Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Louise Brooks screening and booksigning at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles

The 29th of the month is turning out to be a special day for Pandora's Box and fans of the film's star, Louise Brooks.

Earlier today, on January 29th, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) screened the 1929 film as part of it's month long "Roaring Twenties on Film" celebration of flappers and all things Jazz Age. (Read Jay Carr's essay on the film HERE.)


And .... one month from today, on Leap Day February 29th, the American Cinematheque and Los Angeles Philharmonic have teamed up to show the film at the Egyptian theater in Los Angeles. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by composer and jazz pianist Cathlene Pineda along with trumpeter Stephanie Richards and guitarist Jeff Parker. Information and tickets made be found HERE.


But wait, there's more.... I have just been asked to sign copies of my Louise Brooks books at the Egyptian theater screening. I will have copies of Louise Brooks the Persistent Star on hand, as well as Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film and Now We're in the Air: A Companion to the Once Lost Film. I will also have a few last copies of the "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a  Lost Girl, a book which I edited and wrote the introduction to and brought back into print ten years ago. The famed Larry Edmunds bookshop will be handling sales. (This event marks my first book signing in Hollywood in a number of years - I signed books at Cinecon a few years ago. I hope to see everyone there!)

The American Cinematheque is screening a 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman Museum, whose preservation was funded by Hugh M. Hefner. If you live in Los Angeles and have never seen Pandora's Box on the BIG screen, let this be your chance to do so.

About Pandora's Box, the American Cinematheque staes: "As Henri Langlois once thundered, “There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!” Here she proves it with one of the wildest performances of the silent era, as the dancer-turned-hooker Lulu who attracts men like moths to a candle. Politicians, titans of industry and the aristocracy are all part of the milieu Lulu inhabits as the story begins; her eventual descent to a criminal underworld underlines the fragility of German society between the wars. The combination of Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (“It was sexual hatred that engrossed his whole being with its flaming reality,” she once said) is still astonishing."

Monday, January 27, 2020

New Book on German Cinema features Louise Brooks

A book on German cinema has recently been published in Italy which features Louise Brooks. Cinema tedesco: i film (or German Cinema: the films) edited by Leonardo Quaresima, was published at the beginning of 2019, but just came to my attention when I received a message from one of the contributors, Giuliana Disanto. She wrote, "I'd like to inform you about a publication of my essay, "Il vaso di Pandora di Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Dalla parola alla visione," or "Pandora's Box by Georg Wilhelm Pabst. From word to vision." Disanto, who teaches at the University of Salento, added that her 21 page essay interest to the members of the Louise Brooks Society. She is right. More information about the book is available (in Italian) HERE.

According to the publisher in Italian: "Lungo l’arco della sua traiettoria, il cinema tedesco ha avuto a più riprese grandissimo rilievo, esercitando anche un ruolo di punta sul piano internazionale. Il volume ripercorre questa storia attraverso una selezione dei film che ne sono stati protagonisti: dalla stagione del “cinema d’autore” degli anni Dieci, in cui il nuovo mezzo si avvalse della collaborazione dei più noti protagonisti della scena letteraria e teatrale dell’epoca, al periodo weimariano, caratterizzato dalle invenzioni del cinema espressionista e dalla messa a punto di un complesso, raffinato sistema linguistico; dalla fase che accompagna gli anni del nazismo, in cui si fa portavoce delle parole d’ordine del regime, ma anche delle sue, ancor oggi dibattute, contraddizioni, al periodo apparentemente più provinciale dell’immediato dopoguerra, oggetto peraltro di riletture e riconsiderazioni in anni recenti; dall’exploit del Neuer Deutscher Film, che riporta il cinema tedesco a una posizione preminente nel contesto europeo, alla situazione degli ultimi decenni, orientata verso gli standard del racconto internazionale, ma non senza varchi verso modelli autoriali e sintesi tra questi due ambiti."

According to the publisher in English: "Over the course of its trajectory, German cinema has been important on several occasions, exercising a leading role on the international level. This volume traces this story through a selection of the star films: from the "auteur cinema" of the 1910s, in which the new medium made use of the collaboration of the best known protagonists of the literary and theatrical scene of the time, to the Weimar period, characterized by the invention of expressionist cinema and the development of a complex, refined linguistic system; from the phase accompanying the years of Nazism, in which it spoke the slogans of the regime, but also of its still debated contradictions, to the apparently more provincial period of the immediate post-war period, the subject of re-readings and reconsiderations in recent years; from the exploit of Neuer Deutscher Film, which brings German cinema back to a pre-eminent position in the European context, to the situation of the last decades, oriented towards the standards of international narrative, but not without gaps towards authorial models and synthesis between these two areas." The book includes essays by Paolo Bertetto, Francesco Bono, Lorella Bosco, Sonia Campanini, Simone Costagli, Giulia A. Disanto, Luisella Farinotti, Antioco Floris, Matteo Galli, Massimo Locatelli, Francesco Pitassio, Leonardo Lent, Luigi Reitani, Giovanni Spagnoletti, Domenico Spinosa, and Anita Trivelli.

Leonardo Quaresima, the editor, is Senior Professor at the University of Udine. In Germany, he curated, in particular, the revised and expanded edition of From Caligari to Hitler by Kracauer (2004), the Italian edition of The Visible Man by Balázs (2008), and the writings of Joseph Roth on cinema (2015). His other publications are focussed on Leni Riefenstahl (1985), Edgar Reitz (1988), Walter Ruttmann (1994).


Cinema tedesco: i film is available on amazon in Italy, France, Germany, England and elsewhere including either as a print book or as an ebook. I just ordered the ebook / kindle version from amazon in the United States.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Ukraine, Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box

I have learned a lot watching the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump on television, least of which is the pronunciation of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. It is pronounced Keeeve, not Key-ev.

In the course of my ongoing research into the world-wide presentation of Brooks' films, I have found that that they were shown in the Ukraine, which in the silent and early sound era was unwillingly part of Russia (aka the former Soviet Union dba the U.S.S.R.) The results of my research will be published in Around the World with Louise Brooks, which will be released later this year.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to access search results on the sole Ukrainian newspaper archive I have come across, LIBRARIA Ukrainian Online Periodicals Archive. (Search results are only available to institutions, not individuals.) The one and only intriguing piece I found is this half-page article on Buchse de Pandora published in Vorwärts, a German-language newspaper from Chernivtsi in what is now western Ukraine. (UPDATE: In the 1920s, Chernivtsi was part of Romania.) As the Ukrainian database noted above won't let me see anything more than a thumbnail image, I have enlarged it and posted it below. Can any readers of this blog access the above mentioned database and clip this page? I emailed the archive earlier but never heard back.


Otherwise, I have found one other clipping which details when and where the actress' films were shown in the Ukraine. Below is an advertisement for a showing of Pandora's Box (known as Puszka Pandory or Dzieje Kokoty Lulu) published in May, 1929 in Chwila, a Polish-language Zionist daily from Lwów, a city in what is now western Ukraine, around 70 kilometers from the border with Poland. (UPDATE: In the 1920s, Lwów was part of Poland.)


Certainly, there is more to be found ....as I have a number of clippings from nearby nations such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Russia. Below, for example, is an ad from the English-language Moscow Daily News.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Louise Brooks at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1977 and 1980

I concluded my previous post concerning a book about avant-garde women of the 1920s by posting a picture of Herbert Bayer's extraordinary 1929 photomontage, "Profil en face." I thought it appropriate to show the use of Louise Brooks' image within modernism, specially the work of an artist associated with the Bauhaus.
Herbert Bayer's "Profil en face" (1929)
After finishing the blog, I thought to spend a bit of time web surfing and followed a link someone had just posted to Facebook and checked out an article on one of my favorite websites, Open Culture. The 2016 article, Every Exhibition Held at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Presented in a New Web Site: 1929 to Present, detailed a digital exhibition archive which presents various materials such as installation photos, checklists, brochures, and catalogs related to every show mounted at the famed New York City museum.

Skipping through MoMA's remarkable exhibition history, I came across a show called "Herbert Bayer: Photographic Works." I have always liked this artist, and checked out the supporting materials. Guess what I found? Bayer's little-known photomontage was included in the exhibit, and there was Louise Brooks' image (or at least half her profile) hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in New York between October 31, 1977 and January 29, 1978.

Some of Bayer's most iconic images - photograph by Katherine Keller

I was excited. And though I already own two other books on Bayer's work, I tracked down a second-hand copy of the out-of-print catalog for this particular show and ordered it. Hopefully, it might contain some information on Bayer's use of Brooks' image.

I continued my tour of MoMA's exhibition history and came across another show which included not one, but two images of Brooks. This exhibit, "Hollywood Portrait: Photographers, 1921–1941" ran December 5, 1980 to February 28, 1981.  It included the famed pearl portrait taken by Eugene Robert Richee, as well as another publicity portrait of Brooks in men's clothing taken around the time she made Beggars of Life.

Hollywood photography at its best - photograph by Mali Olatunji


This particular exhibit, one of a number of nifty film related exhibits mounted by MoMA, was put on at the height of the Brooks' revival prior to her death. The pearl portrait is third from the left.

More great Hollywood photography - photograph by Mali Olatunji
The Beggars of Life publicity portrait of Brooks is sixth from the left. And below is a larger view of the image.

I find it very interesting that Brooks' image was included in exhibits at NY MoMA. I hadn't known they were ... but more than that, it shows Brooks herself to be part and parcel of 20th century modernism, and not just a cult figure within the realm of film history. That is fascinating!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Louise Brooks and Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde

I finally got a copy of a recently published book, Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde by Thomas Bleitner. This 176 page book, which was published in September in the United States by Abbeville, looks at the lives of seventeen influential women of the Jazz Age including Louise Brooks. A bit more information about the book can be found HERE.

According to the publisher, "It was a time of unimagined new freedoms. From the cafés of Paris to Hollywood's silver screen, women were exploring new modes of expression and new lifestyles. In countless aspects of life, they dared to challenge accepted notions of a “fairer sex,” and opened new doors for the generations to come. What’s more, they did it with joy, humor, and unapologetic charm.

Exploring the lives of seventeen artists, writers, designers, dancers, adventurers, and athletes, this splendidly illustrated book brings together dozens of photographs with an engaging text. In these pages, readers will meet such iconoclastic women as the lively satirist Dorothy Parker, the avant-garde muse and artist Kiki de Montparnasse, and aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, whose stories continue to offer inspiration for our time. Women of the 1920s is a daring and stylish addition to any bookshelf of women's history."

Among the other notable women profiles in Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde are Zelda Fitzgerald, Nancy Cunard, Tamara de Lempicka, Lee Miller, Claude Cahun, Clara Bow, Anita Berber, Josephine Baker, and Elisa Schiaparelli. Early on, Lee Miller saw Brooks dance when Brooks was a member of Denishawn. Once Brooks entered the movies, she became acquainted with Clara Bow, and later met Zelda Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker (and possibly Dorothy Parker).


The illustrated eight page chapter on Louise Brooks is, frankly, a superficial look at the actress' career. No new information is offered, and curiously, French director Rene Clair is referenced as "author Rene Clair."

Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde does present Brooks as a glamorous style icon, but does not really establish any links to the avant-garde (which do exist). For example, Brooks was admired by the Surrealists (and her films were shown alongside Surrealist efforts); she was the subject of a portrait by a Bauhaus artist, was acquainted with individuals associated with modernism (aside from Edward Steichen, George Gershwin, and Jean Patou, who are noted), etc.... When mentioning Brooks tenure with the Denishawn Dance Company, the book fails to note Denishawn as a modernist enterprise. The only linkage to anything avant-garde is the correct, the loose association of Brooks' three European films with expressionism. (Want to see an expressionist film, watch The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, or G.W. Pabst's Secrets of a Soul.)

For the general interest reader, Bleitner's Women of the 1920s: Style, Glamour, and the Avant-Garde is a satisfactory introduction to a fascinating period in gender and social history. The book contains a number of 'swonderful and appropriate images and illustrations - except, curiously, that the selection related to Brooks seem to be the those least satisfactorily reproduced.

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Want to read more about Louise Brooks and the avant-garde, check out this earlier LBS blog Louise Brooks, Modernism, the Surrealists, and the Paris of 1930.

Herbert Bayer's "Facing Profiles."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Edgar Blue Washington - an African American in a Louise Brooks film

To mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let's look at the career of one of the few African Americans to appear in a Louise Brooks film.

African-Americans, in bit parts, can be found in The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), American Venus (1926), Canary Murder Case (1929), and King of Gamblers (1937). The most prominent part played by an African-American was the role of Black Mose in Beggars of Life. Black Mose was played by Edgar "Blue" Washington (1898 – 1970). Unusually so, Washington received sixth billing, and his name appeared on the screen alongside stars and supporting players Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Robert Perry and Roscoe Karns. Throughout his long film career, Washington appeared mostly in bit parts. Beggars of Life marked a high point.

Edgar Washington, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen

 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.”

Washington was an actor (sometimes credited as Edgar Washington and sometimes Blue Washington) as well as a one-time Los Angeles prizefighter and Negro League baseball player. He appeared in 74 films between 1919 and 1961. In between acting jobs, he was also an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. The nickname "Blue" came from director Frank Capra, a friend.


Washington was born in Los Angeles. Before getting into acting, he played for various teams in the Negro League. He was a pitcher for the Chicago American Giants starting in 1916. And in 1920, he was invited to join the newly formed Kansas City Monarchs, where he started at first base and batted .275 in 24 official league games. After a few months of barnstorming, Washington left the Monarchs. In December of 1920, after he had started acting, Washington rejoined the Los Angeles White Sox for a few games; he was also believed to have later played for Alexander’s Giants in the integrated California Winter League.**

Harold Lloyd helped Washington break into films, and this pioneering African-American actor appeared in the legendary comedian’s Haunted Spooks (1920) and Welcome Danger (1929). Sporadic work followed throughout the 1920s, as Washington appeared in movies alongside early stars Ricardo Cortez, William Haines, Richard Barthelmess, Ken Maynard, and Tim McCoy.
Richard Arlen, William Wellman, Edgar Washington

Beggars of Life director William Wellman worked again with Washington 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 at least a small part include the Charley Bower’s short There It Is (1928), King Vidor's all-black Hallelujah (1929), Rio Rita (1929), Mary Pickford's Kiki (1931), King Kong (1933), Roman Scandals (1933), Annie Oakley (1935), Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman (1936), and Gone with the Wind (1939).

Washington was also in three installments in the Charlie Chan series, and appears as Clarence the 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 roles traded on racial stereotypes. His last part, as a limping attendant in a billiards hall, was in the classic Paul Newman film, The Hustler (1961).
Richard Arlen, Edgar Washington

** 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.

[This blog is drawn, in part, from my 2017 book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and is indebted to Mark V. Perkins excellent biography on the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) website. Give both a read!]
 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Fantagraphics releases volume 5 of Louise Brooks inspired Valentina comix

Fantagraphics, one of the leading publishers of comix and graphic novels in the world, has announced the release of volume 5 in its ongoing publication of the complete Valentina, by Italian artist Guido Crepax. This 450 page hardcover book retails for $85.00. More information about the book can be found HERE.



In volume 5, "Bonnie and Clyde, Louise Brooks, and the globetrotting photographer Valentina (a movie and TV star herself!) take center stage. The Complete Crepax Vol. 5: American Stories collects stories that span 1968–1986, such as “The Man from Harlem,” Crepax’s ode to boxer Joe Louis and jazz. In other tales, Valentina attempts to balance new relationships with lovers Bruno and Effi alongside the domestic life she shares with Phil. Meanwhile, Valentina’s rich fantasy life goes Hollywood. Bonnie and Clyde make an appearance, and there are several homages to the silent film era. The first is the wordless BDSM classic, “The Magic Lantern”; and in the second, she “meets” one of her inspirations — actress Louise Brooks!"

Guido Crepax was born in Milan in 1933 and died in 2003. After acquiring a degree in architecture, he worked on publicity campaigns for such corporations as Shell and Dunlop and book covers and jazz LP jackets before contributing comics to the Italian magazine Linus in 1965. He went on to become one of Italy’s most important cartoonists. 
 Information about some of the earlier volumes in the series can be found on the Fantagraphics website. Volume 1 does not seem to be available, though volume 4, volume 3, and volume 2 are available, as is a special boxed set of volumes 3 & 4. These books are rather expensive, and are seemingly only? available in a digital format. Fantagraphics is also offering a Valentina game, pictured below. "Valentina: the Game features illustrated snapshots of the globetrotting heroine’s adventures—in glorious color! Players assemble tiles to..."

 


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Pandora's Box, starring Louise Brooks, screens in Los Angeles in February

Pandora's Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks, will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles on February 29, 2020. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by composer and jazz pianist Cathlene Pineda along with trumpeter Stephanie Richards and guitarist Jeff Parker. This special event is being presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the American Cinematheque. More information and tickets made be found HERE. [See the previous post for another screening of Pandora's Box in February, this time in England.]


According to the Philharmonic website: "Weimar cinema classic Pandora's Box stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, a dancer-turned-hooker who attracts men (and the occasional Countess) like moths to a candle. Marlene Dietrich, then on the cusp of stardom, was considered for the role of the amoral young woman until director G.W. Pabst fixed on Brooks after seeing her in A Girl in Every Port. The American actress brought a vivacity and naturalism to the role – as well as a distinctive bob hairstyle – that gives one of the wildest performances of the silent era continuing resonance with audiences.

If Louise Brooks stands out as an unusually modern woman in Pandora's Box, the film itself serves as a fascinating window on an earlier era. Politicians, titans of industry, and the aristocracy are all part of the milieu Lulu inhabits as the story begins; her eventual descent to a criminal underworld underlines the fragility of German society between the wars. Less than a year after Pandora's Box premiered in Berlin, the stock market crashed in America, pulling the financial rug out from under the Weimar Republic and setting the stage for Hitler’s rise. The Roaring Twenties were over.

While Lulu’s end is not a happy one, Pandora's Box is much more than a juicy morality tale. With tight pacing and a touch of humor, filmmaker Pabst proves a good match for his leading lady (he would also collaborate with Brooks on Diary of a Lost Girl later that year), and Günther Krampf’s B&W cinematography brings the film’s varied people and places into sharp relief. Talent on both sides of the camera elevate what could have been mere melodrama to a celebration of passions unleashed. Even if you can’t always get what you want, desire is a universal language, and Pandora's Box still speaks it eloquently."

[Of course, I have my doubts about A Girl in Every Port leading Pabst to Brooks, but be that as it may.]



The L. A. Philharmonic / American Cinematheque screening is part of a month's worth or related concerts, performances, screenings and exhibits centering on Germany's Weimar Republic  (1918-1933). The Philharmonic's website states "In the 1920s, Germany saw a remarkable cultural renaissance prior to the rise of Nazism. Intellectualism and modernism took root in the chaotic social and economic climate between world wars. The arts and sciences burst with imagination, queer identities were brought to the forefront, and the lines between high and low art were erased. Join in a wide-ranging look at this fascinating, turbulent time." More information about this series of events can be found HERE.

Max Beckmann, Paris Society, 1931. Oil on canvas, 43 x 69 1/8 inches (109.2 x 175.6 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Monday, January 6, 2020

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

Pandora's Box (1929), starring Louise Brooks, will be shown at the Cinema City in Norwich, England on February 24, 2020. More information and tickets made be found HERE.



According to the Cinema City website: "One of the great silent films, G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box is renowned for its sensational storyline, 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."


Speaking of Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box and England, UK author, film critic and Louise Brooks Society friend Pamela Hutchinson has announced that a second edition of her BFI (British Film Institute) Film Classics title, Pandora's Box, will be released this year. Though the book itself is the same, Hutchinson recommended read will feature a new cover! More information about the book can be found HERE.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Louise Brooks and Linda Ronstadt

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet a number of people who share my interest / passion for Louise Brooks. Some are well known. I am thinking of individuals like the singer Rufus Wainwright, novelist Laura Moriarty (The Chaperone), Oscar honoree Kevin Brownlow, actor Paul McGann (Doctor Who), and the singer Linda Ronstadt, to name a few. Last night, I finally had the chance to see the recent documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice. Seeing that film led me to reminisce about the time I met the acclaimed singer.


Our meeting came about this way.... back when I lived in San Francisco, we had a common friend. She was someone I worked with. And as I was always blabbering on about old movies, this friend knew of my interest in silent film, and my regular attendance at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. One day, in 2014, Linda expressed interest in seeing Ramona (1928), a newly found film the Festival had just shown. The now retired singer couldn't make the event, but still hoped to see this early version of the classic California story which starred the Mexican-born actress Dolores del Rio.


Our common friend mentioned Linda's interest, and I offered to loan my review copy of Ramona. The disc was relayed to the singer, and inside I inserted one of my business cards so it might find its way back to me.


I hadn't known it then, but Linda was something of a devotee of Louise Brooks. As I was soon to learn, she had seen a few of Brooks' available films, and had also read the Barry Paris bio and Brooks' own Lulu in Hollywood, as well as the then recently released Brooks' inspired novel, The Chaperone. Seeing my Louise Brooks Society business card peaked Linda's interest, and she asked our common friend if we might like to meet.

I was thrilled. Linda invited me to her San Francisco home and we chatted about Brooks and her life and films for nearly an hour. We talked about Diary of a Lost Girl and Pandora's Box, and which we liked the best and how they effected us. We talked about how we first came across the actress, and the remarkable telling of her life story in the Barry Paris biography. I told Linda about the Louise Brooks Society, and about some of my related projects and some of the people I have met, like Barry Paris and filmmaker Hugh Munro Neeley (Louise Brooks Looking for Lulu). She told me about a NYC friend of hers who was writing a play based on Brooks, and about how she wore her hair in a bob inspired by the silent film star (see the portrait above), and how on Halloween she would sometimes dress up like a flapper a la Brooks! As comes across in Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, the singer is someone keenly interested in the world and culture, be it in music, art, people, or film. Linda told me she had seen other silent movies, and had even once met Lillian Gish.

Eager to see other Brooks' films and learn more about the actress, Linda asked to borrow a few DVDs as well as Peter Cowie's then out-of-print and somewhat hard-to-find coffee table book, Louise Brooks Lulu Forever. I loaned her some silent film DVDs, as well as the Cowie book. Linda liked the latter so much she asked me to track down a copy for her, which I did.

In the years since, Linda and I visited a couple more times, and have exchanged emails on a few other occasions. It has been a great pleasure to know her, if only just a bit, and to share a mutual enthuisism. That's is what the "Society" in Louise Brooks Society is all about. If you haven't seen Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, I encourage everyone to do so. It is terrific, entertaining, rather interesting, and even inspiring. In the words of the Hollywood Reporter, it "will make you fall in love with [Linda] all over again" and "will delight the singer's old fans and likely make her many new ones as well.” I really enjoyed it. And I think you will too.

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