Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The American Venus, featuring Louise Brooks, was released on this day in 1926

The American Venus, featuring Louise Brooks, was released on this day in 1926. The film is a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a beauty pageant, namely the actual 1925 Miss America contest in Atlantic City. The film is the second in which Louise Brooks appeared, but the first for which she received screen credit. More about the film can be found on the Louise Brooks Society filmography page.

Production took place in the fall of 1925, beginning around August 24 and ending around November 10. (The exact dates are not known.) The film was shot in part in early September at the Miss America beauty pageant in Atlantic City, and later at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens), as well as on the Coney Island boardwalk, in Greenwich, Connecticut (in the vicinity of Round Hill and Banksville), and “near a swimming hole” in Ocala, Florida (the future shooting location of It's the Old Army Game).

In the United States, the film was also presented under the title La Venus Americana (Spanish-language press) and A Venus Americana (Portuguese-language press). 

Under its American title, documented screenings of the film took place in Australia (including Tasmania), Bermuda, British Malaysia (Singapore), Canada*, China, Dutch Guiana (Surinam), India **, Ireland, Jamaica, Korea, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa, and the United Kingdom (England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).

Elsewhere, The American Venus was shown under the title Vénus moderne (Algeria); Die Amerikanische Venus (Austria); A Venus Americana and La Venus Americana (Brazil); La Venus Americana (Chile); La Venus Americana (Cuba); Americká Venuše (Czechoslovakia) and Die amerikanische Venus (Czechoslovakia, German language); Den amerikanske venus (Denmark); La Venus Americana (Dominican Republic); De Moderne Venus (Dutch East Indies – Indonesia); Vénus moderne (Egypt); The Modern Venus (England); Miehen ihanne (Finland); Vénus moderne and Vénus américaine (France); Die Schönste Frau der Staaten (Germany); Az amerikai Vénusz (Hungary); Il trionfo di Venere and Trionfo di Venere (Italy); 美女競艶 or Bijo dai Kei tsuya  (Japan); Venus Moderne–Die Modern Venus (Luxembourg); La Venus americana (Mexico); De Moderne Venus (Netherlands);  Amerykan’ska Wenus and Venus Pokutujaca (Poland); A Vénus American (Portugal); Miss Amerika (Slovenia); Американская Венера (Soviet Union); La Venus americana and La Venus Moderna (Spain); Mannens ideal–Venus på amerikanska (Sweden); and La Venus moderne (Switzerland).

* The film was banned in the province of Quebec due to “nudities.”

** Bengali censorship records from 1927 called for the elimination of close-ups of women in the film’s tableaux, noting “The figures are too naked for public exhibition.”

Miss Bayport, the role played by Louise Brooks, was originally assigned to Olive Ann Alcorn, a stage and film actress who had bit parts in Sunnyside (1919) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

Townsend Martin, whose story served as the basis for the film, was a college friend of F. Scott Fitzgerald. According to the New Yorker and other publications, famed humorist Robert Benchley wrote the film’s titles.

The film was privately screened at the Atlantic City Ambassador Hotel as a benefit under the auspices of the Atlantic City Shrine Club on December 26, 1925. A benefit screening of the film also took place at midnight on December 31, 1925 in Oakland, California -- the hometown of star Fay Lanphier.

The American Venus officially premiered at the Stanley Theater in Atlantic City on January 11, 1926. It then opened at the Rivoli Theater in New York City on January 24, 1926.

The film was a hit. Such was it's "buzz" that according to the 1999 book, Russian Writings on Hollywood, author Ayn Rand reported seeing The American Venus in Chicago, Illinois not long after she left the Soviet Union. 


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