Saturday, September 23, 2017

Painting of Louise Brooks on display in UK

A painting of Louise Brooks is on display in a gallery in Leeds, England. The work, by UK artist Bay Backner, is on display at the Cafe 164, The Gallery at 164 (on Duke Street).

The artist explained the inspiration behind her recent work to the Bradford Telegraph and Argus,

"I'd had a brilliant chat with Janine Sykes, course leader in MA Curation Practices at Leeds College of Art. We'd talked about the faces we see as beautiful, and this is being changed by digital media and globalised industry. So the idea came together of a show to explore female beauty and its iconic images," says Bay, who works in oil paint on stretched canvas, then creates limited-edition prints in archival ink.
Another article, in the Yorkshire Evening Post, noting that Backner's new work focuses on the notion of beauty, stating "She spent six months examining what we see as beauty, how it affects how we see ourselves and what it means around the world for the exhibition, which features brightly coloured, large portraits of the women, painted in a style that harks back to the Golden Age of Hollywood."

According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, "The portraits are not based on a single photograph of the women, but the artists’ personal perspective of their image, based on a composite of pictures of them." Iconic beauties such as Hedy Lamarr and Audrey Hepburn, as well as supermodels Kate Moss and Bella Hadid, and artist Frida Kahlo are included among the portraits. As is Louise Brooks.

The artist looked around online, exploring the idea of beauty. "There were women there that I didn’t even realise had become part of my beauty mix," Backner is quoted as saying. "I really responded to Louise Brooks, who was the original 1920s ‘It girl’ and made it cool to have a boy-like figure and short hair. She changed the way women wanted to look."

In the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Backner reiterated her point, "Of course my paintings are a very personal selection of faces. They're the women who have shaped my western ideal of beauty, and whose images hold in my mind as I look in the mirror every day. Interestingly, some are women unknown to me before I started research for the show - but I realised just how much their image changed how I, and many women today, see themselves. For example, Louise Brooks was the original 1920s 'It Girl'. She made short hair and a boy-like figure desirable after three centuries of corseted curves and waist-length hair. We'd look very different without her!"

In a statement sent to the Louise Brooks Society, the artists noted, "I first came across Louise Brooks in stills from Pandora's Box. I saw them while designing the set for another Wedekind play, Spring Awakening. My impression was of a strikingly beautiful, magnetic women with presence and energy. I reencountered her images while researching the 'How to Be Beautiful' exhibition - and was haunted by her expressions."

This portrait of Louise Brooks, "Louise in Pink" (oil on canvas, 24"x34"), is displayed at the gallery and on Backner's website.


“There were women there that I didn’t even realise had become part of my beauty mix,” Backner said. “I really responded to Louise Brooks, who was the original 1920s ‘It girl’ and made it cool to have a boy-like figure and short hair. She changed the way women wanted to look.”

Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/painting-picture-of-beauty-at-leeds-art-exhibition-1-8761140

Bay studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, and Central Saint Martins, London. She works in oil paint on stretched canvas, then creates limited-edition prints in archival ink. Bay’s paintings are informed by fine-art’s ‘old masters’ as well as today’s street artists and fashion photographers. Her work was recently featured by Grazia Magazine.

‘How To Be Beautiful’ is at Cafe 164, The Gallery at 164, until Saturday October 7, 2017.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Beggars of Life shows in Cleveland, Ohio tomorrow

The new restoration of Beggars of Life will be shown in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, September 23 at 5 pm. The 1928 film, which stars Louise Brooks, will be shown at the Cinematheque at the Cleveland Institute of Art (11610 Euclid Avenue). Beggars of Life is based on a memoir by vagabond writer and onetime Kent, OH, resident Jim Tully. Paul Bauer, co-author (with Mark Dawidziak) of the stellar 2011 biography Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler, will introduce the film and sell and sign copies of his book. Cleveland revival premiere. DCP. 81 min. More information may be found HERE.


Louise Brooks’ best American film was made shortly before she left for Germany and found everlasting fame in G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. Here she plays a young woman who flees her cruel stepfather and, dressed in boy’s clothing, rides the rails with hobos. Wallace Beery and Richard Arlen co-star. At the time of its release, the Cleveland Plain Dealer described Beggars of Life as "a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life." This silent film presentation has a new music score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. 




The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is one of the country’s best repertory movie theaters, according to The New York Times. Founded in 1986, the alternative film theater shows classic, foreign, and independent films 50 weekends of the year. The Cinematheque offers discounted tickets to all CIA students and contributes to the richness of the college’s public programming in the arts.

Want to learn more about this acclaimed film ? Check out my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully's bestselling book of hobo life-and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent. Copies may be purchased through amazon.com, B&N.com, or through select independent bookstores. The new digital restoration of the film has just been released by Kino Lorber on DVD / Blu-ray.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Portrait of Louise Brooks Goes to Auction

This painting will be offered on November 20th at Bonhams Auction House in New York City, along with almost 400 other pieces from the collection of Ira Resnick. Details to come.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

TODAY: Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks, shows in Northbrook, Illinois

Beggars of Life, the acclaimed 1928 silent film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown today at the Northbrook Public Library in Northbrook, Ilinois. "An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive."

This screening, part of the Wednesday Classic Film Series, will take place at 7:30 pm in the library auditorium. Dave Drazin will accompany the film on piano. More information may be found HERE.


It's pretty cool that pianist Dave Drazin will accompany the film. This performer is a legend. Here is a little bit about him from his website.

Pianist and composer David Drazin is a music and motion picture archivist who has acquired a national reputation for his piano improvisations accompanying silent films. Among silent movie screenings for which he has performed are Cinevent Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio, the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (staff accompanist since 1985), Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Italy (guest pianist 2003 and 2004), Silent Film Society of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, LaSalle Bank Theatre, North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Cinematheque as well as at many universities, libraries and churches.

He is notable among contemporary film accompanists for his use of the 1920s-era jazz and blues, rather than classic ragtime, in playing for silent comedies. His improvisational ballet and dance accompaniment skills serve him well in developing music for dramas, such as the films in the Fritz Lang film series recently shown at the Art Institute.

Not limited only to music, David has operated cameras and projectors as well as crafting several short films of his own. His archive collection includes 78 rpm records, 8 and 16 millimeter silent and sound films. 

"Seeing a 35mm print of such a restoration well projected is the ideal, of course, especially with an expert pianist like the Cinematheque’s David Drazin providing the accompaniment." -- Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, University of Wisconsin, Observations on Film Art blog

"A consummate musician with a supernatural talent for film accompaniment." -- Marilyn Ferdinand, author, Chicago film critic, ferdyonfilms.com

"If you've never heard/seen David Drazin accompany a silent film, then you're in for a real treat." -- Arnie Bernstein, author, Hollywood on Lake Michigan

"The accompaniments of David Drazin alone are worth the price of admission!" -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic, writer

"Superb live musical interpretation for silent films." -- Classic Images

"Expertly fills in the sounds of silence." --  Cleveland Plain Dealer

"And should the piano playing of David Drazin be half as good as when he accompanied "City Girl" last month, then this qualifies as another must-see event." -- Detroit Free Press

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Schedule of screenings for Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks

The new DCP of Beggars of Life continues to "pick-up steam," with additional screening popping up just about everywhere. Here is a list, with links for time and ticket information, to forthcoming events.


Film Forum -- New York City     September 19, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner

Northbrook Public Library -- Northbrook, Illinois     September 20, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Dave Drazin

Cleveland Cinematheque -- Cleveland, Ohio   September 23, 2017
introduced by Jim Tully biographer Paul Bauer 

National Audiovisual Institute, KAVI -- Helsinki, Finland     October 12 and 15, 2017

Brooklyn Public Library  --  Brooklyn, New York     November 12, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Bernie Anderson. Hosted & Curated by Ken Gordon.


Wisconsin Cinematheque -- Madison, Wisconsin     December 1, 2017

Riverrun International Film Festival  --  Winston-Salem, North Carolina     April, 2018

An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life (1928) 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 (Richard Arlen). They ride the rails together until a fateful encounter with the blustery Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) and his rambunctious band of hoboes, leading to 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 (Wings, The Public Enemy, A Star is Born, The Ox-Bow Incident, etc....), Beggars of Life is an essential American original.

See the movie - read the new book about the movie!

This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.” With more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by William Wellman, Jr.


Listen to Rob Edelman's WAMC radio review of the Beggars of Life HERE!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Louise Brooks series at Film Forum set to begin

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

DIARY OF A LOST GIRL
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.

BEGGARS OF LIFE
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.

PANDORA’S BOX
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.

DIARY OF A LOST GIRL
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.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Help Make Beggars of Life a Success - Here's How to show your Love for Louise Brooks

Want to see more Louise Brooks films released in the future? Here are two ways you can help.

1) Purchase a copy of the new Beggars of Life DVD / Blu-ray from either Kino Lorber or Amazon. Both usually offer a discount. The more copies that sell, the more encouragement companies like Kino Lorber will have to release other Louise Brooks films in the future. Wouldn't you like to see a restoration of Love Em or Leave Em on DVD? How about both the silent and sound versions of The Canary Murder Case? Or the out-of-print The Show-Off? Or Louise Brooks first film, The Street of Forgotten Men? Come on, let's do this!  

Beggars of Life is also available through Barnes and Noble (B&N), Target, Walmart, your local video store, etc.... It ain't hard to find!

2) If you can't afford a new DVD, why not recommend that your local public library purchase a copy. I did, and they put 5 copies of the DVD on order for the library system. Many public libraries have a button or link on their home page where patrons can suggest a new title for purchase. It doesn't hurt to try! And heck, if you know a librarian or visit your local library why not make a suggestion in person. And while you are at it, thank them for the valuable work they do. Libraries are supported by your tax dollars. So why not "spend" your tax dollars on something that will entertain and inspire. It's a great why to share your love of Louise Brooks.

3) And while your at it, why not recommend your local library purchase a copy of my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. A few libraries around the country have already purchased it, including the Bates College Library in Lewiston, Maine and the SEO Automation Consortium in Caldwell, Ohio.

I have done my part, and have donated a handful of copies to certain key libraries including those in Jim Tully's hometowns (St. Marys, Ohio and Kent, Ohio ) and Louise Brooks' hometown (Wichita, Kansas), as well as my new hometown, Sacramento, California. I also sent a copy to two places where Brooks used to hang out, the Rochester Public Library and the George Eastman Museum (both in Rochester, New York). I also sent a copy to Hollywood: and I felt like I had been given an Oscar when I received a thank you note in return on official stationary from the library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Of course, you can always purchase a copy of my book, which is available through amazon.com, B&N.com, or through your local independent bookstore. The book retails for a mere $10.00. Though some wacky New Hampshire booksellers are charging as much as $88.63. Email me directly to order an autographed copy. Every purchase or recommendation counts.

Back in the year 2000, the biography of Louise Brooks by Barry Paris had fallen out of print. The Louise Brooks Society started an on-line petition drive to bring it back. And it succeeded. The University of Minnesota Press reprinted both the Barry Paris biography and Brooks' own Lulu in Hollywood with great success. At one point, the press told me that those two books were among their best sellers. Both remain in print to this day. And both contain an acknowledgement for what were all of our combined efforts! Isn't that cool!


So come on, let's do this! Don't complain you can't see more of Louise Brooks films' (or any silent or pre-code film for that matter) unless you are willing to somehow support those who are making the effort to get them into circulation and into the history books!

Here is something I will always cherish. It is an inscription Barry Paris wrote in my old beat-up copy of his biography of Louise Brooks. The occasion was an event I put on with the author (we are pictured below) at the time the book was republished.




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