Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Louise Brooks asks "Just how short is a short skirt?"

There has been a bit of renewed interest on Facebook in this 1927 newspaper ad, in which Louise Brooks asks "How short is a short skirt?" To which Louise Brooks, movie darling, answers, "Let it be short enough to take advantage of all good points -- if any." 

This particular ad, promoting a syndicated Sunday feature story, ran in the Detroit Free Press on November 19, 1927. As far as I have found, this ad is unique to the Michigan newspaper, though the piece which it promotes, was not. The feature story appeared in a number of newspapers throughout November of 1927. Of the couple of other instances of the article which I have found, Louise Brooks was used as an illustration in both. I guess her likeness was in the air at the time.

The image of Louise Brooks shown above is, in fact, associated with the film, Now We're in the Air, which was released in the Fall of 1927. One can read all about the film and that famous costume in my 2017 book, Now We're in the Air: A Companion to the Once Lost Film. In that WWI comedy, Brooks plays twins named Griselle & Grisette. Hence the "G" on her costume.

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

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies

As most fans of Louise Brooks are aware, Brooks was well acquainted with the silent film star Marion Davies. Brooks spent time at the famed Hearst Castle, and also visited Davies at her beachfront estate. Brooks also knew Marion Davies' niece, Pepi Lederer. This circle of friendship is sketched in "Marion Davies Niece," one of the essays in Brooks' own book, Lulu in Hollywood

In some ways, Brooks' and Davies' stories are similar. Powerful men plucked both from the Ziegfeld Follies, and thrust each into the movies. Davies was ambitious. Brooks, less so. Nevertheless, both struggled to define themselves, to lead the lives they wanted to live, and to be in charge of their own destinies. Both also, to a degree, fought to overcome a legend which was imposed on their latter lives.

I mention all this because just out is Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies, a promising new biography by Lara Gabrielle published by the University of California Press. Long in the works, this new biography is a book every silent film buff will want to read. I just recently received a copy, and can't wait to get started. This is my kind of biography, thoroughly researched and full of footnotes!

Here is the publisher supplied description: "From Marion Davies's humble days in Brooklyn to her rise to fame alongside press baron William Randolph Hearst, the public life story of the film star plays like a modern fairy tale shaped by gossip columnists, fan magazines, biopics, and documentaries. Yet the real Marion Davies remained largely hidden from view, as she was wary of interviews and trusted few with her true life story. In Captain of Her Soul, Lara Gabrielle pulls back layers of myth to show a complex and fiercely independent woman, ahead of her time, who carved her own path."

"Through meticulous research, unprecedented access to archives around the world, and interviews with those who knew Davies,
Captain of Her Soul counters the public story. This book reveals a woman who navigated disability and social stigma to rise to the top of a young Hollywood dominated by powerful men. Davies took charge of her own career, negotiating with studio heads and establishing herself as a top-tier comedienne, but her proudest achievement was her philanthropy and advocacy for children. This biography brings Davies out of the shadows cast by the Hearst legacy, shedding light on a dynamic woman who lived life on her own terms and declared that she was "the captain of her soul."

If you happened to see the outstanding documentary on William Randolph Hearst broadcast on PBS last year, then you were also likely intrigued by the role this diminutive film star played in the life of the millionaire publishing tycoon. Lara Gabrielle spoke in that documentary, and has a lot to say about this plucky film star who always tried to live life on her own terms (despite living in the shadow of a giant of a man, Hearst). Did she succeed? Was she the captain of her soul? What price did she pay? Read Lara Gabrielle's new biography to find out!

Here is a piece that just appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are some of the pre-pub notices:

"Lara Gabrielle finally buries the canard that Marion Davies was anything like Orson Welles's Susan Alexander from Citizen Kane. With hard-earned access to Davies's family and friends, Gabrielle has created a deeply sourced, delightfully told story of a rich, complicated life. With Captain of Her Soul, we finally meet Marion Davies as her own woman—talented, funny, generous, and a wonderful friend."—Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood

"Gabrielle has unearthed a treasure trove of previously unpublished material that provides valuable new insights into Marion Davies's storied life and career."—Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian
 "Actor Marion Davies (1897–1961) may have lived ‘a life shrouded in mystery, rumor, and half-truths,’ but she was witty, talented, and loyal, according to this sparkling debut from film historian Gabrielle. . . . a breezy, colorful saga of Old Hollywood, full of showbiz picaresque, glamorous parties at Hearst’s San Simeon castle, and a touching romance between two flawed, magnetic personalities. Film buffs will want to check this one out." ― Publishers Weekly

"[A] scrupulously researched biography of American actress Davies (1897–1961), who was for a long time better known as the mistress of tabloid publisher William Randolph Hearst. . . . For fans of old-Hollywood lore and classic movies, especially those starring Marion Davies." ―
Library Journal
If you have never seen a Marion Davies film, then you are missing out. The Patsy (1928) and Show People (1928) are each outstanding. Davies is charming and funny in both films, each of which I consider classics and must-see viewing. Those are two of my favorites, though others like, Little Old New York (1923) and Zander the Great (1925) and Beverly of Graustark (1926), are also very good. I have seen each and like them all. Check them out, and then read Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies.
This blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society ( Original contents copyright © 2022. Further use prohibited. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Dutch edition of Loulou in Hollywood

A brief follow-up to the previous post featuring interviews with Timelock singer Ruud Stoker and Louise Brooks cover artist Corné Akkers. Mentioned in that piece was Louise Brooks' 1982 book, Lulu in Hollwood. Shown here is the front and back covers of the Dutch edition of Loulou in Hollywood, which was published in The Netherlands in 1989 by Het Wereldvenster. I don't believe the Dutch edition is still in print. Nevertheless, for those who read Dutch, this is a very nicely printed edition. I expect it can be found used online. That's how I got mine a number of years ago. [Scans by Thomas Gladysz from the collection of the Louise Brooks Society.]

If there is something familiar about the front cover of this edition, it may be the font used in the word Loulou, which is the same used by the manufacturer of the popular French perfume, Cacharel Lou Lou Eau de Parfum. But which came first? Nosey designers want to know.

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

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Two brief interviews regarding the Timelock rerelease of Louise Brooks

The Dutch rock band Timelock has re-released its 1992 debut album, titled Louise Brooks, as a remastered, expanded double CD. I wrote about it in my previous post, which can be found HERE. This new release also features new cover art by Dutch artist Corné Akkers, which is eye catching to say the least.

Louise Brooks [2022 version] features the original album, newly remastered, along with three additional tracks from the early 1990s. As well, one track from the original release, "The Seance," has been fully rerecorded by the current band. The second CD contains a full concert the band performed at Planet Pul in Uden on 10 June 1995. Follow THIS LINK to the album's Bandcamp page, where you can learn more and listen to various tracks including the 6:40 title track from the reissue. Everyone is encouraged to check it out.

A few days ago I sent slightly different sets of questions (via email) to Timelock singer Ruud Stoker and to cover artist Corné Akkers. Both are big fans of Louise Brooks. Both answered in impressively good English, which have been very slightly edited for readability. Here are their responses. First up, Timelock singer Ruud Stoker.

Timelock singer Ruud Stoker (via Facebook)

LBS: When and how did you first come across Louise Brooks?

RUUD STOKER: The first time I was inspired by Louise Brooks was in 1991. We formed the progressive rock band Timelock. I often write songs about little known subjects or persons. I was in a bookshop in The Hague and saw the book LuLu in Hollywood. I had never heard of her but recognized her hairstyle in pictures I had seen. So I bought this book and another book about her written by Barry Paris and that led me to honour this lady in a song we then wrote. I also thought it would be a good idea to name the album after her.

LBS: Is Louise Brooks well known in The Netherlands?

RUUD STOKER: I think she is not well known in The Netherlands. She is known only by those 'insiders' who love movies from the twenties and thirties. But now and then you see women with bobbed hair and I  imagine that is a sort of legacy of hers to the women of today.

LBS: Have you seen many of her films? Or read her book, Lulu in Hollywood?

RUUD STOKER: I read LuLu in Hollywood and the book by Barry Paris. When I got more and more interested in her I saw many trailers or pieces of her movies on YouTube. I have not seen a full length movie of her.

LBS: The band's Facebook page says you have a "soft spot" for Louise Brooks? What does she mean to you?

RUUD STOKER: Louise Brooks is very special to me. I always think she is a sort of mystery. She wasn’t as big as Garbo or other great actresses of her time. But she shines when she appears in the movies she made.

LBS: What led you to name a song and your 1992 album after the actress?

RUUD STOKER:  I think I was inspired by her looks and by the way she moves. You can’t mistake her appearance. It is a shame that her life did not turn out the way she wanted. I think she gave the movie world, and especially the people who saw her movies and fans, something special.

LBS: The original 1992 release of Louise Brooks features a photograph of a young women with bobbed hair who only resembles the actress. Your new re-release features a colorful painting of the actress herself. Why the change?

RUUD STOKER: We wanted to have a real picture of her since it was the 30th anniversary of the CD. And because the song is still mentioned in magazines and played on radio stations, we felt we could not have a women who merely resembles the actress on the front cover.

LBS: How did you find Corné Akkers, the artist who did the cover art?

RUUD STOKER: Thanks to our label FREIA Music we got in touch with a fellow townsman and Louise Brooks admirer, Corné Akkers, a 53 years old artist from The Hague [NL]. Just like us, he is fascinated by the life story of Louise. In the 1920s she was already more modern than many women and behaved and dressed as such. She was always on her own and at one point said goodbye to Hollywood. Corné finds that very inspiring. From an art perspective, Corné likes images from the 1920s and 1930s (art deco). The high level of chiaroscuro (light/dark in art deco) also provides beautiful contrasts for a painting or drawing, which somehow reflects Louise's ambivalent nature. In 2014, Corné made an oil version of a study in pastel of Louise Brooks. Eight years later this painting made it to the cover of the remastered Timelock album Louise Brooks.

LBS: Have you met other fans of Timelock who are also fans of Louise Brooks?

RUUD STOKER: Yes, they know her by name but never saw a movie of hers. The fans have become interested in the mystery of her - her movies and person. Especially when I wrote about her in my lyrics.

LBS: Your 2002 album, Circle of Deception, contains a track titled "Louise Brooks Revisited". Will it also be re-released?

RUUD STOKER: Yes, the re-release will be in spring 2023.

Dutch artist Corné Akkers (via Facebook)

Corné Akkers is a Dutch artist who has been drawing and painting since he was a child. He sites cubism, impressionism and surrealism as some of his many influences. And like Timelock singer Ruud Stoke, Akkers is also a longtime fan of Louise Brooks. His website, which is well worth checking out, contains a few different artworks featuring Louise Brooks. Here are the answers to the questions I sent him via email.

LBS: When and how did you first come across Louise Brooks?

CORNE AKKERS: I have the feeling I have known about her for all my life. It must have been as early as the 1970s when I saw Pandora’s Box as a young child.

LBS: Do you think Louise Brooks is well known in The Netherlands?

CORNE AKKERS: She might have been in the past but you might as well ask young people who Fred and Ginger are. Many won’t know celebrities from the 1920s and 1930s. She has earned herself a cult status though. That’s for sure. Quite a lot of my art students know her and have portrayed her.

LBS: Have you seen many of her films? Or read her book, Lulu in Hollywood?

CORNE AKKERS: Not many but the ones that I saw left an unerasable mark on my memory. I haven't read her book. I want to buy a copy one day.

LBS: What inspired you to paint your portrait of Louise Brooks. When did you paint it?

CORNE AKKERS:  Now, that’s a lengthy story. I will try to keep it concise. I guess readers of your website focus more on her personality, or acting performance. However, as an artist I always focus on visual aspects, such as lighting, composition, etc.... I always have had a preference for art deco and its photographic and cinematic expressions in particular. Back in the day people had a smashing feeling for the use of light and darkness. These hefty tonal variations in movies and photos always remind me to the use of chiaroscuro by Rembrandt, for example. The absence of color in movies might have been responsible for that. I drew Louise before, in black and white. Her portrait in color in 2014 was an attempt to transfer all my knowledge of color into a painting. Next to tonality it also became a study after color balance and saturation gradients. The reason for using this particular portrait for reference (Louise Brooks lovers know which one, of course) is the peculiar raising of her eyebrow. This induces a different facial expression than the right eye lets on. Beautiful duality!

LBS: How did you come to provide the cover art for the Timelock reissue?

CORNE AKKERS: Their management asked me if they could use my oil. They wanted to use a different cover than the original from 1992. So they searched on google and found me.

LBS: Have you made other images of Brooks, or other film stars?

CORNE AKKERS: In fact I have. I made a graphite pencil drawing in the same year (2014), a prestudy in pastel for this oil. Links to these drawings are in the art statement to the oil. I have also drawn and painted other stars, including Mary Pickford and Marilyn Monroe. You can see them here:

LBS: Will prints of the Louise Brooks portrait be for sale?

CORNE AKKERS: Yes they are. Printables and prints are available through the following link: 

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

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Timelock rerelease Louise Brooks

Louise Brooks was originally released in 1992 as the debut album from Timelock, a prog-rock / neoprogger band from The Netherlands. The cover of the original CD release contained a black-and-white photograph of a young woman with bobbed hair who vaguely resembled the actress. Louise Brooks, the album, also contains a track titled "Louise Brooks." I got a copy of the Timelock CD sometime in the mid-1990s, around the time when I first discovered the silent film star and was searching out everything I could find.

Now, thirty years after the release of their 1992 debut, the Dutch rock band have rereleased Louise Brooks as a limited edition, remastered, redesigned,  and expanded double CD - and with a very groovy, very cool  cover. [The artwork on the cover was supplied by artist Corne Akkers. Like the band, Corne hails from The Hague, in The Netherlands. And like Timelock singer Ruud Stoker, artist Corne Akkers is also a "fanatic" of Louise Brooks. Read this illustrated blog post by him HERE.] 

Follow THIS LINK to the album's Bandcamp page, where you can learn more and listen to various tracks including the 6:40 title track from the reissue. It sounds great. I agree with former Timelock bass player Bert de Bruijne, who stated there is "more depth and sparkle" in the remaster. Notably, just last week, the reissue was reviewed by the Dutch journal Progwereld. Read that review (in Dutch) HERE. And HERE, as well, is a short write up (in English) which appeared in Front View magazine.

Louise Brooks [2022 version] features the original album, remastered by MHX Music, along with three additional tracks from the early 1990s. As well, one track from the original release, "The Seance," has been fully rerecorded by the current band. The second CD contains a full concert the band performed at Planet Pul in Uden on 10 June 1995.  

Dutch artist Corné Akkers (image via Facebook)

p.s. Louise Brooks completists should also be aware that Timelock's 2002 CD release, Circle of Deception, contains a related track titled "Louise Brooks Revisited." Below is some concert footage of the band playing that track. Listen for the spoken word intro.....

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

Monday, September 19, 2022

San Francisco Silent Film Festival Day of Silents Announced

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival has announced its annual A Day of Silents event for Saturday, December 3 at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. True to its live-cinema tradition, the SFSFF is presenting six programs all with live musical accompaniment! Tickets and Passes are on sale now. More information, including a full rundown of films, may be found HERE.

"Comedy wins the day starting in the morning with KEATON'S MECHANIZED MAYHEM—three brilliant shorts by Buster Keaton—accompanied by pianist Wayne Barker. Following Buster is Ernst Lubitsch's effervescent FORBIDDEN PARADISE with Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra accompanying. The centerpiece show of the evening is King Vidor's Hollywood satire SHOW PEOPLE starring Marion Davies with cameos by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and John Gilbert—also accompanied by Mont Alto. But the serious doesn't take a back seat, three riveting dramas fill out the bill. SFSFF's restoration of Musidora's POUR DON CARLOS portrays the civil war in late 19th-century Spain. The Sascha Jacobsen Ensemble will accompany. Cecil B. DeMille's incendiary THE CHEAT—the film that made Sessue Hayakawa a star—will be accompanied by Wayne Barker. And the last show of the evening, THE TOLL OF THE SEA, is a restoration of this earliest-surviving two-color Technicolor film. Anna May Wong in beautiful color! The Sascha Jacobsen Ensemble will accompany."



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

In Memorium: Jean-Luc Godard, French cinema legend

The French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard -- a key figure in the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave), the film making movement that revolutionized cinema in the late 1950s and 60s -- has died aged 91. Tributes are pouring in from all around the world. HERE is the New York Times obituary

There is so much one can say about Godard, a truly great filmmaker. Let me add this. In his 1989 biography, Barry Paris wrote of the New Wave obsession with Louise Brooks, noting "Jean-Luc Godard paid tribute through his actress wife Anna Karina, whose impulsive character in Une Femme est une Femme (1961) and again in Vivre sa Vie the next year was modeled on Louise." Here is a bit of video which makes that very point.

Rest in Peace, Jean-Luc Godard (1930-1922). This blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society ( Original contents copyright © 2022. Further use prohibited. And for good measure.....


Friday, September 9, 2022

Louise Brooks, the still silent muse

Louise Brooks is having a moment.... Just recently, the New Yorker magazine reprinted Kenneth Tynan's 1979 profile of the actress, "Louise Brooks Tells All," in its August 29, 2022 issue. That recent issue celebrated great magazine profiles from the past. Tynan's rightly celebrated piece certainly fits the bill. (Also included in the August 29th  issue was a piece by Hilton Als, who profiled Missy Eliot. Als, I should note, wrote about Brooks in his 2013 book, White Girls.)

Louise Brooks is also included in the most recent issue of FICTION magazine, a literary journal issued by the City College of New York. Issue number 65 includes an excerpt from Jerome Charyn's new novel, Lulu in Love. I have read the entire work manuscript, and am looking forward to the day when it is published. In the meantime, Charyn's new piece is, as of now, only available in print.

Adjunct to Charyn's piece, I was asked to write a piece noting some of the other instances in which Louise Brooks shows up in fiction, the genre, not the journal. I contributed "Louise Brooks: Silent Muse," which can be read online. It explores how Charyn, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Willem Frederik Hermans, Ali Smith and other authors have employed the actress in their fiction. I hope everyone takes a few minutes to read my piece. And while you are at it, because I know you will want to, be sure and read Tynan's and Charyn's pieces, if you haven't already done so. Be included in the smart set.

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

Thursday, September 8, 2022

A bit about Queen Elizabeth II and Louise Brooks

One might not think so, but there is a connection, albeit a small one, between the silent film star Louise Brooks and the late Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Brooks lived and worked in London, England in late 1924. (Brooks worked as a dancer at the Cafe de Paris in London, and lived nearby at 49 Pall Mall.) At the time, the reigning English monarch was King George V, the grandfather of the future Elizabeth II, who was born not long after in April 1926.

Flash forward 33 years. In 1957, the young Queen Elizabeth visited the United States. Her visit, which took place in October, was televised nationally and received a good deal of coverage. It was an event in which Louise Brooks, who was then living in Rochester, New York, took an interest. Enough so, she recorded the fact in her notebooks that she watched Elizabeth's arrival and visit on television. When Elizabeth visited the United States again in June 1959,  Brooks again took note of the occasion, and again recorded the fact that she watched coverage of the visit on TV.

Why was Louise Brooks interested in Queen Elizabeth? I can't say for sure, but I would suggest Brooks' interest was not political or royalist, but rather feminist in nature. The role of women in Western society has changing in the late 1950's, and Brooks likely wanted to see how Elizabeth carried herself, how she was treated by others, and how others spoke about her.

Having read many of Brooks' letters, notebooks, and her published and unpublished writings, I think Brooks' interest stemmed from her interest in the way prominent women - especially celebrities - existed in the world. Queen Elizabeth, then still in her twenties, was certainly prominent, and powerful. She was somebody people talked about, and had opinions about. She was like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, two other celebrities of the time, whom Brooks was also (and surprisingly?) interested in. How did they carry themselves? How were they treated?

Here is a bit of video, from a British source, of the late Queen's visit to the United States in 1957. It is, perhaps, similar to the coverage she would have seen on television, likely on local channel 10 (see newspaper advertisement below, where coverage of the Royal Ball preempted late night programming).

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

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Overland Stage Raiders to be shown at the Cherryvale Historical Museum

Louise Brooks last film, Overland Stage Raiders (1938), will be shown on September 3 at the Cherryvale Historical Museum, 215 E. Fourth St., in Cherryvale, Kansas. The a 55-minute western, which stars John Wayne and the Three Mesquiteers, will be shown on the lawn outside the museum beginning at about 7:45 p.m. 

Friday, September 2, 2022

Update on The Street of Forgotten Men: From Story to Screen and Beyond

I have been hard at work on my new book about Louise Brooks' first film, The Street of Forgotten Man: From Story to Screen and Beyond. So far, I have 259 pages completed, which includes some 56,000 words and dozens of images, many rare. I figure the book will come in under 300 pages; the finish line is well in sight. I also have a draft of the cover, which I hope to share at a later date. It is pretty nifty.

I think this new book will be akin to two of my earlier books, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, and Now We're in the Air: A Companion to the Once "Lost" Film -- though far more substantial. 

I am currently working on the chapter which surveys the film's critical reception in the United States. While doing so, I have run across a few rather unusual newspaper advertisements promoting a showing of The Street of Forgotten Men. Here they are.

The two-day run of The Street of Forgotten Men was extended a day when management of the Empress theater in Owensboro, Kentucky learned Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush wouldn’t arrive in time, having been mis-shipped from St. Louis. 

Imagine being able to attend a showing of The Street of Forgotten Men where two of the film's main stars, Mary Brian and Neil Hamilton (later Commissioner Gordon in the original Batman TV series) make a personal appearance before a screening of the film at the American theater in Oakland, California. Had I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1925, I would have been there in a heartbeat!

I would be willing to bet that this striking ad drew the attention of moviegoers, a few of whom might have wondered if the T-Rex was attacking London's street of forgotten men ! Or maybe not. 

Nevertheless, these are just a few of the many rather cool newspaper advertisements which are featured in The Street of Forgotten Man: From Story to Screen and Beyond. There are others, however, which are a bit more unusual. More on that later.... I will post a few more bits and pieces from the book in the coming months, including an intriguing new discovery regarding the film. Stay tuned.

Lastly, check out this 1926 page from the Rock Island Argus, from Illinois. The Street of Forgotten Men is showing at the Majestic (see the smaller advertisement to the lower left). And so is another Louise Brooks' film, The Show Off, at not one but two theaters!


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

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