Monday, July 30, 2018

NEW book available: Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star

I have published a new book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star.

It gathers a selection of my best  published articles, essays, and blogs about the silent film star. The actress' best known films -- Beggars of Life, Pandora's Box, and Diary of a Lost Girl -- are discussed, as are many other little known aspects of Brooks' legendary career. A few pieces are previously unpublished.

These pieces, some of which goes back 15 years, range from the local ("Louise Brooks, at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and 16th Street") to the worldly ("Making Personas: Transnational Film Stardom in Modern Japan"), from the provocative ("A Girl in Every Port: The Birth of Lulu?") to the poignant ("Homage to George W. Lighton of Kentucky, idealistic silent film buff who perished in the Spanish Civil War"), from the quirky ("Louise Brooks' First Television Broadcast") to the surprising ("A Lost Girl, a Fake Diary, and a Forgotten Author").

Also included are related interviews with actor Paul McGann, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, novelist Laura Moriarty (author of The Chaperone), and others. The book is 296 pages, with approximately 115,000 words and dozens of illustrations (many little seen).

The book is available on amazon -- order a copy HERE. It should be listed on Barnes & Noble and Indiebound sometime soon. This English-language book is also available through amazon Canada and England and Australia, as well as on the amazon sites in Mexico and Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Japan. Get a copy today!

This book, my fourth, is a publication of the Louise Brooks Society. As of now, it is a print-only book, like my earlier books. Do any readers have interest in e-book versions of these titles? I have been thinking about putting them on Kindle.

I am also continuing work on a few other book and non-book projects, and have begun to gather material and assemble a fifth book, a pictorial, tentatively titled Around the World with Louise Brooks: A Multinational and Multilingual Celebration. I hope to have it ready sometime in 2019.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Louise Brooks stars in Beggars of Life this Weekend in Minneapolis

The sensational 1928 Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life, will be shown FOUR times this weekend at Trylon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. More information about this screening can be found HERE.

(1928, DCP, 100m) dir William A. Wellman w/Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen. In a tour-de-force performance, Brooks is a young woman who dresses as a boy and hops freight trains with hobos after murdering her lecherous stepfather. Beautifully restored, this silent film is ripe for rediscovery. With live musical accompaniment by Dreamland Faces. 

FRI/SAT 7:00 SUN 3:00 5:15 $12

Want to learn more about the film? Last Spring saw the release of my well reviewed new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and last Summer saw the release of a new DVD / Blu-ray of the film from Kino Lorber. (The DVD features a commentary by Thomas Gladysz, as well as an outstanding musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.) If you haven't secured your own copy of either the book or the DVD / Blu-ray, why not do so today? Each is an essential addition to your Louise Brooks collection.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Louise Brooks was married on this day in 1926, and look what happened next

One bit of fallout from Louise Brooks' role in It's the Old Army Game in 1926 was that she married the film's director.

In all likelihood, Brooks first met up-and-coming Paramount director Eddie Sutherland during the making of the movie, in February, 1926. The film, especially its interiors, were shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island, with some additional shots taken in Manhattan. Location shooting, including exteriors, was done in Ocala and Palm Beach, Florida in late February and during the first three weeks of March, 1926.

Brooks and Sutherland were married just a few months later, on July 21, 1926 in New York City. It was a civil ceremony, with just a few in attendance.

This "celebrity" marriage made the news, with small articles appearing in newspapers across the the United States on July 22. A few of these articles even made the front page of the newspapers in which they appeared. None, however, were as prominent as the coverage given by the New York Daily News. The paper ran a captioned photograph of Brooks on the front page of each of its four editions. Pictured below are two examples. (The paper also ran a short interior article about the two "reel" newlyweds.)

The edition picture above is termed the "pink edition," with the current heatwave hitting the city felling 9 and killing 3. The edition pictured below is termed the "final edition," with the heatwave felling 12 and killing 5. The photograph of Brooks used above was the same on three of the four editions. The caption also changed, though only slightly.

According to the interior article, "they came together, took out a marriage license and were wed--all within an hour."

The caption beneath the front page photos reads "Quite informally, Louise Brooks (above) and Eddie Sutherland, movie director, yesterday went to the municipal building and got married. Sutherland was divorced from Marjorie Daw a year ago. Louise and he met when he gave her a part in his picture , It's the Old Army Game. She rose to her present lofty position in the film firmament from the chorus a year and a half ago."

Brooks was both a budding film star and a local celebrity. In celebration of her marriage, on July 23, the new bride was a guest of honor at the Ziegfeld Follies.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Little French Poem for Louise Brooks

Here is another newly found French clipping, a short poem about Louise Brooks which appeared in a Parisian newspaper in 1930.

The poem was part of a short-lived series, "Rondels des vedettes de l'ecran," all of which were written by Alexandre Dreville (18xx - 1942). I couldn't find much about the author, except that he was a mining engineer and poet who penned a handful of newspaper poems as well as the lyrics to a number of published songs.

I believe Alexandre Dreville was also the father of Jean Dreville (1906–1997), a French filmmaker who directed 45 films between 1928 and 1969. IMdB calls him the "great neglected independent film-maker." Among his earlier efforts are Autour de L'Argent (1928) and The Chess Player (1938). As an actor, he had a bit role in Napoleon (1927), and can be seen in two episodes of the Kevin Brownlow documentary Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (1995).

Here is the Louise Brooks poem in its original French, and in English translation. If there are any French speakers with a literary bent who could offer a better translation, please send an email.


Votre main blanche au grand vent seme
Le bie d'amour, le beau ble d'Aout :
Pour moi, vous etes un poeme
Comme on n'en ecrit pas beaucoup !

Vous paraissez, et l'on vous aime
Et l'on se jette a votre cou !
Votre main blanche au grand vent seme
Le bie d'amour, le beau ble d'Aout...

Vos yeux sont un creul probleme,
Vos levres nous crient: casso cou !
Votre coeur va je ne sais ou,
Mais pas vers moi qui tant vous aime
Et que vous n'aimez pas du tout !


Your white hand in the bitter wind
The love of love, the beautiful wheat of August:
For me, you are a poem
As we do not write much!

You seem, and we love you
And we throw ourselves on your neck!
Your white hand in the bitter wind
The love of love, the beautiful wheat of August ...

Your eyes are a cruel problem,
Your lips cry: casso neck!
Your heart goes I do not know where,
But not to me who loves you so much
And that you do not like at all!

As mentioned earlier, Alexandre Dreville penned a handful of newspaper poems, each of which celebrated a star of the screen. Some were French actors or stars, while some were American. In addition to Louise Brooks, I also came upon poems dedicated to Gloria Swanson, Anna May Wong, Maurice Chevalier, Anny Ondra, Anita Page, Kathryn Carver (Mrs. Adolphe Menjou) and others.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Celebrating France and Louise Brooks

In celebration of France's victory in the World Cup, here are some recently uncovered French clippings regarding Louise Brooks.

First up is what may be the first mention of Louise Brooks in a French newspaper, who is described as a "deliecieuse danseuse des Follies qui a signe une long contrat avec Paramount." This clipping comes from Paris-Soir, and is dated December 23, 1925.

And here is an advertisement for The American Venus (as La Venus Moderne) from a year later from a regional newspaper, Gazette de Bayonne, de Biarritz et du Pays basque, dated December 21, 1926.

And lastly, here is an usual image of Brooks, from a clipping from 1928.

Vive la France. Long live Loulou.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Guest Post: "Louise Brooks Makes The Grade" part 2

Philip Vorwald has come up with another fascinating guest post here on the Louise Brooks Society blog: it's about Louise Brooks' childhood and where she went to grade school. This post is in two parts -- the first part ran yesterday.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Guest Post: "Louise Brooks Makes The Grade" part 1

Philip Vorwald has come up with another fascinating guest post here on the Louise Brooks Society blog: it's about Louise Brooks' childhood and where she went to grade school. This post is in two parts, so be sure and check back tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Celebrating Charlie Chaplin - the "Guy with the Feet" - in comics and in Niles, California

The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Niles, California is celebrating Charlie Chaplin with their annual Charlie Chaplin Days event, July 13 - 15. This weekend long happening is filled with screenings, presentations, walking tours and special guests (Dan Kamin, John Fawell, Jeffrey Weissman, Jason Allin, Steve Massa, Paul Mular, Nigel Dreiner, John Bengtson, Marc Wanamaker, and David Totheroh). There is even a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. More information may be found HERE.

And in honor of the great comedian, with whom Louise Brooks had a brief affair in 1925, is one of the rarest bits of Brooksiana and Chapliniana you are likely to see . . . . the four panel comic strip "history" of the summer-long affair between the then little known showgirl and international film star. Tongues were wagging in 1925.

Gossip made the news. The related feature photo below was syndicated across the country. I have found many instances of this captioned image in newspapers from across the United States. (Despite Chaplin's denials, in later years he did vividly describe Brooks' breasts as being like "little pears.")

Comic strip representations of silent films stars, especially Chaplin, were quite common place. Here is a rare 1915 newspaper page which introduces the “Charley Chaplin’s Comic Capers.”

Monday, July 9, 2018

Louise Brooks and It's the Old Army Game (1926) in Florida

As promised, here are some additional clippings from the time It's the Old Army Game (1926) was being made in Florida.

It’s the Old Army Game is a comedy about a small town druggist (played by W.C. Fields) who gets involved with a real estate scam. Louise Brooks plays the druggist’s assistant. The film was Brooks’ fourth, and it reunited her with the Fields, the film’s star. The two had worked together in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1925.

The film, especially its interiors, were shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island, with some additional shots taken in Manhattan. Location shooting, including exteriors, was done in Ocala and Palm Beach, Florida in late February and during the first three weeks of March, 1926.  (Ocala is an inland farming community near Gainesville, Florida.)
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.” Ella H. McCormick of the Detroit Free Press countered with “Fields scored a splendid triumph in this picture. A great part of the success of the offering, however, is due to Louise Brooks, who takes the lead feminine part.”

Today, It’s the Old Army Game is largely remembered as a starring vehicle for Fields — a comedic great. It is also remembered for the fact that not long after the film wrapped, Brooks married the film’s director, Eddie Sutherland.

Recently, while researching the film, I came across a few related clippings of interest. Each date from around the time the film was in production, February and March of 1926. The first, whose title I have omitted, is titled "Florida Made Films Are Helping Make State Famous."

The clipping below, which dates from the same day as the clipping above, erroneously states that Thomas Meaghan is to star in It's the Old Army Game. Obviously, a reporter got their facts mixed up.

James Curtis’ 2003 biography of W. C. Fields contains valuable background on the making of It’s the Old Army Game, as does Barry Paris’ 1989 biography of Brooks. See also James Neibaur’s 2017 book, The W.C. Fields Films. For more on Brooks’ recollections of the Fields and the making of It’s the Old Army Game, see “The Other Face of W.C. Fields” in Brooks’ 1982 memoir, Lulu in Hollywood.

Silent film historian John Bengston has written a series of posts on his Silent Locations website looking at various scenes from the film. Each are well worth checking out. They include "W.C. Fields in Palm Beach – It’s the Old Army Game" -- "It’s The Old Army Game – W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks Bring Magazines to Life" -- "It’s The Old Army Game – W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks in Ocala Florida – Part One". Be sure and check 'em out!
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