Thursday, August 17, 2017

Louise Brooks Film Series in Helsinki, Finland

Vintage dressmaker Irma Romero alerted the Louise Brooks Society to a Louise Brooks series at KAVI (the National Audiovisual Institute) in Helsinki, Finland.

Romero, a Louise Brooks devote and a longtime member of the LBS, also sent this picture of the KAVI program which features Brooks.

KAVI is set to show Beggars of Life on October 12 and 15, Diary of a Lost Girl (Kadotetun päiväkirjassa) on October 19 and 21, Prix de beaute on October 27 and 29, and Pandora’s Box (Pandoran lipas) on November 27 and December 1.

I visited the KAVI website and found this information in Finnish, authored by Kirsi Raitaranta.

Louise Brooks, kimaltava tähdenlento
12.10.2017 to 01.12.2017

Modernin tanssin merkittävässä Denishawn-tanssiryhmässä ja Broadwayn Ziegfeld Follies -revyyssä kunnostautunut Brooks (1906–1985) sai sopimuksen Paramount-yhtiölle. William Wellmanin mestariteoksessa Beggars of Life (1928) pojaksi naamioitunut Brooks pakenee murhasyytettä maankiertäjien seurassa. Vaiherikkaalla matkalla määritellään lopulta myös rakkaus, kun kovakasvoinen Oklaholma Red näkee totuuden: “I’ve heard about it – but I never seen it before. It must be love.”

Pabst löysi hehkuvan Lulunsa Howard Hawksin elokuvasta A Girl in Every Port, jonka esitimme keväällä. Pandoran lippaassa (Die Büchse der Pandora, 1929) Brooksin amoraalinen roolihahmo on viaton ja sensuelli – nainen, joka ei tunnusta rajojaan. Elokuva perustuu Franz Wedekindin näytelmiin, joissa ekspressionismi yhdistyy melodraamaan. Pabst tutki totuutta kuitenkin viileästi uusasiallisuuden hengessä, realistisesti ja vähäeleisesti tuoden samalla esiin yhteiskunnallisia epäkohtia ja kaksinaismoraalia.

Pabstin Kadotetun päiväkirjassa (Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen, 1929) Brooks esittää viatonta tyttöä, joka saa lapsen raiskauksen seurauksena. Perhe keskittyy varjelemaan mainettaan, hylkää tytön kasvatuslaitokseen ja antaa lapsen pois. Tyttö kuitenkin karkaa ja päätyy elättämään itseään ainoaksi jäävällä vaihtoehdolla. Moraliteetti ottaa kantaa paremman luokan hurskasteluun ja näkee hyveen ”syntisissä”.   

Augusto Geninan Miss Europa (Prix de beauté, 1930) valmistui siirtymävaiheessa mykästä äänielokuvaan. Sen kerronta on kuitenkin ilmeistä mykkäelokuvaa, ja Orionissa nähdäänkin Bolognassa restauroitu mykkäversio. Brooksin esittämä Lucienne valitaan missikisoihin, ja hänelle avautuu uusia mahdollisuuksia. Mustasukkainen poikaystävä pyrkii rajoittamaan naisen elämää ja valintoja.

UPDATE 8/19/2017: Here is Irma Romero's translation of the above text in English. Thank you Irma!

Louise Brooks, a shining shooting star

Louise Brooks' career could be described as that of a shooting star as her most active part only lasted for a decade. She's best known for her work in the form of the  European collaboration with G. W. Past. She left Hollywood in such a way that left her return unsuccessful.

Having been part of the Denishawn dance group, and the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway got her noticed and landed her a contract with the Paramount Studios.

In William Wellman' s masterpiece, Beggars of Life (1928), disguised as a boy, Brooks is on a run after being accused of murder where she joins a group of traveling vagrants. On a journey full of adventures , the concept of love is also is discussed when the hard-faced Oklahoma Red sees the light: "I've heard about it- but I never see it before. It must be love."

Pabst found his Lulu in Howard Hawks' film A girl in every port, which we showed earlier in the spring. In Pandora's Box (1929), Louise Brooks' amoral character is sensual and innocent- of a woman who doesn't have limits. The film is based on Frank Wedekind's plays where expressionism meets melodrama. Pabst's cool, minimalistic and realistic approach is also a critique of society's double standards.

In Pabst's Diary of a lost girl (1929), Brooks stars as an innocent girl who gets pregnant after being raped. Her family, intent on saving their image, abandon the girl in a home and give the child away. But the girl escapes and she makes a living in the only possible way she can. The moral of the story is seeing the upper classes' superficiality and the moral higher ground and seeing the good on those who "sin".

Augusta Genina's Miss Europa ( 1930) came out during the transition from silent to talkies. But it's style seems to follow in the line of silent films, therefore Orion will be showing the restored silent Bologna copy. Brooks stars as Lucienne who is selected to participate in Miss Europe contest which opens many doors for her. A jealous boyfriend tries to control and restrict her life and choices.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Brattle Theater announces Louise Brooks screenings in September

The historic Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (located at  40 Brattle St.) has announced a short series of screenings featuring two films starring Louise Brooks. Here are the details. Visit the Brattle Theater website for further details including ticket availability.

Beggars of Life
Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 8:30 PM
Thursday, September 7 at 6:00 PM (double bill with Diary of a Lost Girl)

New Digital Restoration!

(1928) dir William A. Wellman w/Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Blue Washington, Kewpie Morgan [81 min; DCP]

An American silent film classic, BEGGARS OF LIFE stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, Nancy (Brooks) befriends kindly drifter Jim (Arlen), and they ride the rails until an encounter with a rowdy band of hoboes led by the blustery Oklahoma Red (Beery) leads to a daring, desperate conflict on top of a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman, BEGGARS OF LIFE is an essential American original. Features a new original score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

Diary of a Lost Girl
Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 8:30 PM
Thursday, September 7 at 8:00 PM (double bill Beggars of Life)

New Digital Restoration!

(1929) dir G.W. Pabst w/Louise Brooks, André Roanne [112 min; DCP]
The second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is a provocative adaptation of Margarethe Böhme’s notorious novel, in which the naive daughter of a middle-class pharmacist is seduced by her father’s assistant, only to be disowned and sent to a repressive home for wayward girls. She escapes, searches for her child, and ends up in a high-class brothel, only to turn the tables on the society which had abused her. It’s another tour-de-force performance by Brooks, whom silent film historian Kevin Brownlow calls an “actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.” – Thomas Gladysz

Don't forget: If you see the movie, why not read my books! Each are available on or through select independent bookstores. Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film is also available through Barnes and Noble.

And if you see the movie and want to see it again, be sure and pick up a copy of the outstanding Kino Lorber DVDs or Blu-ray. Each features an audio commentary by me, Thomas Gladysz, and each is available through

Monday, August 14, 2017

NitrateVille Radio podcast features Louise Brooks & Beggars of Life

The latest NitrateVille Radio podcast with Mike Gebert features an interview with yours truly (Thomas Gladysz) about the new DVD / Blu-ray release, Beggars of Life (1928), starring Louise Brooks. Here is some further information about the podcast and how to listen.


NitrateVille Radio Episode 10: Cinecon, with Stan Taffel and Michael Schlesinger • Beggars of Life, with author Thomas Gladysz

I went to France and all I got was a cold, but the podcast must go on, so in this episode I talk about one of the top festivals of the year, coming over Labor Day weekend, and a major silent film video release coming out August 22.

Image Image

(01:58) Labor Day weekend brings the 53rd annual Cinecon in Hollywood, and I talk to Stan Taffel and returning guest Michael Schlesinger about how they dig through the studio vaults to find rarities to show at Los Angeles' best fest for the film buff who's seen everything. They talk about working with the studios to identify titles for restoration and making sure those restorations actually get seen, and about guests like Norman Lloyd, Patricia Morrison and Marsha Hunt, our last links to the golden age of Hollywood.

Here's the link to the Cinecon site, for tickets, the schedule, hotel info and more. Here's the Cinecon Facebook page.


(24:13) A stark, exciting tale of hobo life, starring Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen and Louise Brooks (disguised as a boy), Beggars of Life was William Wellman's followup to his big hit Wings and one of those great late silents from the last moment (1928) the form would exist. Kino Lorber's release of the George Eastman House restoration, with music by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, is a vast improvement on grey market releases and allows this film to be seen as it should be.

Thomas Gladysz, founder of the Louise Brooks Society (an acclaimed scholarly fan page that has existed since 1995), provides a commentary track on the Kino release and has also written a companion book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. I talk to him about this film, which among other things, stands out as Brooks' best work in America and likely the film that attracted the attention of G.W. Pabst for Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl.


Here's the Kino blu-ray and DVD, which will be released August 22. Here's Gladysz's book, available now.

Listen above, or subscribe at iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher on your mobile device, to make sure you hear every episode.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Early reviews of Beggars of Life, the book and DVD (starring Louise Brooks)

Both the KINO Lorber DVD / Blu-ray of Beggars of Life, as well as my book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, are receiving good early reviews.

Glenn Erickson of DVD Savant wrote that the new Beggars of Life DVD was "A happy discovery!" and "a major late-silent-era gem on the order of Von Sternberg’s Docks of New York," adding it "has a rich pre-Code feel." Erickson noted, "It’s also a key movie in our education/adoration of the maverick actress Louise Brooks, the erotic sensation too hot and too independent for Hollywood," and stated, "Kino and their producers Robert Sweeney and Bret Wood have given us an exemplary disc of a great silent movie."

Regarding the bonus material, Erickson added, "Two academic commentaries are in place. William Wellman Jr.’s track is of course centered on his father’s career, while Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society, takes his commentary into star-worship mode. Gladysz also contributed a track for Kino’s Diary of a Lost Girl, and is no slouch with the facts. It’s a very good listen."

Gary Tooze of DVDBeaver also reviewed the new KINO Lorber release, stating that Beggars of Life was "An American silent film classic" and "an essential American original," while adding " I was very impressed. I thought it was quite brilliant.... Very strongly recommended!"

DVDBeaver had this to say about my contribution: "Kino adds two commentaries - the first by William Wellman, Jr. who discusses his director father and the making of the film. I thoroughly enjoyed all the details exported in the second commentary by Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society. It is fascinating."

My new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film, has also been receiving good reviews. By the way, the book is available on as well as through select independent bookstores.

"I can say (with head bowed modestly) that I know more about the career of director William A. Wellman than pretty much anybody anywhere -- always excepting my friend and co-author John Gallagher -- but there are things in Thomas Gladysz's new book on Wellman's Beggars of Life that I didn't know. More important, the writing is so good and the research so deep that even when I was reading about facts that were familiar to me, I was enjoying myself hugely." — Frank Thompson, co-author of the forthcoming Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman

"Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film is a quick, satisfying read, illustrated with promotional material, posters and stills as well as press clippings. In these pages, Gladysz takes us through the making and the reception of the film and clears up a few mysteries too.... Beggars of Life is a fascinating movie, made by some of the silent film industry's most colourful characters. This highly readable book will deepen your enjoyment and understanding of a silent Hollywood classic." — Pamela Hutchinson, Silent London

"I cannot help but give this an enthusiastic two thumbs up.  It really is the perfect companion, before or after you have seen the film.  The volume might be slim, but, it is packed with information and rare photographs.  It has been impeccably researched and beautifully executed.... This is a thorough examination of the film from start to finish and written in a breezy style that is not only informative, it is a very entertaining read." — Donna Hill, Strictly Vintage Hollywood

"Read your book. I love it. It is thorough and extremely interesting. The art work is compelling." — William Wellman, Jr., author of Wild Bill Wellman

courtesy of DVDBeaver

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

To Save Lulu, a poem by Charlotte Mandel

Just recently, I was alerted to a poem, "To Save Lulu" by Charlotte Mandel, which I came across on Mezzo Cammin: a Journal of Formal Poetry by Women, where it was first published.

To Save Lulu

Watching Louise Brooks as Lulu in Pandora's Box, 1929

All I need is a sharp-spined umbrella
to shelter her helmet of short black hair,
her tottering grace on little girl pumps
out from the crowded pub reeking of spilled
porter, damp wool, weeks-old sweat, the hoarse rasp
of cockney: "Take Me To the Garden, Maude"
slurred bass "Shut it you gobs"   slammed fists   Swung door
into night's grainy fog gaslights glow of decay

I shiver in my thin hoodie and Nikes
hands bare useless
                          Man-shape of sooty mold
follows the wavering dance of the girl's form
graceful even as she trips on wet cobbles

Two shadows blend into darkness—her door
opens   clangs shut   this is how she's earning
her living she will be bloodied by Jack
killer stabbings and
                         if only I'd got
to him in the street
                         if only I could
pierce the screen with a sharp-spined umbrella

I wrote to the author, who responded "I was introduced to Louise Brooks by an article by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) in the avant garde magazine Close Up - the article is titled “An Appreciation” writing about director Pabst then working on Pandora’s Box. Likely you’re familiar with Close Up - H.D.’s article is reprinted in: Close-Up 1927-1933: Cinema and Modernism. (Ed. Anne Friedberg, James Donald, and Laura Marcus. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1998)." Mandel added "As an H.D. scholar, I’ve published a series of articles on the role of cinema in the life and work of H.D. Some are online on the H.D. Society website:".

Charlotte Mandel's tenth book of poetry, To Be the Daylight, is forthcoming this year from White Violet Press, imprint of Kelsay Books. Previous titles include Through a Garden Gate with color photographs by Vincent Covello, published by David Robert Books, and two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision—The Life of Mary and The Marriages of Jacob. Her awards include the New Jersey Poets Prize and two fellowships in poetry from New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She edited the Eileen W. Barnes Award Anthology, Saturday's Women. Critical essays include articles on the role of cinema in the life and work of H.D., on Muriel Rukeyser, May Sarton and others. Visit her at

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Film Forum announces Louise Brooks series in the Fall

Film Forum in New York City (located at 209 West Houston St. west of 6th Ave.) has announced a upcoming series of films featuring Louise Brooks. The series is set to take place in the Fall. Each film will feature live musical accompaniment by long-time Film Forum silent film composer and pianist Steve Sterner. HERE are the details.

Sunday, September 17 at 3:00 pm
(1929, G.W. Pabst) Louise Brooks is the “lost girl” wronged by circumstances and cast off first into a reformatory, then a Berlin brothel, where she’s spiritually and emotionally liberated. DCP. Approx. 112 min.

Tuesday, September 19 at 7:00 pm
(1928, William A. Wellman) On the run after killing a molesting stepfather, dressed-as-a-boy Louise Brooks is befriended by Richard Arlen and falls in with Wallace Beery’s band of hoboes. Long-thought-lost silent classic, with Brooks’ best pre-German work and dazzling location work on speeding trains. DCP. Approx. 81 min.

Sunday, October 1 at 6:40 pm
(1929, G.W. Pabst) Sex in the City – Berlin, 1928: in the wake of Louise’s patent leather-bobbed Lulu, men set up expensive love nests, ruin themselves gambling, commit brutal murders, and kill themselves; as she moves from kept woman to headlining showgirl, lesbian love interest, widow in mourning, fugitive from the law, and possible sex slave, amid a bustling backdrop of Weimar Germany. 35mm. Approx. 109 min.

Saturday, October 14 at 3:10 pm
(1929, G.W. Pabst) Louise Brooks is the “lost girl” wronged by circumstances and cast off first into a reformatory, then a Berlin brothel, where she’s spiritually and emotionally liberated. DCP. Approx. 112 min.

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Peek at Pamela Hutchinson's New Book on Pandora's Box

Speaking of books . . . . Pamela Hutchinson's new book on the 1929 Louise Brooks film, Pandora's Box, has been announced and is now listed on amazon (in the UK and USA and elsewhere including amazon France and Germany). I also expect it will be available in bookstores.

Pamela Hutchinson's new book is a short book at 93 pages, but I expect it will be packed with information. The book is being published by the British Film Institute and will be released in Europe on November 21, and in the United States on December 19, 2017. Pamela noted in a Facebook post that she expects screenings to take place in the UK in coordination with the book's release.

The book description on amazon reads:

"Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora’s Box, 1929), starring Hollywood icon Louise Brooks, is an established classic of the silent era. Pamela Hutchinson revisits and challenges many assumptions made about the film, its lead character and its star. Putting the film in historical and contemporary contexts, Hutchinson investigates how the film speaks to new audiences."

Pamela Hutchinson, who I have had the pleasure to meet on a couple of occasions (once in London, and once in San Francisco), is the Editor of Silent London, and writes on early and silent film for the Guardian newspaper and Sight & Sound magazine. The latter, by-the-way, also published work by Louise Brooks.

I encourage everyone to pre-order a copy of this important new book today! I already have.