Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Two Louise Brooks films to show in Buffalo, NY at Western New York Movie Expo and Memorabilia Show

Not one, but two Louise Brooks films will be shown at the upcoming Western New York Movie Expo and Memorabilia Show in Buffalo, New York.

It's the Old Army Game (1926), a classic silent comedy starring W. C. Fields and Louise Brooks, will be shown at noon on Friday, August 2nd. Pandora's Box (1929), considered one of the great movies of the silent era, will be shown on Saturday, August 3rd. Both films will be shown in the screening rooms of the Buffalo Grand Hotel as part of the Western New York Movie Expo and Memorabilia Show, which starts in just a couple day. Both films will feature live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis.

Jeff Rapsis returns for a fourth year to accompany several silent movies on his electronic keyboard. Rapsis will be at the Expo from August 2nd through the 4th. Some of the works he’ll accompany include multiple shorts featuring comedians Charley Chase and Fatty Arbuckle; a Laurel and Hardy program; Eric von Stroheim's classic The Wedding March (1928), starring Fay Wray; Josef von Sternberg's The Docks of New York (1928); and Buster Keaton's The Cameraman (1928). The full schedule of silent and sound films is listed below.

(Included among the talkies are a pair of films featuring Leon Errol – Brooks stage co-star in Louis XIV, as well as the little known Keystone Hotel (1935) – with The Show-Off star Ford Sterling and  Ben Turpin and The Keystone Cops. Also on the schedule is Nancy Steele is Missing! (1937), starring Victor McLaglen, Peter Lorre, Walter Connolly, and June Lang. This programmer was often paired with King of Gamblers, another 1937 programmer from which Brooks' role was cut. Here a rare chance to see the film, which stars the star of A Girl in Every Port.)

There will be three screening rooms inside the Buffalo Grand Hotel for the event, which also has a  dealer's emporium where one can buy memorabilia including posters, photos, magazines, movies and TV shows on 16 mm film, as well as equipment.

The Western New York Movie Expo takes place from Aug. 1 to 4 at the Buffalo Grand Hotel, 120 Church St. Tickets are $35 to $40 for the full event or $12 a day ($6 Sunday). To learn more about Jeff Rapsis, visit silentfilmlivemusic.blogspot.com. And to learn more about the Expo, visit wnymovieexpo.com. 

Thursday, Aug 1st
7:00 p.m. SO DEAR TO MY HEART Bobby Driscoll, Burl Ives, I.B. Tech (John Millen collection) (80 minutes)
8:30 p.m. IF I HAD A MILLION (1932) W. C. Fields, Allison Skipworth, George Raft. Gary Cooper (90 minutes) (Stu Fink collection)
10:10 p.m. JET PILOT (1957) John Wayne in Howard Hughes aviator directed by Jos. Von Sternberg I.B.Tech
(1 hour 53minutes)

Friday, Aug 2nd

10:00 a.m. THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING dir. John Ford-Edward G. Robinson (Grant Golden collection) (93 min.
11:45 a.m. GOODNIGHT NURSE – Keaton & Arbuckle
12:00 noon IT’S THE OLD ARMY GAME (1926) W.C. Fields & Louise Brooks - accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
1:00 - Lunch Break

2:00 p.m. CAPTAIN BOYCOTT (1947) Stewert Granger, Kathleen Ryan (93 minutes) (Dave Barnes collection)
3:45 p.m. MUM’S THE WORD Charley Chase with Oliver Hardy accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
4:05 p.m. LIMOUSINE LOVE (1927)Charley Chase silent classic / accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
4:30 p.m. SPECIAL DELIVERY (1925) Eddie Cantor in a comedy directed by Arbuckle accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
5:40 p.m. WAY OUT WEST (1937) Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson (67 minutes)
6:45 - Dinner Break

 accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY back by requests from two years ago is this classic pie fight to end all pie fights!
Including the complete second reel not seen in 90 years!
WHY GIRLS LOVE SAILORS Laurel & Hardy rare early silent with restored English titles (Ottinger collection)
THE SLEUTH Stan Laurel complete 2-reel version (Ottinger collection)
MARRIED TO ORDER Chase & Oliver Hardy in an early 1917 appearence! (Ottinger collection)
9:10 P.M THE LODGER starring Liard Cregar, Merle Oberon, George Sanders, Cedrick Hardwicke (90 minutes)
10:45 P.M. DR. BLOOD’S COFFIN (1961)dir Sidney J. Furie stars Kleron Moore, Hazel Court / I.B. Tech (92 min.)

Saturday, Aug 3rd
10:00 a.m. PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1936) Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong (81 minutes) (John Millen collection)
11:30 a.m. THE LAVENDER HILL MOB Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway (80 minutes) (Dave Barnes collection)
1:00 - Lunch Break

2 :00 p.m. PANDORA’S BOX directed by G.W. Pabst starring Louise Brooks (1 hour 50 minutes) accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
4: 00 p.m. ARSENIC & OLD LACE staring Cary Grant, Peter Lorre – directed by Frank Capra 1:50
6:00 - Dinner Break

7:30 p.m. MODERN TIMES Charles Chaplin (90 minutes) (Dave Barnes collection) 90 minutes
9:00 p.m LAUREL & HARDY; THE REAL “STAN AND OLLIE” session #2

HELPMATES Laurel & Hardy (20 minutes)
CHICKENS COME HOME Laurel & Hardy (25 minutes)
TWICE TWO Laurel & Hardy (20 minutes)
10:10 P.M. THE PALEFACE – Buster Keaton with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
10:20 P.M. THE CAMERAMAN (1928) Buster Keaton with live music score by Jeff Rapsis (70 minutes) accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis
11:30 A.M.MONSTERS WE’VE KNOWN AND LOVED narrated by Joseph Cotton-Great clips! (25 minutes)

Thursday, Aug 1st - room "B"

7:00 p.m CHICAGO DEADLINE (1949) Alan Ladd, Donna Reed in a film noir classic (89 minutes)
8:45 p.m 

THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943) Alice Faye, Benny Goodman Sheila Ryan I.B. Tech (1 hour 43 minutes)

10:45 p.m. CHARLEY CHASE TALKING COMEDY FEST - “Mr. Bride” others t.b.a.
11:45 p.m. CHUCK CHAN THEATER Pt. 1 starring Sidney Toler in DARK ALABAI (61 minutes)
Friday, Aug 2nd - room "B"
10:00 a.m. THE ERRAND BOY(1961) Jerry Lewis, Brian Donlevy, Benny Rubin, Joe Besser, Fritz Feld (90 minutes)
11:30 a.m. A KILLER WALKS (1952) Lawrence Harvey, Susan Shaw, Laurence Naismith –thriller (60 minutes)
12:30 - Lunch Break

1:30 p.m. GREAT RADIO COMEDIANS interviews & clips -Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Edgar Bergan, Jim “Fibber McGee” Jordon, many more Color
3:00 p.m. HERE WE GO AGAIN (1942) Fibber McGee & Molly, Edgar Bergan, Harold Peary (76 minutes)
4:20 p.m. CRIME SMASHER (1943) Frank Graham, Edgar Kennedy, Gale Storm, Mantan Moreland (60 minutes)
6:00 - Dinner Break

7:00 p.m. NANCY STEELE IS MISSING Peter Lorre, Victor McLaglen (90 minutes) (Dave Domagala collection)
8:45 p.m. CHUCK CHAN THEATER Pt. 2 Warner Oland in rarley seen “CHARLIE CHAN IN PARIS“ (70 min)
10:00 p.m. I DREAM TOO MUCH Lily Pons, Henry Fonda, Eric Blore-musical (Grant Golden collection) 97 minutes

Saturday, Aug 3rd - room "B"
10:00 a.m. EARLY HITCHCOCK documentary w/ highlights of Hitchcock’s British period 1920’s-30’s
10:30 a.m THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES– ALFRED HITCHCOCK (Ray Faiola collection)
11:30 a.m. 12:30 - Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. WHERE’S BUNTER? Very rare Sidney Howard science-fiction comedy short
1:20 p.m. LITTLE BIG SHOT (1952) Ronald Shiner, Victor Baring, Danny Green- British comedy (90 minutes)
3:00 p.m SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (provided the guest author is confirmed) shown in conjunction with Rod Serling biographers’ forum (2 hours
5:00 - Dinner Break
& guest authors
9:00 p.m THE MOVIE CRAZY YEARS Golden age of W.B. Studios with interviews & clips COLOR
10:40 p.m I LOVE A MYSTERY –1945 – 1st of the series – Jim Bannon, George Macready, Nina Foch – 75 min

Sunday, Aug 4th - room "B"
10:00 a.m. FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE (1955) Guy Madison, Kim Novac, Alvy Moore, Wm. Conrad (84 minutes)
11:30 a.m. SHE GETS HER MAN (1945) Joan Davis and Leon Errol in a comedy-murder mystery (74 minutes
1:00 p.m. – Show concludes

Thursday, Aug 1st - room "C"

7:00 P.M. ANIMATION SPECIALTIES Session # 1 approximately 60minutes

8:15 P.M. MUSIC ON FILM MARATHON Session # 1 / 60 minutes 

9:30 P.M. THE SHORTY CARUSO Super 8mm FOLLIES Session # 1

Friday, Aug 2nd - room "C"
10:30 A.M. MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY starring Danny Thomas with guest star Dean Martin
12:00 - Lunch Break
1:00 P.M. MUSIC ON FILM MARATHON Session #2 / 60 minutes
2:00 P.M. THE DONNA REED SHOW – two episodes with Buster Keaton
2:55 P.M. LEON ERROL COMEDIES – “SWEET CHEAT” Leon’s trips to Buffalo are under suspicion by his wife, Dorothy Granger! Also CRIME RAVE and CUTIE ON DUTY
4:00 P.M. SHANTYTOWN (1943) starring Mary Lee, John Archer, Marjorie Lord, Billy Gilbert, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer
5:15 p.m. – Dinner Break
7:00 P.M. EDGAR KENNEDY COMEDIES – “Dummy Ache” with Lucille Ball, “Hold Your Temper”, and “Merchant of Menace”
8:15 P.M. SEEIN’ RED starring Red Skelton with A. Robins “The Banana Man”
8:35 P.M. KEYSTONE HOTEL(1937) Ben Turpin, Ford Sterling, Vivian Oakland, Hank Mann, The Keystone Cops
9:00 P.M. THE DAY THE BOOKIES WEPT (1939) Joe Penner, Betty Grable (65 minutes)
10:15 P.M. THE RED SKELTON HOUR guests Terry-Thomas and musical guest Dusty Springfield
11:10 P.M. JACK BENNY COMEDY HOUR SPECIAL with Dick Van Dyke, Bob Hope, Senior Wences, The Marquis Chimps

Saturday, Aug 3rd - room "C"
10:00 A.M. COLUMBIA COMEDIES – Andy Clyde in “A MINER AFFAIR” with Mel Blanc, GIT ALONG LITTLE ZOMBIE Hugh Herbert & Dudley Dickerson,
MR. NOISEY starring Shemp Howard in a remake of Charley Chases’ “The Heckler”.
11:15 A.M. Emaciated comedian Tom Howard in a pair of short comedies “GROOMS IN GLOOM” and “THE WRONG BOTTLE”.
12:10 - Lunch Break
1:00 P.M. THE SHORTY CARUSO Super 8mm FOLLIES Session # 2
5:00 p.m. – Dinner Break
7:00 P.M. AUCTION RESULTS POSTED on all silent bids
7:30 P.M. THIS IS THE ARMY (1943) restored version – Ronald Regan, Irving Berlin, COLOR (120 minutes)
9:30 P.M. THIS’LL MAKE YOU WHISTLE (1936) sta

Monday, July 29, 2019

Update on the Update to The Chaperone, the Louise Brooks inspired bio-pic

While there is still no word on when The Chaperone will be shown on television, the Louise Brooks Society has learned that recently, within the last month or two, numerous props and other items used in the PBS Masterpiece film were put up for auction. These items include clothing worn by some of the principal actors, as well as jewelry and other objects like Louise Brooks' (Haley Lu Richardson) luggage, Joseph's (Geza Rohrig) radio and tool box, and more. These items, each of which are described as "screen worn" or "screen used" were being sold by Premiere Props in El Segundo, California. Some items sold after being put up for auction. Some did not. Here are some of the more interesting objects.

(Left) Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) screen worn, white chiffon [Denishawn] dance costume with extra fabric and ties, outfit is sheer with a pink bra top to cover that is sewn into dress. (Right) Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) screen worn green sequin flapper dress with extra slip.

Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) screen used, hero, tan and yellow very worn luggage, the inside is very ripped and tattered, third class ticket attached to the handle. (14x9)

Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson), Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) screen used, hero, toiletries, hair brushes, tooth brushes and tooth powder, perfume bottle, mirror, and face powder.
Joseph (Geza Rohrig) screen used vintage "Thompson Radio Neutrodyne" radio. The radio has 3 large dials and two off switches. The top switch comes off completely exposing the inside of the radio. Production distressed. (21x10x10)

Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) screen used programs for "The Selwyn Theater".

Ted Shawn (Robert Fairchild) screen worn White "Townsend" poet shirt, black "Body Wrappers" dance pants.

I wonder what happened to some of the other objects from the film, like the book Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) was reading on the train. Or the framed pictures, magazine covers and posters
on the staircase in Brooks' Wichita home?

All in all, I thought The Chaperone looked great. The costumes, interiors, street scenes and props all seemed to look authentic and were effective in conveying a sense of the times -- the early 1920s.  Haley Lu Richardson deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actress. Earlier posts about the film can be found on the Louise Brooks Society blog. Otherwise, read my article on the film, "Never the Victim: Louise Brooks and The Chaperone," on Film International.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Update on The Chaperone, the Louise Brooks inspired bio-pic

There is still no word on when The Chaperone will be shown on television. The Louise Brooks-inspired bio-pic played in theaters earlier this year in limited release. And to the book's and Brooks' many fans, the film came and went all too quickly. The expectation is that the PBS Masterpiece produced film will be shown on PBS in the United States this Fall.

The film is based on the book by Laura Moriarty: "Amid the backdrop of the tumultuous times of the early 1920's, the life of a Kansas woman (Elizabeth McGovern) is forever changed when she chaperones a beautiful and talented 15-year-old dancer named Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) to New York for the summer. One of them is eager to fulfill her destiny of dance and movie stardom; the other hopes to unearth the mysteries of her past."

This update is being posted because today I noticed the film is being released on DVD in Australia. This region 4 release hit store shelves on August 14th on the Universal Sony Pictures Entertainment label. Curiously, The Chaperone and Australia seem to have a special relationship. Star Elizabeth McGovern made a special appearance in Sydney to debut the film at the city's historic art deco theater, The Ritz. Why Australia debuted the film before other countries like England, and why Australia has the film's first DVD release is something of a mystery.

Earlier this year, back in March, the film's official soundtrack was released in the United States. This Sony Classical release features music by Marcelo Zarvos, The Sundown Stompers, The Hot Pennies, and others, including the great Vince Giordano And The Nighthawks. Those interested can stream, download, or purchase copies on amazon.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Music ~ La Poupée Qui Fait Non by The Birds >>> Film ~ Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks

Posted on YouTube in 2017

Music ~ "La Poupée Qui Fait Non" by The Birds Film ~ Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Kate Zambreno Screen Tests Louise Brooks

“Kate Zambreno writes with a winning, gleeful transparency about days and nights spent entranced by literature, film, and her own densely populated imagination. Zambreno pays attention to her own desire’s fluctuations—to attachments, moods, self-constructions, and self-abasements, reconfigured in a series of shadow-box homages to writing as an asymptotic specter. In rhythm-conscious bulletins, streaked with passionate candor, she confirms her vocation as haunter and as haunted.” -- Wayne Koestenbaum
Kate Zambreno photo credit Tom Hines - Screen Tests by Kate Zambreno - Louise Brooks photo credit Eugene Richee
Admittedly, I didn't know anything about Kate Zambreno until I received a key word alert telling me her new book, Screen Tests, contained a section on Louise Brooks. I know you are not supposed to admit to ignorance, but we all start somewhere, don't we, specifically in that place of not knowing until we find ourselves somewhere else, if only a few inches to the left or right of some new or altered awareness. Ignorance is not necessarily a bad thing, if it is a point of departure. That key word alert was a loose thread, which I pulled at -- another thing you are not supposed to do, but how could I resist? I track such things. Homage to Lulu is an ongoing project of mine. “In Screen Tests, a voice who both is and is not the author picks up a thread and follows it wherever it leads, leaping from one thread to another without quite letting go, creating a delicate and ephemeral and wonderful portrait of how a particular mind functions. Call them stories (after Lydia Davis), reports (after Gerald Murnane), or screen tests (inventing a new genre altogether like Antoine Volodine). These are marvelously fugitive pieces, carefully composed while giving the impression of being effortless, with a quite lovely Calvino-esque lightness, that are a joy to try to keep up with,” said writer Brian Evenson. He put it well. I pull at the threads of Louise Brooks, her appearance in books not about cinema, the way non-filmmakers like Borges friend Adolfo Bioy Casares adored the actress and wrote The Invention of Morel, considered the first great work of Latin American magical realism, inspired by our Miss Brooks. It was published in 1941. If you wondered why Brooks appears on the cover of the book's most recent edition, it is because a thread was pulled. Angela Carter was also a Brooks' obsessed thread puller. The same for contemporary novelist Kathy Acker, who wrote Lulu Unchained, a play inspired by Brooks while riffing off Wedekind. That's what Kathy told me. Kate Zambreno's key word alert was her coming across a copy of Lulu in Hollywood some 15 years ago in a used bookshop. She emailed me, writing "I became enthralled to her writing. I think of that book as in some ways an inspiration for Screen Tests. Then I watched the movies... it was her words before the movies" that fascinated Zambreno. Adding that she became fascinated with Brooks' life in Rochester, and her her attempts at memoir, Incinerator One and Incinerator Two." The text alert that I received was not yesterday's Interview interview, where Zambreno said "Louise Brooks, who I write about in her old age and as a hermit, she’s only seen mournfully through her previous image. One of the things I was most shocked by when I moved to New York—but again, like everything else, I’m less shocked by now—was this concept that to be a writer here, you were expected to be an image. You were expected to be good at getting your photograph taken." Brooks rejected that, didn't she, the reliance on image, the all too often superficial. The impression I came away with after reading Brooks' Rochester journals was of a mind striving to understand what had happened to her, of how she fell, scratch at texts beneath the surface of gloss and publicity. Zambreno's book is described this way, "A new work equal parts observational micro-fiction and cultural criticism reflecting on the dailiness of life as a woman and writer, on fame and failure, aging and art, from the acclaimed author of Heroines, Green Girl, and O Fallen Angel." I like the old-school collage cover of Heroines, which depicts various women like Zelda Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker. Brooks met both of them, observed both of them. Heroines is described as "A manifesto for 'toxic girls' that reclaims the wives and mistresses of modernism for literature and feminism." In it, Zambreno writes about Louise Brooks and mentions some of the other Jazz Age flappers as well, Clara Bow. "Enthralled" is not a word people, let alone writers, use much anymore. It has all manner of connotations. Screen Tests contains fragments of Zambreno's beguilement, her enthrallment, specifically "Louise Brooks in a Mint-Green Housecoat," and the section-chapter before it, "Heiress." There is also captivation with Kathy Acker. And Susan Sontag, another thread.

Lulu in Rochester

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Louise Brooks presentation at the 92nd annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial

One month from today, on Friday August 23, I will be speaking about Louise Brooks and Rudolph Valentino at the 92nd annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial service at the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery (6000 Santa Monica Blvd) in Hollywood, California. I hope those in Southern California can make it to this event. If you can't make it, or live outside the greater Los Angeles area, please note that this event will be broadcast live over Facebook.

During my brief (five plus minute) presentation, I plan to share some extremely rare material on the subject of Brooks and Valentino - including audio material few if anyone alive has heard. If you are a fan of Brooks, you won't want to miss it. I have attended this event in the past, and look forward to doing so next month.

At this annual event, fans from all corners of the globe come together to mark the passing of a true talent and film legend. The Valentino Memorial, held each year on August 23rd (beginning at 12:10 p.m., the time of Valentino's death), is the longest running annual event in Hollywood, pre-dating the Academy Awards. The event is free and open to the public. Arrive early as seats go quickly. For more on this historic event, check out these articles by Allen Ellenberger. And here is a LINK to a Facebook page previewing the memorial from two years ago.

I wish to thank the event's current organizer and master of ceremonies, Tracy Terhune, for inviting me to speak at the event. Not only is Tracy an authority on the life and films of Valentino, but he is also the author of a book on the remarkable history of the memorial, Valentino Forever: The History of the Valentino Memorial Services. It is a fascinating read. I should also add that Tracy is the grandson of Max Terhune, one of the stars of the Three Mesquiteers series of Westerns which included Overland Stage Raiders (1938), Louise Brooks' last film!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Louise Brooks and Horror

One doesn't think of Louise Brooks in relation to the horror genre, and linking the actress to anything spooky or frightening is something of a stretch. How ever, there are a tenuous connections. It's known, for example, that director James Whale briefly considered Brooks for the title role in Bride of Frankenstein (1935). That role rightly went to Elsa Lanchester, who is terrific. And, there were supposed ghosts which spooked Buck Jones and company in Empty Saddles (1936), Brooks' first Western. Both Bride of Frankenstein and Empty Saddles were released by Universal, the leading studio when it came to horror films in the 1930s.

Though bangless, it is all about the stare and the hair

Recently, I was watching Mark Gattis's three part history of horror on YouTube, which I would recommend as quirky and inciteful. It begins here, A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss (Part 1 of 3) Frankenstein Goes to Hollywood. For those who don't know Gattis, he is an English actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist. His work includes writing for and acting in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock, where in the latter he played Sherlock's older brother, Mycroft Holmes. Gattis is also a reel geek, and horror buff. If you watch the series, you will know what I mean.

Contemplating Dante and the circles of Hell
Well, anyways, there is a sort of part four to the series which covers European horror films. It's a BBC production, and it's called Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss. I watched it as well, and much to my surprise, Louise Brooks got a shout out! Considering Brooks' influence on European cinema in the 1960s (Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina, etc...), it's not surprising that her influence trickled down in the genre film. If you want to find out more, watch these documentaries.

Friday, July 19, 2019

One month left to get My Afternoon With Louise Brooks

This worthwhile Kickstarter campaign only has one month left, thus... I encourage everyone to check out My Afternoon With Louise Brooks - a limited edition, signed and number hardback book by Tom Graves. This Kickstarter campaign has already run one month, so check it out NOW! More information about this very special project can be found HERE.

Pledging today guarantees you one of the 100 signed and numbered copies of My Afternoon With Louise Brooks, Tom Graves' critically-acclaimed long-form journalism article about his visit to the apartment of silent film recluse Louise Brooks.  As a bonus, this special edition book contains the childhood chapter of the aborted Louise Brooks biography that Tom Graves wrote prior to being de-authorized by Miss Brooks.  The book is approximately 80 pages in length. This will be entirely a Kickstarter funded special edition geared for the fans of Louise Brooks who wish to know precisely what it was like meeting the famed cult figure in her declining years.  When the Kickstarter goal is met production will immediately begin and funders will receive a copy of the hardcover collectible book shipped to their home.  The book is limited to 100 copies and will NOT be available after this press run.  So pledge now to secure your copy or copies. I HAVE, AND YOU SHOULD TOO!

Tom Graves is best known as a writer of gritty fiction and nonfiction including his biography of bluesman Robert Johnson, Crossroads. His most recent book is the critically-acclaimed White Boy: A Memoir, the story of how Graves overcame the racism of his family and city. He was also a writer and producer of the Emmy-winning film Best of Enemies about the acrimonious 1968 debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. He owns the publishing company Devault Graves Books.

Monday, July 15, 2019

An Early Glimpse at Louise Brooks' Wichita, Kansas

On May 1, 1924 Louise Brooks was in New Brunswick, New Jersey -- performing at the Rivoli Theatre as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company. Some five days later, she was dismissed from the company by Ruth St. Denis, bringing an end to a glorious beginning to her professional life as a dancer and actress.

Had she not left her home to join Denishawn in the summer of 1922, the 17 year old Brooks might have been among the crowds lining the streets to watch the Boys Loyalty Parade as it marched down Douglas Avenue in downtown Wichita on May 1, 1924.

A few days ago, the Wichita Eagle broke the news about a rare five minute film documenting that very parade, offering rare glimpses of the very streets a teenage Brooks knew as home. According to the Wichita eagle, the recently discovered "five-minute clip, now posted on the [Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum's] YouTube Channel, shows a snapshot of life in Wichita 95 years ago. In it, hundreds of people in dresses, suits and hats fashionable in the day are lined up along the 100 block and 200 blocks of East Douglas watching as men and boys in suit jacks, ties and page boy caps proceed down the street representing various groups, including schools like Hamilton, Allison and Horace Mann and groups like the Lions Club and Boy Scouts."

Something that jumps out to me are the handful of young women wearing bobbed hair and bangs, similar to the style Brooks wore while attending high school in Wichita. One young women in particular is readily apparent in the lower left hand corner of the frame through out the beginning of this appropriately silent film.

The description of the film on Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum's YouTube page reads: "Parade on the 100 block of East Douglas looking west towards the Broadview Hotel (view of the Holland Theater, 118 E. Douglas and the Rothenberg at 128) and looking East to the Eaton Hotel and beyond (including the Kress at 224 and Innes at 300). Officials view the parade from a viewing platform in front of the Kansas Theater (221) the Walk-Over boot Shop (219) and Taylor's Cafeteria (217 E Douglas). Groups in the parade include the American Indian Institute, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Allison, Roosevelt, Hamilton, Harry Street, Ingalls, Horace Mann, and Cathedral schools, unidentified group of African American young men, and an unidentified girls and boys band. Most are on foot, but some ride bicycles. Street cars are in some scenes. Later footage shows the group swearing allegiance to the flag in what looks like a park.Boys' Loyalty Parade was sponsored by the Wichita Rotary Club."

I don't know that Brooks ever saw a movie at the Holland or Kansas theaters (mentioned above), or got a bite to eat at Taylor's Cafeteria  -- but she did go to Horace Mann school and was a member of the local girl scouts. This bit of film brings us that much closer to experiencing and understanding her early life. Here is a rare image of Louise Brooks, taken from her sophomore high school yearbook., followed by another rare image.

To learn more about the silent film star's early days, visit Louise Brooks: Day by Day 1906-1939 part 1 on the Louise Brooks Society website.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Diary of a Lost Girl, #MeToo classic of the silent era starring Louise Brooks, airs on TCM

Diary of a Lost Girl, a #MeToo classic of the silent era starring Louise Brooks, airs on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) tonight. Here is the LINK to today's schedule; check your local listing for the time this must-see film will be shown where you live.

Louise Brooks plays the title role — the “lost girl” — in Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, or Diary of a Lost Girl. The film tells the story of a young woman who is seduced and conceives a child, only to be sent to a home for wayward women before escaping to a brothel. Beneath its melodramatic surface, the film is a pointed social critique aimed at German society.

Here is the film's synopsis on the TCM website, "Thymiane is a beautiful young girl who is not having a storybook life. Her governess, Elizabeth, is thrown out of her home when she is pregnant, only to be later found drown. That same day, her father already has a new governess named Meta. Meinert, downstairs druggist, takes advance of her and gets Thymiane pregnant. When she refuses to marry, her baby is taken from her and she is put into a strict girls reform school. When Count Osdorff is unable to get the family to take her back, he waits for her to escape. She escapes with a friend and the friend goes with the Count while she goes to see her baby. Thymiane finds that her baby is dead, and the Count has put both girls up at a brothel. When her father dies, Thymiane marries the Count and becomes a Countess, but her past and her hatred of Meta will come back to her."

Diary of a Lost Girl is the second film Brooks made under the direction of G.W. Pabst. The first, Pandora’s Box, was also released in 1929. Like Pandora’s Box, this second collaboration was also based on a famous work of literature. Diary of a Lost Girl was based on the bestselling book of the same name by Margarete Böhme. At the time of its publication, one critic called it “the poignant story of a great-hearted girl who kept her soul alive amidst all the mire that surrounded her poor body.” That summation applies to the film as well.

If you can't watch Diary of a Lost Girl on TV, consider getting the DVD and book. In 2010, the Louise Brooks Society published a corrected and annotated edition of the original English language translation, bringing this important book back into print in the United States after more than 100 years. It includes an introduction by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society, detailing the book's remarkable history and relationship to the 1929 silent film. This special "Louise Brooks Edition" also includes more than three dozen vintage illustrations and is available through amazon.com

In 2015, Kino Lorber released the best available print of the film on DVD and Blu-ray. This recommended release features an audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz. Like the book, the film is also available through amazon.com

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