Thursday, March 31, 2022

More on the newly restored Louise Brooks film The Street of Forgotten Men

Pop Matters has just published my article on the newly restored Louise Brooks film, The Street of Forgotten Men. Please check it out.

The piece, "Restored Silent Film The Street of Forgotten Men Debuts Louise Brooks," looks at the film and the efforts that went into its preservation. I spoke with Robert Byrne of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, who led the team that restored the film, creating a "filmic bridge" to replace the missing second reel.

The restored film will premiere at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at the historic Castro theater. (Runtime: 74 min -- Print Source: SFSFF Collection -- Format: 35mm) More information about that event can be found HERE.

The May 10th screening will be accompanied by the great Donald Sosin. He has been creating and performing silent film music for fifty years, playing for major festivals, archives, and DVD recordings. He has been resident accompanist at New York’s Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. His scores are heard regularly on Turner Classic Movies and his music accompanies films on more than fifty DVD releases. Donald has performed at SFSFF since 2007.

Image credit: Pamela Gentile

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Newly restored Louise Brooks film to screen in May !!!

BIG NEWS FOR FANS OF LOUISE BROOKS. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has announced it will screen its newly restored print of The Street of Forgotten Men, the film which marks the actress' first appearance in a movie. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival is scheduled to take place May 5 through 11 at the historic Castro theater in San Francisco. The Street of Forgotten Men will be shown on Tuesday, May 10 with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin. More info HERE.

Though a popular and critical success at the time of its release in 1925, The Street of Forgotten Men has been little seen today. Its undeserved obscurity is largely explained by the fact that the 7 reel film survives incomplete, and the film has long been out of circulation; the second reel of the film was lost to nitrate deterioration decades ago, though fortunately, Brooks' brief unaccredited appearance as a gangster's moll comes in the sixth reel, in a pivotal scene near the end of the film. 

Robert Byrne of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, along with the participation for the Library of Congress, led the team which restored the surviving footage and reconstructed the missing second reel. (I was small part of the team, and can state that the restored version looks great and Byrne has done a very fine job in bridging the missing material.) Byrne was assisted by Jennifer Miko, who did work on image restoration. Funding was provided by the noted film poster collector Ira Resnick. Notably, Byrne's earlier restoration efforts includes the "once lost" Louise Brooks film, Now We're in the Air (1927).

Though her role was small and she was not named in the credits, Brooks received her very first review for her work in The Street of Forgotten Men. In August of 1925, an anonymous critic for the Los Angeles Times wrote, “And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the ‘blind’ man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed.”  

For more on The Street of Forgotten Men, check out its filmography page on the Louise Brooks Society website. I am currently rushing to complete a new book on the film. Due out this Spring, though likely not in time for the SF Silent Film Festival, is The Street of Forgotten Men: From Story to Screen.

Also worth noting is that the fragmentary footage floating around YouTube which is called a "trailer" is NOT the trailer for the film, just a fragment lifted from other sources and inaccurately labeled.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Louise Brooks film, Love Em and Leave Em, newly released on DVD

I haven't seen it, and can't vouch for what it may look like, but wanted to let everyone know that has recently released the 1926 Louise Brooks' film, Love Em and Leave Em. According to the website, "This product is made-on-demand by the manufacturer using DVD-R recordable media. Almost all DVD players can play DVD-Rs (except for some older models made before 2000) - please consult your owner's manual for formats compatible with your player. These DVD-Rs may not play on all computers or DVD player/recorders. To address this, the manufacturer recommends viewing this product on a DVD player that does not have recording capability." More information about this new release, which retails for only $7.98, may be found HERE

Here is the description by "On her deathbed, Mame Walsh's mother made her promise to always take care of her little sister, Janie. But Mame didn't expect her baby sister to grow up into a free spirited flapper with a cute little bob of jet-black hair and a set of killer gams! The sisters work together at Ginsburg's department store, where Mame puts her nose to the grindstone and Janie mostly flirts with the customers. After Mame sees Janie kissing the young stud she's sweet on, Bill Billingsley, she gives up and decides to adopt her sister's motto of "love 'em and leave 'em!" She impetuously starts a relationship with Lem Woodruff, a shady gambler and conman. She learns Janie has been gambling the store's money and owes quite a bit to this crook. When it looks like her sister could go to jail, Mame decides to risk all to get the money back from Woodruff and keep her little sister out of the hoosegow.

A charming silent comedy truly emblematic of the "Roaring Twenties", Love 'Em and Leave 'Em is best remembered as the star-making turn for 20-year-old former Ziegfeld Follies girl and Kansas City native Louise Brooks. In the following years she would make A Girl in Every Port (1928) and Beggars of Life (1928) for the same studio, but it was the films she made in Europe for director G.W. Pabst, Pandora's Box (1929) and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) that would lead cinephile Henri Langlois to proclaim, "There is no Garbo. There is no Dietrich. There is only Louise Brooks!" However, the star of Love 'Em and Leave 'Em is really Evelyn Brent, cast in the thankless role of Louise's overprotective older sister. The gorgeous, tough-as-nails actress had a long career in Hollywood, with standout roles including a gangster's moll in Underworld (1927) and a Russian spy in The Last Command (1928). Osgood Perkins was an accomplished stage actor (he originated the role of Walter Burns in The Front Page on Broadway) but had some memorable moments on the silver screen, including the original Scarface (1932) and Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936). He is best remembered today as the father of Psycho star Anthony Perkins."

DVD-R Details

    Run Time: 1 hours, 4 minutes
    Video: Black & White
    Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
    Released: January 18, 2022
    Originally Released: 1926
    Label: Alpha Video 

 More about Love Em and Leave Em can be found on the Louise Brooks Society filmography page.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Ukrainian article about Pandora's Box which pictures film stars Louise Brooks and Francis Lederer

In the course of my ongoing research into the world-wide presentation of the films of Louise Brooks, I have found that that they were shown in what is now Ukraine, which during 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 later this year in Around the World with Louise Brooks.

One archive that I have been able to explore is LIBRARIA, the Ukrainian Online Periodicals Archive.Just the other day, it went offline, but then returned. And what's more, the archive has opened itself up and visitors may conduct unrestricted searches. I would encourage everyone to check it out, even if you don't read Ukrainian or Russian, as it can be interesting just to browse. One publication to begin with is KINO magazine, which I wrote about earlier in "The Glories of Ukraine's KINO and Chwila film magazines."

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I also did a search for Louise Brooks' name in Cyrillic "Луїза Брукс", and found a thumbnail image, which I was unable to access in a larger format due to earlier restricted, Ukrainian-only, viewing policies. With those policies lifted, I was able to view and copy what I found. It is an article about Pandora's Box (I believe), and pictures the film's stars Louise Brooks and Francis Lederer. It stands as my best Ukrainian find.

I posted this blog because I support a free and independent Ukraine, whose existence is being threatened by Vladimir Putin and his Russian gang. Hey Putin, the Soviet Union is gone. Get over it. The world hates you.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Louise Brooks film, Pandora's Box, to screen in Mexico on March 19

The 1929 Louise Brooks' film, Pandora's Box, will be shown at Cine Inminente in Tehuacán, Puebla in Mexico on Saturday, March 19. The screening is part of the film society's PIONEERS cycle - CINEMA AND SILENCES. More information can be found on the group's Facebook page. This event is co-sponsored by the Goethe Institute.

Tomorrow Saturday March 19th #NosVemosEnLaSala for the beginning of the second part of our cycle PIONERAS -CINE AND SILENCE-, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Mexiko :
🎬 The Pandora Box (La Caja de Pandora) (1929) 🇩🇪
Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
133 minutes | A
#NosVemosEnLaSala 🎥 of Classical Cinema XX Century of El Carmen Complex | 5:00pm | Free Entry | 50% Aforo | Mandatory use of mouth covers.

The Cine Inminente Facebook page notes: 

"Louise Brooks had never heard of Lulu, but as soon as he read the script he knew that as Pabst thought Lulu was her." A hedonist woman who pleases with pleasure in a world over by conventions, a woman who radiates a strange effect that causes misfortune in those around her. 

Pandora's Box contained sex; lesbianism, for the first time, and to incest, which served him an extra censorship in all the countries in which it premiered, something added to the arrival of the sound made it the best film anyone has ever I was seen. It had to take three decades for it to be recognized as the work of cult that it is."

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Addendum to Roland Jaccard (1941-2021), French author of Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star

I wanted to add a bit more to my prior post regarding the passing of the French writer Roland Jaccard, who took his own life last September. Jaccard is best known to fans of Louise Brooks as the editor of the first ever book about the actress, Louise Brooks : portrait d'une anti-star. Jaccard's book was first published in France in 1977, and then translated into English and published in the United States in 1986 (and then in the UK in 1988). Here is a scan of the front and back covers of the American edition.

Jaccard's book made a bit of a splash in France, where it got some reviews and was eventually republished in 1985. The English language pieces in the book, namely those by Louise Brooks, were translated into French by Alain Meylan. When the book was published in English, the French pieces were translated into English by Gideon Y. Schein, who also contributed a brief forward to the book.

The book didn't catch on like it had in France, and only received a smattering of press. One syndicated piece that ran in a handful of newspapers stated: "More than a year after her death, silent screen star Louise Brooks continues to be a hot item in the publishing world. New York Zoetrope recently published Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, an English translation of a 1982 German book edited by Roland Jaccard. The $19.95 paperback includes essays and letters - including several by Brooks - as well as 90 photos, many borrowed from Brooks' personal collection." The author of this piece got a couple of things wrong, like the fact the book came from France, not Germany, and was first published in 1977, not 1982. 

Along with a filmography and list of Brooks' published articles, the English language edition includes:

The touch of a glance, by Tahar Ben Jelloun (poetry)
"Thank God, I'm alone", by Roland Jaccard
A certain kind of freedom, by Louise Brooks
The passion, death, and transfiguration of Lulu, by Jean-Michel Palmier
Pabst and Lulu, by Louise Brooks
The other side of the camera, by Louise Brooks
A witness speaks, by Lotte H. Eisner
The origin of a myth, by Roland Jaccard
An answer to an admirer: a letter from Louise Brooks to Guido Crepax
Song of Lulu, by Andre Laude (poetry)

During the pandemic lock-down in 2020, I found myself rereading Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, and wondering about the book's translator, Gideon Y. Schein. I wondered who he was, and decided to try and track him down, if possible. I was able to do so, and wrote him asking how it was he came to translate the French text 

Gideon wrote back: "A friend of mine who was working for the publisher of the book knew that I had met Louise Brooks in Rochester NY several times and when they needed a translator/editor they came to me. I was a big time fan long before that. I was a lunchtime guest in her home, which she never left.  At that time I was the Producing Director of the GeVa Theater in Rochester. . . . One day, out of the blue she called me and invited me for lunch. She must have followed me in the two local papers and was curious about my opera career in Europe, as well as my theater in Rochester. . . . She really was an extraordinary woman, but in her own way very humble. She turned down a star career for artistic principles."

Roland Jaccard's Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star is a book every fan of the actress should own, and read. There are many second hand copies floating around the internet at very affordable prices.

 * * * * *

I want to add one more bit about Jaccard's book. Anyone who has read this blog for a whiule will likely know that I used to work as a bookseller at the Booksmith in San Francisco. For a long time, I ran the store's events program, and as a Louise Brooks obsessive, I tried to secure events with anyone connected with early film. Over the years, I put on events with Barry Paris, Peter Cowie, Frederica Sagor Maas (of Rolled Stockings fame) and others. Check out this earlier blog about some of the events I put on, part 1 is HERE, and part 2 is HERE.

Before I ran the events program, I was a section buyer, purchasing stock for the film section, art section, poetry, and the sale table. One day in 1998, while going through list of sale books, I noticed Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star. Wow. I ordered a box full, and placed them on the sale table and offered them on-line. I knew there was interest, and they sold quickly. I ordered another box and they sold. I ordered two more boxes, and three more boxes, and four more boxes, and they all sold. I remember being a bit giddy at how fast these books were flying out the door. 

I am not sure how many copies of Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star I sold, but it was a lot. Perhaps as many as 800 or 900 books. In fact, the store sold so many copies that the book made a local bestseller list. The SF Weekly, an alternative weekly in San Francisco, carried bestseller lists from local bookstores, and when they carried the Booksmith list, the then two-year old Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star became a bestseller in 1998. Here is a scan of the clipping I have kept since then.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Roland Jaccard (1941-2021), French author of Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star

Only recently I became aware of the passing of the French writer and critic Roland Jaccard (1941-2021), who is best known to fans of Louise Brooks as the author / editor of the first ever book about the actress, Louise Brooks : portrait d'une anti-star (1977). That heavily illustrated work, which included pieces by and about the silent film star, was translated into English and published in the United States as Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star (1986). It helped advance the Brooks' revival in the 1980s.

Jaccard was the author of a number of other books, most notably Portrait d’une flapper (2007), which depicts Brooks on the cover, and another, Lou (1982), a fictional autobiography of Lou Andreas Salomé, the German-Russian woman of letters and pioneering psychoanalyst known for her relationships with Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Sigmund Freud and significantly Frank Wedekind. (There are some, including Jaccard, who have speculated that Wedekind based his Lulu character on Lou Andreas-Salome.)

Besides his writings on film (he also authored a book on John Wayne in 2019), Jaccard was also involved in the making of a few films. Here is his IMDb page. Jaccard was also a novelist, essayist, journalist, publisher and a specialist in psychoanalysis, having published several essays on Freud. Despite his many activities, he was little known in the United States, excepting for Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, which received a small number of reviews in America in the 1980s.

According to his French Wikipedia page, Jaccard believed in assisted suicide. In 1992, he wrote Manifeste pour une mort douce (Manifesto for a Gentle Death) with Michel Thévoz, the director of the Collection de l'art brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. In Jaccard's last autobiographical book, One never recovers from a happy childhood, released in 2021 a few weeks before his death, he announced that he would commit suicide “after the summer,” declaring old age horrified him. Jaccard died, apparently by his own hand, on September 20, 2021, two days before what would have been his 80th birthday. Notably, both his grandfather and father had also committed suicide around the same time in their lives.

I met Roland Jaccard in Paris back in January 2011. I was in the French capital to give a talk at the Village Voice bookshop (the now defunct English-language bookshop) and to introduce a screening of a Brooks' film at the Action Cinema. Both events were meant to promote my 2010 publication, the "Louise Brooks edition" of Margarete Böhme's The Diary of a Lost Girl. Some 50 plus people turned-out for the bookstore event (a good turn-out considering I am an unknown in Paris), including a few noted devotees of Brooks. Among them was Roland Jaccard. Pictured below is a snapshot from the event. On the left holding my "Louise Brooks edition" of The Diary of a Lost Girl is the French translator of the Barry Paris biography, Aline Weill - I am in the middle, and on the right is Jaccard holding a copy of his Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star.

Not only did Jaccard attend my event, he also agreed to meet for dinner a couple of days later. Jaccard was well known for his love of Japanese food, and we met at one of his favorite Japanese restaurants, where he answered my questions about Brooks. (They were correspondents in the 1970s.) Jaccard also gifted me with a cache of rare Louise Brooks documents - including a vintage postcard, photographs, six handwritten letters, and other material. Eleven years later, I still can't believe his generosity.

During our dinner, the French actress Marie-Josee Croze arrived, and we were introduced. We spoke with her a bit (she knew of Brooks), and I gifted her with one of my mini-Lulu pins, which she immediately put on. It was a lovely evening, the kind that could only happen in Paris. Below is a snapshot of Jaccard chatting with Croze, who can be seen wearing my Lulu pin-back button.

Jaccard also generously autographed three different copies of  Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star which I had carried with me on the airplane in hopes of meeting the author. (Being a completest, I own both the English and French editions of the book.) I also signed a book for Jaccard, which he had bought at the Village Voice bookstore before my event!

For those interested in learning more about Jaccard, here is a link to an article, "Death of essayist and columnist Roland Jaccard" in The Canadian. And here is another piece, “The elegance of Roland Jaccard”, by Frédéric Schiffter, a friend of the writer.

Jaccard's French Wikipedia page has a number of links to other recent articles, including this one by the noted novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun, who was also a contributor to Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star. A small number of videos featuring Jaccard can be found on YouTube, including this, episode #4 of Cinephiles.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Diary of a Lost Girl starring Louise Brooks screens in UK on March 19

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Devon, England on Saturday March 19, 2022 with live musical accompaniment by the stellar musical group, Wurlitza. More information about this event can be found HERE.

From the venue website: 

Director: G W Pabst | Cast: Edith Meinhard, Fritz Rasp, Josef Rovensky, Louise Brooks, Franziska Kinz, Vera Pawlowa

1h 56m | 1929  | Silent Film | *Please note the film was originally certified ‘A’ due to adult themes.

£12. Pricing and concessions information 

The Barn Cinema (Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EL) offers a truly unique experience: a wide-ranging film programme, including independent arthouse, world and mainstream cinema, all within a truly beautiful, renovated 15th century barn. The Barn Cinema are taking over The Great Hall for a night to invite Cornish band Wurlitza to perform their magical musical accompaniment to one of silent cinema’s classics: ‘Diary of a Lost Girl’.

After two years in the making, Wurlitza’s present their soundtrack for GW Pabst’s 1929 movie Diary of a Lost Girl.

Diary of a Lost Girl was made in Germany at a time of great artistic freedom. Fast moving and at times shocking, the film traces the story of Thymian, played by the mesmerising screen idol Louise Brookes, as her life yoyos between episodes of lightness and innocence, darkness and despair. Moments of great comedy involve life in a reform school for fallen girls headed by a villainous nun, and a modern dance lesson with an incompetent buffoon.

This gripping film defies convention, confounding expectations, as joy and compassion are found in the most unlikely places.

Repertoire for the live soundtrack includes music by Django Reinhardt, Fun Boy Three, Portishead, Wire, Chopin and Leonard Cohen.

Diary of a Lost Girl has been very well received in venues throughout Cornwall and Devon. They’ve celebrated the film by making a soundtrack which can be enjoyed on Soundcloud and Spotify.

"The music was expertly chosen to run seamlessly with the film. It enhanced the experience. It reflected mood and added nuance. The musicianship was excellent. The performance fitted superbly with the images...Why does Wurlitza work? Because they bring magic. And that is never a bad thing." - Ian Craft ‐ Calstock Arts


Want to learn more about Diary of a Lost Girl and the book that was the basis for the film? Check out the 2010  Louise Brooks Society publication, the Louise Brooks edition of Margarete Bohme's The Diary of a Lost Girl, edited and with an informative introduction by Thomas Gladysz.

The 1929 Louise Brooks film,
Diary of a Lost Girl, is based on a controversial and bestselling book first published in Germany in 1905. Though little known today, it was a literary sensation at the beginning of the 20th century. By the end of the 1920s, it had been translated into 14 languages and sold more than 1,200,000 copies - ranking it among the bestselling books of its time.

Was it - as many believed - the real-life diary of a young woman forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution? Or a sensational and clever fake, one of the first novels of its kind? This contested work -
a work of unusual historical significance as well as literary sophistication - inspired a sequel, a play, a parody, a score of imitators, and two silent films. The best remembered of these is the oft revived G.W. Pabst film starring Louise Brooks.

This corrected and annotated edition of the original English language translation brings this important book back into print 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.

The Louise Brooks edition of Diary of a Lost Girl is available at Amazon Canada and Amazon USA and elsewhere around the world

"Long relegated to the shadows, Margarete Böhme's 1905 novel, The Diary of a Lost Girl has at last made a triumphant return. In reissuing the rare 1907 English translation of Böhme's German text, Thomas Gladysz makes an important contribution to film history, literature, and, in as much as Böhme told her tale with much detail and background contemporary to the day, sociology and history. He gives us the original novel, his informative introduction, and many beautiful and rare illustrations. This reissue is long overdue, and in all ways it is a volume of uncommon merit." - Richard Buller, author of A Beautiful Fairy Tale: The Life of Actress Lois Moran 

Read today, it's a fascinating time-trip back to another age, and yet remains compelling. As a bonus, Gladysz richly illustrates the text with stills of Brooks from the famous film. - Jack Garner, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

In today's parlance this would be called a movie tie-in edition, but that seems a rather glib way to describe yet another privately published work that reveals an enormous amount of research and passion. - Leonard Maltin

Thomas Gladysz is the leading authority on all matters pertaining to the legendary Louise Brooks. We owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing the groundbreaking novel,
The Diary of a Lost Girl, back from obscurity. --Lon Davis, author of Silent Lives

It was such a pleasure to come upon your well documented and beautifully presented edition. -- Elizabeth Boa, University of Nottingham (UK)

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