Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks shows in Skipton, UK on February 3

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, will be shown by the Skipton Film Club at the Plaza Cinema, Skipton, England on Sunday, February 3. More information about this event can be found HERE.



According to an article in the local newspaper, the Craven Herald & Pioneer, a spokesman for Skipton Film Club thought this screening may well be the first time Pandora's Box has shown in Skipton. The spokesman added, “Pabst was one of the great directors of the silent period. Here, he gives us a film that has a look that even now contemporary audiences find thrilling. To see a film from this era is a rare event for spectators – it is the first silent feature the film club have presented for its enthusiastic following.... For those who have not seen a silent film on the big screen you are in for a treat – the use of camera is dazzling and the film treats its audiences as adults – it certainly does not pull its punches in its depiction of depravity and corruption in a doomed society."

For more on the film, be sure and visit the Louise Brooks Society website page devoted to Pandora's Box.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today: Pandora's Box at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, Oregon

Thanks to longtime Louise Brooks Society member Camille Scaysbrooks for letting everyone know about this screening of Pandora's Box at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, Oregon. The acclaimed 1929 silent film will be shown on 16mm with a live score performed by Abronia -- a Portland group composed of two guitars, bass, pedal steel, saxophone, and one giant drum. More information can be found HERE.



Castle Thunder Cinema presents a special night of MUSIC and FILM. PANDORA’S BOX (1929, 16mm) will be accompanied LIVE by the music of Portland-based sextet ABRONIA.

Description:
PANDORA’S BOX is director G.W. Pabst’s best-known masterwork, crafted especially for the  ineffably vibrant Louise Brooks. Brooks effortlessly electrifies the folkloric story of hustlers, lovers, pimps, fathers, gamblers, murderers, judges, prostitutes, schemers and decadent wealth.

Crafted at the end of the Silent Era, the film brings together the best techniques of Weimar cinema in a tapestry of archetypes. Raw humanity glimmers among theatrical trappings and bewildering
Brechtian travesties displaying the ‘gaiety that comes from desperation’ for which Weimar-era Germany was known.

Portland-based sextet Abronia’s atmospheric stir of angular psychedelic western sound blasts a call to arms perfectly suited to Pandora’s Box and the film’s contest between love and violence.

Castle Thunder Cinema specializes in unique experiences in cinema—bringing unorthodox formats to unexpected spaces. Alleys, warehouses, clubs, theaters, scratches, splices, lights in the dark.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

International Holocaust Remembrance Day - Jewish Presence in the Career and Films of Louise Brooks

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a memorial day commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. In light of continuing anti-Semitism in the United States and the world, I thought to take a few moments to consider this solemn event and to  note a few instances of Jewish presence in the films and career of Louise Brooks. Though the actress herself was not Jewish, Jewish faith and Jewish culture did play a small part in her career. It is important to remember.

To begin, I have included a couple of clippings I have come across in preparation of my forthcoming book, Around the World with Louise Brooks, which should be released this Spring. These initial clipping come from a chapter in the book which looks at Brooks' presence in the ethnic / non-English language press in the United States.

This first clipping comes from The Forward newspaper, which carried the news in Yiddish and English of Brooks’ marriage to Eddie Sutherland, despite the fact that neither were Jewish. Founded in New York City, The Forward (or Forverts) had a circulation of more than 200,000 and was considered for many years the largest Jewish newspaper in the world.


And here is a February 1928 newspaper advertisement, also from The Forward, advertising A Girl in Every Port at the Roxy Theatre in New York City. Most all of Brook's American silent films were advertised in this and other Jewish newspapers, and most all of them contain a bit of Yiddish.



Brooks' films were advertised in Jewish publications not only in the United States, but elsewhere as well. Here is an example from Warsaw, Poland for Pandora's Box, or Lulu. As I noted in an earlier blog, when the film debuted in the Polish capital, the orchestra was led by a noted, local Jewish conductor.


The still below from Pandora's Box clearly shows a Menorah in Lulu's apartment. The actor looming over Lulu is Fritz Kortner, Brooks' co-star in the film and a noted German actor who was also Jewish.


Another prominent Jewish actor in a Brooks' film was Kurt Gerron, who played Dr. Vitalis in Diary of a Lost Girl. He can be seen in the still below kissing Louise Brooks on the cheek. Tragically, Gerron was sent to and eventually died in a Nazi concentration camp. A deeply moving documentary about his life, Prisoner of Paradise: The Story of Kurt Gerron, is available on DVD.


Louise Brooks films were shown all around the world, including in Jerusalem in what was once Palestine. Would you believe, for example, that Brooks' last film, the 1938 Western Overland Stage Raiders, was shown in what is now the nation of Israel in 1942? Below is a simple newspaper listing. I have also found listing for the film showing at the same time in Haifa.




Thursday, January 24, 2019

I don't think they ever met, but Jonas Mekas played a small role in the later day life of Louise Brooks

Jonas Mekas, the "godfather of American avant-garde film," has died at the age of 96. The Lithuanian-born American filmmaker, poet, and artist was a seminal figure on many fronts.

According to his Washington Post obituary, "Mr. Mekas, who arrived in the United States in 1949 as a refugee, was weighted by the scars of wartime Europe and energized by postwar America. He was at the center of a historic era for the avant-garde. He published poetry and memoirs, made hundreds of films and videos, wrote an influential column for the Village Voice and opened Anthology Film Archives, where future filmmaker Martin Scorsese was a frequent attendee in his youth.

Scorsese, John Waters and James Franco were among Mr. Mekas’s admirers, and although he never approached mainstream popularity, his friends and collaborators included some of the most important artists of his time and some of the most famous people in the world."

Those important people and famous artists included Jacqueline Kennedy, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, photographer-filmmaker Robert Frank, Peter Bogdanovich, and others. For more about Mekas, check out his superb website at jonasmekas.com, as well as his Wikipedia page, or the obits in the New York Times and the NPR (National Public Radio) website. Mekas was a man of many connections.

As mentioned, Mekas wrote an influential column for the Village Voice. In fact, he was that publication's first film critic. Mekas also co-founded the influential magazine Film Culture, with his brother Adolfas Mekas. According to the obit in the Guardian (UK), "The brothers founded one of the great American movie journals, the quarterly Film Culture, in 1954 – at a time when mainstream culture did not think those two words belonged next to each other. The quarterly was a forum for the exchange of ideas and information about the emergent avant garde cinema that would convulse the art and movie worlds for three decades: the new American cinema, as Mekas dubbed it, or American underground film, as it is now more commonly known. In Film Culture and his weekly column in the Village Voice (1959-1981), Mekas for years banged the drum for other and minor, alternative and iconoclastic kinds of film-making: a cinema, as he called it, 'less perfect and more free'. His ecumenical approach to film culture, by no means characteristic of the wider, often schismatic avant garde for which he was the foremost impresario, was part of his saintly appeal: if you were making film-art that was personal and sincerely conceived, Mekas was on your side, come what may."

I don't think that they ever met, but Jonas Mekas did play a small role in the later day life of Louise Brooks. In that, other's noticed what Mekas noticed.

At a time when old movies and forgotten film stars didn't receive all that much press, Mekas name-checked Louise Brooks in his September 23, 1959 column in the Village Voice -- noting the forthcoming showing of a Brooks' film at the Film Center at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA. [The film was Prix de beaute (1930), which was making its American debut thirty years after it was first shown in Paris. Notably, among those in attendance were the poets Frank O'Hara and Bill Berkson, each of whom would write a poem inspired by Brooks.]

But wait, there's more.... At a time when Louise Brooks was little remembered, she appeared on the cover of the Fall 1965 issue of Mekas' magazine, Film Culture.

Additionally, Mekas published an early article by Brooks, "Charlie Chaplin Remembered," in the Spring 1966 issue of Film Culture. It was only her second published piece in the United States, and it certainly helped raise her profile among the film world's intelligentsia. In the years that followed, Film Culture would publish other pieces by Brooks including "On Location with Billy Wellman" (Spring 1972) and "Marion Davies' Niece," (October 1974) and "Why I Will Never Write My Memoirs" (issue 67-68-69, 1979). In the latter issue, she is name-checked on the cover, alongside other significant figure like Bruce Conner, Kenneth Anger, and Blaise Cendrars (each of whom also figure to some degree in Brooks' life or legend.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Charming Louise Brooks look-alikes from afar - Lotti Loder & Maria Louise Iribe

While researching Louise Brooks and scouring materials near and far, I come across various actresses and show business personalities that somewhat resemble Louise Brooks. Off course, they catch my eye, especially since they often sport bobbed hair, a style popular in the late 1920s. Here are two examples of actresses which I recently came across.

Lotti Loder was a brunette leading lady of German / Hungarian ancestry who briefly featured in a few early Warner Brothers talkies. She was born in 1910 in Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany as Lottie Kathe Lodermeyer, and died on March 28, 1999 in Miami, Florida. As an actress, she is best known for roles in Oh, Sailor Behave! (1930), A Soldier's Plaything (1930 - directed by Michael Curtiz, who went on to direct the 1931 Louise Brooks' film, God's Gift to Women), and Men of the Sky (1931). It seems her career never really took off, despite the fact she received significant billing in two of the three prior films. Playing herself, she can also be seen in the 1930 short, An Intimate Dinner in Celebration of Warner Bros. Silver Jubilee. She was married to John "Jack" Raymond. A few further details can be found on her Imdb page.






Marie-Louise Iribe was born in 1894 in Paris, France as Pauline Marie Louise Lavoisot. She was an actress and director, best known for co-directing and acting in Hara-Kiri (1928), and directing The Erl King (1931) and Der Erlkönig (1931). Her acting credits mostly date from the Teens in a handful of shorts, including a few directed by Louis Feuillade and Jacques Feyder. She appeared in a few more films in the Twenties, including Marquitta (1927), directed by Jean Renoir and produced by Iribe. Her last acting credit was in Le Roi des aulnes (1930). Iribe's first marriage, in 1921, was to the French actor André Roanne, with whom she co-starred in  L'Atlantide (1921); Roanne went on to appear in the Louise Brooks' film, The Diary of a Lost Girl (1929). Marie-Louise Iribe died in Paris on April 12, 1934. A few more details can be found on her Imdb page.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, screens in Hungerford, England

The celebrated 1929 Louise Brooks film, Pandora's Box, will be shown in Hungerford, England on January 18, 2019. The special event will take place at The Croft Hall, and will feature an introduction by journalist and early film expert Pamela Hutchinson (author of the 2018 BFI book on the film). Information on the event and ticket availability can be found HERE.


According to the venue: "The rise and inevitable fall of an amoral but naïve young woman whose insouciant eroticism inspires lust and violence in those around her.

One of the great silent films, G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box is renowned for its sensational story line, sparkling Weimar-period setting and the legendary, lead performance from its iconic star Louise Brooks.

Following the rise and fall of Lulu (Brooks), a spirited but innocent showgirl whose sheer sexual magnetism wreaks havoc on the lives of men and women alike, the film was controversial in its day, then underappreciated for decades. Pandora’s Box now stands as an incredibly modern movie, and few stars of any era dazzle as bright as Louise Brooks.

Before the film Pamela Hutchinson a freelance journalist and film critic and former Guardian production editor will give a short presentation on the significance of this classic film and of Louise Brooks the amazing leading lady. Listen to a short piece on BBC Radio 4 "The Film Programme." CLICK HERE from 17:36 mins

1929 Cert PG 1 hour 49mins. Crime/Drama/Romance In German with subtitles."






Thursday, January 17, 2019

Louise Brooks portrait on an American 25 cent piece

I thought I had seen it all until I came across this painted 25 cent piece on eBay... featuring a color portrait of Louise Brooks. The description reads:

"Louise Brooks - Colorized Bicentennial U.S. Quarter - 1776-1976 Coin

You are purchasing the coin shown - Painted and colorized - Louise Brooks

No returns or refunds so please ask before purchasing

Very Nice !!"

Here are the pictures from it's eBay page, where the buy it now price is $11.95 (including free shipping). The same seller (not me) has one or two other painted quarters for sale.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Beggars of Life starring Louise Brooks screens in Nottingham, England on March 17

Thanks to longtime Louise Brooks Society member Meredith Lawrence for letting us know about this Sunday, March 17th screening of Beggars of Life at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, England. The acclaimed 1928 silent film will be shown with live musical accompaniment by acclaimed The Dodge Brothers together with acclaimed musician Neil Brand. More information on this can be found HERE.


From the venue website:

BEGGARS OF LIFE WITH LIVE MUSIC BY THE DODGE BROTHERS AND NEIL BRAND
Presented in partnership with the Royal Concert Hall

BEGGARS OF LIFE is an intense and entertaining story about oppressed and desperate people on a dangerous journey through the dark underworld of pre-depression America. Cinema icon Louise Brooks plays a girl on the lam after killing her lecherous adoptive father. Dressed in boy's clothes, she navigates through the dangerous tramp underworld with the help of a handsome drifter and encounters the hobo legend, Oklahoma Red. Loaded with stunning visuals and empathetic performances, this dark, realistic drama is Brooks' best American film and a masterpiece of late-silent era feature films. All aspects of his rollercoaster of a story are enhanced by the live soundtrack, composed and performed by skiffle/bluegrass combo The Dodge Brothers, together with silent film pianist Neil Brand.

Tickets: £15 full / £13 memb+conc

This event takes place as part of Soundstage, Nottingham's Festival of Music and the Moving Image.

**PLEASE NOTE THIS EVENT WILL START PROMPTLY AT THE ADVERTISED TIME**

Want to learn more about this acclaimed silent film, one fo the best of 1928. Check out the Beggars of Life page on the Louise Brooks Society website, or check out Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, an illustrated and informative book by Louise Brooks Society director Thomas Gladysz. The book is available at both amazon USA and amazon UK.

This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.” With more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by the director's son, actor/author William Wellman, Jr.





Thursday, January 10, 2019

Why We Need to Keep Searching for Lost Silent Films

"Who in the 1920s would have predicted that Louise Brooks, while certainly popular at the time, would be considered an iconic figure and one of the greatest actresses of her era some nine decades later?" writes Fritzi Kramer in the current issue of Smithsonian.com.

Kramer, the
founder of Movies, Silently, a website dedicated to the lost art of silent films, has penned a thoughtful, even provocative article, on the value of early film. The article is titled "Why We Need to Keep Searching for Lost Silent Films: Early motion pictures give us an important window into our collective past." While Louise Brooks is given only a passing mention, the LBS recommends everyone interested in early film to read this piece. Check it out today!
 
 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Pandora's Box at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, Oregon on January 29

Thanks to longtime Louise Brooks Society member Camille Scaysbrooks for letting us know about this screening of Pandora's Box at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland, Oregon. The acclaimed 1929 silent film will be shown on 16mm with a live score performed by Abronia -- a Portland group composed of two guitars, bass, pedal steel, saxophone, and one giant drum. More information can be found HERE.



Castle Thunder Cinema presents a special night of MUSIC and FILM. PANDORA’S BOX (1929, 16mm) will be accompanied LIVE by the music of Portland-based sextet ABRONIA.


Description:
PANDORA’S BOX is director G.W. Pabst’s best-known masterwork, crafted especially for the  ineffably vibrant Louise Brooks. Brooks effortlessly electrifies the folkloric story of hustlers, lovers, pimps, fathers, gamblers, murderers, judges, prostitutes, schemers and decadent wealth.

Crafted at the end of the Silent Era, the film brings together the best techniques of Weimar cinema in a tapestry of archetypes. Raw humanity glimmers among theatrical trappings and bewildering
Brechtian travesties displaying the ‘gaiety that comes from desperation’ for which Weimar-era Germany was known.

Portland-based sextet Abronia’s atmospheric stir of angular psychedelic western sound blasts a call to arms perfectly suited to Pandora’s Box and the film’s contest between love and violence.

Castle Thunder Cinema specializes in unique experiences in cinema—bringing unorthodox formats to unexpected spaces. Alleys, warehouses, clubs, theaters, scratches, splices, lights in the dark.


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