Thursday, August 27, 2020

New Louise Brooks DVD - Prix de beaute released in Italy

Prix de beaute, the Louise Brooks film made in France in 1930, has just been released on DVD in Italy. I haven't yet received a copy, but I assume this to be the silent version of the 1930 film as released in Italy. (Prix de beaute was released as both a silent and sound film in as many as four different languages.) Earlier this year, near the onset of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, Il Cinema Ritrovato made a streaming version of this classic film available. Read more HERE.

Here is the description of this new release as found on the Il Cinema Ritrovato website. The DVD is for sale there, and on amazon Italy; I also noticed a copy has popped up on eBay.

This new release features 2 DVDs and a booklet - curated by Mariann Lewinsky and Andrea Meneghelli.

Presented in the world premiere or in the most recent restorations, four films to rediscover the genius of Augusto Genina and the extraordinary generation of actresses, between stardom and post-stardom, who illuminated his silent cinema. Goodbye youth! (1918): from the famous comedy by Camasio and Oxilia, miraculously rediscovered, a film of palpitating naturalness, inhabited by the radiant presence of Maria Jacobini. The mask and the face (1919): a satirical and abrasive comedy of matrimonial and sexual customs, which bursts into the cinema of the time with unprecedented audacity. Goodbye youth! (1927): a remake, but it's like a century has passed. Genina and her muse Carmen Boni look to international cinema and create a stunning modern romantic comedy. Prix ​​de beauté (1930): the farewell and apotheosis of the silent Genina. Louise Brooks shines with all her innocent and sensual aura in a timeless European masterpiece.

With essays by Mariann Lewinsky, Andrea Meneghelli, Paola Cristalli, Michele Canosa and six portraits of actresses by Vittorio Martinelli.
Lately, while working on Around the World with Louise Brooks, I have been spending time with all the material I have collected on Prix de beaute. And while doing so, I came across a 1989 Italian book on director Augusto Genina which I didn't have and which I ordered. Though I don't read or speak Italian, flipping through this new-to-me volume got me even more interested in this Italian-born director. Thus, I am looking forward to seeing three more of his early films. I can't wait for my disc to arrive... I plan on blogging about this new DVD sometime soon.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Something to read about Louise Brooks, recently on the web

If you are stuck at home these days and are spending more time than ever looking for something to read or watch, might I recommend.... a couple of worthwhile articles which have popped up which I would like to recommend everyone check out.

The first is by Jan-Christopher Horak, and it is titled "The Last Days of Louise Brooks." It appeared on Jan-Christopher's blog, Archival Spaces: Memory, Images, History. Jan-Christopher is an impressive fellow. He is a film archivist, teacher, and the author or editor of a handful of books including Lovers of Cinema: The First American Film Avant-Garde, 1919-1945, and Dream Merchants: Making and Selling Films in Hollywood's Golden Age. I have met him a couple times over the years, and recently emailed him about his contribution to an Austrian book about Louise Brooks called Louise Brooks: Rebellin, Ikone, Legende

On August 15, Jan-Christopher posted the English-language version of the piece which appeared in the above mentioned Austrian book. (The piece was first published in German.) Besides his many accomplishments, Jan-Christopher was also once associated with the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. And that's how he came to meet Louise Brooks. "I met Louise Brooks for the first time in 1975, long after her Hollywood career had ended, when she was living on N. Goodman Street in Rochester, N.Y., around the block from my apartment. At the time, I was a paid post-graduate intern at George Eastman House and confess that when I met her in Curator George Pratt’s office, she was to me just another silent film actress." Jan-Christopher's piece goes on to recount his observations of Brooks, and his visit to her spartan apartment. It is a special piece, which I recommend everyone take the time to read.

Another piece I think everyone might enjoy reading is "Double Lives: On Louise Brooks’s 'Thirteen Women in Films',” by Maya Cantu, which appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books on August 15. It is a consideration-meditation of Louise Brooks as a feminist icon. I think it is a thoughtful piece. Cantu, like Horak, is an academic. She teaches Drama and Literature at Bennington College, and is the author of American Cinderellas on the Broadway Musical Stage: Imagining the Working Girl from Irene to Gypsy.

While I agree with much of what Cantu says in her piece, I must disagree with her assessment (or her hinging part of her argument on) of a recently released docu-drama, Silent and Forgotten. I viewed it in pre-release, and think it is somewhat weak tea. [An earlier LBS blog on the video was posted here on September 14, 2019.] Nevertheless, I encourage everyone to watch it and to read the Cantu piece and to see for themselves.

In Silent and Forgotten, a single actress (Jacquie Donley) re-enacts the stories of 13 of the most famous actresses of the silent era, including Brooks. However, as one reviewer put it,   Donley "has a passing resemblance to Brooks and even seems to channel her pretty well, but makes an unconvincing everyone else."

Silent and Forgotten, an independent film our from Summer Hill Entertainment, is out on DVD at a reasonable $9.99, and is also available for streaming on Amazon Prime (at this time). Here is the long version of the trailer, which give the flavor of the film.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Around the World with Louise Brooks, a few LAST trimmings from the cutting room floor

A continuation of the series of previous posts.... Here are a couple more odds 'n ends which I can't make use of or don't have room for in Around the World with Louise Brooks. The first is a three page Spanish language article about Hollywood which unfortunately doesn't mention Louise Brooks. I don't remember where it is from, likely a South American publication circa 1930. That was sloppy of me.

And lastly, here is another undated, unsourced clipping from Austria which does depict Louise Brooks. This page is titled "Wie war es mit einer Volksabstimmung" or "How about a referendum".  Instead, I will title this somewhat bizarre piece "babes and battleships."

Monday, August 10, 2020

Around the World with Louise Brooks, even a FEW MORE trimmings from the cutting room floor

A continuation of the series of previous posts.... Here is another odds 'n ends which I can't make use of or don't have room for in Around the World with Louise Brooks. As with the earlier post in this series, here is an eight page French language article on Hollywood which mentions both Louise Brooks and her one-time husband, Eddie Sutherland. (Brooks and Sutherland are mentioned on the fourth page.) This article comes from a March 1929 issue of a scarce French film magazine, PhotoCine, and comes complete with pictures of various movie stars and their homes as well as some 'swonderful caricatures. Enjoy.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Louise Brooks - actress remembered as artist

Louise Brooks, in the years before her passing
Louise Brooks died on this day in 1985. Articles and obituaries were carried in newspapers across the United States and around the world. Brooks' passing was news, and a few pieces even appeared on the front page and above the fold, none more prominently than on the front page of the August 9 issue of the Democrat and Chronicle, the newspaper in Rochester, New York -- the  city were the former silent film star had long lived. Besides the front page piece, there were three other articles inside the paper. Additional pieces appeared in the newspaper in the days that followed.

Barry Paris penned a moving tribute that appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on August 14th. It was titled "Natural actress remembered as artist." I titled this post after that title. Some of the other obits which appeared include this Los Angeles Times headline, "Rebellious Silent Film Beauty Dies."

The use of the word rebel was picked-up on in other headlines, like this one, "Louise Brooks, 78, rebel star who didn't shine in Hollywood," from the Chicago Tribune.

To criticize, to shun "enslavement," or to give up stardom is to make you a rebel, or anti-star, as these three headline suggest. Each of them, from the newspapers in Camden, New Jersey, Tucson, Arizona, and Louisville, Kentucky respectively - each drew from the same syndicated, wire service story (either the Los Angeles Times or Associated Press), but drew a different moral from Brooks' life story.

In 1985, many newspaper readers likely didn't know who Louise Brooks had been. Thus, some headlines had to contextualize her in both their headline and in the caption that might have accompanied any image, like this example from The Record, the newspaper in Hackensack, New Jersey.

And this example from the Los Angeles Times, which notes her cult standing because of Pandora's Box, her best know film: 

Explanation via contextualization is the aim of this Canadian headline from the Edmonton Journal in Edmonton, Alberta "'America's Venus," Louise Brooks Dies."

"Film queen" is not a term used much if at all anymore. But this headline employed it in 1985, perhaps to reflect a bygone era. This curious headline, "Silent film queen Louise Brooks dies," come from  the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, out of Fort Worth, Texas.

The use of the word "queen" was picked up by various papers, including the Sacramento Bee - the newspaper in Sacramento, California, where I now live. Here is the same headline repeated. But what grabbed my attention was the portrait of a youthful Brooks, smiling. It is an uncommon image of a most uncommon person.

Monday, August 3, 2020

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

A continuation of the previous two posts.... Here are a couple more odds 'n ends which I can't make use of or don't have room for in Around the World with Louise Brooks.The first piece is a five page Spanish language article on Hollywood. This article comes from a July 1930 article in a rare Chilean film magazine, Revista Cinematografica y Teatral, published by Empressa Zig-Zag. Truly. I believe the author is Sr. Carlos F. Borcosque. This piece seems like an original look at early Hollywood, with many stars mentioned and one pictured, namely Buster Keaton. This piece seems just like the kind of piece author and Hollywood historian Mary Mallory might like.

And secondly and lastly, here is an Austrian Hollywood photographic montage by Rudolph Myzet which does in fact depict Louise Brooks (she is hard to spot) - as well as a few a few of her Paramount co-stars and contemporaries, like W.C. Fields and Wallace Beery and Neil Hamilton and Evelyn Brent and Clara Bow. (I spent more than a few minutes zooming in and trying to recognize Brooks' face, but just couldn't find it until it was pointed out to me.) Charlie Chaplin watch out - a shooting star is about to bonk you in the head!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

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

A continuation of yesterday's post.... Here are a couple more odds 'n ends which I can't make use of or don't have room for in Around the World with Louise Brooks. Both come from the December 1930 issue of Vita Cinematografica, an Italian film magazine. This first piece, an article titled "Greta Garbo donna d'affari," seems to be an article about the mysterious allure of the Swedish actress. It starts by describing three other mysterious and alluring stars, the Russian actress Vera Baranovskaya,
Louise Brooks, and the German actress Brigitte Helm. Then briefly mentioned are Lya de Putti,
Bessie Love, and Anita Page. Perhaps an Italian reader could offer a better explanation, but I would guess that these other actresses are evoked in an article about Garbo in comparison to the renowned actress and elusive beautiful.

The paragraph on Brooks reads thus, in translation: "Louise Brooks, with bright black eyes, an impassive face and a supple body, has blossomed in a heavy atmosphere of contented passion, anguish, unsatisfied desires, feverish voluptuousness. She is, at times, cold and ardent, deadly and quivering: one would say the sign of vice." 

The above article was, I believe, authored by Paul Rejac and originally appeared in Cinemonde, an French magazine. I will have to try and track that down. Brooks appeared on the cover of Cinemonde four times, and those four covers appear in Around the World with Louise Brooks.

The next clipping, which also depicts Louise Brooks and a few other actresses, also appeared in the December 1930 issue of Vita Cinematografica. The piece is a holiday greeting.

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