Friday, October 21, 2016

Louise Brooks Oddities #4

In my ongoing research, I come across all sorts of material which is a little odd or unusual, and sometimes entertaining. Here is something I found a few days ago. It is a humorous piece from the April, 1928 issue of Amateur Movie Maker. Louise Brooks figures as part of a running joke from the pen of Creighton Peet. The piece, a kind of column, is title "Film Flam." If this bit of humorous daydreaming seems a little New Yorker, you have good sense. Peet contributed to the New Yorker in the 30's, 40s, and 50's.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Louise Brooks Oddities #3

In my ongoing research, I come across all sorts of material which is a little odd or unusual, and sometimes entertaining. Here is something I found two days ago. It is a rare 1931 issue of Inside Facts of the Stage and Screen, which touted itself as the "Only Theatrical Newspaper on the Pacific Coast." I am pretty familiar with the various film publications of the time, and have even gone through regional trade publications like Weekly Film Review out of Atlanta, George and Detroit Saturday Night out of the Motor City, BUT, had never heard of this one!

This particular issue ran a review of the 1931 William Wellman film, The Public Enemy, which lists Louise Brooks among the "fem members" appearing in the film. She didn't, of course. Inside Facts of the Stage and Screen wasn't the only publication to make this mistake. It was a mistaken credit that lingered for years, even making its way into film reference books. Years later, in 1965, Brooks wrote "What happened was that William Wellman had offered me a part in Public Enemy and I turned it down to go to New York. But the advance publicity had gone out with my name in the cast (the part Wellman then gave to Jean Harlow), so when people see an extra girl walk through a scene with a black bob and bangs, they say 'There is Brooks'."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Louise Brooks Oddities #2

In my ongoing research, I come across all sorts of material which is a little odd or unusual, and sometimes entertaining. Here is something I found yesterday. It is a couple of pages from a 2004 Arabic publication possibly about beauty and film culture. If anyone can help translate the text shown below, I would appreciate it.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Louise Brooks Oddities #1

Louise Bridges -
"By diligence she wins her way"
In my ongoing research, I come across all sorts of material which is a little odd or unusual, and sometimes entertaining. Here is something I found yesterday. It is a page from The Oak Leaf, a 1929 high school year book from the Hugh Morson High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. I flipped through its pages, and I found it to be a typical high school year book, filled with portraits, a class poem, school history, bits of humor and the like.

What caught my eye was a reference to the silent film star Louise Brooks by Hazel McDonald, the "class prophet." In a two page spread, McDonald predicted the future's of various students, not doubt based on some characteristic of the student. One, she predicted, would become an opera singer, one a pianist, one a veterinarian, one the heavy weight boxing champion, one a race car driver, etc.... It is the sort of thing one might find in other yearbooks, and perhaps even your own.

McDonald predicted another classmate, named Louise Bridges, would find film stardom, writing "Last of all I saw Louise Bridges, who had taken Louise Brooks' place on the screen." (See the second from last line on page two of the "Class Prophecy" shown below.) This shout-out shows Brooks had a certain currency among high school students of the time.

That currency got me wondering. Why would McDonald had made such a particular prediction for this particular student. They were friends, apparently, and both were members of the Morson Literary Society as well as the school's Dramatic Club. But, did Louise Bridges share some trait with Louise Brooks, besides the same first name? Did Bridges and Brooks look-alike? Flipping through the yearbook, I found that a number of the girls wore bobbed hair, though Bridges' bob was closest to the style worn by Brooks, or Colleen Moore, another popular screen star. Bridges was pretty, like Brooks, and somewhat resembles the actress, in my opinion.

I also found the class prophet, Hazel McDonald, to have a rather interesting look, sporting a fashionable Eton Crop--unusual perhaps for a high school student for the time from the American south. I don't know what happened to either of these students, whether Louise became an actress, or whether Hazel became a writer, but each seemed to be pretty cool kids.

Hazel McDonald -
"I grow in with and worth and sense"

Friday, October 14, 2016

LOST CREATURES - New play about Louise Brooks opens in Denver, CO on November 3

Lost Creatures, a new play about Louise Brooks by Melissa McCarl, will be staged for the first time in Denver, Colorado on November 3, 2016. (A public reading of the play was given last year.) Here are the details about this exciting new project.

WORLD PREMIERE -- Thursday, November 3 at 7:30 PM MDT The play runs November 3rd through the 19th, 2016

Directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
Starring Billie McBride, Mark Collins and Annabel Reader

About the play: Lost Creatures follows the evening in May of 1978 when British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan met his long time cinematic idol Louise Brooks. He travels to her dingy little apartment in Rochester, NY where she has sequestered herself for many years. He is there ostensibly to write a profile on Brooks for the New Yorker, but he discovers that they are kindred spirits, and in spite of an age gap of twenty years, theirs becomes an unlikely love story discovered through a marathon dialogue about sex, philosophy, art, and criticism. There is also a silent third character, Lulu, (based on Louise’s role in her most famous silent film Pandora’s Box) who drives the action of the play.

Set/Sound Design-Darren Smith
Light Design-Emily Maddox
Costume Design-Susan Lyles
Stage Manager-Lauren Meyer

Venue: The Commons on Champa, 3rd Floor Studio, 1245 Champa Street
Support provided by The Next Stage NOW

About Melissa McCarl: Author of Painted Bread, a full-length play named Best New Work by the Denver Post, about the tumultuous life of Frida Kahlo (recently produced by the Aurora Fox.) Commissioned by the Mizel Arts Center to write Poignant Irritations, celebrating the unorthodox life and love of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Commissioned by the Curious Theatre Company to write for the War Anthology directed by Bonnie Metzgar of the Public Theatre. Winner of the Steven Dietz award for the one act Carlene Yakkin’. Melissa has been named best local playwright by Westword newspaper and the Denver Post.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

TONIGHT Louise Brooks film screens in Chicago

The 1929 Louise Brooks' film, Diary of a Lost Girl, will be shown tonight in Chicago. The film will be shown at the Music Box Theater (3733 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613) and will feature  a live musical score on the Music Box organ by Dennis Scott, Music Box House Organist. More information can be found HERE.

Parking near the Music Box is limited. Parking availability may be scarce on days when the Chicago Cubs play home games. Public transportation or taxis are recommended on these dates. Please check the Chicago Cubs schedule for home game dates.

Diary of a Lost Girl

A FILM BY: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
STARRING: Louise Brooks, Josef Rovenský, Fritz Rasp

Thymiane is a beautiful young girl who is not having a storybook life. Her governess, Elizabeth, is thrown out of her home when she is pregnant, only to be later found drown.

That same day, her father already has a new governess named Meta. Meinert, downstairs druggist, takes advance of her and gets Thymiane pregnant. When she refuses to marry, her baby is taken from her and she is put into a strict girls reform school. When Count Osdorff is unable to get the family to take her back, he waits for her to escape. She escapes with a friend and the friend goes with the Count while she goes to see her baby. Thymiane finds that her baby is dead, and the Count has put both girls up at a brothel. When her father dies, Thymiane marries the Count and becomes a Countess, but her past and her hatred of Meta will come back to her.

See the film, then why not read the infamous book it was based on? And better yet, why not pick up the recently released DVD or Blu-ray from KINO?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nonesuch to Release Metropolitan Opera's 2015 Staging of Alban Berg's "Lulu" on Blu-ray/DVD

For those who might have missed the live broadcast comes this welcome news....

From the Nonesuch website: "Nonesuch Records releases the Metropolitan Opera's performance of Alban Berg's Lulu on Blu-ray and DVD together in one package on October 28, 2016. The Met's new production, directed by acclaimed South African visual artist William Kentridge, premiered in 2015 and starred Marlis Petersen in her final performances as Lulu, a role she has made "hers and almost hers alone" (Opera News) in ten different productions over eighteen years. The New York Times called it "a stunning and searing production." Lulu was recorded and broadcast live in movie theaters around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD on November 21, 2015. The Lulu Blu-ray/DVD may be pre-ordered now from the Nonesuch Store. You can watch the Met's trailer for the production below.

Kentridge received acclaim for his previous work at the Met directing the company premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich's The Nose in 2010. This new Lulu, conducted by Lothar Koenigs, featured Susan Graham as the Countess Geschwitz, Daniel Brenna as Alwa, Paul Groves as The Painter/African Prince, Johan Reuter as Dr. Schön/Jack the Ripper, and Franz Grundheber as Schigolch. Lulu's production team included co-director Luc De Wit, set designer Sabine Theunissen, costume designer Greta Goiris, lighting designer Urs Schönebaum, and projection designer Catherine Meyburgh, all of whom also worked on The Nose.

Berg's monumental opera, which he left unfinished when he died in 1935, had its posthumous premiere in its incomplete version in 1937, with the three-act version that has become standard premiering in 1979. The opera tells the tragic story of a young woman who, as a victim of a harsh society, torments a series of men by whom she is objectified, desired, abused, and eventually killed. "She's ungraspable, and a fantastic white canvas for the men to put their ideas on," says Petersen about her character, in an interview with Graham.

Berg adapted the libretto from Frank Wedekind's two Lulu plays, Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box, 1904). He wrote the music using the 12-tone style conceived of his teacher, Arnold Schönberg, but with a nod to Romanticism that makes it unusually accessible for something written by a Schönberg disciple. "Berg made it very tonal, actually, for us and also for the ears of the audience," says Petersen. "You don't hear the 12-tone music."

"Lulu is one of the great operas of the 20th century," says Kentridge, speaking on video about the production. "It's an opera that's about the fragility or the possibility or the fragmentation of desire…Ink is the primary medium of the production. Essentially [it's] the vehemence of a black brushstroke… trying to find some equivalent, visually, to the violence of the opera."

Kentridge's production will be presented at English National Opera in November 2016; for tickets, visit

The Kentridge staging of Berg's Lulu was a big deal last year in New York City. Check out this Huffington Post piece, "Lulu-mania Sweeps New York City."