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Classic Hollywood/Hollywood's Golden Age(Was: The Best Of Everything)


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#91 Quiggin

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 11:29 PM

Louise Brooks was like a interesting character in a novel who is available for subsequent interviews -- in her case with James Card, Richard Leacock and Kenneth Tynan. Hanging out with the Algonquin crowd in the twenties didn't hurt.

Apparently it was Henri Langois who brought her image back to life in an 1955 exhibition “Sixty Years of Cinema” where it was displayed prominently ("She embodies in herself all that the cinema rediscovered in its last years of silence: complete naturalness and complete simplicity."). It impressed Jean Luc Godard who based the look of Anna Karina’s character in "Vivre sa vie" on it.

Brooks worked with Wellman and Hawks ("Girl in Every Port") and was imported by Pabst into Germany, where there were few established stars, and appeared there in a film that gets a considerable space in books on Weimar film and culture, well before Berg's version of the Wedekind play.

I don't remember the quote exactly, but far as what she actually did as an actress, Lotte Eisner is sort of in perplexed agreement with dirac.

A perfect Brooks role:

Morel's Invention


Norma Shearer also seemed to be very natural and sympathetic subject for Edward Steichen's less hard-edged (than Hurrell's) style, a little more Ladies Home Journal than Vogue.

#92 papeetepatrick

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 07:08 AM

I watched 'Pandora's Box' a few years ago. It's considered a classic, but I don't care for Louise Brooks's performance. It's so wholesome and innocent, more like Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles or some 'forest creature type' than Lulu. She seems totally unaware of what profession she's in. The period and Pabst's interest in her may have something to do with it, but others would have shown that hard edges always go along with this line of business--as Garbo does in 'Susan Lennox', and Dietrich a lot more so in 'The Blue Angel'. Maybe it's the look that's iconic, and I certainly agree it's a beautiful face, this in itself is very memorable. Interesting about the Anna Karina look, Quiggin, I can see that, although when she's playing a prostitute, you definitely don't get confused about it.

#93 dirac

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:26 AM

I agree with you, Patrick, but I think that quality of innocence was what Pabst was looking for, even if in real life Brooks was already a swinger with a bottle problem. He saw something he could use. She's a delicious stray and Lulu in Pabst's version isn't an operator like Lola-Lola.

Thank you for that link, Quiggin. I must read that.

#94 papeetepatrick

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:49 AM

I think that quality of innocence was what Pabst was looking for, even if in real life Brooks was already a swinger with a bottle problem.


Oh dear, that makes it all the more strange-seeming :wink: I never had read up on Brooks's life. 'Delicious stray' is good, very much the waif.

#95 miliosr

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:14 PM

Whereas a good time gal like Brooks gained immortality more or less by accident. Fortune, indeed.

Maybe it's the look that's iconic, and I certainly agree it's a beautiful face, this in itself is very memorable.


Brooks is "immortal" and "iconic". I have a co-worker who has the exact Louise Brooks bob and looks just like her. Not bad for someone whose heyday was over 80 years ago!

#96 dirac

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:57 PM

So she is. :wink:

#97 sidwich

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 11:13 PM

Lots of women had the bob cut and the flapper look, but there's something uniquely arresting about Brooks on film that's made her an icon even with her very brief film career. In one of my favorite photos of Brooks, she's in boy's clothing and her unique charisma still shines through. Some people just have the "it" factor, and I think Louise Brooks was just one of them.

#98 dirac

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 09:05 AM

Brooks looked great in that twenties bob - no other hairstyle looked quite so good on her. She was a wonderful camera subject and as Quiggin mentions she was taken up by writers and critics in her later years, thanks mainly to Pandora and Pabst and of course her own charm and wit. She was a marvelous interview and a good writer if not a demon for accuracy.

#99 miliosr

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 05:22 PM

I was reading Louise Brooks' Wikepedia page and there were some interesting tidbits in the bio:

1) She was a member of Denishawn from 1922-24 until Miss Ruth fired her, and

2) She self-published Fundamentals of Good Ballroom Dancing (!) in 1940.


Can anyone tell me how to change the title of this thread (which I created)? We have moved so far beyond The Best Of Everything that I would like to retitle this thread "Classic Hollywood" or "Hollywood's Golden Age" and put (Was: The Best Of Everything) in the sub-title.

#100 dirac

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 10:03 PM

I just PM'd you, miliosr. Let me know if that doesn't work. I was a bad moderator and allowed us to wander too far off the reservation, sorry.

Yes, Brooks was in Denishawn as a teenager. She wasn't a favorite of Miss Ruth's but Ted Shawn liked her and cast her. Apparently St. Denis decided, perhaps not entirely fairly, that Louise was too fond of a good time. Of course, Brooks was just a kid. The handbook was written after Brooks had to leave Hollywood for want of work and returned home to Kansas, where she opened a short-lived dance studio. She had also been part of a nightclub dance duo for awhile in addition to her time as a showgirl post-Denishawn, so she had a fair amount of dance experience and thought of herself as a dancer at least as much she considered herself an actor.

Norma Shearer also seemed to be very natural and sympathetic subject for Edward Steichen's less hard-edged (than Hurrell's) style, a little more Ladies Home Journal than Vogue.


Shearer at her peak specialized in naughty women of the world, hardly the Ladies' Home type. :)

#101 papeetepatrick

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 07:45 AM

Shearer at her peak specialized in naughty women of the world, hardly the Ladies' Home type. :)


I think everybody knows more about Shearer than I do. I think I've seen her only in 'The Women' and doing the weird balcony scene with John Gilbert in 'Hollywood Revue of 1929'. Just saw she later did an R + J movie with Leslie Howard. Is 'Marie Antoinette' a must-see? I confess I am not sure I can get interested in Norma Shearer, unless somebody really plugs something. I also just saw she was with Gable in 'Strange Interlude'.

Excellent new thread title, dirac. Who knew Diane Baker movies could be expanded into a Universal? I hope miliosr likes it. I did think there was a lot of cinematic beauty in 'Pandora's Box', but I wouldn't watch it again. That early Pabst/Garbo 'Joyless Street' is also interesting but maybe not great, mainly because it's the one thing I remember seeing Garbo in before she takes on a 'goddess persona'.

#102 miliosr

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 08:40 AM

Excellent new thread title, dirac. I hope miliosr likes it.


I hope so too . . . since I'm the one who thought of it and changed it! :)

#103 Anthony_NYC

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:27 AM

I've enjoyed going back and reading through this old thread. Having come to movies late in life, I always feel I've got a lot of catching up to do. The talk about some of a the big stars who have faded from memory made me think of one who's a particular favorite of mine--Irene Dunne. I don't know anything about her career or personal life, but she certainly made some classic movies, was remarkably versatile, and for me is always a gigantic pleasure to watch. Maybe I'm wrong about this--projecting my own movie ignorance--but I have the idea that for most people nowadays her name rings a distant bell and that's all. I wonder if she isn't one of the icons because she didn't make her career off her looks (though a beautiful woman) or playing sexual teases (though she does that to delightful comic effect in "The Awful Truth").

#104 papeetepatrick

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:58 AM

I like Irene Dunne too, although she was not especially glamorous (although, I agree, beautiful.) Wonderful in the first 'Showboat' with Alan Jones and with Charles Boyer in 'Love Affair' (much better than the Kerr/Grant remake, because the material seemed very dated by 'An Affair to Remember' in the late 50s). Personal life was very proper, as I recall, I think she was very religious and civic-minded.

#105 dirac

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:04 AM

I like her too, Anthony_NYC. (My only tiny cavil would be that she has a Jeanette MacDonald tendency to show too many teeth.) Dunne could do a lot of things very well and although I don't know much about her either from what I understand she was a charming and very professional person. She had bad luck in that a number of her vehicles (Love Affair, Show Boat, Back Street, Anna and the King of Siam, Magnificent Obsession are the ones that spring to mind) were remade later and hers dropped from circulation. The Awful Truth is one of those great comedies that make me laugh every time I see it. I also like Joy of Living and I'll put in a plug for a lovely movie called Penny Serenade. It's a weepie but it's so well done you overlook the sentimentality and Dunne and Cary Grant are awfully good.


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