Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Rare Louise Brooks film to screen in Toronto, Canada

The rarely screened silent version of the 1930 Louise Brooks film, Prix de beauté, will be shown on Saturday, December 3 at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto, Canada. This special screening will feature a print, courtesy of the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna in Italy, of the restored original silent version. And what's more, the film will be introduced by series curator Alicia Fletcher and will feature live musical accompaniment by Marilyn Lerner. More information about this event can be found HERE.

According to the Toronto International Film Festival website, "Weimar-era icon and prototypical Hollywood iconoclast Louise Brooks stars in Prix de beauté as Lucienne, a typist who enters a newspaper beauty contest and wins a chance to compete for the Miss Europe title in Spain. A tale of morbid jealousy and revenge co-scripted by G.W. Pabst and René Clair (the latter was intended to direct before Italian expat Augusto Genina was brought in), Prix de beauté had the unfortunate distinction of being filmed as a late-era silent, only to be hastily re-edited and released as a sound film (with Brooks dubbed by a French actress). The end result was a film out of step with the times in its format, yet one which was distinctly modern in its fashion sense, with Jean Patou of the famed House of Patou outfitting Brooks for her final starring role. The sophisticated originator of women’s sportswear who eradicated the flapper style of the ’20s and ushered in the dropped hemlines and elegance of the ’30s, Patou was the perfect outfitter for the rebellious, singularly fashion-forward actor. And, as the inventor of ladies’ knitted swimwear, he was also the perfect match for the film’s bathing-beauty sequence."


The internationalism of Prix de beauté is suggested in this vintage poster, which names the film’s American star, French actors, and Italian director, and also shows the flags of the four nations whose languages the film would be dubbed – Italy, France, England, and Germany.

Despite its delayed, problematic release (having to be converted from a silent to a sound feature), Prix de beauté was a considerable hit at the time of its release. It played continuously for a couple of months -- at a time most films only played a week -- following its May 9, 1930 debut at the Max Linder-Pathe in Paris, France. And soon thereafter, the film was shown all over Europe, in Northern Africa, parts of Asia, and in South America and the Caribbean well into the mid-1930s. In fact, the film remained in circulation for some six years. It was often revived in France. And, it played in present day Algeria, Brazil, Iceland, Japan, Madagascar, Turkey and the former USSR. And speaking of former nation states, the film even played in the one-time city-state of Danzig. Prix de beauté had legs (pun intended).

For example, records show that the film played in Havana, Cuba in March 1932, and then debuted at the Haitiana theatre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti later that year, in December 1932. Ever green, Prix de beauté returned to the Haitiana theatre in October 1933, April 1935, and July 1936 - that's six years after is debut. Truth be told, the film played just about everywhere, except for the United States and Canada.

Haitian newspaper ad

More about Prix de beauté can be found on the Louise Brooks Society website HERE. The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Louise Brooks painting found in Sacramento

Yesterday, my wife and I and my sister-in-law spent some time at the Crocker Holiday Artisan Market, an event held annually at the Scottish Rite Center in Sacramento, California. This three-day bazaar is a benefit meant to support participating artists, the Crocker Art Museum’s exhibitions and educational programs, the Creative Arts League of Sacramento, and other community programs. While browsing among the 100+ artists, vendors and creators, I came across a rather charming portrait of Louise Brooks.

This small painting is the work of Grass Valley artist Cheryl Wilson, who kindly allowed me to photograph her booth. I like her work, and really like her portrait of Louise Brooks, though I did not purchase it as I am budgeting for other Louise Brooks stuff. It was priced at $100.00, should anyone want to contact the artist.

I spent a little time perusing the artist's blog and found she has painting portraits of Louise Brooks in the past. HERE is a blog post to a 2021 blog post showing another portrait. And HERE is another blog post from 2019 which depicts another portrait of Louise Brooks. And, HERE and HERE are two more portraits of Louise B. If you like this work, I would encourage everyone to check out the artists blog (at https://cherylwilsonstudio.blogspot.com/), which features other portraits of other early film stars such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Leila Hyams and others.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Unlikely Louise Brooks, number 3 in an occasional series

This post is the third in an occasional series focusing on unusual finds, unusual material, and unusual connections all related to Louise Brooks - even if only tangentially. I run across these sorts of things regularly... and this is one way to share them with my readers. Scroll through the preceding blog posts to read the first two entries in this series.

I suppose I could have titled this blog post, "The time that Louise Brooks partied with Louise Brooks." The Washington D.C. newspaper clipping shown below appeared in the Washington Times on Monday, April 7, 1930. It documents a day in the life of the silent film star, and the time she encountered another (lesser known) celebrity of the time with whom she shared a name.

Remarkably, our Louise Brooks (who was the guest of sometime paramour George Marshall), is described as an "erstwhile Movie star," suggesting her career was thought to be over. In fact, it was slowly grinding to a halt, though within a year, Brooks would be cast in three more films.

The other Louise Brooks (1912-1965) was born Evalyn Louise Brooks; as mentioned in the article, she was the daughter Mrs. Cromwell MacArthur, an American socialite whose four marriages included seven years as the first wife of General of the Army and future WWII legend Douglas MacArthur. (There is no indication that the General was in attendance.) Mrs. Cromwell MacArthur was at one time "considered one of Washington's most beautiful and attractive young women".

After her father's death, her mother married prominent investment banker Edward T. Stotesbury.If that name sounds familiar, it should, as his Palm Beach villa, El Mirasol, was the estate that was trashed by W.C. Fields and company (including Louise Brooks) in the 1926 film, It's the Old Army Game! Read more about that location shoot on John Bengtson's superb blog, Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more).

And here they all are, together. How unlikely!

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Monday, November 21, 2022

A French Street Named after Louise Brooks

Is there a resident of Paris or the surrounding area that might be able to take a picture of a local street sign? I would like to get a clear straight on photograph of Impasse Louise Brooks, which is located in Bois-d'Arcy, a commune in the Yvelines department in north-central France. (Bois-d'Arcy is located about an hour, or some 37 kilometers outside Paris.)

Other streets in this subdivision are named after Greta Garbo, Erich von Stroheim, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Jean Vigo, Joan Crawford, Georges Méliès, Jacques Tati, Fritz Lang and others. Notably, Impasse Louise Brooks intersects with Allèe Marlene Dietrich, and Rue Voltaire.

From what I can tell, Impasse Louise Brooks is actually two dead end streets which meet-up (but don't actually connect, or pass through). And consequently, there are two street different signs at the entrance to each dead end. The images shown here are from Google street view. Unfortunately, part of one street sign is blurred. That is the kind of image I would like to get. 

If anyone can take a few nice photo of the Impasse Louise Brooks street sign, on its pole, and close-up, that would be swunderfull!

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Louise Brooks Society now on Mastadon

I launched the Louise Brooks Society website way back in the summer of 1995. I was a pioneer. The LBS was one of the first websites devoted to silent film and/or a silent film actor. Today, my website is certainly one of the longest lasting. 

Along the way, I branched out. There was a Louise Brooks Society MySpace page at one point, as well as a TribeNet page, and a streaming music channel (RadioLulu) on Live365. Things come and go. This blog dates back to 2002, when I first started writing about Louise Brooks on LiveJournal. In 2009, I transitioned the LBS blog to Blogger, where it has been ever since. (Some of the other Louise Brooks Society social media accounts can be found in the right hand column. Or, check out the LBS on LinkTree.)

The LBS has been on Twitter since 2009. (See https://twitter.com/LB_Society) To date, I have tweeted more than 6,150 times and gained some 5,200 followers. Not bad considering this is a niche interest.

With all the changes and uncertainty around Twitter these days (I think you know what I mean, as some are predicting its demise), I figure it is best to have a back-up, twitter-like account - an alternative app. I plan to stay with Twitter for the time being, but have recently set up an account on Mastadon. That account can be found at https://sfba.social/@LouiseBrooksSociety.

I would encourage anyone interested in exploring the brave new world of Mastadon to check it out. The Louise Brooks Society already has 10 followers, and a few of its three posts have been favored and boosted. Hooray! Come on and join the smart set.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Happy birthday to Louise Brooks BOTD in 1906

Happy birthday to the dancer, silent film star and 20th century icon Louise Brooks, who was born on this day in 1906 in Cherryvale, Kansas. Not surprisingly, little (Mary) Louise Brooks started getting press from the day she was born. The first image shown below, a clipping dated November 14, 1906, comes from the Cherryvale Daily Republican. It is followed by another clipping, from the Cherryvale Daily News, which appeared that same day on the newspaper's front page.


And a few years later ....

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

A good brainduster for fans of silent film

Here is something I ran across the other day, a picture puzzle in a 1926 issue of Exhibitor's Herald. The challenge is to identify the silent film stars hiding behind their masks. I think I can identify at least a few right off, and one of them is a famous actor who twice worked with Louise Brooks. Another, number two, is given away by his headgear. How many of the 24 can you identify? It is a good brainduster.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Movies are Murder CMBA Blogathon - The Canary Murder Case (1929) part 2


 As the theme of this year's CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association) blogathon is "Movies are Murder," the Louise Brooks Society join's in with a post devoted to the celebrated 1929 film,
The Canary Murder Case.

Things you may or may not have known about 1929 film, The Canary Murder Case, starring William Powell, Jean Arthur, Louise Brooks, James Hall, Eugene Pallette and Gustav von Seyffertitz. Production on the film took place between September 11 and October 12, 1928 at Paramount’s studio in Hollywood. Sound retakes took place on December 19, 1928.

The film was initially shot as a silent, and shortly thereafter reworked for sound. The film's credited director is Malcolm St. Clair – although retakes for the sound version were directed by Frank Tuttle. (Both had worked with Louise Brooks in the past.) The sound version was listed at 7 reels (7,171 feet) or 80 minutes – while the silent version was listed at 7 reels (reported as 5,843 feet). Both versions are extant. (The silent version, so far unreleased on home video, is said to be the better film.)

Look-alike actress Margaret Livingston, who would marry bandleader Paul Whiteman in 1931, was the uncredited, body and voice double for Louise Brooks in sound version.

 S.S. Van Dine, the author of the novel on which the film was based, is the pseudonym used by art critic Willard Huntington Wright (1888 – 1939) when he wrote detective novels. Wright was an important figure in avant-garde cultural circles in pre-WWI New York, and under the pseudonym (which he originally used to conceal his identity) he created the once immensely popular fictional detective Philo Vance, a sleuth and aesthete who first appeared in books in the 1920s, then in movies and on the radio in the following decades.

— Willard Huntington Wright’s brother was the American avant-garde painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright. Willard’s portrait, painted by his brother in 1914, hangs in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (link to portrait)

Wright was one of the best-selling authors in the United States. The Canary Murder Case was the second book in a popular series featuring Vance — though the film made from it was the first in a series to feature the character. William Powell revived his role as Vance in four additional films, including The Greene Murder Case, released later in 1929. Other actors who played Vance include Basil Rathbone and Edmund Lowe.

— S.S. van Dine’s novel was loosely inspired by / based on the real-life murder of showgirl Dot King, which was never solved. King was among those nicknamed “Broadway Butterflies.” (George Kibbe Turner, who wrote the story "The Street of the Forgotten Men," the basis for Brooks' first film, also wrote a series of stories about Broadway Butterflies.)

— Glenn Wilson, a Federal investigator attached to the bureau of criminal investigation for Los Angeles county, reportedly served as an adviser on the film.

— Louise Brooks was especially popular in Japan in the late 1920s. And those films in which she played a modan gāru, or modern girl, proved to be a success. Not suprisingly, The Canary Murder Case was a HUGE hit in Japan, where it opened in April 1929 at the Hogaku-Za Paramount Theatre in Toyko as part of a double bill with the UFA film, Metropolis. (Imagine that!)

— In a 1931 article on the cinema in Singapore, the New York Times notes that “Asiatics love the gangster film, but very few are shown, owing to the censorship regulations which bar gun battles and will not tolerate an actual ‘kill’ on the screen. The first cuts made before they decide to ban all films of this type were very clumsy and made a mystery story a bigger mystery than ever. For instance, in the Canary Murder Case.”

Under its American title, documented screenings of the film took place in Australia (including Tasmania), Bermuda, British Malaysia (Singapore), Canada, China, Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, Trinidad, and the United Kingdom (England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).

Elsewhere, The Canary Murder Case was shown under the title Die Stimme aus dem Jenseits (Austria); O drama de uma noite (Brazil); El Crimen de la Canaria (Cuba); Die Stimme aus dem Jenseits and Kanárkový vražedný prípad (Czechoslovakia) and Hlas Ze Záhrobí (Slovakia); Die Stimme Aus Dem Jensits (Danzig); Hvem dræbte Margaret O’Dell? (Denmark); De Kanarie Moordzaak (Dutch East Indies – Indonesia); Hääl teisest maailmast and Hääl teisest ilmast (Estonia); Salaperainen Rikos and Ett hemlighetsfullt brott and Det hemlighetsfulla brottet (Finland); Le meurtre du Canari (France); Die Stimme Aus Dem Jensits (Germany); Kandari Gyilkosság and Gyilkossag a szailoban (Hungary); La canarina assassinata and Il caso della canarina assassinata (Italy); カナリヤ殺人事件 (Japan); 카나리아 머더 케이스 (Korea); De Kanarie Moordzaak (The Netherlands); I Kanarifuglens Garn and I fristerinnens garn (Norway); Kryyk z za Swlatow (Poland); Die stimme aus dem Jenseits (Poland, German language publication); O Drama duma Noite (Portugal); Kdo je morilec? (Slovenia); ¿Quién la mató? (Spain, including The Canary Islands); Midnattsmysteriet (Sweden); and Дело об убийстве канарейки (U.S.S.R.).

A previous post, Movies are Murder CMBA Blogathon - The Canary Murder Case (1929) part 1, had appeared on November 7 at  9:29 am.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Movies are Murder CMBA Blogathon - The Canary Murder Case (1929) part 1

As the theme of this year's CMBA (Classic Movie Blog Association) blogathon is "Movies are Murder," the Louise Brooks Society join's in with a post devoted to the celebrated 1929 film,
The Canary Murder Case.

The Canary Murder Case is a detective story involving an amateur sleuth, a blackmailing showgirl, and the “swells” that surround her. The film was initially shot as a silent, and shortly thereafter reworked for sound. Louise Brooks, who plays the canary, would not dub her lines for the sound version. Her refusal and perceived “difficulty” harmed her career, effectively ending her stardom in the United States.

Based on a bestselling book of the same name, The Canary Murder Case was released to great anticipation. In February, 1929 Motion Picture named the film one of the best for the month, declaring “William Powell is superb. The rest of the players, including Louise Brooks, Jean Arthur, James Hall, Charles Lane, Gustav Von Seyffertitz and many others, win credit.” That opinion, however, was not shared by most. More typical of the reviews the film received was that of the New York World, who declared the film “an example of a good movie plot gone wrong as the result of spoken dialogue.”

Mordaunt Hall, writing in the New York Times, was more generous, “It is on the whole the best talking-mystery production that has been seen, which does not imply that it is without failings. It is quite obvious that Louise Brooks, who impersonates Margaret Odell, alias the Canary, does not speak her lines. Why the producers should have permitted them to be uttered as they are is a mystery far deeper than the story of this picture.” Billboard added “Louise Brooks is mediocre as the Canary, but this does not detract from the production, as she appears in but a few scenes.”

Malcolm St. Clair directed The Canary Murder Case, with Frank Tuttle taking over the sound retakes. The film was released as an 80 minute talkie in most markets, and as a shorter silent in theater’s not yet “wired for sound.” A few publications, such as The Film Daily, reviewed both formats.

Louella Parsons, writing in the Los Angeles Examiner, stated St. Clair “was handicapped by no less a person than Louise Brooks, who plays the Canary. You are conscious that the words spoken do not actually emanate from the mouth of Miss Brooks and you feel that as much of her part as possible has been cut. She is unbelievably bad in a role that should have been well suited to her. Only long shots are permitted of her and even these are far from convincing when she speaks.” Parson’s comments were echoed by Margaret L. Coyne of the Syracuse Post-Standard, who observed, “The only flaw is the substitution of another voice for that of Louise Brooks — the Canary — making necessary a number of subterfuges to disguise the fact.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer quipped “The role of the murdered girl is played by Louise Brooks, who is much more satisfying optically than auditorily.” Writing in Life magazine, Harry Evans went further, suggesting Brooks’ didn’t speak well. “Louise Brooks, who furnishes the sex-appeal, is evidently a poorer conversationalist than Miss Arthur, because all of her articulation is obviously supplied by a voice double.” 

The Oakland Post-Enquirer and other publications began to catch on. “It is generally known by this time that Margaret Livingston doubled for Louise Brooks in the dialogue sequences. Hence the not quite perfect synchronization in close-ups and the variety of back views and dimly photographed profiles of the Canary.”

However, the assertion that Brooks didn't speak well would haunt the actress for years, and effectively end her career.

 What the critics said about Louise Brooks and The Canary Murder Case:

“Louise Brooks plays the brief role of the Canary, the musical-comedy star whose personality is such that she is given deafening applause for merely swinging over an audience’s head on a trapeze.” — Ken Taylor, Los Angeles Evening Express

“Louise Brooks is brilliant as the murdered girl.” — Star-News Critic, Pasadena Star-News

“Louise Brooks is the hard-boiled ‘Canary,’ and Louise can be excessively evil when she tries – on the screen. She disappears early from the scene because of the little matter of murdering her, but while she is there she shows quite a considerable advance in finesse, and she uses her voice nicely.” — George C. Warren, San Francisco Chronicle

“Louise Brooks plays the harsh-souled but physically magnetic dancer who counts her wealthy dupes by the score and stops at nothing to win a husband whose name will give her the entree to New York’s most fashionable circles.” — Everhardt Armstrong, Seattle Post Intelligencer

“Louise Brooks, an ‘It’ gal with intelligence aplenty, plays the canary. She’s a bird in a gilded cage, to be sure, but wotta bird and wotta cage!” — Regina Cannon, New York American

“Louise Brooks’ magnificent legs ornament the screen for half the picture before she [is] murdered. But Louise is such a wicked little blackmailer, even the legs don’t get your sympathy.” — Bland Johaneson, New York Daily Mirror

“Louise Brooks, who plays the Canary, is very bad and it appears from the dialogue that she is not actually doing the talking. Apparently a substitution was made here.” — Boyd Martin, Louisville Courier-Journal

“Mechanically, too, The Canary Murder Case has been well handled. The voices are well modulated and free of static. It is evident that Miss Brooks’ voice test was a flop for a double is used in sequences requiring speech from her.” — Harold Heffernan, Detroit News

“Louise Brooks as the fascinating light-o-love who comes to a mysterious and not undeserved end is at once alluring and crystal-hard in her evil determination of collecting blackmail from her many wealthy admirers.” — Ella H. McCormick, Detroit Free Press

“The Canary is Louise Brooks, cast as a gay Broadway Circe, something after the pattern of ‘Dot’ King – and quite as lucky.” — Nelson B. Bell, Washington Post

“Louise Brooks, ‘The Canary,’ acts the part of this hardboiled wench in pretty good style.” — J. W. B., Washington Times

“As an all-talk murder mystery melodrama, The Canary Murder Case will occupy the front rank, for its plot has been constructed so intelligently that it is logical almost in every one of the situations.” — Bige, Variety

Another post, Movies are Murder CMBA Blogathon - The Canary Murder Case (1929) part 2, will appear on November 9 at  9:29 am.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Get Lost in the 1920s at the Toronto Silent Film Festival

Louise Brooks had long had a connection to Toronto, Canada. She first visited the city in April, 1924 as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company, performing for two nights at the historic Massey Music Hall. And of course, her various films played in various theatres in Toronto throughout the 1920s and 1930s. 

After Brooks moved to Rochester, New York in the late 1950s, she spent many an evening listening to radio broadcast out of Toronto, notably the CBC. She also gained friends and followers among Canada's film historians, and herself became a patron of the Toronto Film Society. Brooks even penned some film notes for screenings put on by the group. (An entire chapter devoted to Canada will be included in volume one of my forthcoming, two volume work, Around the World with Louise Brooks.)

I mention all this as a prelude to mentioning that the Toronto Silent Film Festival, Canada’s only silent film festival, is set to take place November 11-13, 2022 at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles Ave.). If you live in Toronto and have never been, why not check it out. More information may be found HERE or at www.torontosilentfilmfestival.com

Though this year's festival is not showing any Louise Brooks films (maybe next year? maybe The Street of Forgotten Men ?), but they are showing films by and featuring individuals with whom Brooks worked, namely Herbert Brenon, Wallace Beery, Adolphe Menjou and Thomas Meighan. They are also showing films starring Brooks contemporaries, namely Gloria Swanson, Pola Negri, and Lya de Putti.  I wish I could be there! This year's five film program includes a gripping real life adventure, a bunch of wild comedy shorts, screen divas, and a noirish thrillers  -- each film paired with talented accompanists to make each film screening a one-of-a-kind experience.




90 MIN

99 MIN

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Magic Lantern Slide Newsletter includes Louise Brooks Society

Back on October 17th, I posted a blog post about church and religious interest in The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), Louise Brooks' first film. That post can be found HERE.

In my post, I noted that in 1925 and 1926 a few church pastors around the country gave a sermon or talk on the theme of The Street of Forgotten Men which included a slide show - today's power point presentation, if you will. I am working on a book on The Street of Forgotten Men, and am desperate to find out more about these slides, which articles from the time specifically mention were based on the Paramount film. 

In my search for information, I sent a query to various church archives and historians (Congregationalist and Methodist), but learnt nothing more. The church historians were helpful, but knew nothing more about these specific slides. I also sent a query to the Magic Lantern Society of the United and Canada. They too knew nothing about these specific slides I was asking about, but confirmed -- as did the two church historians, that illustrated sermons were a not uncommon practice in the early decades of the 20th century. 

The Magic Lantern Society, however, included my query in their November newsletter, which is just out. Here is one page from their fascinating newsletter. 

Magic lantern slides are an integral part of the pre-history of film. I would encourage everyone to check out the Magic Lantern Society of the United and Canada and their website. As their website notes, "The Magic Lantern Society of the US and Canada is a group that collects, preserves and shares information on the many devices that were used to entertain and educate audiences before the beginning of cinema. Often called a “stereopticon show,” Magic lantern shows were the combination of projected images, live narration, and live music that preceded the movies. They were incredibly popular 100 years ago. By the 19th century, the magic lantern was used in theaters, churches, fraternal lodges, and at home by adults and children. In 1895 there were between 30,000 and 60,000 lantern showmen in the United States, giving between 75,000 and 150,000 performances a year. That means there would have been several shows a week."

Here is an example of the coming attraction slide for The Street of Forgotten Men. It was issued on glass, as thin, transparent plastics were not then in use. Because coming attraction slides were issued on glass, they were fragile and given to breaking. Not many survive.

The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Love 'Em And Leave 'Em to be shown at the George Eastman Museum on November 15th

The 1926 Louise Brooks film, Love 'Em And Leave 'Em, will be shown at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York on November 15th (the day after LB's birthday). If you haven't scene this film, here is your chance to see it on the big screen in a theater where Louise herself watched films. And what's more, the film will be accompanied by Philip C. Carli, who will provide a live musical accompaniment. More information HERE.

(Frank Tuttle, US 1926, 76 min., 16mm)
The George Eastman Museum says of this film, "This early comedy features Louise Brooks and Evelyn Brent as the dueling Walsh sisters: Brent’s Mame is bookish and considerate, while Brooks’s Janie is a heartbreaking flapper whose morals extend so low as to snag her sister’s betrothed. Their relationship comes under even further trial as Janie finds herself in a financial hole from which only Mame’s sibling devotion can rescue her. Far ahead of its time in sexual politics, Love ’Em and Leave ’Em also exhibits one of Brooks’ rare onscreen dance routines."
Love Em and Leave Em was popular in its day. The Chicago Tribune even named the film one of the six best movies of the month. Its critic, Mae Tinee, proclaimed, “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em is one of the snappiest little comedy dramas of the season. Full of human interest. Splendidly directed. Acted beautifully.” Dorothy Herzog, film critic for the New York Daily Mirror (and Evelyn Brent’s later romantic partner) penned similarly, “A featherweight comedy drama that should register with the public because of the fine work done by the principals and its amusing gags. . . . Louise Brooks gives the best performance of her flicker career as the selfish, snappily dressed, alive number — Janie. Miss Brooks sizzles through this celluloider, a flapper lurer with a Ziegfeld figure and come-on eyes.”

Critics across the country thought Brooks stole the show. The Los Angeles Record wrote, “Evelyn Brent is nominally starred in Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, but the work of Louise Brooks, suave enticing newcomer to the Lasky fold, stands out most. The flippant, self-centered little shop girl is given sly and knowing interpretation by Miss Brooks, who is, if memory serves aright, a graduate of that great American institute of learning, the Follies.” The Kansas City Times went further, “Louise Brooks does another of her flapper parts and is a good deal more realistic than the widely heralded Clara Bow. Miss Brooks uses the dumb bell rather than the spit-fire method. But she always gets what she wants.”

And once again, New York critics singled out the actress, lavishing praise on Brooks with the film almost an after-thought. The New York Herald Tribune critic opined, “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em . . . did manage to accomplish one thing. It has silenced, for the time being at least, the charge that Louise Brooks cannot act. Her portrayal of the predatory shop girl of the Abbott-Weaver tale was one of the bright spots of recent film histrionism.”

John S. Cohen Jr. of the New York Sun added, “The real surprise of the film is Louise Brooks. With practically all connoisseurs of beauty in the throes of adulation over her generally effectiveness, Miss Brooks has not heretofore impressed anyone as a roomful (as Lorelei says) of Duses. But in Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, unless I too have simply fallen under her spell, she gives an uncannily effective impersonation of a bad little notion counter vampire. Even her excellent acting, however, cannot approach in effectiveness the scenes where, in ‘Scandals’ attire, she does what we may call a mean Charleston.”

More about this entertaining film can be found on the Louise Brooks Society website HERE. The Louise Brooks Society blog is authored by Thomas Gladysz, Director of the Louise Brooks Society. (www.pandorasbox.com). Original contents copyright © 2022. Further unauthorized use prohibited.
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