Monday, May 30, 2022

Louise Brooks film Beggars of Life screens in UK June 8

The 1928 Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life, will be shown at the Studio, Hull Truck Theatre in Hull, England on June 8. Musical accompaniment will be provided by Jonny Best, who will improvise his score. More information about this event can be found HERE.

According to the venue website: "Louise Brooks is best known today for her starring roles in GW Pabst’s 1929 classics, Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, but before that pair of masterpieces, she teamed up with one of early Hollywood’s greatest action directors, William Wellman, a former WW1 flyer with a reputation for hard drinking, punch-ups, and dangerous stunts. The Beggars of Life shoot was notorious for all of these and the speeding train stunts still startle today - Brooks herself was nearly thrown beneath the wheels during one shot.

Based on an autobiographical novel by Jim Tully, Louise Brooks plays Nancy, who goes on the run disguised as a boy and falls in with a handsome young hobo, Jim, played by Richard Arlen. Amidst all the action thrills, Beggars of Life is a tender, touching story of unlikely love and in it we see the first inkling of the Louise Brooks who would go on, two years later, to become not just an international star but an imperishable icon.

As usual, the film will be brought to life by Jonny Best’s live, improvised score."

Dir William A. Wellman | 1928 | United States | U | 100 mins | Silent

Want to learn more this riveting film? My 2017 book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (played by Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.” This first ever study of Beggars of Life includes more than 50 little seen images, a mention of the Dodge Brothers, and a foreword by actor and author William Wellman, Jr. (the director's son). 


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Louise Brooks Wants to Film in Norway

Norwegian film buff and researcher Tor Lier came across an interesting article about Louise Brooks which he generously allowed me to share here on the Louise Brooks Society blog. The article, "Louise Brooks Wants to Film in Norway," is dated September 7, 1929 and comes from a defunct Oslo newspaper. Tidens Tegn. Tor also translated the article from its original Norwegian into English.

As Tor noted on Facebook, the article begins with an assessment of her current "cult" status, as the newspaper writer (identified as Achmed) puts it, and includes an analysis of her personality. Lastly, the journalist mentions a hitherto unknown Norwegian film project Brooks was reportedly offered. (The validity of this offer cannot be confirmed.) That offer is a curious one, in that both Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl were banned in Norway. 

I tried to track down information about the author of this article, Achmed (a likely pseudonym), but was stumped. Interestingly, this article includes interview style content, which makes it uncommon, as Brooks did not give many interviews -- or just wasn't asked. (The authenticity of this interview, which likely took place in Germany sometime between between June 17 and July 26, 1929 while Brooks was shooting Diary of a Lost Girl, also cannot be confirmed.) Nevertheless, here is the article in its original form. Tor Lier's translation follows.

Louise Brooks wants to film in Norway.

The famous movie star talks to "Tidens Tegn"

For the past half year a veritable Louise Brooks fever has taken Middle Europe. Everyone seems to have gotten the pert little American movie star on the brain. It's all but impossible to open a magazine or newspaper without seeing at least one picture of her — in big evening dress, in walking clothes, in pyjamas, in skimpy dancing costume, in a veil, or in absolutely nothing.

Of course Louise Brooks has achieved a considerable popularity through her American Paramount films, but the cause of this overwhelming cult surely lies in the enormous success she enjoyed as Lulu in the film of Wedekind's "Die Büchse der Pandora", the first film she made in Europe.

The German director G. W. Pabst here made his masterpiece, a film with a penetrating artistic intensity with passages of great beauty. Louise Brooks is not exactly the type one imagines as the dangerous Lulu, but she possesses that peculiar charm which carries her safely over all hurdles. It's not that she is more beautiful than many another girl, but she is considerably more spicy. Most of all it is her look, her expression, that is so unique and personal. This inquisitive, searching, wondering look which unites in a strange mixture of complete innocence and wordly wisdom. Before the camera she may pose in the most natural manner and totally disarm the viewer with this extraordinary innocent-but-not-so-innocent look.

The Berlin critics were actually rather merciless about Louise Brooks' Lulu — some virtually took it as an insult to the nation that an American woman was summoned to embody the famous vampire, however the public was much more delighted. It's a long time since a German film has achieved such an enthusiastic and overwhelming reception. Everywhere the film was screened, nationally or abroad, not only did audiences fully embrace the film, but so did the other critics. An artistic film one seldom if ever sees the likes of, that was the general judgement.

Here in Norway, of course, the film has been banned. We honestly thought we had passed the kindergarten stage of film censorship, and it's painful to acknowledge this return to the intolerable guardianship of the medieval prudes. There's no justification for denying adults the opportunity to see a film which can't be faulted artistically, just because it deals with daring topics. Wedekind has been presented on the stage here — with "Frühlingserwachen" — so why deny him access to the silver screen. The censorship board has every reason to reconsider its decision.

The charming American movie star likes Europe so much that she has recently completed her second European film — shot in Paris — and has now returned to Berlin to make her European film no. 3, under the direction of Pabst.

Your correspondent was successful in securing a short interview with the young lady.

— It pains me to to hear that "Die Büchse" has been banned in Norway, says Miss Brooks, who by the way is a Mrs, but already divorced from her first husband, a Hollywood director. The film has done so well everywhere, and Pabst's work is of such a high quality that it's a damn shame it's being denied. But the ban doesn't have to be final, does it? Is there no court of appeal?

— The film has been discussed in all offices, it seems.

— I can't understand that, says the young movie star, I have such a good impression of the Norwegians, I never thought they were so prejudiced and narrow-minded?

— Then you have some knowledge of Norway?

— I've never been to Norway, but I almost went there. After filming "Die Büchse" I received an offer from some Norwegians about a part in a film that was to be partly filmed there. And on that occasion, we had a long talk about Norway and the Norwegians. The script, which I still have lying around, was extraordinarily interesting. I was most intent on this Norwegian adventure, but even before we had gotten to the point of discussing the contract, something happened that ruined any possibility of my participating. As far as I know, the film was never made, so perhaps there might be a chance this winter. So many lousy scripts are filmed every year, and this script was so exceptionally good that it really deserves to be made.



Here's a link to the original Norwegian  newspaper:


This blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society ( Original contents copyright © 2022. Further use prohibited.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Louise Brooks film It's the Old Army Game to screen in Denver, Colorado

Louise Brooks is happy to return to Denver, where she first appeared in person in 1922
as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company

After a two-year hiatus, the Denver Silent Film Festival is set to return with a series of screenings at the Sturm Family Auditorium inside the Denver Botanic Gardens in Denver, Colorado. This year's festival theme, "We Need to Laugh," features 11 short and feature-length comedies from the silent film era including the must see Louise Brooks / W.C. Fields film, It's the Old Army Game (1926).

The Denver Silent Film Festival was established in September, 2010. Its mission is to present a broad spectrum of silent films by programming "a lively and thought-provoking mix of educational and entertaining films" including American and foreign classics, as well as lesser-known rare and restored films. However, like much of the world, things have been on hold during the Covid pandemic. More information about this year's event can be found HERE.

Here is the line-up of films, each of which features live musical accompaniment:

May 20 - The Cameraman (1928) with Musical Accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

May 21 - Comedy Shorts Package with Musical Accompaniment by The Dollhouse Thieves

May 21 - The Strong Man (1926) with Musical Accompaniment by Hank Troy

May 21 - Max the Circus King (1924) with Musical Accompaniment by the CAM Student Orchestra with Donald Sosin & Joanna Seaton

May 21 - It's the Old Army Game (1926) with Musical Accompaniment by Hank Troy, and an introduction by DSFF’s David Shepard Honoree Richard Koszarski

May 22 - Two Timid Souls  / Les Deux Timides (1928) with Musical Accompaniment by Rodney Sauer

May 22 - So This Is Paris (1926) with Musical Accompaniment by Hank Troy

May 22 - The Kid Brother (1927) with Musical Accompaniment by Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton 

It’s the Old Army Game is a comedy about a small town druggist (played by W.C. Fields) who gets involved with a real estate scam. Louise Brooks plays the druggist’s assistant. The film was Brooks’ fourth, and it reunited her with Fields, the film’s star. The two had worked together in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1925.

It’s the Old Army Game received mostly positive reviews, though some critics noted its somewhat thin plot. Algonquin Round Table playwright Robert E. Sherwood (who would go on to win four Pulitzer Prizes and an Academy Award) was then writing reviews for Life magazine. His pithy critique read, “Mr. Fields has to carry the entire production on his shoulders, with some slight assistance from the sparkling Louise Brooks.” Ella H. McCormick of the Detroit Free Press echoed Sherwood with Fields scored a splendid triumph in this picture. A great part of the success of the offering, however, is due to Louise Brooks, who takes the lead feminine part.”

When It's the Old Army Game first played in Denver, Colorado in June of 1926, Betty Craig previewed the film in the Denver Post. She singled out Brooks, noting “In the meantime the young fellow from the big town has fallen in love with the lovely creature that serves as the store’s only clerk, who is none other than the captivating Louise Brooks.” The following day, Craig penned her review, stating “W. C. Fields is very amusing, and Louise Brooks, featured with Mr. Fields, gives a dandy performance.”

The film, especially its interiors, were shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens), and in Manhattan. Location shooting, including exteriors, was done in Ocala and Palm Beach, Florida in late February and March, 1926. (Ocala is an inland farming community near Gainesville, Florida.) 

For this special Denver Silent Film Festival screening, the film will be introduced by Richard Kosarski, the leading authority on film production at Paramount's Astoria studio. Koszarski not only interviewed Louise Brooks about her East Coast film work, but has authored two related, must read books, Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff and The Astoria Studio and Its Fabulous Films: A Picture History with 227 Stills and Photographs. At the recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival, I had the chance to meet Richard Koszarski and his wife Diane, and talk with them about their work (and Louise Brooks). It was an honor.


I would enjoy hearing from anyone who attends the festival and the It's the Old Army Game screening.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

At the end of The Street of Forgotten Men, Louise Brooks first film, a clue

As mentioned in my previous post, the new restoration of The Street of Forgotten Men was well received when it was shown recently at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The large crowd responded positively throughout, especially when Louise Brooks made her first brief appearance on screen. She  garnered a smattering of applause, and when the film concluded, there was a brisk round of applause as well as a few cheers and hollers from the audience.

Bridgeport White-Eye and his Moll (played by Louise Brooks)

Previewing the film ahead of its Festival screening, Michael Barrett wrote in Pop Matters, "Restored this year by the Festival, this Paramount production is missing its second reel, which deteriorated decades ago. The best they could do was 'reconstruct' this reel via dialogue and still images. It’s too bad this reel is missing, but the rest of this splendid print makes an impact as only far-fetched silent melodramas can."

I came across a few other notices of note. Writing on Facebook, film commentator Matías Antonio Bombal noted, "This is one of the most visually perfect prints to be screened this year at the festival, looking exactly as silent films did when brand new.  Exquisite contrast and sharp detail." And on his regular radio broadcast "Matias Bombal's Hollywood" (on KAHI AM and FM in Auburn, California), Bombal stated The Street of the Forgotten Men was "fantastic" and the "absolute highlight" of the Festival. Bombal also singled out Harold Rosson's "stunning photography" seen in the film.

Lincoln Spector, writing on Bayflicks, gave The Street of Forgotten Men a respectable "B" grade. He described the film as "A window into New York’s Bowery – Hollywood style. The concept is based on the probability that panhandlers make more money when they’re disabled, or at least if they’re faking their disabilities. It’s a heart-wringing melodrama and is reasonably entertaining. This film was rare for a long time, and the second reel is completely lost (this restoration uses stills and intertitles to help you get through the missing part). A not-yet-famous Louise Brooks pops up near the end."

I will conclude this post with something a bit unusual.... 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been looking at The Street of Forgotten Men quite closely, sometimes frame by frame. The screen capture shown above caught my interest for reasons which I will explain. It comes from near the end of the film, just before the fight breaks out between Bridgeport White-Eye and Easy Money Charley. "Whitey" and his moll (Louise Brooks) are sitting at a table which has a newspaper on it. Easy Money Charley approaches, and casts a shadow on the white newsprint as he looms over the table. At first unaware, Whitey and his moll are startled. Brooks' character retreats, and a fight breaks out between the two men.

I have been looking at and identifying some of the props and decor in the The Street of Forgotten Men. And to me, this newspaper looked real. And it is! As far as I can tell, this is an actual copy of the New York Evening American  Journal-American, a Hearst newspaper, which dates from early May, 1925. 

Since this particular newspaper is not online, I can't tell the exact date of publication, but I can narrow it down to sometime following May 6 and perhaps before May 11. I am guessing so because I found an very similar page (both in terms of layout and content) published on May 11 (see below). Notably, the Nell Brinkley cartoon "Could Such Things Be" is dated May 5, which leads me to guess this page of syndicated content was published the following day or very soon thereafter. (Besides the Nell Brinkley cartoon, there are a number of advice columns from Beatrice Fairfax.)

I will go out on a limb and guess that legendary cinematographer Harold Rosson had the idea to film the shadow hovering over the table, and needed a white-toned surface on to which to cast a shadow. Someone might have had that day's newspaper, or the previous day's paper, and it was used as a kind-of prop. All of which leads me to guess that the scene in which Brooks was featured was filmed sometime following May 6th and perhaps before May 11th.

If anyone can get access to the New York Evening American to pin down the date of publication of the page in question, that would be great. I believe it is available on microfilm at the New York Public Library.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Report on The Street of Forgotten Men at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival


Not only was it great to see the newly restored Louise Brooks film, The Street of Forgotten Men, on the big screen at the Castro Theater, it was also swell to see old friends and make a few new ones at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival. This festival was the first in three years due to the Covid pandemic; it also marked my first visit to San Francisco in just as long a time. Much has changed. Much remained the same. It was great to be back. I have populated this blog with a few snapshots from the occasion.

Von and I at the Castro

As I have been blogging of late, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival has recently restored this little seen Herbert Brenon film, for which film preservationist Robert Byrne created a filmic bridge in place of the missing second reel. He did a great job - which made the missing part to the story easy to follow. That missing material includes the death of two significant characters, including a dog (Lassie) in the care of Easy Money Charley (played by Percy Marmont). What's more, when the dog is killed by Bridgeport White-Eye (played by John Harrington), I heard a few sighs in the audience - which suggests Byrne effectively "painted" the scene. Congratulations to Rob Byrne and his team, and a big thanks to Ira Resnick, who made it possible. It was great to see Ira at the Festival.

Courtesy of Donna Hill

Also doing a great job was Jennifer Miko, who worked on the film imagery. The film looked great on the big screen - crisp and clean despite its problematic history - especially the cinematography of legendary cameraman Harold Rosson. The crowd oohed and awed at Rosson's live action street scenes on 5th Avenue, and were wowed at other times, like the shot of the dancing silhouettes at the garden party. Jennifer also gave an informative and well considered introduction which acknowledged my small contribution to the restoration project. I was also pleased when Jennifer recommended everyone read my essay on the film in the hefty program. (I had two pieces in this year's program. The other was an interview profile with the members of the Anvil Orchestra - formerly the Alloy Orchestra.) It was also nice to hear my name from the stage! I was especially pleased to meet and speak with Jennifer before and after the film; I suspect she is a bit of a Louise Brooks' fan, as she asked me for one of my Louise Brooks Society pin-back buttons. I obliged.

Jennifer Miko and Thomas Gladysz

All in all, The Street of Forgotten Men was very well received. Everyone I spoke with liked it, and the large crowd (hundreds of people on a Tuesday afternoon) reacted positively throughout. There was a smattering of applause when Louise Brooks first came on the screen, and when the film completed, there was boisterous applause and even a few hoots and hollers. Here are a few (sadly fuzzy) shots from the slide show which preceded the film.

Louise Brooks (far left)

I was also pleased to make the acquaintance of the esteemed film historians Richard and Diane Koszarski (thank you Ira Resnick for the introduction). They generously signed copies of some of the books they authored which I had brought with me from Sacramento, including a couple of which I used in researching and writing my essay on The Street of Forgotten Men. (Richard Koszarski's Hollywood on the Hudson: Film and Television in New York from Griffith to Sarnoff and The Astoria Studio and Its Fabulous Films were essential, as is Hollywood Directors 1914-1940 and An Evening's Entertaiment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928.) We had a very pleasant chat, talking about books, Dover Publications, Stanley Applebaum, Astoria Studios, Herbert Brenon, Erich von Stroheim (Koszarski authored an early biography, The Man You Love to Hate) and more, including Louise Brooks. Kozsarski interviewed the actress (regarding the Astoria Studios) in the late 1970s, and he told me something I don't think I had known about Brooks - that she was a big fan of Robin Williams and Mork and Mindy. Who da thunk? What a great pleasure it was to meet Richard and Diane Koszarski.

Richard and Diane Koszarski & Thomas Gladysz

Though I was only there for an afternoon, it was great to be attend this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival - my 25th time and the Festival's 25th anniversary! It was also swell to see old friends like Ira Resnick, Donna Hill, Mary Malory, Jordan Young, Karie Bible and others. I missed some others I would have liked to have said hello to, but when you are a Sacramento Cinderella (just as Mary Brian was a Bowery Cinderella), you sometimes miss out. I am so glad my wife, Christy Pascoe, attended with me. She is also acknowledged in the restoration credits on The Street of Forgotten Men - as she is on the preservation print of Now We're in the Air, another Louise Brooks film we helped on. Thank you for all of your help my love.

At dinner with friends Mary Mallory, Donna Hill, Jordan Young

Christy and one of her favorites, Von

The end

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Street of Forgotten Men Restoration Credits - Thanks Tim Moore

In just a bit, I will be heading out the door on my way to San Francisco and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (about a two hour drive), where I will attend the premiere of the new restoration of Louise Brooks' first film, The Street of Forgotten Men, on the BIG screen of the historic Castro Theatre. I am  looking forward to it. 

I have seen the film before, but never on the big screen. The first time was some twenty ago at the Library of Congress where I hand-cranked a projector inside a cubicle. I had made an appointment, and a staffer  brought me a print of the film. What a unique, intimate experience - me in my own "little theater," acting as projectionist, and sole audience member. At the time, it was thrilling to have seen something relatively few film buffs had seen. I recall I watched the film twice. Once, the first time, was for pleasure. The second time I stopped and started the film a number of times in order to take notes and study different frames & scenes - not knowing if I would ever have the chance to see the film again.

Fast forward a number of years. Back in 2017,  I helped film preservationist Robert Byrne with the preservation of the surviving fragment of the once lost Louise Brooks film, Now We're in the Air (1927). After that project wrapped-up, I mentioned to Rob what I thought was another worthwhile project, The Street of Forgotten Men. Though not lost, the film was little seen, and deserving. The film was also still under copyright. A few years had to pass before it fell into the public domain, which was in 2022. 

Sometime late last year, Rob Byrne asked if I wanted to help with the restoration of The Street of Forgotten Men. I said YES. My screen credit on the restoration print reads "Research" (see below) - but what I did was a little bit of everything which included helping acquire the scenario of the film (thanks to longtime Louise Brooks Society member Tim Moore), providing stills and bits of information, a few suggestions, and more. I also watched the film at least another six times on my desktop computer (an experience not dissimilar to my first viewing in a cubicle) during the months long restoration process.

As some may know, the Library of Congress holds the only known surviving print of the 7 reel film. But what they have are 6 of the 7 reels. What is missing is reel two. From the scenario (thank you again Tim Moore) we know what happens in the story (which includes the deaths of two significant characters). However, we don't know what it looks like. Rob was able to reconstruct the missing reel based on and utilizing descriptive passages and dialogue from the scenario which were matched up with whatever stills  could be acquired from collectors and archives all around the world. The results are impressive.

Though I have mentioned him twice already, I want to again thank Tim Moore for his assistance in helping secure scans of the film's scenario. Your help was crucial. Tim, as well as the Louise Brooks Society, are also thanked in the restoration credits. As are longtime friends Nancy Kaufman and Kay Shackleton.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival screening will be introduced by Jennifer Miko, who did the image restoration. The new print looks great on my computer, and should look just as swell on the big screen. I expect to be posting more on today's screening in the next few days.

For those interested, I wrote the essay on The Street of Forgotten Men which can be found in the program book distributed at the Festival. And here is an earlier piece, "Restored Silent Film ‘The Street of Forgotten Men’ Debuts Louise Brooks," which I penned for Pop Matters. 

And here is another piece I wrote for SF Patch on the film's 1925 reception in San Francisco. On to The Street of Forgotten Men !

Sunday, May 8, 2022

San Francisco's The Street of Forgotten Men

Someone once said, "all history is local." If true, then that applies to the movies, and film history. It also follows that film criticism is more than what reviewers in New York or Los Angeles might say about a particular film. How a movie is received in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia or San Francisco also matters. 

On May 10th, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will screen its new restoration of Herbert Brenon's  The Street of Forgotten Men. This special screening marks a return to The City for this once well regarded silent film which was first shown in San Francisco nearly 100 years ago. More information about that special screening can be found HERE.

The Street of Forgotten Men revolves around a group of pretend handicapped beggars, and stars Percy Marmont, Mary Brian, and Neil Hamilton. Also appearing in the film is Louise Brooks, who made her screen debut in an uncredited bit part in this sentimental and strange melodrama.

Set and shot in New York City, The Street of Forgotten Men premiered at New York's Rivoli Theater on July 20, 1925. A few weeks later, the film made its Bay Area debut at the Granada Theatre (1066 Market Street, at Jones) in San Francisco, where it opened on August 8 and played for a week. It was a successful, and much ballywho'd run.

The Street of Forgotten Men kicked-off the what was known locally as the "Greater Movie Season," an annual event reportedly unique to San Francisco which encouraged the public to attend and enjoy the movies. This city-wide promotional campaign was supported by not only the movie studios - but also city officials, the press, and various civic organizations. Along with screenings of the season's best new films, there was also a parade and other activities. The “Greater Movie Season meant something in this town,” Variety noted later a few weeks later. “Twenty stars came up from Hollywood,” and there was a “big parade with floats from the various studios, corps of usherettes, bands, police escorts, and civic and public officials.” Notably, the horses, chariots and characters from Ben Hur also took part in the parade.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The Tens of Thousands of San Franciscans who lined Market Street yesterday morning and who crowded into the Civic center to welcome the visiting Motion Picture Stars who came from Los Angeles to help inaugurate Greater Movie Week, also paid tribute to Fay Lanphier, 'Miss California,' who left yesterday to compete at Atlantic City for the title of 'Miss America.' The movie stars gave Miss Lanphier a rousing send-off and wished her 'Luck'." The crowd was estimated at more than 30,000. Among the Hollywood celebrities in attendance were Renee Adore, Lew Cody, Corinne Griffith, Claire Windsor, Marie Prevost, Ben Turpin, Syd Chaplin, Paulette Duval, Ernest Torrence, Jean Hersholt, Ronald Colman, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. A portable broadcast station was also set up - suggesting the parade was broadcast on the radio.

Despite it's sometimes dour theme, and despite the competition, The Street of Forgotten Men did well at the box office. According to Variety, the film “came in hitting on all six.” The trade journal added that a good promotional campaign provided for a strong opening, and business held up during its week-long run in San Francisco. Variety reported the film took in $21,800 during its seven days at the Granada, ranking it second in The City. Supporting the film was an Al. St. John comedy short, Red Pepper, and on the stage were Ralph Pollock and the Granada Synco-Symphonists, Ukulele Lew, and other entertainers.

The Street of Forgotten Men beat out Douglas Fairbanks in Don Q, Son of Zorro at the Imperial, and D.W. Griffith's Sally of the Sawdust at the St. Francis (among other offerings), but fell just a bit short of Fine Clothes, a First National film also featuring Percy Marmont at the Warfield. Fine Clothes topped The Street of Forgotten Men – but only by $700.00. The latter’s success, Variety suggested, was due largely to the opening act at the Warfield, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians. That stellar musical group, one of the most popular acts of the day, “dragged ‘em to the box office.”

The Street of Forgotten Men was widely praised in the local press. Writing in the San Francisco Bulletin, A. F. Gillaspey noted, “For fine dramatic detail, for unusualness, for giving us a glimpse into a world we never see and into the other sides of characters we simply pass in pity on the streets, The Street of Forgotten Men is a photoplay revelation.” That review was echoed by other local critics. Dudley Burrows, writing in the San Francisco Call and Post, thought “The Street of Forgotten Men is more legitimately dramatic, and less frankly melodramatic than The Unholy Three,” a similarly themed film. Curran D. Swint of the San Francisco News stated, “Here we have an underworld drama, stark and naked in its picturing of the beggars and fakers who prey on the public in the name of charity.” 

George C. Warren of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the film's director. “The Street of Forgotten Men, to which Herbert Brenon has lent the magic of his skill at direction, [and] his ability to poeticize even the most sordid theme.” Idwal Jones of the San Francisco Examiner praised the film's star. “Marmont can make any picture pleasing, and does well in this unaccustomed role. The extreme of realism abounds in scenes wherein the fakers transform themselves into cripples and go out and impose upon the charitable.”

The Street of Forgotten Men returned to San Francisco for a handful second-run showings over the next twelve months. Other showings in The City include screenings at the New Fillmore (Oct. 12-14, 1925) and New Mission (Oct. 12-14, 1925), Coliseum (Nov. 2-4, 1925), New State (Mar. 7, 1926), and Majestic (Aug. 31, 1926).

Two other Bay Area screenings are also of note. One took place in neighboring Oakland, when the film played at the American theater September 5 through the 11th. On opening day, two of the stars of The Street of Forgotten Men came to town and made a special in-person appearance to promote the film and participate in Oakland's celebration of its Diamond Jubilee.

The Oakland Tribune thought the film "a vivid document of life along the Bowery." The Oakland Post-Enquirer thought the film had an unusual plot, while the Oakland Morning Record noted the picture had been acclaimed by Eastern critics and was said to be even greater than Lon Chaney's The Miracle Man -  a comment echoed in other reviews and articles from around the region and the nation.

A few weeks later, the film opened in San Jose at the Liberty theater for a short, three day run (Sept. 23-26). The local newspaper, San Jose Mercury Herald, thought the film had " . . . a series of smashing scenes that reveal the genius of Herbert Brenon." It also took note of a local screening with special purpose. On September 25, the San Jose Mercury Herald wrote, “Because the film drives home a lesson that every man should take to heart, the management of the Liberty invited members of the Pastor’s union, heads of clubs and civic organizations and others prominent in community life to attend a pre-view of the picture Wednesday morning at 10’oclock. These men and women were in an excellent position to thoroughly appreciate the value of such a screen story. And without exception they endorsed the picture not only as pointing a moral, but also as a superb piece of art.”

The Street of Forgotten Men showed all around the San Francisco Bay Area - in Berkeley, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Palo Alto, and elsewhere throughout the next twelve months. Other showings took place at the Ramona in Walnut Creek (Aug. 15-16, 1925); New Stanford in Palo Alto (Aug. 23-24, 1925); Sequoia in Redwood City (Aug. 26-27, 1925); Strand in Los Gatos (Aug. 27-28, 1925); Princess in Sausalito (Aug. 27-28, 1925); Hub in Mill Valley (Aug. 30-31, 1925); Orpheus in San Rafael (Sept. 12, 1925); Tamalpais in San Anselmo (Sept. 12, 1925); Virginia in Vallejo (Sept. 14-15, 1925);  California in Berkeley (Sept. 23-26, 1925); Novelty in Martinez (Sept. 24, 1925); Garden in Burlingame (Sept. 27, 1925); California in Pittsburg (Sept. 27-28, 1925); Casino in Antioch (Sept. 29, 1925); Regent in San Mateo (Oct. 10, 1925); Majestic in Benicia (Oct. 20, 1925); Chimes in Oakland (Oct. 23-24, 1925); Glen in Mountain View (Nov. 3-4, 1925); Fremont in Oakland (Nov. 5-6, 1925); Strand in Berkeley (Nov. 9-10, 1925); Lorin in Berkeley (Nov. 19-20, 1925); Oaks in Berkeley (Nov. 21, 1925); Royal in South San Francisco (Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 1925); Lincoln in Oakland (Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, 1925); Casino in Oakland (Dec. 10-11, 1925); Strand in Oakland (Dec. 14, 1925); Rialto in Oakland (Dec. 21-22, 1925); New Piedmont in Oakland (Dec. 22-25, 1925); Liberty in Oakland (Jan. 10, 1926); Palace in San Leandro (Jan. 11-12 and Jan. 19, 1926); Hayward Theatre in Hayward (Jan. 25-26, 1926); Granada in Oakland (Feb. 1-2, 1926); Palace in Alameda (Feb. 1-2, 1926); Richmond in Richmond (Mar. 8-9, 1926); Berkeley Theatre in Berkeley (Apr. 7-9, 1926); and Peoples in Oakland (July 11, 1926). 

Louise Brooks’ part in The Street of Forgotten Men is small. She is on screen less than five minutes. Brooks is not listed in the credits, and that may explain why few noticed her one short scene. In reviews of the film, no San Francisco or Bay Area critic – let alone any national critic – noted Brooks’ debut performance. The lone exception was the Los Angeles Times. Its anonymous reviewer commented, “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.” Those two sentences mark the actress’ first film review.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Diary of a Lost Girl with Louise Brooks shows in the UK three times in May

The sensational 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, will be shown three times this month in the United Kingdom. And what's more, each of these screenings will feature live musical accompaniment by the musical group, Wurlitza. (Thanks Meredith.)

The three screenings are set to take place on 

Friday 6th May 2022 at the The Burrell Theatre, Truro in Cornwall. More info HERE.

Friday 13th May 2022 at the Plymouth University Arts Institute, Plymouth in Devon. More info HERE.

Saturday 14th May 2022 at the Noss Mayo Village Hallin Devon. More info HERE.

Wurlitz posted this statement: "We're delighted to be returning to Truro, this time to The Burrell Theatre. The performance starts at 7.30 and we very much hope to see some of you for what may be our last performance in Cornwall of Diary of a Lost Girl for some considerable time.

If you haven't seen it, Diary of a Lost Girl is a wonderful silent film; action packed and full of drama that shocks and surprises. The cinematography is just stunning, with beautiful Louise Brooks at her most mesmerising. It's a story of love in unusual places, as well as capturing some of the most extraordinary scenes ever seen in silent cinema. Heavily censored at the time, we are lucky to be able to see the film as Pabst intended it to be seen, with all its black humour and vibrant storytelling.

Our soundtrack includes music by Leonard Cohen, Chopin, The Magic Numbers, Passenger, Eric Satie, The Wire, Portishead and XTC. The album of Diary of A Lost Girl is on Spotify - either follow the link, or search for Wurlitza

We are also performing Diary of a Lost Girl at Plymouth University Arts Institute on the 13th May, and on the 14th May at Noss Mayo Village Hall.

After this we will be working on Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, which will be debuted at Little Big Festival in Ashburton in August."

Powered By Blogger