interesting, anecdotal account. When I am done, I hope to read Monitoring the Movies.

From the publisher: "Since the first films played in nickelodeons, controversial movies have been cut or banned across the United States. Far from Hollywood, regional productions such as Oscar Micheaux's provocative race films and Nell Shipman's wildlife adventures were censored by men like Major M.L.C. Funkhouser, the terror of Chicago s cinemas, and Myrtelle Snell, the Alabama administrator who made the slogan Banned in Birmingham famous. Censorship continues today, with Utah's case against Deadpool (2016) pending in federal court and Robert Rodriguez's Machete Kills (2013) versus the Texas Film Commission. This authoritative state-by-state account covers the history of film censorship and the battle for free speech in America.

Reviews: "The result of formidable research, this book traces the way each state in the union dealt with censorship from the earliest days of silent films to the present tracking down these particulars, author Geltzer unearthed interesting details about regional film production around the country...this book should prove useful." — Leonard Maltin.


Another related book which I've read and which should prove of interest is this 2007 title. I sure which there was a book like it for each state!

From the publisher: "If you caught a movie in Kansas through much of the past century, you’re likely to have seen a different version than did the rest of America. Theda Bara’s depictions of wicked sexuality were off-limits, and a film such as the 1932 Scarface showed far too much violence for decent folk—a threat to Protestant culture and to the morals of the general population.

 In 1915, Kansas became one of only a handful of states to establish its own film censorship board. The Kansas board controlled screen content in the state for more than fifty years, yet little is known about its activities. This first book-length study of state film censorship examines the unique political, social, and economic factors that led to its implementation in Kansas, examining why censorship legislation was enacted, what the attitudes of Kansans were toward censorship, and why it lasted for half a century.

Cinema historian Gerald Butters places the Kansas Board of Review’s attempts to control screen content in the context of nationwide censorship efforts during the early part of the twentieth century. He tells how factors such as Progressivism, concern over child rearing, and a supportive press contributed to censorship, and he traces the board’s history from the problems posed by the emergence of “talkies” through changing sexual mores in the 1920s to challenges to its power in the 1950s.

In addition to revealing the fine points of film content deemed too sensitive for screening, Butters describes the daily operations of the board, illustrating the difficulties it encountered as it wrestled not only with constantly shifting definitions of morality but also with the vagaries of the political and legal systems. Stills from motion pictures illustrate the type of screen content the board attempted to censor.

As Kansas faced the march of modernity, even state politicians began to criticize film censorship, and Butters tells how by the 1960s the board was fighting to remain relevant as film companies increasingly challenged its attempts to control screen content. Banned in Kansas weaves a fascinating tale of the enforcement of public morality, making it a definitive study for cinema scholars and an entertaining read for film buffs."
Reviews: “I believe that Banned in Kansas will (and should) become a classic in the field of the social history of the motion picture in America. This book makes a very significant contribution and fills a very large void in our understanding of the forces behind the issue of social control of this important medium in the twentieth century.” — Garth Jowett, author of Film: The Democratic Art


It is well known that Brooks two German made films were heavily censored in Europe, while Pandora's Box was further censored when it was first shown in the United States in 1929. 

What is less know is that a handful of Brooks' American silent films were also censored in the United States. I have gotten at some of the remaining censorship records, and have found that the two Brooks' films which suffered the most censorship were The American Venus (1926), due to it's revealing costumes, and The City Gone Wild (1927), because of its violence. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Edgar Blue Washington

To mark Black History Month, the Louise Brooks Society blog presents this post about actor Edgar "Blue" Washington, a supporting player in the 1928 Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life.

Black Mose, played by Edgar Washington, carries an injured hobo
This short biographical profile is adapted from my 2017 book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film
Edgar "Blue" Washington (1898–1970), who plays Black Mose, was an actor and one-time prizefighter and professional baseball player. Washington appeared in 74 films between 1919 and 1961. Like Beggars of Life actor Robert Perry, Washington appeared mostly in bit parts throughout his career. And like Perry, Beggars of Life marked a high point in his career. The nickname “Blue” came from director Frank Capra.
Harold Lloyd helped Washington break into acting, and this pioneering African-American actor appeared in the legendary comedian’s Haunted Spooks (1920) and Welcome Danger (1929). Sporadic roles followed, as Washington appeared in films alongside early stars Ricardo Cortez, William Haines, Richard Barthelmess, Ken Maynard, and Tim McCoy.

Director William Wellman worked with Washington again in The Light That Failed (1939). The actor also appeared in a few films helmed by John Ford, including The Whole Town's Talking (1935) and The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936). Other notable movies in which Washington had a small part include King Vidor's all-black production, Hallelujah (1929), Mary Pickford's Kiki (1931), King Kong (1933), Roman Scandals (1933), Annie Oakley (1935), The Plainsman (1936), and Gone with the Wind (1939). He was in three installments in the Charlie Chan series, and appears as a comic sidekick in the John Wayne B-Western Haunted Gold (1933). Washington also had small roles in The Cohens and the Kellys in Africa (1930), Drums of the Congo (1942), Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949) and other lesser fair. Unfortunately, many of these parts traded on racial stereotypes. His last role, as a limping pool hall attendant, was in The Hustler (1961), with Paul Newman.
In an article about the film, the Afro-American newspaper wrote, “In Beggars of Life, Edgar Blue Washington, race star, was signed by Paramount for what is regarded as the most important Negro screen role of the year, that of Big Mose. The part is that of a sympathetic character, hardly less important to the epic of tramp life than those of Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen, who head the cast.”

Richard Arlen and Edgar Washington
It’s notable that not one but two members of the cast of Beggars of Life gained distinction playing professional baseball, while a third also played organized ball. One of them was Washington,

Washington was discovered while pitching for the Los Angeles White Sox of the Negro League. "Rube" Foster (the father of Black baseball) spotted Washington during the Chicago American Giants’ 1916 West Coast tour. Washington was invited to travel along and pitch for the legendary team, which would eventually produce three National Baseball Hall of Famers. During Washington’s tenure with the American Giants, he pitched in seven games, recording three victories against one loss versus white aggregations of the Pacific Coast and Northwestern Leagues. “Ed Washington,” as sports writers initially referred to him, made a name for himself as he ruled the mound with an unorthodox pitching style. In 1920, Washington joined the newly formed Kansas City Monarchs, where he started at first base and batted .275 in 24 games. After a few months of barnstorming, however, Washington left the Monarchs and returned to Los Angeles. That same year, after his first try at acting, Washington rejoined the Los Angeles White Sox for yet a few more games. Between gigs, Washington continued to play ball, and is believed to have occasionally played for Alexander’s Giants in the integrated California Winter League.

[Washington's son, Kenny Washington, was a two-sport great—the first African-American to play baseball at UCLA, the first Bruin to be named an All-American, and the first African-American to sign a contract with a National Football League team in the post-World War II era. His teammate, Jackie Robinson, described him as the greatest football player he had have ever seen.]

Richard Arlen, William Wellman, and Edgar Washington
To learn more,check out Edgar Washington's Wikipedia page or IMDb or his page at SABR (Society of American Baseball Research).

Friday, February 9, 2018

Some Miscellaneous Images from the Jazz Age

Recently, I was looking through an online magazine archive and came across a handful of interesting, appealing and and novel images. And here they are -- a small gathering of miscellaneous images from the 1920s and 1930s ....


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It's the Old Army Game announced for release on DVD / Blu-ray

It's the Old Army Game, the delightful 1926 comedy starring W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks, has been announced for release on DVD / Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

The film was directed by A. Edward Sutherland, who was known as Eddie Sutherland. Brooks and Sutherland met during the making of the film (which was in production during February 1926). They were married in June, 1926 and divorced a couple of years a later.

From Kino: "It’s the Old Army Game (1926) is an uproarious silent comedy in which the inimitable W.C. Fields finds it impossible to get some sleep. It was the fourth film in which Fields appeared, but the first over which he had some control, as it was adapted from his own stage play. Co-starring Louise Brooks (also in her fourth feature), and directed with verve by A. Edward Sutherland, It’s the Old Army Game is a non-stop comedy of errors. Fields plays Elmer Prettywillie, a druggist kept awake by clamorous garbage collectors, a nosy woman seeking a 2-cent stamp, bogus land deals, and phony fortunes."

DVD Extras Include:

Mastered in 2K from 35mm film elements preserved by The Library of Congress
Audio commentary by film historian James L. Neibaur, author of THE W.C. FIELDS FILMS
New score by Ben Model

Some Trivia from the Louise Brooks Society:

It’s the Old Army Game was originally announced as starring Fields and future “It girl” Clara Bow, but as she was shooting Mantrap (1926),  the female lead fell to Brooks. Clarence Badger was originally assigned to directed the film.

The film features the popular stage actress Blanche Ring (1871 – 1961) in one of her few film appearances. Ring was Eddie Sutherland’s aunt. Ring’s sister was Frances Ring, who was married to Thomas Meighan, a popular stage and film actor who appeared with Brooks in The City Gone Wild (1927). Blanche Ring was married four times, the last time being to Charles Winninger, a popular character actor who appeared in God’s Gift to Women (1931) with Brooks.

Outdoor scenes in Palm Beach, Florida were shot at El Mirasol, the estate of multi-millionaire investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury. In 1912, after having been a widower for thirty-some years, Stotesbury remarried and became the stepfather of three children including Henrietta Louise Cromwell Brooks (known simply as Louise Brooks), an American socialite and the first wife of the war hero General Douglas MacArthur. In her heyday, she was “considered one of Washington’s most beautiful and attractive young women”. Because of their names, the two women were sometimes confused in the press.

It’s the Old Army Game received mostly positive reviews, though some critics noted its rather thin plot. Algonquin Round Table playwright Robert E. Sherwood (who would go on to win four Pulitzer Prizes and an Academy Award) was then writing reviews for Life magazine. His pithy critique read, “Mr. Fields has to carry the entire production on his shoulders, with some slight assistance from the sparkling Louise Brooks.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Louise Brooks is not from these parts, by Luca Spagnoletti

I don't know what it's about (except that it is a novel), or if it has much of anything to do with our Miss Brooks, but there is a new book out in Italy called Louise Brooks non è di queste parti (Louise Brooks is not from these parts). It is authored by Luca Spagnoletti, and was issued by ilmiolibro self publishing. The book is 140 pages, and is available as an e-book and on amazon Italy and at the store Feltrinelli.

Here is an image of the front and back covers.

And here is a page from the publisher, with a description of the book very roughly translated into English:

A veteran, after World War II, looking for his ex-girlfriend, Zoe Lennie. But where is Zoe now, and above all who is she really? The rebellious and apathetic that the mother encouraged to conform, in New England in the early forties or the one that, wandering in a country that is changing face, makes existential questions that nobody seems to be able to - and want to - respond? The author tells us, without pretense, of this oscillating traveler and his "strange" friends, between realism and madness. With her sad look, her jaunty haircut, which makes her look so much like a diva of silent cinema, Zoe will accompany us in her resignation, until she sees that there is a present with which to cohabit, beyond the consolation of the memories and time that often betrays. A novel without concessions, ostentatiously out of fashion: that's why it's already a classic. By Luca Spagnoletti my book has published the collections of poems Lulù of the overhangs and Biancaneve at the Excelsior.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks, screens May 18th at Yorkshire Silent Film Festival (UK)

On May 18, the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival in Scarborough, England will screen the now classic 1928 Louise Brooks' film, Beggars of Life. More information about this event can be found HERE.

The Festival describes the film thus: "In this rarely-seen Hollywood classic, the great Louise Brooks stars as a train-hopping hobo who disguises herself as a boy and goes on the run. With dramatic American landscapes, a lyrical love story, and a daring, desperate final scene atop a speeding train, this is classic silent film entertainment."

Want to learn more about the film? Last Spring saw the release of my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and this past Summer saw the release of a new DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber. If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today? The book is also available on in the UK at this link.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Louise Brooks adorns the cover of new edition of The Photoplay by Hugo Munsterberg

Louise Brooks adorns the cover of a new edition of The Photoplay by Hugo Münsterberg, as published by Duke Classics. First published more than 100 years ago, this early work of film theory is in the public domain and has been reprinted and reissued many times (and sometimes under slightly different titles) over the years. This is one of the latest editions. (Other notable actresses have also appeared on the cover of earlier editions.)

"In 1916, an eminent psychologist recorded his impressions of the fledgling film industry. His penetrating and prescient observations foretold the most modern developments of the cinematic art, and his classic survey, The Photoplay: A Psychological Study, remains a text of enduring relevance to movie historians as well as students of film and psychology.

Ranging from considerations of the viewer's perception of on-screen depth and motion to examinations of the cinema's distinguishing and unique characteristics as an art form, this study arrives at strikingly modern conclusions about movies and their psychological values."

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