Thursday, January 6, 2005

Bestselling books of the 1920s and 1930s


Some historical data, from Publisher's Weekly
Bestselling books (fiction and non-fiction), covering the years 1920 - 1929:  http://www.caderbooks.com/best20.html
Bestselling books (fiction and non-fiction), covering the years 1930 - 1939:    http://www.caderbooks.com/best30.html

Ain't 'IT' a Shame

long article about Clara Bow ran on today's PopMatters website. In her debut column, the site's classic film columnist argues for the It Girls's place in the pantheon of legendary leading ladies. Within this consideration of Clara Bow,  there is this paragraph. "You can still buy postcards of her acting contemporary, Louise Brooks, at a local 'lifestyle store', but most people, even movie buffs, wouldn't be able to recognize Bow, let alone name one of her films. (I'll help you out; she was the leading lady in Wings (1927), winner of the first Oscar for Best Picture.) Why is Brooks a still-immortalized cult figure and Bow not? Maybe there's something about Brooks' persona as cool, amoral, gender-ambiguous jazz baby with a keen intelligence shining behind her dark eyes that's got more staying power than Bow, the little Brooklyn spitfire full of terrier enthusiasm and effortless charm."

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Weekly call for help


No inter-library loans had arrived at the SFPL, thus nothing to report. . . . The times they are a changing: the San Francisco Public Library is switching its ILL requests from paper forms (which I had dutifully filled out every week) to web-based forms. The new library system is called Millenium. However, the system does not have a specific web-form for microfilm requests. There are only forms for books and articles. What to do ?
Does anyone live near Findlay, Ohio or Bowling Green University? There are Denishawn articles I would like to get ahold of which appeared in the Findlay Morning Republican and Findlay Daily Courier. The Findlay public library likely has these publications on microfilm, and I know that Bowling Green does. If you live nearby and can spare an afternoon in the cause of Louise Brooks scholarship, please contact the Louise Brooks Society.
The LBS would also like to acquire a copy of a paper presented at the 1996 German Studies Association conference in Seattle, Washington. The paper, by Richard W. McCormick, was entitled "New Women in Crisis: Commodification and Downward Mobility in G.W. Pabst's Büchse der Pandora and Irmgard Kenn's Das kunstseidene Mädchen."
The LBS is also interested in obtaining a recording and / or transcript of a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio program called Tuesday Night,which aired on November 30, 1971. The program, which was prepared by George Pratley, featured a documentary on Charlie Chaplin which supposedly contains an interview with, or comments by, Louise Brooks. If so, this would be the only known "radio interview" with Brooks.

A few more Denishawn articles and film reviews

Today's trip to my local library - my first in a few weeks - was productive. Three inter-library loans were waiting for me. I went through the New Haven Union(from New Haven, Connecticut), where I uncovered some articles on the Denishawn performance there in April, 1923. I also found a few later articles and some nifty advertisements relating to the local screenings of The American Venus and A Social Celebrtity.
As well, I went through the Evening Reporter (from Lebanon, Pennsylvania), and found some articles on the Denishawn performance there in November, 1923. As with a number of their performances during Louise Brooks two years with the company, this Denishawn performance was a benefit. Their recital at the Academy of Music benefitted the local V.F.W. - and was writen-up in the local paper.

I also went through the Independence Daily Reporter (from Independence, Kansas). Louise Brooks and her family lived in Independence for about three or four months in 1919, after having left Cherryvale and before relocating to Wichita. The Denishawn tour stop there in January, 1924 - and received a front page review! Louise Brooks participation in the company received a full paragraph of praise, and her connection to Independence was noted.

Today, I also received a splendid email from Mario Gladu, who lives in Quebec. A French speaker, Mario wrote (in graceful English) to say that he found a few articles about the Denishawn performance in Montreal, Canada in March, 1923. Responding to my call for help, Mario took it upon himself to check for material in a French language newspaper based in Montreal, La  Patrie. As it turns out, Brooks was mentioned in one article - program notes reproduced in advance of the performance. There was also a picture of the Denishawn dancers - but it is hard to tell if Louise is among them. Mario has promised to check the other French-language papers in Montreal and Quebec for similar material. Thank you Mario! A citation - the first one from a French-language Canadian newspaper - was added to the bibliography. [Interestingly, Mario wrote that the theatre where the Denishawn company performed in Montreal, the historic St Denis, still stands. It is there that the well known "Just for Laughs" festival and many other events are held every year.  Here is a picture as it looks today.]

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Currently reading . . .


A few days I ago I watched, once more, Tim Burton's wonderful film Ed Wood. I enjoyed it quite a bit, not having seen it since it first came out . . . . And being in between books, Burton's film inspired me to pick up Arthur Lennig's 2003 biography, The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi. I have been meaning to read this book for a long time, for I had enjoyed Lennig's earlier film bio, Stroheim. I am only 25 pages into The Immortal Count, but am enjoying this book a great deal. It appears very well researched, very detailed, and gracefully written. Just the way I like 'em. I will report back one I have finished this 548 page "monster."
[ Some trivia: Prior to his role in Dracula, Lugosi appeared in a number of silent films in his native Hungary, as well as in Germany and the United States. He also had an affair with Clara Bow, and at one time possessed a painting of a nude Bow which he hung in his home in Los Angeles. Where is that painting now? A busy actor, Lugosi later worked with many of Louise Brooks' one-time co-stars and directors, including W.C. Fields, Richard Arlen, William Collier, Jr., Margaret Livingstone, Claire McDowell, William Gaxton, and El Brendel, as well as directors Eddie Sutherland and Michael Curtiz. Small world, wasn't it? ]
Recently, thanx to the good people at the University of Kentucky Press, I got a copy of The Bennetts: An Acting Family, by Brian Kellow. Another juicy read . . . . which I haven't yet delved into. Anyone who has read Barry Paris' biography of Louise Brooks is aware that the actress was friendly with Barbara Bennett. Kellow's new book details Louise and Barbara's friendship, as well as Brooks' observations on Barbara's more famous sisters, Constance and Joan. Brooks' name appears six times in the index, and pages 84 through 87 details the young women's budding friendship at Denishawn summer camp. Has anyone had a chance to read this new book?

Sunday, January 2, 2005

100 Largest Urban Places in the 1920s and 1930s


Some historical data, based on U.S. Census Bureau information:
Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places:  1920
http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0027/tab15.txt
Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places:  1930
http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0027/tab16.txt

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Happy new year


 Happy new year from the Louise Brooks Society.

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