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Louise Brooks Society

A blog about an actress, silent film, and the Jazz Age; and occasionally the Denishawn Dance Company, writer Frank Wedekind, his character Lulu, Weimar Germany, Hollywood, the state of Kansas, books, music, art, history and other things sometimes only tan

Updated: 2017-03-23T12:03:27.045-07:00


If you could find one of Louise Brooks' lost films, which would it be?


It is a well known and regrettable fact that the majority of films made during the silent era are lost. The percentage of lost films has been estimated to be as high as 75% or 80%.

(image) That percentage, which is shockingly high, does not apply to the films of Louise Brooks -- at least not by much.

The actress appeared in only 14 silent films during her brief career, and only 7 of these productions are considered lost. (One of them, Just Another Blonde, is partially extant. I have seen what remains, and it looks rather fun. Another, The Street of Forgotten Men, is largely extant, but is rarely shown.) Please note, I am counting both Beggars of Life and The Canary Murder Case among Brooks' silent films, as each was released in both silent and sound versions.

All this leads me to wonder which lost Louise Brooks film YOU would most like to see. It is something to think about or even fantasize about.

If I had to pick one, I might picked Rolled Stockings, simply because Brooks likely had the most screen time in it among the lost films. Or, I might pick The City Gone Wild, because it is a gangster picture and it would be kinda cool to see Brooks as a moll. Of course, I would be thrilled to see any lost Brooks' film. Wouldn't you?

Here is a list of films featuring Louise Brooks which are considered lost. If you wish, post your pick in the comments section below.

The American Venus (1926)
A Social Celebrity (1926)
Just Another Blonde (1926) *

Evening Clothes (1927)
Rolled Stockings (1927)
Now We're in the Air (1927)
The City Gone Wild (1927)

W.C. Fields brief appearance in Love Em and Leave Em


I came across this still from the 1926 Louise Brooks film Love Em and Leave Em for sale on eBay. And in doing so, I spotted something I have never noticed before, the portrait of comedian W.C. Fields pinned to the wall of the bedroom belonging to the two sisters, played by Louise Brooks and Evelyn Brent. Of the three images on the wall above a sleeping Louise Brooks, the Fields portrait is to the right. I can't make out the other portraits seen in this scene still.

New book includes chapter on a Louise Brooks film


A recently released and rather expensive new book, Camera-Eye Metaphor in Cinema, by Austrian scholar Christian Quendler, contains a chapter on the 1929 Louise Brooks film, The Diary of a Lost Girl, and its literary source material, Margarete Bohme's book of the same name. The book was published by Routledge Advances in Film Studies in November, 2016.

I haven't yet seen the book, nor have I come across any reviews, so I can't say much about it except what I read online. According to the publisher's description, "This book explores the cultural, intellectual, and artistic fascination with camera-eye metaphors in film culture of the twentieth century. By studying the very metaphor that cinema lives by, it provides a rich and insightful map of our understanding of cinema and film styles and shows how cinema shapes our understanding of the arts and media. As current new media technologies are attempting to shift the identity of cinema and moving imagery, it is hard to overstate the importance of this metaphor for our understanding of the modalities of vision. In what guises does the 'camera eye' continue to survive in media that is called new?"

Warren Buckland, of Oxford Brookes University in the UK, said this, "The metaphor of camera as eye is fundamental to both everyday discussion as well as more academic theories of cinema: it is a pervasive metaphor through which we understand cinema on several levels. Christian Quendler’s detailed study of the camera-eye metaphor is therefore a significant and erudite contribution to scholarship. But, more than this, Quendler’s study takes a truly interdisciplinary approach to this metaphor. The Camera-Eye Metaphor in Cinema is not dogmatic in limiting itself to one or two theoretical positions; far from it. This book encompasses a broad array of theoretical approaches – from the philosophy of mind to art theory, narratology, and gender studies. It therefore has a potentially wide appeal, not only in film studies, but also cultural and media studies more generally."

Thought you might want to know . . . .

New book mentions Louise Brooks on the cover


A just published Italian-language book, Guida al cinema erotico & porno. Dal cinema muto a oggi, by Alessandro Bertolotti, mentions Louise Brooks on its cover. (The actress' name can be found on the lower left hand side.) The 383-page book, published by Odoya library, looks at erotic and pornographic films from the silent era to today.The publishers description, in Italian, reads: "Nella storia del cinema l'amore, l'erotismo e la pornografia si intrecciano continuamente: dal cinema muto a oggi, il romanticismo, il vizio e la trasgressione si danno la mano malgrado la censura, l'ipocrisia e il perbenismo. Per Alessandro Bertolotti, l'erotismo non esiste come genere cinematografico, ma in tutti i film possiamo trovare momenti erotici: in ogni scena dove due persone si incontrano, nei loro gesti, negli sguardi, nelle parole. Ma cosa rende un film erotico? La bellezza può essere un motore erotico, ogni attrice diventa bella nel momento dell'amplesso, ma puntare solo su un approccio estetizzante, ad esempio attraverso una fotografia ricercata e raffinata, non è sufficiente. Ci vuole un intreccio, una regia. Louise Brooks e Marlene Dietrich sono diventate star perché guidate dal talento di Pabst e Sternberg; Brigitte Maier e Constance Money si sono distinte dalla pletora di attricette porno grazie alla fantasia di Lasse Braun e Radley Metzger. I migliori registi creano un intreccio, per lo meno un'atmosfera, ritardando quanto più possibile l'evento tanto atteso: l'arto sessuale. È la costruzione di una storia a creare le premesse necessarie a una delle principali molle erotiche: l'infrazione dei tabù. Non c'è erotismo senza trasgressione o senza un colpo di scena. Passione, Matrimoni e Tradimenti, Primi amori, Orge, Sesso e Violenza: cinque capitoli tematici aiutano il lettore a scoprire i film più importanti della storia del cinema erotico e porno tra drammi d'amore, commedie e parodie scollacciate, film underground, horror e thriller, sadomaso e a tematica omosessuale, fino agli originalissimi capolavori giapponesi."According to Wikipedia, the author of this book, Alessandro Bertolotti, "has worked as a director of variety shows for the Italian television channel RAI for twenty-five years. He is also a photographer of female nudes and author of two works on Capri. His photographs are included in the archives of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He is one of the largest collectors of erotic books and nude photographs in Europe. A portion of his book collection has been exhibited in the fall of 2007 at the Maison européenne de la photographie in Paris. His Books of Nudes (2007), features published studies by photographers, both famous and forgotten, who have taken the naked body as their subject."I haven't had a chance to see a copy of this new title, which was released this month, so I don't know how much Louise Brooks figures in the book. Have any of the Italian readers of this blog seen the book? Here is a LINK to a blog about the book from last month.The book seems to be available throughout Europe. Here is a LINK to its page on amazon France.[...]

New book with Louise Brooks on the cover


Thanks to Louise Brooks devotee Darkwoods France, a (perhaps new) Chinese-language book (published in Taiwan?) with Louise Brooks on the cover has come to the attention of the Louise Brooks Society. The book is titled 100 Years of Fashion, and the author is Cally Blackman. An English-language version of this title was published in 2012, but without Brooks on the cover.

Eugene Robert Richee's iconic portrait of the actress holding a single strand of pearls has been features on a number of book covers over the years. And no matter which book it is, it always looks great. Simply said, Brooks makes for a great cover girl.

Here is a picture of the book without its pink wrap around band. 

Cally Blackman is a writer and lecturer with degrees in Fashion Design and History of Art, and an MA in History of Dress from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She teaches at various institutions, including Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design. Her previous publications include 100 Years of Menswear, 100 Years of Fashion Illustration, Costume: From 1500 to the Present Day and, of possible interest to members of the LBS, The 20s and 30s: Flappers and Vamps.

WTF: Margins will be thinner than Louise Brooks' negligee


Naturally, I have a keyword alert for "Louise Brooks" set on google news. And just about every day for the last few months I have received news alerts for financial or economic outlook type stories which use the phrase "Margins will be thinner than Louise Brooks' negligee."

I believe that is a quote from Mr. Burns, the parsimonious cartoon character in The Simpsons television show. The actress was referenced once or perhaps twice on the iconic TV show.

But WTF? Why in h-e-double hockey sticks is it showing up on all of these financial news websites? And, do they even know who Louise Brook is?

Beggars of Life screens in Chicago on March 11


Beggars of Life (1928) will be shown at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, March 11. This special screening features a 35mm print courtesy of the George Eastman Museum, with permission of Paramount Pictures. The screen will also feature a live musical score on the famous Music Box organ by Dennis Scott, Music Box House Organist. General Admission Tickets – $11 // Senior Tickets – $9 // Music Box Members – $7. More information about this event may be found HERE. Beggars of Life DIRECTED BY: William A. Wellman WRITTEN BY: Benjamin Glazer and Jim Tully (screenplay), adapted from the book by Jim Tully; titles by Julian Johnson STARRING: Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Robert Perry, Roscoe Karns, Edgar "Blue" Washington  "After killing her treacherous step-father, a girl (Louise Brooks) tries to escape the country with a young vagabond (Richard Arlen). She dresses as a boy, they hop freight trains, quarrel with a group of hobos, and steal a car in their attempt to escape the police, and reach Canada. Released more than a year before The Great Depression, the film was loosely based on Jim Tully’s novel Beggars of Life: A Hobo Autobiography, published in 1924, which describes his hardscrabble existence on the rails during the recession years of the 1890s and 1900s."[...]

Beggars of Life and Wild Boys of the Road


If you appreciate the  charm and realism of the 1928 William Wellman film, Beggars of Life, than you simply must see Wellman's 1933 film, Wild Boys of the Road. I just watched the later for the first time, and was WOWED.

From Wikipedia: "Wild Boys of the Road is a 1933 Pre-Code Depression-era American film telling the story of several teens forced into becoming hobos. The film was directed by William Wellman from a screenplay by Earl Baldwin based on the story Desperate Youth by Daniel Ahern. The film stars Frankie Darro. In 2013 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant'."

But what's more, like Beggars of Life, this latter film also features a young woman (Dorothy Coonan) who dresses as a boy as she rides the rails. It is a terrific, unapologetic, and at times harrowing film.  And like Beggars of Life, it is also in the words of review for Wellman's earlier film, "pungent, powerful, appealing, masterfully directed and superbly acted."

Dorothy Coonan as Sally is real cute, Sterling Holloway as Ollie, another hobo, is oh so likeable, and Grant Mitchell as Mr. Smith is also pitch perfect. The film also has Claire McDowell as Mrs. Smith. She had a similar, motherly role in The Show-Off (1926), which featured Brooks.

The film is available on DVD as part of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume Three (which includes Other Men's Women / The Purchase Price / Frisco Jenny / Midnight Mary / Heroes for Sale / Wild Boys of the Road). Each is a Pre-Code film directed by William Wellman, one of my very favorite directors. Copies are available through

Guest Post: Philip Vorwald on Louise Brooks' Sordid Affair


Guest blogger Philip Vorwald has authored this interesting look at "Louise Brooks' Sordid Affair," which took place during the filming of Beggars of Life.[...]

Diary of a Lost Girl shows March 5th in Rosendale, New York


The sensational 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, will be shown at 3 pm on March 5th at the Rosendale Theater in Rosendale, New York. This Sunday afternoon screening will feature live piano accompaniment by Marta Waterman. More information about the event can be found HERE.

The historic Rosendale Theatre is a three-story, 260-seat movie theater and performance venue in Rosendale Village, a hamlet and former village in the town of Rosendale in Ulster County, New York. The building was opened as a casino in 1905, and began showing films in the 1920s. By the 1930s, a stage had been installed for live vaudeville and burlesque acts. In 1949, the venue was converted back into a movie theater. Today, the theater is run by the Rosendale Theatre Collective.

If you are wondering about Brooksian triangulation... the closest she came to Rosendale back in the day was Poughkeepsie, when she danced there as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company. Later in life, of course, Brooks lived in Rochester, New York.

Diary of a Lost Girl may well be making its debut in Rosendale. The 1929 film, directed by Georg W. Pabst (not Joseph Pabst), was the second Brooks made in Germany, following Pandora's Box. Controversial in its day, and poorly regarded, the film was not shown in the United States until the 1950s. Those screenings took place in Rochester, at the George Eastman House, under the eye of James Card, the museum's film curator. Diary of a Lost Girl made its theatrical debut in the early 1980s. More about the film and its eventful history can be found HERE.

A bit of trivia: In 1961, acclaimed director John Huston was beginning work on a biopic about Sigmund Freud. In an archive of correspondence about the film, Huston’s longtime assistant Ernie Anderson wrote to the director that Freud had no direct involvement with the making of Diary of a Lost Girl.

Announcing Early Women Filmmakers Set on Blu-ray/DVD


FLICKER ALLEY & BLACKHAWK FILMS® PRESENT EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS:AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY Flicker Alley and Blackhawk Films® proudly present 25 newly restored films by early cinema's groundbreaking women filmmakers in a definitiveBlu-ray/DVD dual-format collection. Release Date: May 9, 2017Flicker Alley and Blackhawk Films® are proud to present Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology, a landmark Blu-ray/DVD collection of newly restored films by early cinema's groundbreaking women directors. This extensive set of 25 films from 14 international directors showcases the innovative technical and stylistic contributions of women, a vital missing piece in the canon of cinematic history.Early Women Filmmakers: An International AnthologyDeluxe Blu-ray/DVD Dual-Format EditionM.S.R.P. $69.95SPECIAL PRE-ORDER SALE PRICE: $49.95Early Women Filmmakers: An International Anthology / 1902-1943 / 652 minutes More women worked in film during its first two decades than at any time since. Unfortunately, many early women filmmakers have been largely written out of film history, their contributions undervalued. This necessary and timely collection highlights the work of 14 of early cinema's most innovative and influential women directors, re-writing and celebrating their rightful place in film history.International in scope, this groundbreaking collection features over 10 hours of material, comprised of 25 films spanning 1902-1943, including many rare titles not widely available until now, from shorts to feature films, live-action to animation, commercial narratives to experimental works. Directors include Alice Guy Blaché, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, Marie-Louise Iribe, Lotte Reiniger, Claire Parker, Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport), Leni Riefenstahl, Mary Ellen Bute, Dorothy Arzner, and Maya Deren. These women were technically and stylistically innovative, pushing the boundaries of narrative, aesthetics, and genre. Going back to the beginning of cinema, this collection makes visible the tremendous directorial contributions women made all around the world. Beautifully restored in high definition, Early Women Filmmakers features new scores by Sergei Dreznin, Frederick Hodges, Tamar Muskal, Judith Rosenberg, and Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.This anthology is dedicated to the memory of David Shepard (1940-2017), without whom these films - along with countless others - would simply not have been made available in such beautifully-restored editions. The collection represents one of David's final produced works, completed in collaboration with several film archives, including the French National Center for Cinematography and the Moving Image (CNC), the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, and the Library of Congress.Bonus Materials Include:Booklet Essay: By film historian and Women Film Pioneers Project Manager Kate Saccone.Audio Commentary: For Lois Weber's The Blot by author, professor, and expert on women and early film culture Shelley Stamp, courtesy of Milestone Film and Video. [...]

Louise Brooks on the cover of Amateur Photographer magazine


A Louise Brooks look-alike adorns the current issue of Amateur Photographer, a UK magazine.

The cover story focuses on recreating the iconic black-and-white Eugene Richee photograph of Brooks holding a long, single strand of pearls.

This single image is, without doubt, the best known image of the actress and in its own right, one of the most famous images of a silent film star.

Which ever amateur photographer took this picture, it looks like they did a pretty good job. More information at

Amateur Photographer magazine is the world's best-selling, longest-running consumer weekly photographic magazine, first published in October 1884. Since then, AP (as it is affectionately known to its readers) has been the bible for both amateur and professional photo-enthusiasts around the world. It has helped generations of photographers to improve their skills. It's packed with News, Reviews, Techniques, Stunning Reader and Professional images, together with camera collector features and comments. Secondhand equipment is promoted in every issue - it's a photography magazine not to be missed! 

Tomorrow: It's the Old Army Game with Louise Brooks shows in Kansas


The 2017 Kansas Silent Film Festival starts tomorrow! And among the special guests are Dr. Harriet Fields, who will be talking about her grandfather W. C. Fields, when the festival shows the 1926 W. C. Fields / Louise Brooks film, It's the Old Army Game. More information about the event can be found HERE.FREE ADMISSION for all showings  Fri. Feb. 24, 2017, 7:30-10:00 p.m. @ White Concert Hall, Washburn University Overture and Opening Titles, music by Ben Model, guest performerWelcome and Intros by Denise Morrison, Film Historian The Noon Whistle 18 min. (1923) with Stan Laurel—Music by Marvin Faulwell, organ, and Bob Keckeisen, percussion Crazy Like a Fox 25 min. (1926) with Charlie Chase, Oliver Hardy—Music by Jeff Rapsis on piano Feature introduced by Denise Morrison with Dr. Harriet Fields It's the Old Army Game 77 min. (1926) with W.C. Fields / Louise Brooks—Music score by Ben Model, guest performer Sat. Feb. 25, 2017, 9:00 a.m.-Noon@ White Concert Hall, Washburn University Overture & Short Opening Titles by Jeff Rapsis Welcome and Intros by Denise Morrison, Film Historian Film Documentary60 min. A special presentation by KSFF Koko's Cartoon Factory8 min. (1925) Animation by Max Fleischer —Music by Marvin Faulwel Adventures of Helen— Episode 1: The Wild Engine 20 min. (1919) with Helen Holmes —Music by Marvin Faulwell The Adventures of Prince Achmed 65 min. (1926) Cartoon Feature tinted in Color—Music score by Jeff Rapsis Lunch Break (on your own), resuming at 1:00 p.m. Sat. Feb. 25, 2017, 1:30-5:15 p.m.@ White Concert Hall, Washburn University Overature & Short Opening Titles by Marvin FaulwellWelcome and Intros by Denise Morrison, Film Historian The Boat 21 min. (1921) with Buster Keaton —Music by Marvin Faulwell Barbed Wire 67 min. (1927) with Pola Negri—Music by Marvin Faulwell Intermission Short Overature by Jeff RapsisIntros by Denise Morrison, Film Historian The Cardinal's Conspiracy 11 min. (1909) directed by D.W. Griffith —Music by Jeff Rapsis When Knighthood Was in Flower 120 min. (1922) with Marion Davies* —Music by Ben Model, guest performer (*not set yet. This will be a newly-available title and Ben Model is spearheading its restoration) Dinner Special Dinner Event, Our Ninth Annual CINEMA-DINNER, Seating begins @ 5:15 p.m. Dinner: 5:15-7:00 p.m. Music by TBA Speaker will be Dr. Harriet Fields, granddaughter of W.C. Fields— This event is by reservation only. Dinner is $35. Contact us to reserve your space — Sat. Feb. 25, 2017, 7:30-10:00 p.m. @ White Concert Hall, Washburn University Overture and Opening Titles by Marvin Faulwell, organ, and Bob Keckeisen, percussionWelcome and Intros by Denise Morrison, Film Historian [...]

New opera with Louise Brooks inspired character debuts in Chicago


The Invention of Morel, a new 90 minute opera with a Louise Brooks inspired character, has received its world premiere at the Studebaker Theater in Chicago, Illinois under the auspices of the city's Chicago Opera Theater. Additional information on the production can be found here.The Invention of Morel is a music theater adaptation of the 1940 novella by Adolfo Bioy Casares. The score is by Stewart Copeland (the co-founder and drummer for the Police), with stage direction by the English actor-writer Jonathan Moore. Copeland and Moore collaborated on the libretto. The opera was commissioned by the Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. (Excerpts from The Invention of Morel were performed as part of the New Opera Showcase, presented by OPERA America and NOVUS NY orchestra on January 18, 2016, at Trinity Wall Street.)The opera features "wonderfully alluring" Valerie Vinzant as Faustine, and Andrew Wilkowske as the Fugitive. Baritone Lee Gregory is the Narrator (the id of the Fugitive), and tenor Nathan Granner is Morel. Kimberly E. Jones played Dora, Barbara Landis is the Duchess, Scott Brunscheen is Alec/Ombrellieri, and David Govertsen is Stoever. The set designer is Alan Muraoka, lighting designer is David Martin Jacques, the video designer is Adam Flemming, and Jenny Mannis is costume designer.courtesy of Chicago Opera TheaterThe full opera debuted in Chicago on February 18th. In it's reviews, the Chicago Sun-Times described the work as "the alternately unnerving nightmare and beautiful fever dream of a man on the run who sees no hope for his future until he conjures a relationship with an enigmatic woman," adding  "Invention of Morel deftly balances period charm with a contemporary sense of artificial reality." The Chicago Tribune said it was "a brilliant piece of musical surrealism, 4 stars."Casares' La invención de Morel is widely considered the first literary work of magical realism (predating the kindred fiction of Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and others). It features a character named Faustine who was inspired by the author's affection for Louise Brooks. Casares said as much in interviews in later years. Those facts are seemingly not lost on the designers of the opera, who have modeled their Faustine characters after Brooks' appearance, especially her signature bob.courtesy of Chicago Opera TheaterThough not as well known as it should be, The Invention of Morel has had a unique, lingering resonance. throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Casares’ book was made into a French movie called L’invention de Morel (1967), and an Italian movie called L’invenzione di Morel (1974). It is also believed to have inspired the Alain Resnais’ film Last Year At Marienbad (1961), which was adopted for the screen by the French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. Brooks herself ended up on the cover of a recent edition of Casares’ book, which in turn was given a shout-out on television series Lost (2004 – 2010).Notably, this is not the first time a contemporary opera singer has been modeled after Brooks, (a one-time Chicago resident). Witness William Kentridge's recent staging of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu, where the appearance of the Lulu character was meant to evoke the actress. The source material for both operas, of course, bear a relationship to Brooks as well, as Brooks starred as Lulu in a 1929 film adaption of Frank Wedekind’s earlier play, Pandora's Box. [The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra staging of William Kentridge’s production of Lulu was recently released on DVD / Blu-ray on the Nonesuch label.]The Chicago Tribune noted: “As the Fugitive (forcefully sung and acted by baritone Andrew Wilkowske) falls de[...]

Film critic Richard Schickel dies at age 84


The film critic Richard Schickel has passed away at the age of 84. I met him once, when I hosted an event with him, some five years ago. He was the film critic for LIFE and TIME magazines, and was the prolific author of some 37 books on the movies and movie stars. I have autographed copies of about a dozen of them. I especially enjoyed his biography of D.W. Griffith, which won the British Film Institute Book Prize.His books on Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock and Elia Kazan are well worth checking out, as are his various documentaries.Schickel wrote and/or directed more than 30 documentaries, mostly for television. Schickel started his movie making career in 1971 by writing the BBC documentary The Movie Crazy Years. Soon thereafter,  he wrote and directed a series of PBS documentaries under the title The Men Who Made Movies -- individual installements were on Golden Age directors William Wellman, Vincente  Minnelli, Raoul Walsh, King Vidor, Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock. The series became a book, which I also have. Schickel also edited 2006’s The Essential Chaplin: Perspectives on the Life and Art of the Great Comedian, which I have and would recommend.On his Facebook wall, film historian Frank Thompson wrote a moving tribute to Schickel and the debt he and everyone who loves film and film history has to the late critic.Schickel both wrote and directed his documentaries, mostly. They include The World of Willa Cather, a documentary about the Nebraska novelist, in 1977; the Walter Matthau-hosted CBS piece Funny Business, highlighting the best in movie comedy, in 1978; The Horror Show, a history of horror movies hosted by Anthony Perkins (1979, CBS); James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy (1982, PBS); 1987’s Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente; Cary Grant: A Celebration (1988, ABC); Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend (1989, TNT);  Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home To (1990, TNT); the Sally Field-hosted Barbara Stanwyck: Fire and Desire (1991); Hollywood on Hollywood (1993, AMC); the Emmy-nominated Elia Kazan: A Director’s Journey (1994, AMC); The Harryhausen Chronicles (1998, AMC); the Emmy-nominated Shooting War: World War II Combat Cameramen (2000, ABC);  Woody Allen: A Life in Film (2002, TCM); Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003); Scorsese on Scorsese (2004, TCM); Watch the Skies!: Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us (2005, TCM); and the three-part series You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story, which aired in 2008 as part of PBS’ American Masters.Schickel received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964. He received the National Board of Review’s William K. Everson Film History Award in 2004, and the Maurice Bessy Award for film criticism in 2001. He was also honored by the  Los Angles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics.When I met him, I asked Schickel about Louise Brooks. He told me that he liked her, thought her tough, and similarly admired William Wellman, Brooks' director in Beggars of Life.Richard Schickel has died. His film history remains: his love of the movies is still alive.[...]

Just Found Footage of Louise Brooks Favorite Author Marcel Proust


It's well known that the French writer Marcel Proust (who authored Remembrances of Things Past, or In Search of Lost Time) was Louise Brooks favorite. In 1982, in an article in the New York Times Book Review titled “Books that gave me pleasure,” the actress is quoted: “I have been reading Proust all my life, and I’m still reading him.”

In the screen capture pictured below, the elusive author can be seen wearing a grey coat and a dark bowler hat.

Now comes word that a Canadian professor claims to have found the only existing moving picture of the French writer. According to various news sources including the Guardian (UK), "The black-and-white footage of a wedding cortege filmed in 1904 shows a brief glimpse of a man in his 30s with a neat moustache, wearing a bowler hat and pearl-grey formal suit, descending a flight of stairs on his own. Most of the other guests are in couples."

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To watch the entire clip, visit this link. Though just a fragment, this is very exciting news. Who knows what other lost fragmentary footage might be found? (A Louise Brooks fan can hope, can't they?)

Closing Time: Paintings by Max Ferguson with Louise Brooks


Check out this nifty video tribute to the paintings of Max Ferguson (a fan of Louise Brooks). The actress is featured early on; and she is not the only movie legend spotted in this tribute. Can you spot the other. (Clue: he included an image of Brooks in one of his recent films.) Bonus points to those who can name the musical accompanist depicted in the painting which includes LB. And by-the-way, the music accompanying the video is "Closing Time" by Tom Waits.

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Happy Valentine's Day from the Louise Brooks Society


I am not sure when this Valentine's Day card dates from, but I might guess it is the late 1920s or early 1930s. What caught my eye is the reference to "A gal in every port" and the inclusion of a bobbed female in the lower middle. This figure could be meant to be an Asian, or it could be meant to loosely resemble Louise Brooks, star of A Girl in Every Port (1928). Who knows, except Cupid?

Celebrating Black History Month: the career of Edgar Blue Washington


There were few African-American actors in the films of Louise Brooks. Such were the times, and such were the stories. African-Americans, in bit parts, can be found in The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), American Venus (1926), Canary Murder Case (1929), and King of Gamblers (1937). Perhaps there were one or two others in one or two of Brooks' lost films.Certainly, the most prominent part played by an African-American was the role of Black Mose in Beggars of Life. Black Mose was played by Edgar "Blue" Washington (1898 – 1970). Unusually so, Washington received sixth billing, and his name appeared on the screen alongside stars Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks, Richard Arlen, Robert Perry and Roscoe Karns. Throughout his long film career, Washington appeared mostly in bit parts. Beggars of Life marked a high point. Washington was an actor (sometimes credited as Edgar Washington and sometimes Blue Washington) as well as a one-time Los Angeles prizefighter and Negro League baseball player. He appeared in 74 films between 1919 and 1961. In between acting jobs, he was also an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. The nickname "Blue" came from director Frank Capra, a friend.Washington was born in Los Angeles. Before getting into acting, he played for various teams in the Negro League. He was a pitcher for the Chicago American Giants starting in 1916. And in 1920, he was invited to join the newly formed Kansas City Monarchs, where he started at first base and batted .275 in 24 official league games. After a few months of barnstorming, Washington left the Monarchs. In December of 1920, after he had started acting, Washington rejoined the Los Angeles White Sox for a few games; he was also believed to have later played for Alexander’s Giants in the integrated California Winter League.Harold Lloyd helped Washington break into films, and this pioneering African-American actor appeared in the legendary comedian’s Haunted Spooks (1920) and Welcome Danger (1929). Sporadic work followed throughout the 1920s, as Washington appeared in movies alongside early stars Ricardo Cortez, William Haines, Richard Barthelmess, Ken Maynard, and Tim McCoy.Beggars of Life director William Wellman worked once gain with Washington in The Light That Failed (1939). The actor also appeared in a few films helmed by John Ford, including The Whole Town's Talking (1935) and The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936). Other notable movies in which Washington had at least a small part include the Charley Bower’s short There It Is (1928), King Vidor's all-black Hallelujah (1929), Rio Rita (1929), Mary Pickford's Kiki (1931), King Kong (1933), Roman Scandals (1933), Annie Oakley (1935), Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman (1936), and Gone with the Wind (1939).He was in three installments in the Charlie Chan series, and appears as Clarence the comic sidekick in the John Wayne B-Western Haunted Gold (1933).Despite the fair amount of screen time Washington enjoyed in this rather poor, 57 minute film, he is only named in this trailer. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Washington also had small roles in The Cohens and the Kellys in Africa (1930), Drums of the Congo (1942), Bomba, the Jungle Boy (1949), and other lesser fair. Unfortunately, many of these and earlier roles traded on racial stereotypes. His last part, as a limping attendant in a billiards hall, was in the classic Paul Newman film, The Hustler (1961).This blog is indebted to Mark V. Perkins excellent biography on the Society for American Baseball Re[...]

Louise Brooks and Wanda Hawley


Louise Brooks is a magnet of meaning.... I just came across this short video clip, in which Emeritus Film Studies Professor Claudia Gorbman of the University of Washington discusses silent film actresses Louise Brooks and Wanda Hawley. I am not sure if this video clip comes from a larger film, or not, but it is worth a viewing. Give it a play.

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Diary of a Lost Girl with Louise Brooks shows March 5th in New York State


The sensational 1929 Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl, will be shown at 3 pm on March 5th at the Rosendale Theater in Rosendale, New York. This Sunday afternoon screening will feature live piano accompaniment by Marta Waterman. More information about the event can be found HERE.

The historic Rosendale Theatre is a three-story, 260-seat movie theater and performance venue in Rosendale Village, a hamlet and former village in the town of Rosendale in Ulster County, New York. The building was opened as a casino in 1905, and began showing films in the 1920s. By the 1930s, a stage had been installed for live vaudeville and burlesque acts. In 1949, the venue was converted back into a movie theater. Today, the theater is run by the Rosendale Theatre Collective.

If you are wondering about Brooksian triangulation... the closest she came to Rosendale back in the day was Poughkeepsie, when she danced there as a member of the Denishawn Dance Company. Later in life, of course, Brooks lived in Rochester, New York.

Diary of a Lost Girl may well be making its debut in Rosendale. The 1929 film, directed by Georg W. Pabst (not Joseph Pabst), was the second Brooks made in Germany, following Pandora's Box. Controversial in its day, and poorly regarded, the film was not shown in the United States until the 1950s. Those screenings took place in Rochester, at the George Eastman House, under the eye of James Card, the museum's film curator. Diary of a Lost Girl made its theatrical debut in the early 1980s. More about the film and its eventful history can be found HERE.

A bit of trivia: In 1961, acclaimed director John Huston was beginning work on a biopic about Sigmund Freud. In an archive of correspondence about the film, Huston’s longtime assistant Ernie Anderson wrote to the director that Freud had no direct involvement with the making of Diary of a Lost Girl.

Beggars of Life with music by The Dodge Brothers in Manchester (UK) in May


The outstanding 1928 Louise Brooks film, Beggars of Life, will be shown at Stoller Hall in Manchester, England on Saturday, May 13th. This screening will feature live music and will be accompanied by The Dodge Brothers and the fabulous Neil Brand. More information about this event can be found HERE.

The Stoller Hall web page reads:

25% discount when you book full price tickets for both Beggars of Life and the Dodge Brothers at 9pm. That means you can see the brilliant Dodge Brothers for just £5.50 each!

The classic silent film with live music from the Dodge Brothers and Neil Brand.

Film and cinematic landscapes come together when The Dodge Brothers – Mike Hammond, Mark Kermode, Aly Hirji and Alex Hammond – join forces with premiere Silent Film pianist Neil Brand to accompany rare Silent features. Their accompaniment to the Louise Brooks/Wallace Beery 1928 film Beggars of Life was greeted with great acclaim. Performing this at The British Silent Cinema Festival, The Barbican & The BFI Southbank has prompted glowing reviews and the band became the first ever to accompany a silent film at Glastonbury Festival in 2014.

David Shepard (1940 - 2017)


David Shepard, a friend to many in the silent film community and a longtime champion of film preservation, has died. He was 76 years old. His ceaseless work on behalf of silent film deserves our ever lasting appreciation.I saw David just last December, and we exchanged a few words.... Below is a snapshot I took a five or six years back. David, second from the right in a white short, is surrounded by colleagues Kevin Brownlow, Diana Serra Cary (silent film star Baby Peggy), and Leonard Maltin. I can only claim to have been acquainted with David Shepard (1940 - 2017), having chatted with him numerous times, and having exchanged emails and seen him about at local film festivals for well more than a decade. I will miss him congenial presence. I also enjoyed reading and treasure my autographed copies of his books on movie legends King Vidor and Henry King. It was an honor to have my picture taken with Shepard last summer.David's involvement with silent film extends to Louise Brooks, who's now lost 1927 film, The City Gone Wild, he almost saved. In his 1990 book, Behind the Mask of Innocence, Kevin Brownlow wrote about an incident in the 1970s. “David Shepard, then with the American Film Institute’s archive program, had a list of 35mm nitrate prints held in a vault Paramount had forgotten it had. He asked me which title I would select, out of all of them, to look at right away. I said The City Gone Wild. He called Paramount to bring it out of the vaults for our collection that afternoon. The projectionist went to pick it up. ‘O, there was some powder on that,’ said the vault keeper ‘We threw it away.’ … He tried to rescue it, even from its watery grave, but a salvage company had carted it off by the time he got there.” A few years ago, I spoke with David about this incident, and he confirmed its details and expressed his frustration.  Back in November, Shepard was honored at a special event at Dartmouth College. At the time, Mike Mashon, Head, Moving Image Section, Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress, said “David is a giant in the field of film preservation, one of those rare talents who exemplifies the scholar’s rigorous research, the archivist’s attention to detail and the fan’s unabashed love and enthusiasm for movies.”Born in 1940, David had a lifelong love of film, having devoted most of his life to film preservation. Through teaching and scholarship, through his company, Film Preservation Associates, through his ownership of the Blackhawk Films library, and through his film and video restoration efforts, David had long worked behind the scenes helping save early films. Just as importantly, David made these films available to the home video market, first through laserdisc and VHS formats, and more recently through high-quality DVD releases "where the clarity and beauty of these early motion pictures can really be fully appreciated." Shepard has done as much as anyone to both preserve and promote our film heritage, especially the silent era. Shepard began restoring films when he joined the American Film Institute in 1968 as one of their first staff members. His company, Film Preservation Associates, is responsible for many high quality video versions of silent films. Some of these video releases came from the Blackhawk Films library (also owned by Shepard), and others from materials owned by private collectors and film archives around t[...]

Trump's effect on the Louise Brooks Society and silent film


On January 19th, 2017, the Trump administration said that it would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. Trump also said he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which oversees both PBS and NPR. All together, such funding represents a minuscule portion - a reported 0.004% - of 2016 federal spending.The Louise Brooks Society stands against such actions. Each would disastrously impact the arts and American culture, as well as silent film preservation and exhibition -- including the films of Louise Brooks.Over the years, the Public Broadcasting System has shown silent films on television, as well as documentaries about silent films. I remember seeing Kevin Brownlow's magnificent Hollywood series on PBS in the early 1980's. That was my first sustained exposure to silent film and film history. Looking back, it changed my life. What's more, having examined old television broadcast records, I have also been able to find that PBS screened Pandora's Box on television a handful of times in the 1980's. I wonder how many individuals saw a great actress like Louise Brooks for the first time, and it somehow impacted their life?National Public Radio has, as well, covered many news stories related to silent film - stories likely not covered in the mainstream media. I myself, as the director of the Louise Brooks Society, have appeared on NPR stations across the country talking about the actress, most recently on WXXI in Rochester, New York. Without such attention to less popular art forms like silent film, American culture would be a much lesser thing.Similarly, both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities grant funds to various film festivals, including silent film festivals, as well as the specialized musicians who perform at them. And what's more, eliminating such funds would eliminate funds that go towards silent film restoration and silent film preservation, DVD releases, as well as the researching and writing and publishing of articles and books (and the making of documentary films) on silent film.I don't want to live in a world where the cultural standard is some crappy reality television show. The arts enrich our lives. All of our lives, whether we get a grant or not.The most important thing individuals can do is to keep informed and to support arts organizations and the media that gives coverage to the arts. This article has a number of great suggestions. Another thing we can do is to sign petitions against cutting funding. Here is a link to a petition on the website asking that funding not be cut to the NEA and the NEH. I think others are going around as well. As we know, Louise Brooks was a Denishawn dancer, an actress, and a great reader of books. I, for one, feel she would be against eliminating funding of the arts.Consider this: When the Nazi's came to power in Germany in the early 1930's, they too moved to control society by controlling culture. In fact, Margarete Bohme's sensational 1905 book, The Diary of a Lost Girl, which can be seen as a feminist social critique of German society and had remained in print since it was first published 25 years earlier, was driven out of print by right wing groups in the early1930's. Additionally, some of G.W. Pabst's films - like Diary of a Lost Girl and Pandora's Box - were suppressed. No one wants to see that hap[...]

Louise Brooks found in La La Land


Speaking of La La Land, I was there last week researching two of Louise Brooks' films. I scored a lot of great material, nearly 200 pages worth of stuff, including many rare stills and publicity photos and lots of rare Paramount production records. The results of my research shall be revealed in the coming months..... Here is a snapshot of me outside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Margaret Herrick Library. Over the years, I have visited the library nearly ten times, and am finally starting to feel I know my way around its way of doing things. While there, I also had the pleasure of running into author and film historian Mary Mallory while doing my research. Hello Mary!

Apparently, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills (where the Academy is located) is riddled with crime. Who da thunk? I spotted this WANTED poster tacked to a bulletin board.