Friday, March 24, 2017

New Book: The W.C. Fields Films by James Neibaur

Coming soon from film historian James Neibaur, The W.C. Fields Films (Mcfarland & Co).

I, for one, am looking forward to this new book, which I expect will include information on the 1926 film, It's the Old Army Game, which starred W.C. Fields and Louise Brooks.

From the publisher: "W.C. Fields was one of the top comedians during Hollywood's Golden Era of the 1930s and 1940s and has since remained a comic icon. Despite his character's misanthropic, child-hating, alcoholic tendencies, his performances were enduringly popular and Fields became personally defined by them. This critical study of his work provides commentary and background on each of his films, from the early silents through the cameos near the end of his life, with fresh appraisals of his well known classics. Pictures once believed to be lost that have been discovered and restored are discussed, and new information is given on some that remain lost."

James L. Neibaur is a film historian and educator with more than a dozen books and articles in Cineaste, Classic Images, Film Quarterly, Films in Review, Filmfax, and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Among his books are James Cagney Films of the 1930s (2014), Buster Keaton's Silent Shorts: 1920-1923 (2013), The Charley Chase Talkies: 1929-1940 (2013), The Silent Films of Harry Langdon (1923-1928) (2012), Stan Without Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films, 1917-1927 (2012), Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist as Apprentice at Keystone Studios (2011), The Fall of Buster Keaton: His Films for MGM, Educational Pictures, and Columbia (2010), Chaplin at Essanay: A Film Artist in Transition, 1915-1916 (2008), and Arbuckle And Keaton: Their 14 Film Collaborations (2006).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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%.

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)

Monday, March 20, 2017

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.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

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 . . . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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.

Monday, March 13, 2017

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?