Thursday, July 30, 2020

Around the World with Louise Brooks, some trimmings from the cutting room floor

First off, a big THANK YOU to Leif Jensen for sending me images of three Louise Brooks' magazine covers from Denmark, one of which I had never seen before. I have added them to my forthcoming book, Around the World with Louise Brooks, and have added Leif's name to the book as well in the acknowledgements and on the pages where those images appear. I am so pleased to have received Leif's help, and am pleased also they he was so generous in sharing a few scans. It made my day.

Along with Leif's contributions, and a few new finds, I have been able to bring the total of vintage Louise Brooks' magazine covers shown in Around the World with Louise Brooks to 85. I think that is a wow!

Here are a few odds 'n ends which I can't make use of or don't have room for in Around the World with Louise Brooks. I thought I would share them with you. From a March 1928 issue of Cinegrafico, a publication from Argentina.

And here is a two page spread from a November 1927 issue of Swiatowid, an illustrated Polish magazine.

And lasting here is a page from a November 1926 issue of UFA Magazin displaying a still and a bit of verse about The American Venus, the film for which Louise Brooks received her first screen credit. Unfortunately, she is not pictured.

Monday, July 27, 2020

In need of some MORE Louise Brooks related images

This post is a follow-up to my previous post requesting help in locating material I would like to include in my forthcoming book, Around the World with Louise Brooks. I am in need of better, high-resolution scans of the following images. Can anyone help? I forgot to add this book cover to my previous post: I need a btter, high res image of Thomas Koebner's Halbnah, a German publication from 1999.

I would also like to get better scans of some more magazine covers. The first is a Danish magazine called Ugebladet. Additionally, I would like to know when this issue was published, either 1926 or more likely 1928. Does anyone have a better image (from which to read the date of issue, at least).

Also, does anyone know when exactly this issue of Ich bin Dein dates from? I am certain it is 1929, according to what I have been able to find out about this German story tabloid.

I only have this bad xerox of a cover of Kinematograph, a German magazine dating from either late 1928 or early 1929. Does anyone have a better image?

Or how about this 1929 French magazine, La Cinematographie Francaise, with Louise Brooks on the cover.

Does anyone have any scans of vintage magazine covers featuring Louise Brooks? I am especially interested in covers from Eastern Europe, China, Australia, Russia, or Latin America (excluding Brazil).

And lastly, does anyone - especially those who can read Japanese - know what this image promotess? Is it a movie poster, a magazine page, etc..... Apparently, Paramount issued it - but what for?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

In need of some Louise Brooks related images

I am in need of better, high-resolution scans of the following images. Can anyone help? The first comes from Belgium, and is the cover (I believe though am not certain), of a program for a showing of Le journal d'une fille perdue (The Diary of a Lost Girl). The image dates to circa 1960, and is by Serge Creuz, a Belgian artist / illustrator. Does anyone have a better image, or know exactly from when it dates?

The second is sheet music for "Zasu", a 1929 song penned by Jaroslav Ježek, a famed Czech composer. Does anyone have a better scan of this image?

The third is an Italian magazine named Maschietta dating from May 1926. Does anyone have a better scan ? And can anyone confirm the date of publication?

The forth is another magazine cover, an Italian magazine called La Cinematografia. It dates to the late 1920s. Does anyone have a bigger/better scan ? Or know the exact date of publication?

Additionally, does anyone know when this French publication, Mon Film, dates from? I think it is from 1930. Another thing, an earlier issue I have of Mon Film from December 1929 is priced at 5 francs. Why would this one be priced at only 1 franc?

Any help anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated! Oops, I forgot to add this book cover,for Thomas Koebner's Halbnah, a German publication.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Erling Bergendahl and Pola Negri and Clara Bow but not Louise Brooks

A follow-up to my June 9th post which centered on the Norwegian journalist and filmmaker Erling Bergendahl.... in which I had mentioned that I had come across a June 1928 article, "Ungdom og Stjernetitler," or "Youth and Stars," which appeared in Bien, a weekly Danish-language newspaper published in San Francisco, California. The article, as I mentioned, appeared on a page of news about Los Angeles, and was penned by Erling Bergendahl, a young Norwegian writer who lived for a short time in the United States.

Bergendahl's long article looks at the film careers of a handful of up-and-coming Paramount actors, including Ruth Taylor, Charles Rogers, Nancy Carrol, Richard Arlen, Gary Cooper, Fay Wray, James Hall, Lene Chandler, Mary Brian, Jack Luden and Louise Brooks. Bergendahl assesses the work (so far) of each actor. In the paragraph on Richard Arlen, Bergendahl states, "Louise Brooks, Arlens Hustru, har ikke haft nogen særlig optræden endnu, og forfatteren av denne artikel har ingéh ovedreven tro paa hendes stjernefremtid. Det samme gjælder James Hall," which translates into English as "Louise Brooks, Arlen's partner, hasn't had any special performances yet, and the author of this article has no great belief in her future stardom. The same goes for James Hall." Fair enough, I said then, as Brooks' best performances - including A Girl in Every Port and Beggars of Life and her three European films, were still ahead of her.

My earlier blog recounted Bergendahl's notable efforts as a film journalist and filmmaker, two career paths he followed when he returned to Norway. I also lamented the fact that I could not find a picture of Bergendahl, and wondered if he ever met Brooks - either in the United States or in Europe.

Last week, I was surprised and delighted to received an email from Norwegian great granddaughters, who said she had read my blog while recently looking into the life of her illustrious grandfather. Kit, who lives in Norway, wrote "Last month you wrote an article about the fragment of a connection between Louise Brooks and a Norwegian journalist, one Erling Bergendahl. You lamented briefly the lack of a photo of Mr Bergendahl to include with the article. I'm one of Mr Bergendahl's great granddaughters, and at my parents' I found a photograph of Erling Bergendahl with a woman who looks a tad bit like Louise Brooks: in fact I found your website trying to determine if my great grandfather had ever interviewed Brooks, because of the resemblance. My parents wish to identify the woman, so I've made a quick snap with my phone. The quality isn't great, but I hope that with your trained eye you might be able to determine whether it is in fact Louise Brooks, or if you might be able to give us some pointers on who it might be. If it turns out to actually be Brooks, I can see with my parents if they'd be willing to make a higher-quality scan that you could use to illustrate your article on my great grandfather (forever commemorating our shame at his mistaken prediction that Brooks wasn't destined for stardom, etc.). In any case, thank you for your time and your article about my great grandfather, which had details on his life my parents were unaware of!"

Here is the photo Kit sent of her great grandfather, sitting beside a women I identified as being Pola Negri, the Polish-born star who also worked for Paramount. Kit believes the photo was taken in the United States, but is not 100% sure. I wonder if any Pola Negri experts have ever seen this picture before?

I wished I could find out more about Erling Bergendahl and his work in the United States, beyond the few facts I uncovered and wrote about in my earlier post. (A search for "Erling Bergendahl" at LANTERN, for example, turned up only three hits, two from issues of the Film Daily Year Book dating from the 1930s, and one from Motion Picture Herald dating from 1953, while a search at LANTERN under just the keyword Bergendahl turned up a few more passing mentions referencing "E. Bergendahl.")

I don't know why I didn't check my other sources when I first wrote about Bergendahl, but I did manage to find some more bits and pieces about Bergendahl's few years in the United States. This piece, for example, about how Clara Bow drew the cover for a book by Bergendahl, was pretty remarkable! Do any Clara Bow experts know anything about the Norwegian author and the IT girl that might be of interest to Kit?

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Silents Under the Stars Streaming Live

There is a lot of good and great silent movies and related content streaming live "these days," by which I mean during the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, I have written about the Cineteca Milano, and how they had made the Louise Brooks film, Prix de beaute, available to stream online - the rare 1930 Italian version, no less! What a treat!

I have also blogged about the ongoing “The Silent Comedy Watch Party”, more info about that can be found HERE. The Silent Comedy Watch Party is a weekly live-streamed silent film show with live piano accompaniment. The show is co-hosted by film historian Steve Massa and silent film accompanist Ben Model. The shows streams live on Sunday afternoons at 3pm EDT on YouTube, free of charge. Each episode presents three slapstick comedy shorts from the silent film era, accompanied live by Ben Model on piano. The films are around 10-14 minutes apiece, and each is given a brief introduction with points of interest related to the performers and the film.

Now comes word of another special event, a live streaming of the annual Silents Under the Stars event from Southern California. The 2020 happening, which marks the event's 33 season, will be held on Vimeo, a video platform much like YouTube. This year, Silents Under the Stars goes virtual with what promises to be a very special program. This year's event will be streamed via Vimeo and YouTube on July 19 at 6pm Pacific, 9pm Eastern at  AND, it will be re-streamed via Vimeo and YouTube on July 26 at 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern, 6pm London and 7pm Paris at ​

The main attraction is THE DEADLIER SEX (1920) starring Blanche Sweet, Mahlon Hamilton and in his first featured role, Boris Karloff. Directed by Robert Thornby, released March 28, 1920, and distributed by Pathe. Shot in Truckee, California, with a running time of 56:53 minutes.

Screening in time to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote (August 18, 1920), THE DEADLIER SEX is a boardroom battle of the sexes between the daughter of a railroad magnate who kidnaps her business rival – taking him to the wilderness to save her father’s company and show him that money can’t buy everything. Blanche Sweet stars in this silent comedy with Boris Karloff in his first featured role! Musical arrangements and performances by Michael D. Mortilla.

Boris Karloff is a favorite actor, and I am really looking forward to seeing both THE DEADLIER SEX and LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD, from 1927 (the first year of Brooks' time in Hollywood). I am also looking forward to hearing what the special guests have to say!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Remembering Jack Garner, film critic and friend of Louise Brooks

Word came one week ago of the passing of Jack Garner, the longtime Rochester Democrat and Chronicle film critic and friend to Louise Brooks. (Read that post HERE.) Since then, Jack has been on my mind. I met him only once, but considered him a friend and am grateful for the many kindnesses he showed me and my Louise Brooks Society. There is more I want to say.... but first let me offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Bonnie. I never met her, regrettably, but through Jack's many Facebook posts, I feel I knew her at least a little bit. Jack and Bonnie were married nearly 50 years, which is a beautiful thing.

Jack Garner at the Little Theater in Rochester, NY - via radio station WXXI
There is more I would like to say about Jack..., especially his unique friendship with Louise Brooks. As mentioned, Jack was a longtime writer for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. As a local Rochester journalist, Jack enjoyed a special friendship with Louise, and wrote about the actress on a number of occasions. A search through the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle archive turns up more dozens of hits while searching under the combined terms of "Jack Garner" and "Louise Brooks".

The earliest piece I came across by Jack was dated April 9, 1980. On that date, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle ran a syndicated article by Bob Thomas on Kenneth Tynan's recently released book, Show People, which included Tynan's famous New Yorker profile of Louise Brooks, "The Girl in the Black Helmet." Jack added an adjunct article offering the local angle on Tynan's widely reviewed and bestselling book, namely Brooks' thoughts on being profiled by one of the most famous critics in the world. Jack's article, "He writes divinely", quotes Brooks extensively. And it is filled with gems of information from " 'I wrote 92 letters to him,' Miss Brooks said yesterday", to "College students ring my bell and ask me to write their term papers. I get lots of interesting offers like that." 

At the time, Jack's by-line described him as the "D&C Popular Arts Editor." But no matter what he covered, if there was a Louise Brooks' angle, Jack seemed to include it. For an April 1980 article on Erte, Jack spoke with the famous designer, writing He also remembered designing for Louise Brooks, when she was in George White's Scandals, on Broadway. 'She was very, very charming'." Jack's article continued, "Miss Brooks, an acclaimed star of early films, lives in retirement in Rochester. When told of Erte's comment, she remembered: 'When I was in Scandals in 1924, George White went over to Paris and had Erte design the costumes for the chorus girls. They arrived in enormous boxes at great expense backstage. I don't know what Parisian dressmakers thought, but the dresses didn't fit at all. They were all too small."

Other articles and snippets of conversation with Brooks followed over the years. There was the time in 1982, for example, when the George Eastman House hosted its Festival of Film Artists. Receiving awards were Joan Bennett, Maureen O'Sullivan, Luise Rainer and Sylvia Sydney, all of whom attended the special event, and three actress kept away by illness, Myrna Loy, Dolores Del Rio, and Louise Brooks. In his follow-up piece on the event, Jack wrote, "Before Friday night's awards, Rainer asked me to escort her for a visit with another recipient, Louise Brooks, who is ill in bed in her North Goodman Street apartment." Jack noted that the "two great actresses hit it off marvelously...." while mentioning a few topics of their conversation. Garner also reported that Brooks had been visited by Sylvia Sydney, accompanied by John Springer, and Joan Bennett, sister of Brooks old friend, Barbara Bennett.

Louise Brooks passed away in Rochester in August of 1985, and Jack Garner's reportage led the paper's multi-article, mutli-page coverage, which began not surprisingly on page one. "Her Rochester Years, Remembered by Film Critic Jack Garner" was one of a small handful of fascinating articles.

It would be great if the many articles about Brooks by Jack (and others) at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle were gathered up into a book, something under the title Lulu in Rochester. I think I once suggested something to that effect to Jack, but he explained that it was the paper and not himself that owned the copyright on the material. Nevertheless, it would make for a fascinating read. Long live Louise Brooks.

                                 And long live Jack Garner.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Jack Garner, longtime film critic and friend to Louise Brooks, dies

Jack Garner, longtime Rochester, New York film critic and friend to Louise Brooks and the Louise Brooks Society, has died at the age of age of 75. Garner was the longtime film critic for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Garner began reviewing films for the paper in 1977, beginning with the original Star Wars. A decade later he was chosen the chief film critic for Gannett newspapers, and provided reviews for more than 100 newspapers. He retired in 2007, though continued writing freelance arts columns. The Democrat and Chronicle ran an article earlier today noting his passing and recounting Garner's career, "Jack Garner, legendary film critic and institution in Rochester arts world, dies at 75." The Rochester NPR station, WXXI, also carried a remembrance. Read or listen to it HERE. Another local station, WHAM, also carried the news.

Jack Garner at the Little Theater in Rochester, NY - via WXXI

Garner's longtime residence in Rochester made him a local legend. He was a trustee at the Eastman Museum, and the second recipient of the museum's prestigious George Eastman Medal of Honor. Earlier this year, Garner was elected an Honorary Trustee of the Little Theatre. Garner's residence in Rochester also brought him into contact with the city's famed silent film star, Louise Brooks. Garner spoke with Brooks a number of times before her passing, and visited her at her Rochester apartment. He wrote a number of article for the Democrat and Chronicle about Brooks, and on a number of other occasions, quoted Brooks in articles on other films stars she new. Garner's journalism related to Brooks constitutes a noteworthy body of work on the actress. Garner also wrote the introduction to Peter Cowie's 2006 book, Louise Brooks, Lulu Forever.

I considered Jack a friend, and am grateful for his coverage of the Louise Brooks Society. In fact, he first mentioned the LBS in an article in the year 2000, twenty years ago. His piece, about film websites, described the LBS as "A fine example of a fan page, a thoughtful, artful site devoted to the life and times of a fabled silent movie legend, with rare articles from the '20s and superb photos." It was great exposure for my then 5 year old site: the article also appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Nashville Tennessean, Louisville Courier-Journal, Shreveport Louisiana Times, Asbury Park Press, Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, and and numerous other newspapers around the United States.

Over the years, Jack was also kind enough to have written about and reviewed each of my books in the pages of the Democrat and Chronicle, including most recently, my 2018 book, Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star. He also wrote up my DVD audio commentaries on Diary of a Lost Girl and Beggars of Life, giving each favorable notices.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jack Garner in 2015 when I visited Rochester and the Eastman House (now Eastman Museum) on a research trip. We met for dinner, and talked all night about Louise Brooks. That's when he so graciously signed my copy of Louise Brooks, Lulu Forever, "Any friend of Louise is a friend of mine...." The following day, Jack and I and documentary filmmaker Charlottle Siller appeared on WXXI to speak about the silent film star at the center of our lives. I am pictured below on the far left, Charlotte Siller is center, and Jack Garner is at the center right. Host Megan Mack is far right. You can listed to out conversation HERE.

I don't know what else to say about Jack. We remained in touch over the years, and were also friends on Facebook. He was a big guy - standing 6'9". He was also a fine fellow, someone greatly interested in the world, and in jazz. (Some of Garner's interests / journalism is contained in his 2013 book, From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories. There is also a chapter on Louise Brooks.) He also shared a Pulitzer Prize, for his pre-film critic journalism when he covered the Attica prison riot in 1971. I will always remember Jack, and will be grateful for his support and interest in Louise Brooks and my work.

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