Thursday, December 27, 2018

Around the World with Louise Brooks - Chinese Movie Magazines

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am at work on a new book, Around the World with Louise Brooks, which I expect to have ready sometime early next year. The book, as it looks now, should run at least 500 pages. It will be a multilingual and multinational look at Brooks and her films and how they were perceived around the world in the1920s and 1930s.

With that in mind, I have been looking at all sorts of material related to my book's topic. And that's when a remarkable new book, Chinese Movie Magazines: From Charlie Chaplin to Chairman Mao, 1921-1951 (University of California Press), by Paul Fonoroff.

About the book (from the publisher): "Showcasing an exotic, eclectic, and rare array of covers from more than five hundred movie publications from a glamorous bygone age, Chinese Movie Magazines sheds fresh light on China’s film industry during a transformative period of its history. Expertly curated by collector and Chinese cinema specialist Paul Fonoroff, this volume provides insightful commentary relating the magazines to the times in which they were created, embracing everything from cinematic trends to politics and world events, along with gossip, fashion, and pop culture.

The cover designs reflected the diverse contents of the publications, ranging from sophisticated Art Deco drawings by acclaimed artists to glamorous photos of top Chinese and Hollywood celebrities, including Ruan Lingyu, Butterfly Wu, Ingrid Bergman, and Shirley Temple. Organized thematically within a chronological structure, this visually extraordinary volume includes many rare illustrations from the Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection in Berkeley’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library, the largest collection of Eastern movie memorabilia outside China."

I have spent more than a few hours enjoyable browsing the many image laden pages of Chinese Movie Magazines: From Charlie Chaplin to Chairman Mao, 1921-1951. It is a visual feast, and is a book which should appeal to anyone interested in film history, graphic design, or early Asian cinema.

Alas, there aren't any images of Louise Brooks in the book, but other silent era stars can be found. Among those I spotted are Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Greta Garbo, Richard Dix, Harold Lloyd, Lupe Velez, Anna May Wong, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow, Maurice Chevalier, Tallulah Bankhead, Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell, and Charles Rogers & Nancy Carroll. Here are a few page scans from this highly recommended book.

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